Most every business strives to adopt green, energy-saving processes. Computer equipment, however, sometimes proves one of the greatest offenders of Earth-friendly practices, due to desktop’s and laptop’s appetites for electricity. Depending upon an organization’s needs and business requirements, Mac users and administrators may wish to adjust their computers’ energy settings.


The reasons are twofold. Businesses may wish to increase energy consumption to enable better performance. Or, companies may seek to reduce the amount of electricity systems draw to better match the organization’s energy-conscious initiatives.

While adjusting settings on a handful of systems may not make a huge impact, over time, the energy savings (or conversely, performance improvements) add up. Even incremental changes across an exponential number of Macs impact an office’s energy consumption, especially as the cumulative effects of the changes compound over long periods.

Changing Energy Saver preferences

Review and edit energy settings on Mac OS X Snow Leopard computers by opening System Preferences and clicking Energy Saver. The Energy Saver window presents two tabs: Battery and Power Adapter; nearly identical settings, but with different values, are available within both tabs. The only difference is the Battery tab’s Slightly Dim The Display When Using This Power Source option changes to Wake For Network Access when changing to the Power Adapter tab.

Organizations, departments or even individual users wishing to improve performance and minimize delays will likely wish to clear the checkbox provided for Put The Hard Disk(s) To Sleep When Possible and extend (lengthen) the Computer Sleep slider bar setting. Users seeking to eliminate any display sensitivity to inactivity can clear the Automatically Reduce Brightness Before Display Goes To Sleep option, too, and can move the display sleep slider bar to Enable, delaying display sleep mode for 15 minutes, an hour or more, or never.

Users wishing to save energy should become more aggressive using the Computer Sleep and Display sleep slider bars to minimize the amount of time that must pass before the computer and display are set to sleep mode. These users will also likely wish to keep the Put The Hard Disk(s) To Sleep When Possible and Automatically Reduce Brightness Before Display Goes To Sleep checkboxes checked.

If users must make fairly frequent adjustments to these settings, there is an option (typically selected by default) to place a battery status icon in the Mac’s menu bar. Doing so enables selecting the Energy Saver applet directly from the menu bar, which such users will find convenient.

One potentially unknown capability Macs possess is the option to automatically start (or wake) the Mac, as well as the option to automatically place the Mac in sleep mode at predetermined times. Clicking the Schedule button found within the Energy Saver console opens a simple window that provides two options. Users can choose to activate automatic Start up (or wake) operations at the time they specify. A second provided, but optional, drop-down menu offers the choice of scheduling an automatic Sleep, Restart or Shutdown command at the time the user specifies. Leveraging these settings, particularly energy conscious users can specify these critical machine operations down to the day and minute.

Should you make a mistake, never fear. Apple’s provided a Restore Defaults button that, if needed, can reset the Mac’s Energy Saver settings to the original factory settings. The Restore Defaults button is found on both the Battery and Power Adapter tabs within Energy Saver.