How to Change Sleep Time on Mac

The conservation of energy is a great thing and most of our modern computer systems, especially Macs, are very good at doing this. Not only do they save our battery power but they use less energy as a whole and that is good for our environment, but the default settings don’t always work for all of us.

If you’re finding that your Mac goes to sleep too quickly or not quick enough, you can change the amount of idle time that triggers the system to go to sleep. Click “System Settings”, under “Lock Screen”, you will find the settings to adjust when your Mac goes to sleep.

My name is Eric, and as a software engineer and user of multiple computers at one time, I often need to ensure my computers stay awake even when idle for a significant period of time. Adjusting this on your Mac is fairly straightforward.

Keep reading and I can show you how.

Lock Screen Settings

It may sound as if these are just settings that determine when and how your screen locks. These settings do determine that, but at the same time, there are settings in this category that will determine the sleep time on your Mac. 

If you have a MacBook, when you get to the Lock Screen settings you will find two different categories in which you can change the sleep time on your Mac. 

  • The first determines how long of an inactive period triggers sleep mode when running on just the battery.
  • The second determines when sleep mode starts if you are connected to power. If you have a desktop you will not have the two different settings, but just one for turning the display off.

The steps below show how to do this for a MacBook, but the concept is the same for a desktop Mac, it’s just that you will have only one setting instead of two.

Step 1: Open System Settings

Click on the Apple icon in the upper left corner of your desktop and then click on System Settings in the drop-down menu.

Step 2: Go to Lock Screen Settings

Click on the Lock Screen settings in the System Settings window.

Step 3: Adjust the Settings

In the Lock Screen settings, you can adjust the time period before your computer goes to sleep by clicking on the drop-down next to the appropriate setting (battery or no battery) you wish to change. 

You can even set it to Never if you don’t want to go to sleep at all. I sometimes use this setting temporarily when I am installing software or doing something that takes a long period of time and I don’t want my system to go to sleep while doing it.

Once you have chosen the settings you want, they will be active and you should be good to go.

Battery Settings

Under System Settings, you will also find some settings under Battery that can change/affect how your system sleeps. One setting prevents your system from automatically sleeping when the display is off. 

If this setting is turned on, the display will still turn off after the set amount of time but the system will not sleep. It will still be running even though the display has been turned off.

The other setting allows the system to wake up for network access activities, such as your system getting messages or system updates. This setting is configurable for Always, Never, and Only on Power Adapter.

How to Force Immediate Sleep

As you probably already know, your Mac will go to sleep after a default time period or a designated time period you have set as shown above, but what if you want to force your Mac to go to sleep immediately? If you are done using it for the day, you may want to put it to sleep right away.

No worries, it’s easy to do and there are at least three ways you can do this as I will show below.

1. Close the Display

For me, this is the simplest, quickest, and most straightforward way to put your Mac to sleep immediately. I use this one all the time and sometimes without even thinking about it. If you have a MacBook, just close the display or fold it up. This will put your MacBook to sleep right away without any other actions needed.

2. Apple Menu

You may want the display to remain open so that you can see when it wakes up from incoming messages or network activity. If this is the case you can just go to the Apple menu and click on the Sleep selection. This will put your system to sleep with the display still open.

Key Combination

For some Macs, you can use a specific key combination to put your system to sleep immediately. You must have a Mac that has a Media Eject key. If you do just press the following three keys and your Mac should go to sleep.

Control ^ + Shift ⇧ + Eject ⏏

Waking up Your Mac

Above we have gone over the settings for your Mac going to sleep and how to force it to go to sleep. Once it is sleeping you might be wondering how to wake it up if you have not already figured that part out.

Waking it up is not difficult. If you have the laptop shut, all you need to do is open it up. Lift the display and it should wake up. If you have the screen lock on, you will still need to type your password to log in.

If your Mac is sleeping and the display is already opened, you only need to press a key on the keyboard. This will wake the system up and as mentioned above, you may need to log in if you have the lock screen set.


Below are a few questions that often come up when discussing how to change the sleep time you a Mac.

What are the benefits of letting your Mac sleep?

There are a few benefits to having your Mac sleep when not using it. The most obvious is that it saves power which is especially good if you are running just on battery power. It can also prevent others from getting into your system if you have the lock screen set.

Why would you need to disable your Mac from sleeping?

It makes sense that everyone would want to save power, so why disable it? You might have something running on the screen that you want to watch or monitor over a long period of time or you may have a process running that you don’t want to be paused when the system goes to sleep.

Is there any optimal time period for the sleep setting?

No, it really all depends on your preferences and what you are doing. Some users really want to save power but others can be annoyed by the need to continuously log in to their system any time they take a quick break. It is really up to you and your preferences.


The sleep time on your Mac can be easily modified as shown above. Just go to your system settings and then to the Lock Screen settings and adjust them to your preferences.

I hope the information provided above has helped you with changing the sleep time on your Mac. As usual, let me know if you have any questions or comments. I would love to hear from you.

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