Setting the Mac Energy Saver

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About this article

This article includes instructions for configuring your Energy Saver system preferences on a MacBook Pro. It is intended for all members of the campus community who use an Apple MacBook.

What are Energy Saver system preferences?

These are settings that affect how your MacBook attemtps to conserve power, both when on battery and when plugged into a power outlet. The default settings maximize batter life when on battery and provide moderate savings when plugged into an outlet. You may want to change the Energy Saver settings for the following reasons:

  • You want to prevent your MacBook from conserving power (e.g., going to sleep) when on battery in certain situations (e.g., when presenting in class or in a meeting)
  • You want to prolong your battery life in certain situations (e.g., when you are traveling)
  • You want to tweak the power management settings for some other reason

MacBook levels of arousal

  • Awake - Your screen is on, applications are running, and all systems are functioning
  • Display sleep - Your screen is black, but your applications are running and all systems are functioning
  • Computer sleep - Your screen is black and other components of your MacBook are in idle mode
  • Off - Your screen is black, all of your applications are terminated, and your system is powered down

How does your MacBook react to inactivity?

  • Display sleep - After a certain number of minutes of inactivity (e.g., no keyboard or mouse movement), your screen will go into display sleep mode. The number of minutes of inactivity is set by default, but can be changed by you in the Energy Saver settings. You can recover by simply moving your mouse, touching your trackpad, or pressing a key.
  • Computer sleep - This is a deeper state of sleep during which applications and resources will either shut down or run at reduced capacity. In Mavericks, computer sleep coincides with display sleep
  • Screen lock - After 15 minutes of inactivity (e.g., no keyboard or mouse input), your screen will return to the login screen and you will be required to log back into your MacBook. The screen lock timing is set centrally based on Minnesota State security guidelines and you cannot change it by adjusting the settings on your laptop.

Preventing sleep during a classroom presentation


There is nothing better than a good discussion in the classroom. But if it occurs in the middle of your presentation, you can easily exceed the time-out of your Mac and have it go to sleep. Maybe not a huge problem, but certainly an inconvenience that can be avoided by changing the Energy Saver settings.

The default Energy Saving mode for MacBook Air's saves power and battery life. This darkens and then turns off your display and attached devices in a relatively short amount of time.

Fear not, it is really simple to adjust this item. Click on the Apple menu and select System Preferences. In the second row, you will see a light bulb. (See the image at right.) This is where the Energy Saver settings are stored. Click the light bulb, Energy Saver will open and you will see a window with two tabs at the top: Battery and Power Adapter. Select the tab for the power source you use in the classroom and it will a display slider for that mode of power.


If you use your MacBook Air on battery in the classroom, you will want to modify the Energy Saver settings on the Battery tab. (See the image on the left.) To increase the timeout period, move the slider to the the right. You may want to set the slider to fifteen minutes to match the network timeout. This will give you maximum time to discuss before the network times out.

If you use the power adapter in the classroom, you will need to use the Power Adapter tab. (See the image on the right.) Set the slider to the time you desire for timeout.

In the case of both tabs, check the boxes to set the other parameters for energy usage as you see fit for your needs.

Conserving energy

Additional information on battery conservation is available in these Wiki articles in the Knowledge Base:

More Information

From the Apple Support Site

Related Wiki Topics