I always thought you couldn't charge an iPhone from a closed macbook without opening it first, and then closing it after plugging the iPhone in. However today my phone was completely dead and I was on a train unable to take my laptop out and open it even a little bit.

the phone charged while it was dead, and when it turned on it was on 2%, however it didn't stay charging, instead 5 minutes later it died again, and starting charging while dead again.

Is there a way to keep the phone charging after it turns on from dead? (without opening the macbook, it seems like it's the phones fault it stops charging as that's the only thing that doesn't change, and it's jailbroken so I can install tweaks)

  • To my surprise the iPhone started charging when I connected the USB to my MacBook when it was put to sleep. I was not expecting that. In what state was your MacBook when you connected your phone? Commented Oct 13, 2015 at 19:16
  • I had simply closed my MacBook when I left to go to the train. it had more than 20% battery itself.
    – Jonathan.
    Commented Oct 14, 2015 at 2:38
  • Seems to work on my MacBook with Yosemite when in Sleep mode. Could be you have other settings for Sleep or another OS version. Which OS X do you use? Commented Oct 14, 2015 at 4:13
  • I was a bit too fast. For some reason my computer takes a long time to get to sleep, and when the fan finally spins down the charging of my phone stops as well. Your computers behaviour seems somewhat like what @bmike says in his answer about power nap. Commented Oct 14, 2015 at 19:38
  • I've never had problems charging my iPhone from my Macbook Pro with the lid closed or the laptop on sleep. Are you using an exceptionally old version of Mac OS? Also, the behavior you're reporting seems to indicate a cable or phone/battery problem. Commented Feb 14, 2019 at 22:11

3 Answers 3


You would want to enable closed clamshell mode (search Apple.com/support) for the details on what is required on which models:

  • Attached external display
  • Connected USB device like keyboard or mouse
  • Connected to power charger and not running on battery

At this point, you'll get the normal USB charging or the enhanced charge if the hardware detects your iOS device as benefitting from the capabilities of the hardware to charge at a higher rate than 500mA.

If you cannot run in closed clamshell mode, set the sleep to be long enough to get a charge and prevent the lid from closing completely. Setting up power nap will also allow brief moments of charge, but that isn't intended to get a realistic charge over USB.

  • This isn't helpful either. I've said I'm on a train, so definitely no external display and no power socket. I'm just trying to figure out why my MacBook was happy to charge a completely dead iPhone but stop charging it once the phone had booted
    – Jonathan.
    Commented Oct 14, 2015 at 2:41
  • @Jonathan. Maybe the UDB trickle charge was enough to wake up the phone and then once it asked for full charge, it was cut off? Hard to know in your specific case. I'm making the answer general to help others. Some trains have power, some people even carry batteries that can power Macs. Sorry explaining the options is not helpful. It seems you criticize both people that tried to offer suggestions
    – bmike
    Commented Oct 14, 2015 at 2:54

A solution that I can think of is to turn of sleep before you close the lid of your MacBook. This will keep your laptop running until the battery for it dies. One tool for doing this is the InsomniaX.

Step by step:

  1. Install InsomniaX
  2. Choose "Disable Lid Sleep"
  3. Close the lid
  4. Connect your iPhone to USB

Note: InsomniaX has a CPU Safety function that should keep the computer "cool". Still it is expected that the computer could get much warmer than average. You should test to see if your hardware get to hot if you put it in a bag. As an example; Automatic sync of your iPhone could make your computer heat up when you connect it to USB.

  • 1
    This is a terrible idea. I've had my MacBook stay on by accident in my bad once and got so hot I couldn't touch for more than 20 seconds.
    – Jonathan.
    Commented Oct 14, 2015 at 2:39
  • I understand your worries. InsomniaX has a function for keeping the system "cool". I did not do any extensivly testing on this but I would expect that the electronics will not "burn". It could be quite hot, but I expect it to be within the limits of what the MacBook would be able to handle. I would probably have done some testing to see it works. Commented Oct 14, 2015 at 5:40
  • 1
    This works fine. Don't run things that cause the computer to overheat while doing it. While idling on any modern MacBook, it's simply not a problem. Commented May 15, 2018 at 21:40
  • Good point. I added to the note about software, like syncing, that is automatically started when the iPhone connects. Commented May 25, 2018 at 10:09
  1. open up laptop, turn it on
  2. plug phone into laptop with usb cable 🔌
  3. shut lid

phone will continue to charge 🔋

  • 1
    Tried this and can confirm this doesn't work on M1 MacBook Pro Commented Sep 10, 2022 at 12:01

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