It is common to think that a Mac computer does not have to be turned off. For this reason, while users of Windows computers turn them off when they finish using them, those who have Macs tend to leave them on indefinitely.
Many Mac users engage in this behavior because they want to pick up where they left off, but also because experience has shown that Macs tend to tolerate this type of behavior, probably because Apple has designed macOS and Macs to be very efficient in terms of performance. power usage and performance. But is it really a good idea?
Every user has three options when they are done using the computer for the day: leave it on, put it to sleep, or turn it off. Which is the best option?
Do I have to turn off my Mac or MacBook?
Over time, processes and applications can clog up RAM and cause performance to drop slightly, especially on older Macs. As a result, if a few days have passed since you shut down your Mac, you may feel that your Mac is slowing down or not performing optimally.
You can rectify this by closing and restarting apps, closing some of those copious browser tabs you have open, or restarting your Mac.
macOS does a good job of managing memory usage, but sometimes the only way to give your device the clean slate it needs is to shut it down and boot it up once more. This will clear your RAM and allow some processes that might have gotten stuck to start up again.
It’s also the case that some updates can only be applied when your Mac restarts, so turning your Mac off and on from time to time will ensure everything works as it should.
But how often should it be turned off?
Should I shut down my Mac at night?
Shutting down your Mac every night probably won’t do any more good than saving all the stuff you were working on at the end of the day by leaving it on. However, it’s a good idea to restart your Mac every few days, so if a couple of times a week you can finish the tasks you’re working on before the end of the day so you can shut down your Mac, your Mac will thank you.
You may also be interested in this article on how to measure the speed and performance of your Mac.
Is it better to put my Mac to sleep than to shut it down?
When put to sleep, your Mac uses a reduced amount of power and can “wake up” much faster than the time it takes to turn on a Mac that has been turned off. In fact, new Macs featuring any variant of Apple’s M1 processor wake up virtually instantly due to the way the system is configured, making it an even more tempting option.
A good rule of thumb is that if you’re only going to be away from your Mac for an hour or two, or even overnight, letting it sleep is probably the best approach. If it’s a longer period, it’s better to turn it off, for reasons discussed in the next section.
In fact, you can use more energy turning your computer off and on again than leaving it in sleep mode.
If you’re worried about the electricity an iMac or MacBook consumes, don’t be; it’s really minimal when the screen is off and the Mac goes to sleep.
Laptops consume very little power both off and at rest. 0.21W idle on a MacBook Air M1 will be 0.77kWh in a year if it is idle for 10 hours every night instead of being turned off.
An iMac draws slightly more power both off and at rest, but 1.36W at idle is still low. 10 hours of rest every night turns into 5kWh of energy consumption in a year.
Of course, if you’re worried about your Mac’s resource consumption, turn it off when you go to sleep.
How to shut down a Mac
To shut down your Mac follow these steps:
- Click the Apple icon at the top left of the screen.
- Then select ‘Shutdown’ from the menu.
Some people object to shutdown, saying that the cooling and overheating of components that occurs when turning computers on and off can be harmful, but we think Macs are built to be more robust than that.
If you’re only away from your Mac for a short time and you know your Mac is in a safe environment, then we’d recommend leaving it on, but overnight you’ll probably want to compromise on putting it to sleep or shutting it down completely. .
How to put a Mac to sleep
To put a Mac to sleep follow these steps:
- Click the Apple icon at the top left of the screen.
- Select ‘Idle’ from the menu.
You can also schedule your Mac to go to sleep after a set period of inactivity, which is useful if you’re often away from your Mac in an office environment and want to keep your work safe from prying eyes. It is also useful if at the end of the day you forget to do it manually. Also, it will save your battery if you are working on a MacBook.
To set a Mac to go to sleep automatically, follow these steps:
- Open ‘System Preferences’.
- Click ‘Energy Saver’. You’ll see two options at the top of the window (Battery and Power Adapter) or just ‘Power Adapter’ on iMacs and Mac minis as they don’t have a battery.
- You’ll see a slider at the top that lets you set how long your Mac should be idle before the screen turns off. Choose a reasonable amount, as 2 minutes will be very annoying if you are thinking about things while writing a document or presentation.
- Next, make sure the Prevent the computer from automatically going to sleep when the screen is off check box is not checked.
There you will find some other options to adapt the behavior of your Mac, such as putting the hard drives to sleep, and we recommend that you activate all of them.
How to schedule when your Mac goes to sleep or shuts down
Instead of relying on the display method mentioned above or your own memory, you can also set specific times when your Mac will go to sleep or shut down and wake up again.
This can be a useful way to mark the end of the work day, and then have your machine ready to go when you arrive for the morning shift.
Follow these steps to do it:
- Open ‘System Preferences > Energy Saving’.
- Click the ‘Schedule’ button in the lower right corner.
- You can now click the ‘Start or Wake’ box to choose when your Mac is ready for action (either weekdays, weekends, every day, or specific days).
- Below this you will see another box with Sleep next to it. Select it.
- Click on ‘Sleep’ to open the other options, which are ‘Restart and Shutdown’.
- Now, set the time you want to revive your Mac, and when you’re happy with the time click ‘OK’ to get it going.
One thing you’ll need to remember is that running apps will often prevent macOS from shutting down, as the operating system doesn’t want you to accidentally lose important work that might be unsaved.
To ensure that automatic shutdown works, you’ll need to close everything when you’re done using your Mac.
How long is too long to leave a Mac turned off?
If you’re going to store your Mac for an extended period of time, Apple recommends that you don’t leave the battery fully charged (100%) or fully discharged (0%).
If it is stored fully charged for a long time, the battery may lose some capacity, which may shorten its life. If stored fully discharged, the battery could fall into a deep discharge state, making it unable to hold a charge.
Apps that improve performance and clean up RAM
If the main reason for shutting down your Mac is to improve performance, then you might as well consider a software cleaner for Mac that can keep things clean automatically and prevent apps from being greedy with your resources.
We’ve had good experiences with Nektony’s Mac Cleaner Pro ($44.95) and MacPaw’s CleanMyMac X ($34.95), but you’ll find other good options in our roundup of the best Mac cleaning and optimization software.
We also have these tips for freeing up your Mac’s RAM. There are some great apps that can clean up your RAM without shutting down your Mac. One option is Parallels Toolbox, which includes over 30 tools – one of which is a handy tool. to free memory. You can get a 7-day free trial, after which it costs $19.99 per year.