I'm copying a lot of files (over 700 GB) and it takes hours to complete. Is there a way to keep the Mac from sleeping before the copy process completes? I don't want to sit by the computer and moving my mouse from time to time.

I tried to set my Energy Saver settings as:

Energy Saver settings showing sleep disabled

But sometimes it still dies. So currently, I have to sit by the laptop and wait.

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    I do things like this often and the copy continues even though the computer puts the screen into sleep, but the processor continues the copy. A copy even over-rides the automatic shutdown/reboot that I have set for 1AM... – Solar Mike Feb 21 at 9:41
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    "dies" or goes to sleep? – Mazura Feb 21 at 16:18
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    How do you copy those files? Command line or Finder? – jornane Feb 21 at 17:10

caffeinate rsync

Consider using the command line tool rsync to safely copy large amounts of data on your Mac. Prefix the command with caffeinate to keep your Mac awake during the copy.

The Terminal.app command will look something like:

 sudo caffeinate rsync -vaE --progress /Volumes/SourceName /Volumes/DestinationName

rsync has the benefit of being able to resume failed or interrupted copies.

If the copy has already begun, run caffeinate with the flag -t <seconds> for a specific duration or -w <pid> for the life time of a specific process.

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    rsync by itself is excellent advice. There are very few cases when operating interactively where cp should be used instead of rsync. – Austin Hemmelgarn Feb 21 at 20:34
  • Presumably caffeinate sleep $((60 * 60 * 8)) (to sleep... I mean stay awake ... I mean stay caffeinated for 8 hours) would be useful if you'd already started a copy? Assuming caffeinate keeps the computer awake even if the task you use it on isn't using CPU time. – Peter Cordes yesterday
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    @PeterCordes Yes, caffeinate creates a power assertion that keeps the Mac awake despite inactivity. I have extended the answer to mention a couple of useful flags. – Graham Miln yesterday

You can use the freely available app "Amphetamine" from the Mac App Store to keep the Mac awake:


Another similarly free app is "Jiggler":


  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – bmike 2 days ago

If you always remain on AC power during the copy and your above Energy Saver settings are indeed accurate, then I can think of no reason why your system would enter idle sleep unless there is some process that specifically forces a sleep at some point. You can check for sleep entry & causes by examining the power management log:

$ pmset -g log

In any case, in order to prevent the system from going to sleep you can acquire a power management assertion with the use of caffeinate(8), which is built in to macOS and accessible via Terminal:

$ caffeinate

The system will not sleep until you exit (via Control + C).

From your description, I suspect that you might not actually be on AC power the whole time and instead are running off the battery. Please double check this first.

  • Was thinking the same thing. I have my Mac Pro settings similar while copying large files and my Mac always seems to complete the tasks. Although, these commands seem like a great alternative. – Dan Beaulieu yesterday

Plenty of options already here, but just to complete the set…

System Prefs > Desktop & Screen Saver > Screen Saver > Hot Corners…

Choose a corner to Disable Screen Saver & just push your cursor hard into that corner when you want it to stay awake.

I've never actually tried this on a laptop, but I've been using it successfully on Mac Pros for over a decade.

  • This is the way I always do it, because I didn't know about this caffeinate thing. – Steve Summit Feb 22 at 16:11

Happened to me too, I solved by playing audio/video when I don't want to my laptop go to sleep.

Another way use auto click software like http://www.murgaa.com/auto-clicker-mac/

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    This is exactly what my child has to do on her school-issued Chromebook to keep it from sleeping during breaks because the managed-device controls don't allow disabling the ridiculously short inactivity lock or installing custom applications. ^_^ – R.. GitHub STOP HELPING ICE Feb 22 at 15:28

And then CTRL + SHIFT + ESC

When your monitor should be off, but the computer continues to work


You can force your laptop to never sleep entirely in terminal:

Display global power settings:
pmset -g

System-wide power settings:
Currently in use:
 lidwake              1
 autopoweroff         1
 standbydelayhigh     86400
 autopoweroffdelay    28800
 proximitywake        1
 standby              1
 standbydelaylow      10800
 ttyskeepawake        1
 hibernatemode        3
 powernap             1
 gpuswitch            2
 hibernatefile        /var/vm/sleepimage
 highstandbythreshold 50
 womp                 0
 displaysleep         10
 networkoversleep     0
 sleep                1 (sleep prevented by sharingd)
 tcpkeepalive         1
 halfdim              1
 acwake               0
 disksleep            10

To stop sleep entirely:
sudo pmset -a disablesleep 1

To revert, allowing sleep again:
sudo pmset -a disablesleep 0

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