Turn off your Apple Mac overnight or leave it in sleep mode?

Should you leave your Apple Mac turned off completely at night or simply leave it in sleep mode after work and until the next morning? This question not only concerns long-time users of Apple hardware, but also and especially those who switch from a Windows PC to a Mac with macOS. That's why we've put together the various advantages and disadvantages of shutting down and sleeping mode. This way you can assess the usefulness of your own approach and, if necessary, reconsider it - like I will do...

Simply close your MacBook to use sleep mode? Or would you rather shut it down completely? There are advantages and disadvantages for both. Here you will find all the information you need to find the best approach for your workflow.
Simply close your MacBook to use sleep mode? Or would you rather shut it down completely? There are advantages and disadvantages for both. Here you will find all the information you need to find the best approach for your workflow.

TL;DR: Turn off Mac or leave it in sleep mode?

  • If the Mac is left in sleep mode, it doesn't use much power. The annual costs for Apple silicon Macs range from less than 1 euro (MacBook Air) to less than 6 euros (iMac). The information can of course vary depending on the provider and tariff.
  • If you stay in sleep mode for just a few hours or just one night, the power consumption can be less than what occurs when you shut down and reboot.
  • Memory management and machine learning scripts are executed in hibernation mode, making it more convenient to use in the medium term.
  • Shutting down or restarting the Mac can solve bugs and other problems and quickly ensure a tidy macOS without dozens of open windows and tabs.
  • If you are away for a longer period of time, it is recommended that you shut down the device completely, otherwise the power or battery will be used unnecessarily.

Leaving Mac to sleep at night: Benefits

Especially with newer, energy-efficient Apple computers with an M chip, it doesn't hurt to leave the Mac in sleep mode overnight. This can also be done every night for several days or weeks until a restart might make sense again. The electricity consumption is negligibly low, so that the electricity costs are also within a tolerable range. A MacBook Air or MacBook Pro can also be left in standby mode away from the power supply without the battery being completely empty in the morning.

While the Mac is in sleep mode - depending on your individual settings - it also runs some helpful scripts. These are used, for example, for memory collection and more efficient RAM usage during operation following sleep. So you can benefit from better used RAM. Photo recognition, for example to assign specific people or animals that are recognized in the Photos app, also runs in idle mode. The same applies to other machine learning processes that are intended to make Mac use more comfortable.

Another big advantage of hibernation is that programs, documents and tabs remain open. If the macOS operating system is not closed, but only sent to sleep, the open content will still be usable. Since they are not interacted with, they are kept paused and therefore use virtually no hardware resources. When you wake up your Mac, they're immediately available again, so you can pick up where you left off.

Leaving Mac to sleep at night: Disadvantages

If problems or bugs have already occurred that could be solved with a restart, then they will of course still be there after the hibernation state. They may even get worse after the break, depending on the underlying code hiccups. Of course, some problems can also be solved by closing individual apps or processes - but the quicker way, especially for laypeople, is to completely restart the computer. 

Even if you look at every single cent of power consumption, the hibernation mode can become a disadvantage in the long run. Especially if the Mac is not used not just overnight, but also for several days at a time. Additionally, if you put a MacBook to sleep and then forget about it while on vacation or even for several weeks or months, you may find it with a drained battery, which can shorten its lifespan.

Shutting down your Mac completely: Advantages

The benefits of shutting down the Mac, despite those of hibernation, are not negligible. Some bugs and problems that arise during prolonged operation can be solved by simply restarting or switching off overnight. In addition, even less (or no) electricity is consumed than in idle mode. Anyone who wants to start the morning with the pure macOS desktop and open programs manually will also be happy here, as the apps, documents and tabs used in the last operation have been closed (at least if nothing else was set).

Shutting down your Mac completely: Disadvantages

The machine learning and memory management benefits that come with hibernation are less apparent if the Mac is always turned off immediately after use. Because when it is in sleep mode, as described above, some scripts for AI functions and more efficient use of RAM can run. Although these are also part of the background actions during active use, they can be reduced or paused to keep system resources free for the user.

