Restart, Sleep, and Shut Down Your MacBook - dummies

Restart, Sleep, and Shut Down Your MacBook

By Mark L. Chambers

Sleep, Restart, and Shut Down are the Mac OS X commands that you use when you need to take care of business away from your computer. Each of these options produces a different reaction from your MacBook. All three appear on the friendly Apple menu at the top-left corner of your Desktop.


  • Sleep: You don’t need a glass of water or a bedtime story when you put Mac OS X to Sleep, which is a power-saving mode that allows you to quickly return to your work later. (Waking your laptop up from Sleep mode is much faster than booting or restarting it, and Sleep mode can conserve battery power on your MacBook.)

    Depending on the settings that you choose in System Preferences, your MacBook can power-down the monitor and spin-down the hard drives to save wear and tear on your hardware. You can set Mac OS X to automatically enter Sleep mode after a certain amount of trackpad and keyboard inactivity.

    To awaken your slumbering supercomputer, just poke the trackpad or press any key on the keyboard. And talk about convenience: Savvy MacBook owners like you can put their laptops to sleep by simply closing the computer, and wake the beast by opening it back up again.

  • Restart: Use Restart if your MacBook has suddenly decided to work “outside the box” and begins acting strangely — for instance, if your Universal Serial Bus (USB) ports suddenly lock up or your FireWire drive no longer responds. Naturally, you first need to save any work that’s open (unless your computer has locked up altogether).

    You also elect to restart Mac OS X when you switch start-up volumes, or switch a MacBook to a Windows partition using Boot Camp. (Some applications and Apple software updates require a restart after you install them.)

  • Shut Down: When you’re ready to return to the humdrum, real world and you’re done with your MacBook for the time being, use the Shut Down option. Well-behaved Mac applications automatically prompt you to save any changes that you’ve made to open documents before the computer actually turns itself off.

    If you’ve configured your MacBook to disable automatic login, you can shut down Mac OS X from the login screen as well.

Besides the Apple menu command, all MacBooks have a Power key on the keyboard that you can press to display a dialog with Sleep, Restart, and Shut Down buttons. If you change your mind and decide to tie up loose ends before you leave, click the Cancel button to return to Mac OS X.

Lion’s new Resume feature comes into play when you log out, restart, or shut down your Mac. Click the Reopen Windows When Logging Back In check box to enable it, and Lion automatically restores the state of your desktop the next time you turn on your Mac, including all your open windows and selections!

Resume also works with individual applications; for example, when you quit Preview, Lion saves the current state of that application’s workspace. When you launch Preview again, it displays the windows you were viewing, documents and all. (Note that an application has to be written specifically for Lion to support Resume.)


Your MacBook has a Drive Eject key that you can use to load and eject discs. You can hold down the Control key and press the Drive Eject key to display the same restart/sleep/shutdown options.