I'm following these instructions to use my mid-2009 MacBook Pro in clamshell mode with a Bluetooth keyboard and trackpad. The keyboard and trackpad are paired with the computer and I've got the external display hooked up, but the computer is going to sleep when I shut the lid. I have Allow Bluetooth devices to wake this computer checked in System Preferences, so I can hit some keys to wake the computer while it's closed. It wakes up and shows me the lock screen, where I start typing my password... only to have the computer go right back to sleep after a second or two.

Why won't it stay awake?

Clamshell mode behaved properly when I was using a USB keyboard.

I'm currently using NoSleep to work around this problem, but I'd like to know the root cause.

  • I valiantly resisted the urge to create a [clamshell-mode] tag.
    – hairboat
    Mar 29, 2012 at 14:49
  • Mine of the exact same size is finicky from time to time in clamshell mode. What display and connection dongle if any are you using? Also, is the mac sitting upright in a book arc stand or is the lid securely and always closed? (sometimes a little wiggle can activate the sleep/wake proximity switch)
    – bmike
    Mar 29, 2012 at 15:22

2 Answers 2


The only time I have seen this model fail to work reliably is when there was a problem with the AC power (and it then was continually, but momentarily on battery and sleep is the correct answer) or when the lid isn't securely closed (a drop has bent things inside, or the lid doesn't close firmly, or the stand allows the lid to wiggle open/closed a touch.

Have you poked around a bit to see if any of the things can be isolated (lid movement, power supply, connecting a USB device just to avoid a bluetooth drop from making it think it should sleep now).

You don't need these changes permanently, but just to isolate why it might work sometimes and not another. If it fails all the time, you might need it serviced since Lion has worked out most of the sleep/wake screen issues associated with clamshell mode. (and there sure were a lot on 10.6 when we didn't know the VRAM was being allocated, but not reallocated on lid opening events as described in the support article you mentioned)

  • 2
    Aha, I think the power supply is the culprit. It waggles in and out of the outlet in the position it's in. That's an easy fix - clamshell mode seems to be working fine so far.
    – hairboat
    Mar 29, 2012 at 16:07
  • Huzzah! Now you can let it sleep again :-)
    – bmike
    Mar 29, 2012 at 16:10

The power cord MUST Be Plugged in or the bluetooth devices will not wake the macbook. I learned this the slow way... Ha HA! Good Luck!

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