How to use Windows 10 Dynamic Lock -- and just walk away
Forget to lock your PC? Dynamic Lock does it for you -- here's how.
Matt ElliottSenior Editor
Matt Elliott is a senior editor at CNET with a focus on laptops and streaming services. Matt has more than 20 years of experience testing and reviewing laptops. He has worked for CNET in New York and San Francisco and now lives in New Hampshire. When he's not writing about laptops, Matt likes to play and watch sports. He loves to play tennis and hates the number of streaming services he has to subscribe to in order to watch the various sports he wants to watch.
Watch this: Coffee run? Windows 10 Dynamic Lock lets you simply walk away
Step 1: Pair your phone
Before you enable Dynamic Lock, you must first pair your phone with your PC. You can skip down to step 2 if that's already done.
On your PC, go to Settings > Devices > Bluetooth & other devices.
Turn on Bluetooth with the toggle switch there. (Turn on your phone's Bluetooth as well).
Next, tap the "+" button for Add Bluetooth or other device.
In the pop-up Add a device window, tap Bluetooth, then choose your device from the list that appears.
Prompts should appear on both your PC and phone. Accept them to pair.
In my case, my iPhone wasn't listed after the laptop scanned for Bluetooth devices (it saw only my Apple TV). Updating my laptop's Bluetooth driver, however, fixed the problem.
To update your PC's Bluetooth driver:
Open the Device Manager (press the Start button and type in "Device Manager"), then click to expand the Bluetooth line.
Next, right-click on the first Bluetooth item listed (mine says Bluetooth USB Module), tap Update driver and then choose Search automatically for updated driver software.
Step 2: Activate Dynamic Lock
With your PC and phone paired:
Go to Settings >Accounts and then tap Sign-in options in the left panel.
Scroll way down to the Dynamic Lock section and check the box for Allow Windows to detect when you're away and automatically lock the device.
Dynamic Lock in action
Just know that Dynamic Lock isn't a foolproof security mechanism for these three reasons (at least as of today):
Your PC stays unlocked until you walk out of Bluetooth range
Your PC still stays unlocked for 30 seconds after that
If someone hops onto your PC while it's unlocked, Dynamic Lock won't engage at all
When I walked to the other side of my house, put my phone down and returned to my PC, I didn't see the lock screen even by the time I sat down -- but just before I started muttering nasty things about Bluetooth and betas, the PC suddenly locked.
If you regularly lock your PC when you leave your desk, then perhaps Dynamic Lock can be useful as a safety net, kicking in to lock your PC should you forget, perhaps when you run out of your office after receiving an email about free pizza in the conference room.
Dynamic Lock also forces you to rely on the connection mysteries of Bluetooth. You probably don't need me to tell you that Bluetooth connections can be far from reliable. Perhaps it's just a function of the beta or particular to my phone and laptop, but the connection dropped between my iPhone and my Windows laptop after Dynamic Lock locked the laptop. (This didn't happen for my colleague Sean Hollister, who used a Surface Book and Android phone.)
Each time I entered my password to unlock my laptop, the connection between my iPhone and PC dropped. The laptop kept reporting that the two were paired, but my iPhone showed them unconnected. Making matters worse, I couldn't simply tap to reconnect but had to remove the devices and go through the pairing process all over again.
I was also a little disappointed to learn there's no Dynamic Unlock part of the equation. The Dynamic Lock feature only locks your PC when you and your Bluetooth phone wander out of range. It doesn't magically unlock it when you get back to your desk. For that, you'll need a face-recognizing IR webcam and Windows Hello.