How to Protect your Data and your Privacy on Mac

macOS comes with many built in features that can help you keep your data safe, protect your privacy and even help you find your Mac if it becomes lost or stolen. Many of these features simply require you to enable them, and after that, they will be working in the background to protect your data and privacy. Other features require a little more effort, such as backing up your files. However, even this can be set to happen on a schedule, automatically.

Back Up your Files

You can use Time Machine to back up your files on your Mac. You can leave an external drive connected if you want to make regular backups automatically. Using Time Machine also has another advantage, even if you don’t keep your external drive connected. Time Machine automatically creates hourly snapshots locally and saves them for up to 24 hours. You can use these snapshots to recover a previous version of a file.

To use Time Machine:

  1. Connect an external drive to your Mac and power on the external drive. You can back up to a disk available on your network.
  2. You’ll be asked if you want to use the disk to back up your Mac. Click on Use As Backup Disk.
  3. Follow the instructions in the Time Machine app. To open Time Machine, go to Apple menu  > System Preferences. Click on Time Machine.

For more on making backups with Time Machine, see: How to Back Up your Mac with Time Machine.

Turn on Find My

Add your Mac to Find My

You can add your Mac to Find My. This can help you find it if it ever becomes lost or stolen. If you haven’t already set up Find My on your Mac:

  1. Go to Apple menu  > System Preferences. Click on Apple ID. If you haven’t signed in with an Apple ID, you will need to click on Sign In.
  2. In the sidebar menu, click on iCloud.
  3. Click the checkbox next to Find My Mac. Click on Allow.

To Find your Mac

  1. Go to Sign in, then click on Find iPhone.
  2. You will be able to see all of your devices’ locations.
  3. Click on All Devices. Select your Mac.
  4. You will see options to:
    • Play a Sound – Your Mac will play a sound which can help you locate it.
    • Lock – This locks your Mac to prevent it from being used by someone else.
    • Erase Mac – This will erase everything. Only use as a last resort. You will no longer be able to locate it using Find My. You shouldn’t erase your device if it is covered by AppleCare+ with Theft and Loss.
find my Mac

See also: How to Erase your Device Remotely using Find My

Safari’s Privacy Features


One of the privacy features available in Safari is the ability to view who has been blocked from tracking you.

  1. Open Safari.
  2. In the search field near the top, enter the website’s URL.
  3. Next to the search field, click the Privacy Report button.

You can also get a list of blocked trackers by going to the menu bar at the top and selecting Safari > Privacy Report.


You can also check your security preferences by going to Safari > Preferences. Click on the Security tab and check or uncheck Fraudulent sites and Web content according to your security preferences. A check next to Fraudulent sites will enable fraudulent website detection. A check next to Web content will allow Javascript.

Mac Security

There are many things that go into having a secure Mac. These include using secure passwords, requiring users to log in, setting your Mac to logout automatically if it has been inactive for a period of time, limiting the number of users with admin privileges and encrypting your data. For more on these topics, see our article: How To Protect Your Mac.

See also:

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Dr. Stacey Butler is a tech writer at macReports covering news, how-tos, and user guides. She is a longtime Mac and iPhone user and holds a Ph.D. from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana. Here is her LinkedIn profile.

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