There are three main types of sleep modes for Apple desktops and portables. The three modes are Sleep, Hibernation, and Safe Sleep. There are different reasons that you may wish to use the available settings, let’s go through the options below and help you to adjust the sleep settings on a Mac.
Sleep mode is used by most Mac desktops, it essentially means that the components in the Mac are put to sleep but the RAM remains active. This enables the Mac to quickly wake from slumber and allow you to keep on working.
The use of hibernation was very popular in the early days of Windows and the feature has been built into the Mac as well. The contents of the RAM are copied to a file on the drive, this allows you to save the current state and can resume work and all the applications, browsers and files will be opened as you left them.
This process does make the startup and shutdown process take longer, just as the shutdown requires the content of RAM to be copied to the drive when you turn the machine on those contents are written back to RAM from the drive.
In a similar way to the sleep mode the contents are stored in the RAM and this remains active while the Mac sleeps. The wakeup time is very fast due to this procedure. We call it safe sleep because as a backup the contents of the RAM is stored on the drive, this will enable you to recover any data should a power failure happen.
Safe sleep is the standard for Mac portables now, Standby time does generally last a long time but there is always that chance that either you forgot to charge the device or left it on standby for too long.
How do I find out what sleep mode my Mac is using?
You can find out what the current setting is by opening Terminal, this can be found by going to Applications > Utilities > Terminal and then enter:
pmset -g | grep hibernatemode
You will then be given the current mode as below.
In this case I used my own Mac as an example and this returned 3 which is the default for newer Macs. The possible results are as below:
- Hibernatemode 0
Zero is a normal sleep setting for Mac desktops.
- Hibernatemode 1
This was used for older portable devices and is not frequently used anymore.
- Hibernatemode 3
Normal mode used for Mac portables and this is for the safe sleep setting.
- Hibernatemode 25
This is the full hibernate mode used on newer Macs – This can increase battery life but it can take longer to sleep and also wake. Prior to hibernating it forces inactive pages to the disk
In order to reduce the memory footprint pages are not directly loaded back into memory straight away, the downside is that this will cause page writes to the drive and applications / files can take longer to load after sleep.
Standby has been used since 2013, most newer Macs support this feature. Depending on the time setting, Standby mode is automatically activated providing that there are no devices plugged in such as USB devices or SD Cards.
Moving between Standby and waking can be done by opening the lid on your computer, moving the mouse around or pressing a key on the keyboard. Standby mode can used between two to three weeks but if you allow the Mac to be discharged then you will need to connect the power adapter to fully charge and it is possible that permanent damage can be caused, overall reducing the lifespan of the supplied battery.
How do I change my settings?
Sleep mode can be changed on the Mac, however if your Mac is older than 2005 then we recommend that you don’t adjust the settings. Using an unsupported sleep setting could lead to data loss and unexpected behaviour.
If you still wish to make a change then you can do so with the following command:
sudo pmset -a hibernatemode X
Simply replace X with the corresponding number from the sleep table above.
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