How to: Prevent Others from Reading Your Emails or Accessing Your PC (at Work)

Dennis Faas's picture

" Dear Dennis,

I work in an office on a desktop PC. If I am away from the PC, anyone in the office can hop onto my computer and access my emails because the 'offline access' to my emails feature is enabled. I have no idea how to turn it off! How can I prevent others from accessing my emails while I'm away? "

My response:

The quick and short answer is that disabling offline access to emails depends on the application or service you're using - most likely somewhere in your user account settings if you're using something like Gmail, or possibly in the "Tools -> Options" menu if you're using an email program. That said, a much better solution to this problem is to password protect your entire desktop when you're not using it. This will not only prevent others from looking at your emails when you're away, but will also lock them out from gaining access to your entire PC.

How to: Prevent Others from Reading Your Emails or Accessing Your PC (at Work)

You can password protect access to your desktop in two ways:

  1. Use a password to login to your desktop PC. When you need to step away from an extended period of time, log out of the PC. To create a password for your user account (if one is not already set): click Start, then type in "user accounts" (no quotes); a new window will appear. In Windows 7 and 8 you should see a link to "change password" - click that to enter in your password. In Windows 10, do the following: click Start, then type in "Sign in options"; click the "Sign-in options" icon when it appears. On the right of the screen, locate the "Password" heading, then click the change button. Note that your user account must have administrator access to make these changes, otherwise you will not be able to set a password.
  2. After you have created a password for your account, the next thing to do is to enable a screensaver with password protection. This will effectively lock out access to your desktop PC after a specified time, then request a password to get back in. It will also hide (blanket) all activity on the desktop when activated. To do so: click start, then type in "screensaver" (no quotes); wait for the "Turn screen saver on or off" icon to appear and click it. The "Screen Saver Settings" window will appear; under the "Screen Saver" heading, set it to "None" and then under that, check mark the box that says "On resume, display login screen", then to the left of that set the timer to 10 minutes. Next, click Apply, then OK. The "screen saver" in this case is not really a screen saver, but a timing mechanism such that if there is no activity from your keyboard or mouse in 10 minutes time, the desktop will become inaccessible until your user password is entered - the same password you entered in Step #1 above.

I hope that helps.

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About the author: Dennis Faas is the owner and operator of With over 30 years of computing experience, Dennis' areas of expertise are a broad range and include PC hardware, Microsoft Windows, Linux, network administration, and virtualization. Dennis holds a Bachelors degree in Computer Science (1999) and has authored 6 books on the topics of MS Windows and PC Security. If you like the advice you received on this page, please up-vote / Like this page and share it with friends. For technical support inquiries, Dennis can be reached via Live chat online this site using the Zopim Chat service (currently located at the bottom left of the screen); optionally, you can contact Dennis through the website contact form.

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Slick's picture

Also, for a quick keyboard shortcut, the Window Key + L will lock it.