Keeping your password private is important, but sometimes you need to permit temporary access.

There's a pair of sick kids at home. One wants to watch Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and the other wants to watch My Little Pony. Neither is willing to let the other go first, but you've got your spouse's tablet nearby and some headphones. Just as this minor conflict seems to reach its end, you notice there's a pattern lock on the tablet and you have no idea what the pattern is.

This happened in my house recently, and I was nearly 70 miles away with no clue how to discretely explain how to unlock my tablet from the meeting I was sitting in. And then it hit me — the trick to sharing patterns for unlocking your phone or tablet without confusing the person on the other end of the conversation.

At first I wanted to try describing the motions involved in tracing the pattern. Go diagonally, and then left, etc. until it unlocks. It turns out it is way easier to treat the pattern like a grid of numbers, and just read of the numbers in the sequence the finger needs to travel. If you look at the pattern dots like this:

Pattern Lock Numbers

You can then say the pattern to unlock is 1>5>4>8>6>2 and have the person on the other end be able to quickly figure out how to unlock the phone or tablet.

This isn't something that is likely to happen to most people particularly often, and depending on who you are giving the pattern to you may need to remember to change your pattern once you're reunited with your hardware. If you have a better way to deal with sharing a pattern lock, drop some knowledge in the comments!