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I want to leave my Mac awake overnight so it syncs 4GB of data from Dropbox. I need to prevent the machine from going to sleep because that pauses the Dropbox sync

I've been using Caffeine to keep the computer awake, but it also keeps the computer unlocked which is insecure.

I need a method to keep my Mac awake (so that Dropbox can sync overnight) but also locked (so no one can read my email). It'd be great if this method also turned off the screen (to preserve power), but honestly that's not even 100% necessary.

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2 Answers 2

  1. In System Preferences > Energy Saver, set "Computer Sleep" to "Never"
  2. In System Preferences > Security & Privacy, check the box for "Require password [immediately] after sleep or screen saver begins"

Then hit control-shift-eject to sleep the display (the computer will remain running, but the display will be off). If you hit a key or do anything to wake the display, it should then prompt you for your account password.

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Note this is control-shift-power on newer macs without an eject key –  dstarh Apr 18 at 17:20
    
With external keyboard without the eject key, one can check the Show keychain status in menu bar option in Keychain Access App's Preferences. Then you will be able to Lock Screen in the menu bar by clicking the lock icon. –  Mengdi Gao Sep 1 at 14:45

Wimoweh $$ will automatically keep your mac awake when user selectable processes are running and will control the display sleeping (or not) as well.

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