Another disadvantage of turning it off is that by default, shutting down involves quitting all open programs, documents, and tabs. So if you need dozens of websites, apps and the like for work or hobby, you have to open them manually again and again in order to be able to continue working the next day. Of course there are tools like Session Pal, which can open multiple Safari tabs or app combinations with just one click, so you can start without much effort even when you restart. But you first have to look for the right tool and set it up; The idle state is used more quickly.

The hybrid: “Open all windows again the next time you log in”

But there is also a hybrid of both approaches that can overturn one or the other argument. Because the advantage of open windows and tabs can be combined with the advantage of the restarted macOS. And all with just one click! Because if you select “Switch off…” via the Apple logo at the top left of the menu bar, the Mac will not shut down immediately.

Instead, you have 60 seconds to decide against shutting down or to check the box “Open all windows again the next time you log in”. This ensures that the Mac remembers which Safari tabs, which Pages documents, which apps and the like were open even when it is switched off. After the boot process and logging into the corresponding account, everything is called up again.

I just tried the whole thing while writing this post and it worked perfectly. After turning on my MacBook Pro again, the Pages document in which I am writing this text opened. Safari with Jens' YouTube video and other sources was also opened automatically. The music app, Affinity Photo, Numbers and other apps that I had open when I shut down were also opened.

So if you prefer hibernation just for that reason and are not interested in memory management or the other benefits, but want to take advantage of the benefits of shutting down, you can choose this method. Troubleshooting to combat minor bugs or other problems is also possible if this involves a restart but you don't want to lose the many open programs, documents and tabs. Because the restart option can also be checked.

Shut down your Mac if it is not being used for a long period of time

If the Mac, and especially the MacBook, is not used for a long period of time, then you should of course shut it down completely. If the device has been lying around unused for several weeks or months, we recommend charging the battery between 50% and 80%, disconnecting the MacBook from the power supply and storing it somewhere safe. Charging to 100% or discharging to below 20% or even 0% of the battery is not recommended before long-term storage. Both can negatively affect the lifespan of the battery.

How do you put a Mac to sleep?

  1. Click on that Apple logo top left in the menu bar
  2. Then choose from its menu hibernation from
  3. To wake up the Mac, move the mouse or press a key on the keyboard

Alternatively, you can simply close a MacBook Air or MacBook Pro without having to first activate sleep mode via the Apple menu. It then automatically wakes up from sleep when you open it again.

How do you set automatic sleep on your Mac?

  1. Click on that Apple logo top left in the menu bar
  2. In its menu select the System settings ... from
  3. In the menus lock screen and Battery -> Options ... You can set details about the automatic sleep mode

How do you shut down or restart a Mac?

  1. Click on that Apple logo top left in the menu bar
  2. Then choose from its menu reboot... (Mac will shut down and boot straight back up) or Turn off… (Mac will only shut down).
  3. With both actions you can specify whether the open windows, documents and tabs should be opened again after the new boot process

How Lynne and Jens proceed

At the Sir Apfelot headquarters, MacBooks and iMacs are primarily sent to sleep when they are not needed. The Apple computer is only restarted to create a tidy macOS desktop or to solve problems. As Jens already described in the video embedded above, the electricity costs are negligible, especially since the hibernation mode is not used 365 days a year. If you are away for a long time, the Mac will sometimes be shut down and not used at all for several days. Lynne benefits from hibernation because she always has numerous tabs open in the web browser.

How John proceeds/will proceed

Personally, I take a completely different approach at the Sir Apfelot Outpost. And there is a very simple reason for this: habit. I've used Windows PCs for most of my life, from Windows 3.11 to Windows 10. So I'm just used to shutting down the computer after use and also turning off the junction box. And yes, I restart the apps I need for work every morning. After Jens' video and the research for this article, I'm going to set the hibernation mode on my MacBook Pro (with M1 Pro) and see whether this results in any advantages.

