Use your MacBook's power button to turn off its display

For weeks, friends of mine and yours truly have been wondering about the odd new power button behavior using our MacBooks running OS X Mavericks.

I finally figured it all out: before Mavericks, when you pushed the power button on any MacBook, it would show you the power dialogue shown above. That gave you the option to either restart, make your MacBook go sleep or shut it down entirely.

That dialogue is still there, but here’s what’s different:

Push the power button for:

  • about one second: turns off your MacBook’s display (just the display, though. The MacBook is still on!)
  • about two to three seconds: gives you the old power dialogue as shown above [see update below!]
  • about ten seconds: turns off your MacBook entirely*

*People refer to this option as a hard shut down. Caution: only use this if your Mac froze, something hang or it’s showing you a kernel panic. It won’t save any of your documents that you may be working on before it shuts down!

Notice that the first option did not exist in previous versions of OS X. This is a new feature in Mavericks.

Nice little touch: the one second option will also turn off your connected Apple Thunderbolt Displays (and maybe other supported displays as well, though we don’t know about that for sure as of now).


As Camilo let us know in a comment below this post, the 2-3 second behavior described above can also be achieved by pressing ctrl + power button.