I'm doing a disk backup in OSX Recovery Mode and it sleeps. In sleep mode, the backup stops dead. Hot corners do nothing. Sleep seems to kick in after 30 seconds - unsupportable for backing up 850 GB over USB 2.0 (sigh).

I found articles about OSX's "caffeinate" command, but it's too late - I'm 1/3 through the backup.

Can't I keep my Mac running while it's doing this actual intended important work in Recovery Mode?

1 Answer 1


If you're already in Recovery Mode doing some operation you don't want to interrupt, you can try this trick to run caffeinate.

Go to the Wi-Fi icon on the menu bar and pull it down. Select "Join Other Network..."

The "Find and join a Wi-Fi network" dialog will be there, but look at the application title. It's "macOS Utilities." Go to the Utilities menu and select "Terminal".

In the terminal, issue the command caffeinate. When your operation is done, control-C out of it.

If it bothers you that the display sleeps and you don't really trust that the operation is still going, you can issue a stronger version:

caffeinate -dismut 65500

This is sort of like 'sleeplessness with prejudice.' With the -u flag you get an implicit -t 5, which stops caffeine after five seconds. So I overrode this by adding '-t 65500' which makes the caffeinate command last about 18 hours.

Finally, because I'm really, REALLY paranoid, I actually put caffeinate in the background and run a shell loop with ps -ef running every 75 seconds.

  • 8
    Wow, that "Join Other Network" hack to open multiple concurrent apps is really slick. Damn. Props. Commented Jul 29, 2018 at 21:42
  • 1
    How "shocking" that Apple wouldn't allow this outright, but there's still an exploit for it :-)
    – mpowered
    Commented Aug 7, 2018 at 19:34
  • 1
    @ELLIOTTCABLE I got it from somewhere else - my apologies to whoever posted the solution I found so many months ago on whatever site it was... Commented Aug 8, 2018 at 14:10
  • 2
    You can open a terminal and in order to open new terminal just use CMD+N
    – CROSP
    Commented Nov 28, 2018 at 0:07
  • This answer is really useful. What's crazy is that OSX should go to sleep in the first place even during single user mode (while disallowing you to run another terminal to stop that).
    – st01
    Commented Jun 12, 2020 at 13:01

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