Shut Down vs Sleep on your Mac

Should you shut down your Mac every night? What is the difference between Shut Down and Sleep? Macs are designed to be pretty efficient when it comes to power usage. As far as electricity use, it’s not much and so it’s not something most people should think much about. When you shut down your computer, you will have to wait for it to reboot the next time you turn it on. Although this process is usually much quicker than it used to be, it can still be an inconvenience, and not something you want to do unless there really is a good reason. When you shut down, you have to:

  • Wait for your Mac to reboot.
  • Sign in to your Mac user account.
  • Reopen your webpages, documents, etc. that you had been working on.

If your Mac shuts down unexpectedly, see: Your Computer was Restarted Because of a Problem: How to Fix Kernel Panic on Mac.

Sleep on your Mac

Maybe you use it all the time, but do you really know what it is? When your Mac is asleep:

  • Your computer is drawing only a small amount of power.
  • Your session has been saved in RAM – this means that as soon as your session resumes (your Mac wakes up), everything you were working on is available.

See also: macOS Won’t Go To Sleep? Fix.

How to Put your Mac to Sleep

  • Close the lid (for MacBooks).
  • Go to Apple menu  > Sleep.
  • Press and hold the Power button . Choose Sleep.
sleep option after power button

How to Wake Up your Mac

  • If you’re using a MacBook and the display is closed, open it.
  • Press the Space bar or click on the trackpad.

After your Mac wakes up, you may need to enter your password – if you have set your Mac to require one after sleeping. You may also be able to unlock your Mac with your Apple Watch or using Touch ID.

Shut Down on your Mac

How to Shut Down your Mac

  • Go to Apple menu  > Shut Down.
  • Press and hold the Power button . Choose Shut Down.
  • If you are using a Mac notebook, wait for your Mac to shut down completely before you close the lid.

How to Power On your Mac

  • Press the Power button . No need to hold it down, just press and release.

If your Mac doesn’t power on when you press the Power button, see: MacBook Won’t Turn On? Fix.

How to Force Shut Down your Mac

If your Mac is not responsive, you may need to do a force shut down.

  • Press and hold the power button until your Mac shuts down. You may lose unsaved changes.

To force quit apps, see: How To Control-Alt-Delete On Mac.

Do you Need to Occasionally Shut Down your Mac?

I your Mac is running slowly, the first thing you might try is to close all your open apps and do a shut down or restart. If that doesn’t help, see our article, Slow Mac? How To Speed Up Mac: Tips and Tweaks, for more.

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Dr. Stacey Butler is a tech writer at macReports covering news, how-tos, and user guides. She is a longtime Mac and iPhone user and holds a Ph.D. from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana. Here is her LinkedIn profile.

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