It seems that there are two different sleep states on my MacBook:

Sleep State 1:

  • Invoked by: closing the lid or by the sleep timer.
  • Awaken by: touching the trackpad, clicking the trackpad, pressing a key, or opening the lid.

Sleep State 2:

  • Invoked by: Apple Menu > Sleep (or its keyboard shortcut).
  • Awaken by: touching the trackpad, clicking the trackpad, pressing a key, or opening the lid.

You'll notice that the main difference between the two is that in the first one you can simply touch the trackpad and the computer will wake up.

I have two questions:

  • Why are there two different sleep states?
  • Are there any other differences between them besides the one I mentioned?

I'm not sure if this is relevant or not, but I changed my MacBook's settings to cause Sleep to only Sleep and not the default 'Sleep and Hibernate'.


There are really three, sort of, but they're not exactly as you described:

  1. Display sleep: The screen goes blank after a certain amount of time. You can wake up the screen by touching the trackpad or pressing a key.
  2. Sleep: In this state, the computer goes to sleep: the hard drive stops spinning and the CPU uses much less (almost no) power. This can be invoked by closing the lid of the laptop, selecting Sleep from the Apple menu, or via a timer. You wake up the computer by opening the lid or pressing a key.
  3. Hibernation: If the battery is almost dead, the laptop will hibernate to save power. This is similar to shutting down, except all the contents of RAM are dumped to the hard drive, which makes it much faster to start up (as well as starting the computer up into the previous state). You have to hit the laptop power key to wake the machine from hibernation.
  • 2
    The LED on the front of the computer (which is not visible on laptop models unless it is lit) can be used to distinguish “display sleep” from the deeper sleep modes. If the screen is dark but the LED is lit and steady then only the display is sleeping. If the LED is fading between off and on (with a rate similar to that of a human breathing), then it is sleeping or hibernating. If the screen is dark and the LED is not lit, the machine is off. – Chris Johnsen Feb 5 '11 at 4:15
  • 1
    To clarify, since the October 2004 rev. of Powerbook G4, Mac portables have used Safe Sleep, and always backup the contents of RAM to the Hard Drive when going to sleep, in case the battery is drained while asleep. – ghoppe Jun 9 '11 at 16:42
  • In accepted answer: "If the battery is almost dead, the laptop will hibernate to save power" is not entirely true. It goes into hibernate even when your battery is full. But I couldnt figure out why. It goes into hibernation when its sleeping for a longer time. I guess some timelimit is in action. Or is it possible that mac somehow loses power even with full battery while I am carrying it around? – Srneczek Aug 11 '15 at 10:33
  • @user1096901 see the manual page for pmset for the details on which timers transition into hibernation and or deep sleep. – bmike Aug 11 '15 at 12:50

One just sleeps the display cuz that is the biggest battery drainer and is quick to turn back on.

The other sleeps the display, CPU and hard disks and takes longer to turn on again.

I'm sure someone else has more to say on this though, so I'll leave it to them.

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