I'm trying to safely shutdown a Mac desktop that does not have a keyboard or mouse connected to it any more, after hardware damage to the only keyboard and mouse in the house. It also does not have network access that I can get to from an iPhone, eg ssh etc is not enabled.

Besides doing a force shutdown by holding the power button, is there a better way to shut down a Mac in this situation?

This is anonther example of when this might be needed.

  • This situation was iMac is on bluetooth keyboard and mouse destroyed / damaged via liquid spill.
    – MrDaniel
    Commented Feb 29, 2012 at 20:40

4 Answers 4


There are two possible ways provided by OSX.

  1. When you shutdown via menubar → shut down, you get a one minute counter till shut down. That's enough time to disconnect your devices. enter image description here
  2. System Preferences → Energy Saver → Schedule

enter image description here

  • Good call, although this would have to be something that would have had to been set when there was a mouse or keyboard, so assume this is not set.
    – MrDaniel
    Commented Feb 29, 2012 at 20:19
  • Can't access the menu bar, no mouse or keyboard.
    – MrDaniel
    Commented Feb 29, 2012 at 20:23
  • @MrDaniel If you have no input devices, the only way to shut down is via software - or disconnecting power.
    – gentmatt
    Commented Feb 29, 2012 at 20:28
  • Ya I was really hoping there might be a better way than pressing the power button for 5 seconds.
    – MrDaniel
    Commented Feb 29, 2012 at 20:35

This solves the problem in the case you link to, but not in the general case:

Use a plugged-in USB mouse to initiate the restart procedure ( » Restart) then unplug it during the one-minute countdown. A computer with no USB devices attached will restart, but it had a USB device at the time the restart was initiated.

Another option would be to use System Preferences » Energy Saver » Schedule to set a time to restart. You need a mouse plugged in to set the time to restart, but not at the time the restart happens.

Another option would be using the sudo shutdown -r +n command in Terminal, where n is the number of minutes in the future you want the computer to reboot.

In any of these cases, you need an input device attached to the computer to initiate the restart procedure, but not at the time the computer actually restarts.


Yeah, is there more to this situation that could help us figure out what's going on? Wonder if you could use an Apple Remote...

But if there's no keyboard NOW and you have no ability to add one to set up a solution, you're toast. With no keyboard or mouse, it should be yelling at you to connect a bluetooth one on boot, yes? You could then pair a bluetooth mouse or something (technically an answer, since "connected" was the description above) if you're just pranking someone. Is that the goal?

Are you really asking, "How can I shut down a Mac that's not networked that I can't access physically but have line of sight to?" You're very likely toast.

I can't think of another situation where I've got a Mac that I can't shut down and don't have $4 to buy a used USB mouse from a thrift store... Strange. More description needed.

  • No Mice. True an extremely rare situation, but if your visiting a non a super user, and you don't having anything computer wise more than a new iMac and a iPhone, your in this boat.
    – MrDaniel
    Commented Feb 29, 2012 at 20:44
  • I have physical access to the iMac. Just want to shut it down safely.
    – MrDaniel
    Commented Feb 29, 2012 at 20:52
  • I wouldn't worry about it. If it's just sitting there idle, you're probably okay putting it to sleep with the power button and then turning it off. Commented Mar 1, 2012 at 0:14
  • 1
    @MrDaniel -- If only you could've installed something like Mobile Mouse on that iPhone first! Yeah, don't sweat it. I force shut down with the power button when I'm just short of time and heading out the door. And sometimes it locks and you have to. Nothing bad & noticeable yet.
    – ruffin
    Commented Mar 1, 2012 at 4:30
  • No this will not work, can only put the mac to sleep with the remote, just like the default settings of the power button
    – MrDaniel
    Commented Mar 4, 2012 at 13:51

Yes, As it turns out there is not really a better alternative to just pressing and holding the power button until the Mac shuts off.

I thought there might have been some kind of a hidden gem like a S.O.S signal that could be signaled via the power button, to tell the computer to shutdown.

That is not the case and there is not really a reason for one, due to the relatively low risk for serious damage by performing a hard shutdown with the power button, thanks to the protections built in to the HFS+ file system to protect against data corruption.

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