macOS power button function

Yes, It’s Okay to Shut Down Your Computer With the Power Button

This article explains that turning off a Windows PC with a power button short press is OK, because Windows goes through the same process as it does when the “Shut down” is initiated through the Windows interface. A long press, however, should be reserved for a frozen computer, because it causes power to the computer to be cut without an orderly shutdown.

But what about a Mac? I’ve done a fair amount of googling and haven’t found this issue directly addressed. Evidently, a long press should be reserved for the frozen computer, but is there a short press power button function that shuts down a Mac properly?

Nope. Use Shut Down… from the Apple menu.

Launcher apps have shut down shortcuts, too. In Alfred, it just requires typing shut down (or 3-4 characters to make it autocomplete.)

There used to be a way to bind the power button to shut down using a terminal command, but I can’t find one for Monterey.

Doesn’t pressing the power button put a Mac to sleep? Long press is shut down if unresponsive, I know.

(Not on a Mac currently, so I can’t try it.)

Yes, but only sleep.

If you have one of those Macbooks where the power button is also Touch ID, pressing it locks the computer. Just FYI, it’s kind of cool if you didn’t know about it before.

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And also switched users on my machine. So I won’t be doing this.

I just tell Alfred to either Sleep my screen or to Sleep the entire machine. Locks it, too.

I don’t know how to access this without OnyX:


With this option you can press the power button to get the shutdown dialog.

Hmm, that’s interesting. I’m not sure whether that’s normal or not as I don’t have a multi-user setup but a good warning for those that do.

And yes, a sleep/lock command in Alfred/Raycast/Launchbar/etc is also very useful!

I have multiple user accounts on my MacBook, but pressing the Touch ID button doesn’t switch user accounts. Is there a possibility that something might be configured differently on your MacBook?

I wonder if there’s a way to change it… :thinking:

I always use Alfred to quickly turn on my screensaver. It saves me so much time!

Here you go:

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Yup, that’s it! Nice find! :+1:

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Probably. After buying an M1 MacBook Air, this time I set up my normal user account with administrator privileges. In the past I had not operated as an administrator. But I also kept my old separate Admin account around as I was afraid to delete it and possibly cause ownership and privilege problems.

So after pressing the Touch ID button to lock the system from my normal user account, the login dialog that appeared was for the old separate Admin account. Not at all what I would want.

EDIT TO ADD: while typing this message I missed the answer given above …

That was it! Turning off fast user switching with the Touch ID sensor makes the button useful for me in my situation.

The reason that I posted this question regarding the Mac power button function is that I am currently using an M1 Mac Mini. There is a mess of wires around the Mini and an attached Thunderbolt hub. When engaging with the Mini, wires, hub, it is really easy to inadvertently turn off the Mac. The power button is there is the middle of everything, and it doesn’t take much pressure to activate. So I guess I get a bad shutdown. It seems that the only safe thing to do, is to shut down before I try to handle the iMac or associated items. Clunky. I feel that Windows has it right on this issue. Maybe I should make a feature request to Apple.

I don’t have a Mini, but it would take a press and hold to shut down, so that seems really strange. Could it be a loose power cable so that when you move something it briefly cuts power to the machine and turns it off? Otherwise, couldn’t you put something in front of the power button just to protect it? Seems like a piece of cardboard would work.

Thanks for the reply, Leeabe51. I’ll just try to be more careful, and see if the problem recurs.

Please go back and read my earlier reply. It will keep the power button from shutting the computer off automatically. macOS power button function - #8 by tomalmy

Thanks for reminding me tomalmy. I haven’t tried OnyX in recent years, but I’ll give it another shot.

Worth noting that Ctrl + Cmd + Q is also a quick and handy way to lock the screen.