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Maintain Your Mac – Prolong its Life with Energy Saver for Mac

written by: Joli Ballew•edited by: J. F. Amprimoz•updated: 2/5/2009

Creating times when the computer, monitor, and/or display goes to sleep can help prolong the life of your computer and its hardware. Energy Saver preferences for Mac will help you configure the settings that suit your needs.

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    About Energy Saver

    Energy Saver is a utility in System Preferences that allows you to configure when, if ever, the computer should go to sleep, when the display should go to sleep, and when the hard disks should go to sleep. You can also use Energy Saver to create a schedule for when your Mac will shut down and start up, and to set more advanced options such as automatically restarting the computer after a power failure.

    Configuring Energy Saver settings is the same as configuring any other setting in System Preferences: simply open System Preferences, open Energy Saver, and make the appropriate changes using the Energy Saver dialog box.

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    Energy Saver and Software Updates

    The only problem in configuring Energy Saver to put your computer to sleep at night is that Software Update gets its updates in the middle of the night. If the computer is asleep (or off) you won’t get these important updates and you’ll have to remember to get them manually. So even though you may have configured Software Update to get its upgrades automatically, if you have Energy Saver configured incorrectly, you might not be getting all of the updates you need. It’s important then to understand how to configure Energy Saver properly, and also what third-party utilities can help you get the updates you need.

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    Configuring Energy Saver Properly

    Since daily software updates are acquired in the wee hours of the night, your computer needs to be awake during those times to get the required updates. With the new schedule feature in OS X, Panther,  you can now configure your computer to automatically turn itself on and off at these times. For the most part, your computer needs to be on from 2:00 a.m. to 6:00 a.m. every day, so this may actually be counterproductive, causing unnecessary wear and tear on your computer.

    If you’d rather not leave your computer on all night, every night, if you want your computer to sleep at night, or if you simply turn your computer off when you’re finished working with it, you have two options for keeping up with the required updates. Either you can try to remember to get them manually from the File menu, or you can download and obtain a third-party tool to obtain the updates anytime the computer is on and idle.

    Getting them manually is easy, if you can remember to do it. Just choose File>Software Update. Having a third-party utility do it for you is even easier, and a good one is Atomic Bird’s Macaroni, detailed next.

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    Let Atomic Bird Macaroni Get Updates For You

    Atomic Bird’s Macaroni will let you put your computer to sleep at night or turn it off completely and still keep up with the updates without lifting a finger. Just visit Once installed, Macaroni can be accessed from the System Preferences dialog box under Other.