Conclusion on the discussion about hibernation and restarting the Apple Mac

It can be said that neither hibernating nor completely shutting down the Apple Mac is completely right or completely wrong. Both options are available for good reasons and can be used. Hibernation tends to lead to better memory management and, especially for Macs with Apple Silicon (M-Chip), to waking up straight away and continuing to work without booting or other long charging processes. The most recently opened content is directly available.

Shutting down or rebooting, on the other hand, offers the benefits of saving more power and potentially fixing software errors. After switching on, the boot process takes place and you have to enter the password to log in instead of being able to use Touch ID directly. All programs and tabs can also be closed if you have not checked the corresponding box. In short: no definitive recommendation for action should be given here, but only the pros and cons for your own decision should be shown. How do you decide? Feel free to leave a comment :)

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27 comments on “Turn off your Apple Mac overnight or leave it to sleep?”

  1. Marcus from Hesse

    Since I use the Mac every day, East Berlin hibernation (except for vacation times) is the first choice for me.
    BUT: For several years I have been annoyed that the MacBookPro, which is still open, wakes up from sleep at night even without moving the mouse and I don't know the reason for this. 🤔

    1. Hello Marcus,

      I also notice this random waking up of the MacBook from time to time. Apparently a speck of dust falls on the touchpad and immediately triggers the input alarm :D

      Best regards
      John

    2. Kennick! Same here.
      But for me he wakes up just 5 seconds after he goes into sleep!!
      That's extremely annoying.
      I think it depends on the external. BT trackpad!

      So if anyone has an idea – in or outside of East Berlin – I would be very grateful!

  2. Hi,

    I don't know whether this will still be an issue in 2024, the post is from 2013 (translated):

    When a Mac with FileVault encryption goes into standby mode, a FileVault key (yes, this key is encrypted) is stored in the EFI (firmware) so that it quickly wakes up from standby mode when it comes out of deep sleep is awakened. For 99% of users, this hardly matters and is not a security issue, but for those who are concerned about the absolute highest level of security and want to protect their Mac from unusually aggressive attacks (e.g. spy-level), it can You can set OS

    Source: OS X daily

    1. Hi Raffi! To be honest, I don't know that either, but if someone attaches so much importance to security, they will definitely find out more about it. :D

  3. I probably caught a Monday device with my “new” MBP (32 GB RAM) from 2022. I hardly ever shut down my old MBP from 2012 and everything was great for a very long time.
    With the new one, however, I notice more and more often that after just 1 - 2 days there are problems and everything no longer runs as smoothly as it should. If I then shut it down for a certain amount of time (or overnight), then it works ok again.
    I also have a Mac Mini with 16 RAM, but with Apple M2 Pro and somehow the impression is that it is faster and better than the MBP with 32 RAM, but Intel chip.
    Kind of annoying because it was known to be quite expensive!

    1. “… that after just 1 – 2 days there is a problem and everything is no longer running as smoothly as it should …”
      This somehow reminds me of the early days of Windows, which always wanted to be restarted after 50 hours. :-(

  4. For a while, I also had the effect with my old iMac (2011!) that after activating the hibernation mode, at least the hard drive (i.e. not necessarily the display) would start up again relatively regularly without any user interaction. The external (startup) drive also didn't necessarily go into hibernation.
    I seem to faintly remember that a reset of the power management would have helped something back then...

    That being said, the computer in question (yes, it still works after almost 13 years...) - at least for me - does not go into full sleep mode when one of its internal or external drives is mounted on another computer connected via the network. As soon as you deregister/eject this drive there, however, everything calms down...

  5. The idea of ​​using sleep mode never occurred to me. And I also have inhibitions about doing so. Hackers are lurking everywhere.
    My Mac Mini sits on a “custom-made shelf”, well more like a “computer tower” that houses all the other stuff that is needed.
    It has the advantage that the entire cable system cannot be seen.
    And the disadvantage that I can't reach the power button at all.
    I made a “shift linkage” on the Mini so that I can switch it on from the front.
    (Whoever at Appel came up with the idea of ​​placing the switch at the back of the device must have been stoned. You should also move the engine start button to the back in your car.)
    PS: I drilled a hole in the front of the Mac Mini that still had the CD drive and moved the power switch there.

