From a BASH script I want to get user input and change system settings, in a loop. I first tried cocoaDialog but that has a fatal flaw: the dialogs are always on top of other windows.

Ideally, I could throw up a dialog with "set sleep mode" and "set awake mode" (for toggling the "Prevent computer from sleeping automatically when the display is off" setting) buttons and the dialog/window would stay put when buttons are pressed. In the case of cocoaDialog, I had to put up a new dialog each time a button was pressed. It would have been fine, but aside from the above problem already mentioned, putting up a new dialog positions it in the middle of the screen and not where the old one was (and cocoaDialog doesn't have positioning arguments for dialogs).

Anyone know of a solution? I suspect AppleScript would work, but it is so complex and I've not been able to find suitable examples I could copy/modify.


  • Check this post: stackoverflow.com/questions/8354482/dialog-from-bash-script
    – sdayal
    Nov 25, 2015 at 2:47
  • @sdayal that post doesn't help. I want something Mac friendly.
    – e40
    Nov 25, 2015 at 14:45
  • Do you just want to toggle the Mac's sleep settings? I use Caffein by lighthead for that (available on the App Store). Beautiful little menu bar icon and you're all done Nov 27, 2015 at 2:25
  • @agentroadkill: Caffeine doesn't work for me because that just prevents the display from sleeping.
    – e40
    Nov 29, 2015 at 16:10

1 Answer 1


I've found two solutions. The best one is second.

Solution #1: use Tcl/Tk:

#! /usr/bin/env wish8.5
# Adapted from brilliant example here:
#   http://stackoverflow.com/questions/166231/tcl-tk-examples

package require Tk

proc main {} {
if {[lsearch -exact [font names] TkDefaultFont] == -1} {
    # older versions of Tk don't define this font, so pick something
    # suitable
    font create TkDefaultFont -family Helvetica -size 12
# in 8.5 we can use {*} but this will work in earlier versions
eval font create TkBoldFont [font actual TkDefaultFont] -weight bold


proc buildUI {} {
frame .toolbar
scrollbar .vsb -command [list .t yview]
text .t \
    -width 80 -height 10 \
    -yscrollcommand [list .vsb set] \
    -highlightthickness 0
.t tag configure command -font TkBoldFont
.t tag configure error   -font TkDefaultFont -foreground firebrick
.t tag configure output  -font TkDefaultFont -foreground black

grid .toolbar -sticky nsew
grid .t .vsb  -sticky nsew
grid rowconfigure . 1 -weight 1
grid columnconfigure . 0 -weight 1

set i 0
foreach {label command} {
    awake     {prevent_computer_sleep}
    sleep     {allow_computer_sleep}
    status    {pmset -g | grep sleep}
} {
    button .b$i -text $label -command [list runCommand $command]
    pack .b$i -in .toolbar -side left
    incr i

proc output {type text} {
.t configure -state normal
.t insert end $text $type "\n"
.t see end
.t configure -state disabled

proc runCommand {cmd} {
output command $cmd
set f [open "| $cmd" r]
fconfigure $f -blocking false
fileevent $f readable  [list handleFileEvent $f]

proc closePipe {f} {
# turn blocking on so we can catch any errors
fconfigure $f -blocking true
if {[catch {close $f} err]} {
    output error $err

proc handleFileEvent {f} {
set status [catch { gets $f line } result]
if { $status != 0 } {
    # unexpected error
    output error $result
    closePipe $f

} elseif { $result >= 0 } {
    # we got some output
    output normal $line

} elseif { [eof $f] } {
    # End of file
    closePipe $f

} elseif { [fblocked $f] } {
    # Read blocked, so do nothing


where prevent_computer_sleep just does sudo pmset sleep 0 and allow_computer_sleep does sudo pmset sleep 1.

Solution #2: modify KeepingYouAwake to use system sleep and not display sleep: my fork of KeepingYouAwake.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .