I have a new 13" Macbook Pro running Mavericks. This computer is connected to an external USB drive which I use for my Time Machine backups and for external storage Time Machine backups occur a few times per day and the drive is largely inactive for most of the day.

When I am rushing to a meeting, to the server room or I'm heading home at the end of the day, I would like to do the following:

  1. Close the lid on my Macbook, quickly.
  2. Have the Mac automatically unmount all external drives, as quickly as possible, and forcibly if required. I'm willing to wait a few seconds for the all of lights to turn off.

Is there a way to get the computer to automatically unmount all external drives as soon as I close the lid on my Mac?

Currently if I forget to unmount the external drives, my Mac chastises me later with the error "The disk was not ejected properly. If possible, always eject a disk before unplugging it or turning it off."

I know it is best practice to always unmount a disk cleanly before removing the disk interface, but I'm looking for an automated solution. I am not very concerned if one Time Machine backup image is interrupted or corrupted, as one of the next subsequent backups will work and I very rarely ever need to restore from backup. Since the filesystem is a journaling filesystem, the journal transparently takes care of many other filesystem corruption errors.

  • Since logging out of your account unmounts all drives, is there a significant downside to just logging out? Also, I believe the OS flushes all filesystem IO writes, so the chance of an actual problem with ejection during sleep seems quite low to me - doubly so for journaled filesystems.
    – bmike
    Commented Jan 2, 2014 at 18:10

3 Answers 3


There are a number of apps that can run scripts on sleep:

  • SleepWatcher — simple yet effective.
  • Scenario — can also run scripts at other times such as after wake.
  • ControlPlane — more customisable, lets you run scripts after many different events.

A bash script such as the following will unmount all specified disks:

VOLUMES="/Volumes/drive1 /Volumes/drive2 /Volumes/drive3"
for volume in $VOLUMES ; do [ -d $volume ] && umount -f $volume done

To unmount all volumes except /:

umount -A

or more cleanly…

osascript -e 'tell application "Finder" to eject (every disk whose ejectable is true)'

Another option is Jettison (available through the App Store) - that's what I've been using for a couple of months now and haven't had any problems at all. It recently gained the option of automatically remounting still-connected disks when you wake from sleep.

The newer v1.3.0 (direct download only - I assume it's on its way to the App Store) costs more and they explain why this is in their FAQ.

If I read that correctly, one could buy the App Store version for two dollars and then upgrade to the direct-download version for free, but I haven't confirmed or tried this.

Not exactly expensive at either price, but not free like the SleepWatcher option seems to be.


I'll elaborate on @grgarside's answer.

I'm using SleepWatcher

  1. Install from ports:

    sudo port install sleepwatcher
  2. Read the manual at /opt/local/share/doc/sleepwatcher/ReadMe.rtf and via man sleepwatcher. Read this old Machint from Macworld: Cure an insomniac Mac with SleepWatcher System. According to the Machint I can simply add code to ~/.sleep and ~/.wakeup , or to the global files /etc/rc.sleep & /etc/rc.wakeup.

  3. Place the following code in ~/.sleep:

    osascript -e 'tell application "Finder" to eject (every disk whose ejectable is true)'
  4. Activate sleepwatcher. Change <key>Disabled</key><true/> to <key>Disabled</key><false/>.

    sudo vim /Library/LaunchDaemons/org.macports.sleepwatcher.plist
    sudo launchctl load /Library/LaunchDaemons/org.macports.sleepwatcher.plist
    sudo launchctl list | grep sleepwatcher
  5. Verify:

    ps aux |grep [s]leepwatcher
    root              421   0.0  0.0  2459568   1012   ??  Ss    2:45PM   0:00.00 /opt/local/bin/daemondo --label=sleepwatcher --start-cmd /opt/local/sbin/sleepwatcher --verbose --sleep /opt/local/etc/rc.sleep --wakeup /opt/local/etc/rc.wakeup ; --pid=exec
    root              422   0.0  0.0  2460656   1888   ??  S     2:45PM   0:00.17 /opt/local/sbin/sleepwatcher --verbose --sleep /opt/local/etc/rc.sleep --wakeup /opt/local/etc/rc.wakeup
  6. Done!

  • I could use some review on this answer to ensure that I am activating the .plist thing correctly. Commented Dec 10, 2013 at 4:27
  • Followed it step-by-step, but it doesn't work for me. After sleep I unplug my external hard-drive, my MacBook5,3 wakes up and when I open the lid I get the unproperly ejected disk error. Commented Dec 10, 2013 at 13:20
  • This works for me, but only sometimes. Not sure why. Commented Dec 16, 2013 at 18:45
  • 1
    I'm still on ML, so it's not Mavericks specific, and I don't get the errors when the machine is active. I noticed that the .sleep script sometimes gets executed at wake, as if it doesn't get enough time to do so when it's going to sleep. Commented Dec 16, 2013 at 19:05
  • 1
    Also a good guide here: damacy.net/post/9377132648/…
    – d0g
    Commented Feb 5, 2015 at 19:56

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