    1. The hackers also have no problem coming during the day. :) No, seriously… I would worry less about the hackers. The Mac would be vulnerable in any case if there was a security gap. But yes, putting the button on the back is a bit too much of a compromise in order to have a nice front.

  6. “How do you put a Mac to sleep?”
    It also depends on which OS is installed.
    The screenshot above doesn't appear for me. ;-)

  7. Hello all,

    regarding the sentence: “Lynne benefits from hibernation because she always has numerous tabs open in the web browser.”

    I assume what is meant here is that when you close Safari, the open tabs are closed. Now you can easily avoid this by 'pinning' your tabs. Every tab that should be used again when restarting is therefore immediately accessible again after a restart and has not been closed.
    You can fix it simply by clicking on the tab, stopping it and dragging it to the left. You can unlock it again by double-clicking on the tab and using the unlock item in the menu that appears.

    1. Hello Surf Eagle,

      thanks for the tip!

      This sounds (at least to me) like a lot of extra work compared to selecting sleep mode. Especially if you use not just two or three tabs, but 20-30 of them. Since you have to move them to the far left, you tend to mess up the order. And when you're done with the session, you have to solve everything first - instead of just closing the window.

      I can well imagine that the procedure is helpful if you integrate it into the workflow from the start. But reimplementing it would at least take me out of the workflow because I would have to constantly remember to move the tabs to the left.

      I just tried the whole thing out, and while pinning on the left works, nothing happens when you double-click on the pinned tab. It can only be released by pulling it back to the right. As I said: If you're used to the procedure, it's certainly helpful. Relearning it can bog down the flow of work. And hibernation and closing the window to close all tabs are probably faster when combined.

      Best regards
      John

      1. Hi John,
        effective, I can follow your thoughts and can well understand that my suggestion may be too complicated.
        What I tried for a long time, and what worked very well, was the following:
        – if you close Safari using the 'red dot', all tabs are lost
        - but if you close Safari via the 'Safari - Exit' menu, all tabs will still be there when you restart Safari and you can continue working.
        Maybe the better option?

        1. Hello Surf Eagle,

          I just checked which settings match what you describe. Because for me only the home page appears after restarting Safari. Your second list item only seems to apply if you select “All windows in the last session” in the “General” tab next to “Open Safari with” in Safari settings. For me, “A new window” is selected, which explains why this approach hasn’t worked for me so far.

          By the way, I hardly ever use the red dot. When I switched from Windows to macOS, I found it so extremely confusing that the Mac didn't actually close programs that I immediately got into the habit of using Command+Q to close them. I now know that macOS' memory optimization ensures that programs open in the background do not use up a lot of resources. But still find it strange that after closing the window in the dock the app still shows as open.

          But be that as it may, the article should not be used to find an optimal course of action for anyone from the Sir Apfelot team. But mainly to show the advantages and disadvantages of the different approaches. So that after reading it you can start using your Mac with better information. It wasn't really foreseeable that the post would get so many comments.

          I'll probably continue to do what I've done before. After all, I only need individual tabs for the respective session. When I'm done researching a particular topic, they can leave. And shutting down the Mac again and again also has advantages for me. Because here in the comments and in the forum I sometimes read that certain errors could be solved by restarting. For me they don't even occur because I shut down the Mac at least once a day. But everyone can think of it exactly as they want.

          Best regards
          John

          1. Hi John,
            Thank you for your feedback.
            Many thanks to you and the whole team at 'sir-apfelot.de' for all the work and topics you do for us, the users.
            Even as an 'old' hand, you learn tips and tricks in the Mac world every day, even if you think you know everything. I have often received some good help from you.
            Thanks and best regards to everyone from Luxembourg

          2. Hello Surf Eagle! Thank you very much for your feedback. Of course that makes me very happy. And I feel the same way… I find out something more or less new every day. You really never stop learning. 😊 Greetings to Luxembourg!

    2. I often have an uptime of 20-30 days in idle mode - without any problems.
      Hibernation is convenient, 60 open tabs.
      Documents, chat programs open.

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