How to enable Mac computers to automatically power on

Automatically powering on computers aids in remotely managing computers, patch deployment, and power efficiency. Here's how.

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As administrators, sometimes we're charged with performing tasks that we've performed countless times but with a twist that makes the task more difficult. I encountered one such issue recently at a site hosting multiple Mac servers. 

Due to a number of rolling power-related issues, the servers went offline and stayed offline even after power was restored. Typically, this would not be much of a concern given the staff present to resolve any issues on-premises, but COVID-19 has impacted business operations in such a way that these devices were not immediately accessible.

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The solution to this was to set the power-on functionality for each device to check that device is powered on each day at a specific time. If off, the system will power itself on at the specified date and time. Another setting that works well in conjunction is the power on after a power outage. When combined, both will work to ensure devices are powered on after power is restored and on a regularly scheduled basis, so devices aren't offline too long after an outage.

How to power-on devices by schedule

  1. Log into the Mac with administrative credentials.
  2. Launch Terminal.
  3. Enter the following command to configure the device to power on each day at 8 a.m.:
pmset repeat wakeorpoweron MTWRFSU 08:00:00 

By modifying the days and time, schedules can be customized to meet the needs of the organization. Note: The use of military time.

How to set a device to power-on after an outage (MacBooks only)

  1. Log into the Mac with administrative credentials.
  2. Launch Terminal.
  3. Enter the following command to configure the device to restart after power loss:
sudo systemsetup -setrestartfreeze on 

Note: This command is only supported on mobile devices, such as the MacBook line, not the desktop line of computers.

How to set a device to power-on after an outage (non-MacBooks only)

  1. Log into the Mac with administrative credentials.
  2. Launch Terminal.
  3. Enter the following command to configure the device to restart after power loss:
sudo systemsetup -setrestartpowerfailure on 

Note: This command is only supported on desktop devices, such as the Mac mini and iMac, not the mobile line of computers.

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