Sleep (Your Mac) More to Save Time and Power

What’s your desktop Mac doing when you’re not using it? Depending on your settings and usage habits, you could be wasting both power and your own time. We’ve found that some people have out-of-date beliefs about their Macs’ different idle-time states. Let’s set the record straight.

First off, every Mac has three basic states: active, sleeping, and shut down. Desktop Macs use the most power when active, of course, and although details vary by model, a 27-inch iMac idles at about 60 watts and maxes out at 240 watts, averaging about 100 watts in regular usage. The Mac Pro is a bit less, since it doesn’t have a screen, and the Mac mini idles at a measly 6 watts and tops out at 85 watts. If you think back to the incandescent light bulb days, you can see that a modern Mac uses roughly the same power as an old-style light bulb. Not bad!

However, that 100 watts is huge compared to the trickle of juice that a Mac requires when sleeping—just about 1 watt for most models (the Mac Pro is the most restless sleeper at 2.8 watts). So you can reduce your Mac’s power usage a hundred-fold or more by allowing it to sleep automatically in System Preferences > Energy Saver.

The key here is to make sure the first checkbox—“Prevent computer from sleeping automatically when the display is off”—is not selected. It’s also good to set a relatively short time for the “Turn display off after” slider unless you spend a lot of time watching your screensaver or want to make sure the screen doesn’t go black when you’re giving a presentation.

Of course, you can always choose Sleep from the Apple menu, press the Power button for 1.5 seconds, or press Control-Shift-Eject (or Power, if your keyboard has that key) to put your Mac to sleep right away, but, it’s easier to let Energy Saver do it for you.

Some people have avoided letting their Macs sleep because of the amount of time it takes for the Mac to wake up and be usable again. That may have been a more significant issue in the distant past, but modern Macs are usually ready for action within a few seconds at most.

What about shutting your Mac down? Surely that doesn’t use any power at all. Actually, no. Every Mac uses about .25 watts of power when it’s turned off but still plugged into an outlet. And while it might seem worthwhile to save that .75 watts for when you’re not using your Mac overnight, you have to factor in the extra power that’s wasted while shutting down and starting back up, both of which are power-intensive activities. In fact, depending on how many apps have to quit and reload, shutting your Mac down every night may not result in any power savings over sleep. Plus, you’re wasting time while waiting for it to boot up again—especially if you’ve asked macOS to reopen windows on startup—so it’s a double whammy.

That said, since an occasional restart can prevent or eliminate funky behavior, consider shutting your Mac down if you’re not planning to use it for a few days, perhaps on weekends. You’ll use a tiny bit less power over the weekend, and the Mac will be fresh and ready to go on Monday morning. That will get you the best combination of reliability, instant access, and power savings.

How to Stay on Top of Your To-Dos in Apple’s Reminders App

Apple designed the built-in Reminders app as a list-keeping assistant for both macOS and iOS. You can add reminders of any sort to the default Reminders list, or you can create custom lists, like Groceries or Movies to Watch. Plus, if you’ve set up Family Sharing, you also have a shared Family list that everyone in your family can access.

Making reminders is easy enough, but they can be easy to lose track of, and you may have to hunt through a number of lists to find any given one. How can you be certain that you won’t forget a particular to-do item? One technique that works well is to add a time trigger to the reminder. Time triggers cause your Apple devices to alert you to the reminder, and as an added benefit, they make it easier to find associated reminders.

Say you want to remind yourself to buy concert tickets. To include a trigger in your reminder, you can recruit Siri’s assistance by mentioning a time in your request: “Remind me to get tickets at 10 AM tomorrow.” Or, when you add the reminder manually, pick a day and time. After creating the reminder, hover over it or tap it, tap the i button that appears, and the option to be reminded on a day Then, on a Mac, click the preset day and time to adjust them. In iOS, tap Alarm and set a day and time. Unless the specific time matters, pick a general time that’s early in the day, like 10 AM.

Because your reminder includes a time, it appears not only in the list where you added it but also in the special Scheduled list. That’s key!

Now imagine that it’s first thing tomorrow morning and you’re trying to plan your day. You can either check the Scheduled list in Reminders or ask Siri: “Show me my reminders for today.” Once you see your day’s reminders, you can just do the easy ones, plan them into your day, or reschedule them for another day.

Of course, since you’ve assigned a time-based trigger to these reminders, Apple’s Notifications feature comes into play. At the appropriate time, your Apple devices can display an alert that you must dismiss, show a banner that disappears quickly, or play a sound.

Reminders can make it easy to remember important tasks, but try these tips if you need help:

  • For reminders created on one device to trigger notifications on another, set up your iCloud account on both devices must have Reminders on. Do this on the Mac in System Preferences > iCloud. In iOS, tap Settings > Your Apple ID Name > iCloud (if your copy of iOS isn’t up-to-date, tap Settings > iCloud). Plus, the reminders must be on a list that’s stored in iCloud.
  • If you use Siri to make reminders, specify the list where those reminders will be added if you don’t speak its name. On the Mac, choose Reminders > Default List. In iOS, go to Settings > Reminders > Default List.
  • Configure Mac notifications in System Preferences > Notifications. At the left, select Reminders and then make your choices at the right. The Alerts alert style is the easiest to notice. Set up iOS notifications in Settings > Notifications > Reminders. Turn on the Allow Notifications switch. For best results, turn on Show on Lock Screen and select Alerts under “Alert Style When Unlocked.”

  • On your iPhone, to see a different Reminders list, tap the “stack” of lists at the bottom of the screen.

So, go ahead and dive in. Set up a few tasks with time triggers, and enjoy letting your Apple devices keep track of it all.

 

Trash Files Instantly from the Keyboard

Every Mac user knows that you drag files or folders you want to delete to the Trash icon in the Dock. And you probably even know that you can select multiple items by Shift-clicking (for a sequential range of items in a list view) or Command-clicking (for an arbitrary set of items) and then drag them to the Trash. But you’ll save yourself mousing time if you learn the quick shortcut that trashes selected files and folders: Command-Delete.

The Fastest Way to Invoke Apple Pay

When it’s an option at a cash register, Apple Pay is faster, easier, and safer than using a credit card. But accessing it from the Wallet app is way too slow! Here’s the trick to pull up Apple Pay quickly. In Settings > Wallet & Apple Pay, under “Allow Access When Locked,” enable Double-Click Home Button. Then, when you want to pay in a checkout line, double-click the Home button from the Lock screen of your iPhone to bring up Wallet instantly. If you have trouble with your thumb unlocking the iPhone instead, use another finger that isn’t registered with Touch ID, and then use your thumb to authenticate once Apple Pay comes up.

The Quick Trick for Magnifying Your Mac’s Screen

No matter how good your eyes are, at some point there will be something on your Mac’s screen that’s just too small to see well. With just a minute of setup, you can take advantage of a macOS feature that lets you zoom the screen right where the pointer is. Open System Preferences > Accessibility > Zoom, and select “Use scroll gesture with modifier keys to zoom.” Choose which modifier key you’d like from the pop-up menu—we like Control. From then on, when you want to zoom in, hold down the Control key and use the gesture you use to scroll, whether it’s a two-fingered swipe up on the trackpad or an old-style mouse’s scroll wheel. The screen will zoom where the pointer is—the more you scroll, the higher the zoom level. To zoom back out, hold Control and scroll down.