Mac Performance

How to Change Sleep Settings on a Mac

In order to save energy and prevent wear in Macs, Apple implemented a sleep mode, which usually activates after a certain period of inactivity.


However, you can easily change how long your Mac waits before going to sleep. You can put it to sleep instantly for battery saving or privacy reasons or you can even postpone your Mac’s sleep to let you download files or listen to music for a long time without disturbance.

Before we start

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In this article, we’ll cover the following topics:

How to put your Mac to sleep manually

Putting your Mac to sleep instead of shutting it down can save you a lot of time and prevent unnecessary wear and tear.


You can put your Mac into sleep mode using any of the following methods:

  1. Open the Apple menu and choose the Sleep option
  2. Click Sleep after pressing the power key
  3. If you have a portable Mac, just close the lid and it will automatically go to sleep
apple menu sleep option highlighted

If your Mac has an infrared receiver, you can also put your computer to sleep or wake it up using an Apple Remote:

  • To put your Mac to sleep: press and hold the Play/Pause button for five seconds
  • To wake up your Mac: press any button on the remote

How to change your Mac’s sleep settings

Apple allows you to automatically put your Mac to sleep after a fixed period of your choice (between one minute and three hours). You can even choose to prevent your Mac from sleeping.


To adjust your Mac’s sleep settings:

1. Click the Apple icon in the upper-left corner of your screen

2. Choose System Preferences

apple menu system preferences

3. Select Battery

system preferences battery

4. Here you can control the energy-saving settings for when your Mac is powered by the battery or the power adapter. We’ll explain each of your options below.


In the Battery tab:


1. Use the Turn display off after slider to choose how long your MacBook should wait before putting your display to sleep (from one minute up to three hours). You can also prevent the display from ever going to sleep by dragging the slider all the way to the right


2. Below the slider, set these additional sleep-related settings:

  • Slightly dim the display when on battery power: This setting is good for saving energy
  • Enable Power Nap while on battery power: This allows your Mac to occasionally wake from sleep to perform tasks such as checking for new emails. If your priority is saving battery, it’s best to uncheck this one
battery tab macos big sur

In the Power Adapter tab:


1. Use the Turn display off after slider to choose your preferred amount of time to wait before automatically turning the display off. You can choose between one minute and three hours, or slide all the way to the right if you never want the display to turn off


2. Below this slider, set these additional sleep-related settings:

  • Prevent computer from sleeping automatically when the display is off: This way you can close the lid without putting your MacBook to sleep.
  • Wake for network access: Allow your Mac to wake up when your Wi-Fi turns on or when an app requests access to the internet.
  • Enable Power Nap while plugged into a power adapter: Let your Mac wake from sleep to perform certain tasks, like checking for emails
battery tab power adapter big sur

How to schedule sleep on your Mac

You might know exactly how long your Mac needs to stay awake. For example, if you always fall asleep before 1 am but you often forget about shutting down your Mac, you could schedule it to sleep at that time to avoid keeping your computer awake till morning.


Here’s how to schedule sleep times on your Mac:

1. Click on the Apple logo in the upper-left corner of your screen

2. Select System Preferences

3. Open Battery

4. Click Schedule

5. A tab opens that includes two checkboxes:

  • Start up or wake
  • Sleep


6. Select the day of the week and the exact time you would like to wake or put your Mac to sleep

7. Click OK

battery schedule tab macos big sur

Start a Mac sleep timer using Terminal

If you want to put your Mac to sleep (or shut it down or restart it) after a set amount of time, you need to use Terminal to do so.


Go to Applications > Utilities to open Terminal. Then enter the following command, but don’t hit Return yet:

sudo shutdown

Add a space at the end of this command, then type one of the following modifiers to choose what you want your Mac to do:

  • To shut down your Mac, type: -h
  • To restart your Mac, type: -r
  • To put your Mac to sleep, type: -s

Add another space, and finally, type + icon, followed by the number of minutes you want to set the timer for. Hit Return to start the timer.


For example, the following command would put a Mac to sleep after 10 minutes:


sudo shutdown -s +10


You’ll need to enter an administrator’s password to confirm the command.


1. Does a Mac go to sleep automatically?

Yes, by default your Mac will go to sleep automatically. However, you can change the settings anytime as described above.

2. How long does it take for a Mac to go to sleep?

By default, a Mac goes to sleep after two minutes of inactivity. Still, you can set different periods of time ranging from one minute to three hours of inactivity.

3. How do I get my Mac screen to stay awake longer?

You need to change your Mac’s sleep settings as described above.

4. Will my alarm go off if my Mac is asleep?

No, an alarm set in the Calendar app won’t go off if your Mac is asleep. However, you can prevent your Mac from going to sleep or use a third-party alarm app that is also designed to keep your computer from sleeping.


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