There are a lot of different reasons why you might want to use your MacBook with the lid closed. You might want to plug into an external display and move your MacBook out of the way to free up space on your desk (although you could always use both screens). Alternatively you might be wanting to download a software update or play music from your Mac and have found that as soon as you close the lid the download will stop.
If you want to stop your Mac from sleeping when you close the lid then you’ll also find out how to do that below.
One related problem you might come across if you are using your Mac with the lid closed is that when it comes to turning your Mac on it would seem that you have to open the lid to press the power switch… Luckily there is a workaround for that scenario that you might find useful. Read about how to turn on your Mac without opening the lid here.
Finally, if you are running macOS Ventura you might be wondering where the energy saver and battery settings are that you need, and if it is still possible to set your Mac to sleep or wake at a particular time. We answer those questions below.
How to use a MacBook with the lid closed
The good news is that this is a lot simpler than it used to be if you are using a newer Mac and a newer version of the Mac operating system. In fact if you are experiencing issues using your Mac with the lid closed then it is likely that you could address this by updating your Mac to a recent version of macOS – assuming your Mac supports it, otherwise, try these steps below.
- Connect an external keyboard (can be wireless).
- Connect an external mouse (can be wireless).
- Connect an external monitor.
- If you are using a Bluetooth mouse and keyboard, make sure that Bluetooth is on and that the peripherals are paired with the Mac.
- After your Mac notebook’s Desktop appears on the external display, close the computer’s lid.
- Your external monitor may flash off for a moment but it will then show your Desktop (you may need to wake your Mac by pressing a key on the keyboard or moving the mouse).
- You may find that your MacBook needs to be plugged in via the power adaptor for the screen to appear on the external monitor, but ours didn’t.
You can read more about using a second display with your Mac here.
How to turn on the MacBook with the lid closed
It’s easy to wake your MacBook from sleep without opening the lid – just click or move the mouse or tap on the keyboard. But what if you want to start the Mac up without opening the lid to reveal the power button.
Can it be done? It can! (Sort of)
Pre macOS Ventura:
- Open System Preferences.
- Click Energy Saver.
- Click Schedule.
- Now click beside Start Up or Wake and choose the days and times you want your Mac to start up. Note that the Mac will only turn on when it is plugged into power – so you could just leave the Mac unplugged, and then when you want it to start up, simply plug it in.
In macOS Ventura:
In Ventura System Preferences has changed to System Settings making this process a little more complicated. You can stop your Mac going to sleep, but you can’t set a time for the Mac to wake up via System Settings in Ventura, however, there is a way using Terminal.
To stop your Mac going to sleep follow these steps:
- Open System Settings.
- Click Lock Screen.
- Beside Turn display off when inactive select Never.
- Also click Never beside Turn display off on power adapter when inactive.
This will stop the display going to sleep.
You can make adjustments to the battery settings by following these steps though:
- Go to System Settings.
- Click on Battery.
- Beside Turn display off when inactive select Never.
To schedule your Mac to turn on or off in macOS Ventura using Terminal follow these steps:
- Open Terminal.
- enter one of the following pmset commands:
pmset -g sched: See the current schedule.
sudo pmset repeat wake M 8:00:00: Schedule your Mac to wake at 8:00 a.m. every Monday.
sudo pmset repeat cancel: Cancel the current schedule.
- Press Return.
For more advice about how to do this consult Apple’s support page.
We also cover How to schedule your Mac to turn on and off separately.
How to stop a MacBook from sleeping with the lid closed
Suppose you don’t want your MacBook to sleep when you close the lid – maybe it is busy downloading something and you don’t want it to stop but you need to carry it somewhere, or maybe you’ve left it downloading an update overnight or syncing your Time Machine backup and you’d prefer not to see the backlit keyboard. Another scenario you might want to play music from the MacBook without having to have the lid open – something likely to appeal to a few DJs.
The problem is that your Mac will go to sleep when you close the lid if it’s not plugged in and connected to an external display.
You could set never go to sleep in the System Preferences. Go to Energy Saver > and select ‘Prevent your Mac from automatically sleeping when the display is off’. Again, this won’t be an option in Ventura.
Another setting in System Preferences > Energy Saver to choose is ‘Wake for network access’, which should mean your Mac can still run updates in the background even if it’s sleeping.
Ventura only has Energy Saver options for Wake for network access and Start up automatically after a power failure. See: How Apple has revamped System Preferences in macOS Ventura.
But even with these settings, if you aren’t attached to an external monitor closing the lid will cause the Mac to sleep. Luckily there are some third party apps that can help with that problem.
Best apps for stopping a Mac sleeping
Here are some third party apps you can use to prevent your Mac going to sleep once the lid is closed:
We used to recommend Insomniac but unfortunately that utility no longer seems to be available.
A free download from the Mac App Store here, Amphetamine keeps your Mac awake by overriding the Energy Saver settings. We review Amphetamine here.
Available on the Mac App Store here for 99p, this app overrides the Energy Saver settings to keep your Mac awake, preventing your Mac from going to sleep. The app works in Ventura, according to the developers.