I would like to completely turn off the screen rendering on my Mac for some time as I have some processes running in the background but I don't need to use the monitor. I'm expecting that this measure will save some battery consumption, but that's beyond the goal of this post.

I've been using Control + Shift + Fn + Power Button to sleep the display. The problem is that the background processes stop running.

How can I keep my background processes running but display nothing on the screen?

I'm using a Macbook Air if it makes a difference.

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    – Monomeeth
    Sep 16, 2019 at 22:07

3 Answers 3


I could be missing something in your post, but you should be able to set your Energy Saver preferences so that your display goes to sleep, but your computer doesn't.

Since you haven't specified the exact version of macOS you're running I can't give you step by step instructions or include a screenshot, but essentially you need to go to Apple > System Preferences > Energy Saver.

If you take a look there you should see you can set your display to go to sleep at a certain point and your computer to go to sleep at another point in time (or never, if that's what you need).

Doing so will save you on battery power as your display is asleep, but of course your MBA is still running otherwise.

If you're going to have your MBA plugged into an AC power source when you need the processes to run you'll need to ensure your settings are configured on the Power Adapter tab (as opposed to the Battery tab). Likewise, you'll need to set your Battery tab settings appropriately if you're also going to be running these process while running off the battery.

You'll also see other settings here (depending on your Mac and version of macOS), so you may want to familiarise yourself with the Use the Energy Saver settings on your Mac page on Apple's website.

  • Any chance I can access the turning off and turning on of the monitor through a hotkey rather than following these configurations? The manipulation of configuration to achieve what I want sounds very inconvenient since I would need to perform this back and forth change frequently and abruptly.
    – Zeruno
    Sep 16, 2019 at 22:40
  • Well, you'll see there's other settings in the Energy Saver preference pane. For example, you should have a checkbox for Prevent computer from sleeping automatically when the display is off. If enabled this will stop the MBA from going to sleep just because your display is asleep. Then just use the keyboard shortcut to put the display to sleep (obviously, not to put your whole MBA to sleep). As I mentioned, familiarise yourself with the info on Apple's website. Also take a read of the macOS User Guide info by clicking on the ? at bottom right of the Energy Saver preference pane.
    – Monomeeth
    Sep 16, 2019 at 23:19

You can use a Hot Corner to sleep just the display.

Go to the Mission Control prefpane and click the 'Hot Corners…' button. Choose a corner and select 'Put Display to sleep'. Now, when you move the mouse-pointer into that corner of your primary display, the display(s) will turn off, leaving the rest of the machine active.

I'm not sure if you can assign a keyboard shortcu to this action, though, but this is a quick, tried-and-true Apple-provided mechanism for achieving what you want.

  • As I understand, using the Hot Corner just gives me a new way to put the computer to sleep. I'm looking for a quick way (ideally shortcut but Hot Corner will do too) to turn off screen rendering.
    – Zeruno
    Sep 18, 2019 at 0:37

Use control + command + Q to lock the screen, then press esc to turn the screen off.

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