Sleeping your Mac

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Sleeping your Mac is often the preferred way to save power when you aren't using it. Sleep uses only nominally more energy than when your Mac is shut down but still plugged in. Yet, waking from sleep is much faster than restarting, and as long as your Mac continues to draw a little power, all of your open documents and applications will be retained in the state that you left them.

Some users will leave their Macs on all the time. While this usually will not have any ill effects on the hardware (especially if the display and hard drives are set to sleep in Energy Saver), it uses a lot more power. Macs that are used as servers or are left on completing complex tasks (rendering, copying, backing up files) obviously should not be set to sleep, but users are encouraged to sleep their Macs whenever they are not in use to conserve power.

Users more familiar with Microsoft Windows often are hesitant to use sleep when using a Mac. Sleep on a Mac normally does exactly what it says it does, while the sleep-like options on Windows often don't work quite as well and sometimes don't work at all.

There are a number of ways you can sleep down a Mac. You can:

  • Go to the Apple menu and choose "Sleep"
  • On some Macs, press control-eject and choose "Sleep" from the window that appears, or command-option-eject to sleep immediately
  • On some Macs, you can press the power button and choose "Sleep" from the window that appears
  • Use Energy Saver to sleep your Mac after a set time of inactivity or at a particular time of day
  • On all Mac laptops, just close the lid to put it to sleep.

Display and hard drive sleep

In addition to putting the entire system into a "deep sleep," Energy Saver also allows a user to dim and turn off the display after a set period of inactivity and also spin down unused hard drives after 10 minutes. This can help save power, though not as much as deep sleep. Many users will set both of these sleep options to happen before deep sleep happens to save a little power while keeping the system up. Users who never sleep their systems should at least set display sleep and hard drive spindown to occur after a period of inactivity.

Sleep and laptop computers

You may safely transport a Mac laptop in sleep mode. The hard drive is parked, so there is no chance of data loss, even if you drop the computer.

Many laptop users keep their laptops in sleep mode even when travelling on short trips. The battery is drained very slowly, and there is a negligible effect on battery life even when the computer is asleep for two days or more.

However, some PowerBook users have noticed more rapid battery loss, especially when the computer is paired with a bluetooth device. This can be attributed to the "Allow Bluetooth devices to wake this computer" option under System Preferences, Bluetooth, which when activated requires the Bluetooth component to stay energized instead of being powered down when in sleep.

See Also