I have a 13" Mid 2014 MacBook Pro running macOS High Sierra 10.13.6.

I carry around my MacBook Pro in a backpack. I tend to close the lid to put it in sleep mode before putting it in the backpack. How do I make sure that it is indeed asleep before putting it in?

I did google this topic a lot. Many people agree that you can close the lid and put it to backpack and travel without any problems. Also, many people disagree that because sometimes MacBook get overheated and some hardware failed because of this.

From what I understand, the only problem against closing lid and travelling is because the MacBook may not fully-sleep properly somehow when closing the lid. So my question is:

  • What is the best practice to make sure my MacBook is fully asleep and safe to be carried around and travel?

I am very confused how to make sure my MacBook is fully asleep. Whenever I put my MacBook Pro in sleep mode by clicking  → Sleep or closing the lid, the built-in apple logo on the back of screen just turns off directly.

Some people mention to make sure sleep light begins to pulse. I have no idea what this means. I don't know what is the sleep light and I don't see any lights pulsing.

PS: Some tips I found may be useful to you:

How to ensure there is no apps preventing your MacBook to sleep?

launch Activity Monitor.app --> Energy tab --> look at the column Preventing Sleep. If there is no Yes. Then there should be no apps stopping the system to sleep.

I wrote a simple script to make beep noise to test sleep status

I wrote a simple script to make beep noise. Run the script before closing the lid. If there is no beep noise, it kinda means the app is not running properly, thus it's in a sleep mode. I run this script everytime from terminal.app before closing the lid.

$ cat sleep-detector.sh
while true;
    echo `date` " -------- not sleep yet"
    tput bel
    sleep 2s

From the output of the program (I am not pasting the output here. You can try it yourself.), even if there is no beep noise, you can see that the script is actually running for about 20 seconds (or less) after the lid is closed.

If anyone have any better scripts/ideas, please let me know.

Just close the lid. Do not use  → Sleep button

In some of my tests, if I use  → Sleep button and close the lid immediately without waiting for the system fully asleep, the system actually wakes up by closing the lid. (because my simple beep noise script makes sound in this situation when the lid is closed). So, it's much safer to close the lid directly if you intend to close the lid.

Turn off Power Nap

Turn off Bluetooth before closing the lid

Turn off Wifi (if possible) before closing the lid

You can not stop mDNSResponder MaintenanceWake so far in High Sierra

So You can just live with it and let MacBook wake periodically. You can find this wake message from the output of pmset -g log | grep -i MaintenanceWake from terminal.

2 Answers 2


Some people mention to make sure sleep light begins to pulse. I have no idea what this means. I don't know what is the sleep light and I don't see any lights pulsing.

The pulsing sleep indicator reference that you appear to be encountering in Web searches is a feature present in non-retina unibody MacBook Pro's (last released in Mid 2012) and looks like this:

Image credit: https://www.nix.ru/art/pic/web_news/2010/jul/pb1279346977.jpg

This indicator is not present in retina MacBook Pro, MacBook Air and retina MacBook.

Closing the lid indeed puts your MacBook Pro (and any other MacBook) to sleep mode. This is the default behaviour. The only cases when a MacBook Pro doesn't enter sleep mode when shutting the lid are:

  • It is connected to an external display. In this case, it works in so called clamshell mode.

  • You are using a 3rd party utility program to force MacBook to remain in awake state despite closing the lid.

  • When connected to a power source, the MacBook technically remains in sleep mode but can perform certain activities if Power Nap is enabled.

Even if you are not putting your MacBook Pro to sleep mode explicitly by using  → Sleep command, closing the lid puts it in sleep mode by default. It is quite common practise among MacBook users and some folks (including yours truly) seldom shut down their MacBook Pro.

There should generally be no risk in carrying it in your backpack. However, it would be advisable to watch (hear) for any fan noises and look (feel) for any heat to die down before tucking it in.

  • Thanks a lot for your detail reply. So there is no way to tell if my MacBook is fully asleep except I have to trust apple does a good job to ensure it should go sleep when I close the lid, right? Btw, how to make sure I don't have any 3rd party utilities to force MacBook to remain in awake state despite closing lid? This might be hard or impossible to tell... thanks.
    – Sintaloo
    Commented Nov 28, 2018 at 5:02
  • Btw, one more question. Is that much safer if I put the MacBook to sleep by using  → Sleep, and then close the lid? Since I am using an external monitor, the exact steps I will take as follows: (1) unplug the external monitor. (2)  → Sleep. (3) disconnect the power cable. (4) close the lid. Do you think these 4 steps much safer? Thanks.
    – Sintaloo
    Commented Nov 28, 2018 at 5:31
  • I did some tests. I think it's a bad practice to use  → Sleep and then close the lid. When the system not yet fully asleep and close the lid, the system will cancel the sleep process and awake. This is very weird. not sure if it's a bug or not.
    – Sintaloo
    Commented Nov 28, 2018 at 6:45
  • You can safely trust Apple that your MacBook will indeed sleep. You don't need to use  → Sleep command. Just disconnect the display, remove the power and close the lid. Regarding 3rd party utility, you can check through this and search for similar questions and see the list of installed/running apps to see if any such app is/were installed.
    – Nimesh Neema
    Commented Nov 28, 2018 at 7:35
  • @NimeshNeema no he said his MacBook is in clamshell, meaning the lid is already closed, and the MacBook is connected to an external monitor. Can I safely unplug the monitor and put the MacBook in my backpack? Commented Feb 23 at 6:57

It’s super easy to ensure sleep if you first log out. That shows if any programs are blocking sleep and then you can sleep the Mac trusting it’s ready to sleep.

Most App Store apps are well behaved in practice, so you don’t need to do this unless you have a lot of apps that are side loaded and run with lots of threads and windows like third party browsers and such...

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