How to Turn Off an iMac Screen


If you haven't turned your iMac upside down to find the hidden button that turns off only the screen, don't bother. There isn't one. The iMac has only one power button, which turns off both the screen and the computer. For people who want to play music on the iMac without lighting up the entire room, Apple offers two software options. Program OS X to turn off the screen when you move the cursor into a hot corner or schedule it to turn off automatically after a specified amount of time.

Setting a Hot Corner

  • Click the "Apple" menu at the top of the iMac's desktop. Select " System Preferences" and then click "Desktop & Screen Saver."

  • Click the "Screen Saver" tab and then click the "Hot Corners" button. Four menus appear, each representing a corner of the iMac's desktop. Select the corner you want to use to activate the sleep feature and select "Put the Display to Sleep." If you often move your mouse near the corner where you might trigger the feature inadvertently, assign a key or key combination to go with the corner when selecting it. For example, if you hold down the "Shift" key while selecting the "Put the Display to Sleep" option for a corner, then the screen only goes to sleep if you move the mouse to that corner while holding the "Shift" key.

  • Click "OK" to save your selection. Test the hot corner by moving the mouse into the corner you selected while holding down the key or key combination if you assigned one. After the screen turns off, touch a key on the keyboard or move the mouse to turn the screen back on.

Using Energy Saver

  • Select "System Preferences" from the Apple menu. Click the "Energy Saver" icon that looks like a light bulb. The Energy Saver has two sliders to specify when, if ever, the computer should go to sleep and when the display should go to sleep.

  • Drag the "Display Sleep" slider to the amount of idle time after which you want the screen to turn off. You may appear to be inactive when you get up to get coffee, talk on the phone or read Web pages for several minutes without touching the mouse or keyboard, so set this slider to at least 15 minutes.

  • Drag the "Computer Sleep" slider to a time that makes sense for your habits. This should ideally be some time after the display goes to sleep. To prevent the iMac from ever going to sleep, drag the slider to the "Never" setting. Use the check boxes to have the hard drives go to sleep when they are not being used or to have the iMac wake for network access, which is useful if you access the iMac's files or printer from another computer. You can also instruct the iMac to start up automatically after a power failure or turn on by itself to check for email and other updates in Power Nap mode.

  • Click the "Schedule" button if you prefer that the iMac goes to sleep or wakes up at a specific time each day. You can specify specific days, weekdays or every day and set the time using the pop-up menus. Click "OK" to save your schedule.

  • Click the mouse or press a key on the keyboard at any time after the screen or the computer goes to sleep to wake it. If only the screen is asleep, it should wake almost immediately. If the computer is asleep, it may take five seconds or so to wake.

Tips & Warnings

  • Putting a computer to sleep when it's not being used not only conserves energy, it also saves money on your electric bill. A 21.5-inch iMac manufactured in mid-2014 consumes 33 watts of power and emits 113 BTU of heat per hour when it is idle. Older iMacs use much more power. A mid-2011 model of the same size consumes 85 watts of power and emits 290 BTU per hour when it's idle.
  • Information in this article applies to an Apple iMac running OS X Mavericks. It may vary slightly or significantly with other versions or products.

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