3 Ways to Turn Off The Screen of Your MacBook Without Closing The Lid [OS X Tips]

3 Ways to Turn Off The Screen of Your MacBook Without Closing The Lid [OS X Tips]

If you use your MacBook with external displays, you might want to use it with the display off but the lid open at some point. If so, today’s tip should help you accomplish this goal, with not one, not two, but three different ways to do so.

You can do this with the laptop lid shut, but with ever more powerful MacBooks out there, avoiding the heat that might build up in there is probably worth leaving the screen up, right? Leaving the screen up with the display off will let heat leave the Mac through the keyboard, and will allow the graphics processor give all of it’s power to the external screen, which is helpful if you’re working on graphics-intensive applications.

This only works with when the MacBook is connected to an external display, so start there.

Tip 1: Use The Terminal

Don’t be afraid – launch Terminal app and type or paste the following code in:

sudo nvram boot-args="iog=0x0"

Then type in your main password when prompted. You’ll need to restart your Macbook, but be sure it’s connected to that external display – this will shut off your internal screen until you use the following command to change it back:

sudo nvram -d boot-args

Then reboot again. If you accidentally disconnect the MacBook from the display, you’ll need to zap the pram, which entails holding Command-Option-P-R when restarting.

Tip 2: Use the System Preferences

Be sure to have your MacBook plugged in for this one. Then, open System Preferences and go to Mission Control. Click on Hot Corners and click on one of the corners – it’s up to you which one. Once selected, pull down the menu next to it and choose Put Display To Sleep.

Connect the external display to your MacBook and then move your mouse to the corner you selected above. It should turn off only the internal display. Close your MacBook lid and wait a couple of seconds. Lift the lid and it should stay off. You can use the trackpad and keyboard in this way as well.

Tip 3: Use a Magnet

This last is more of a “cool, check it out” tip. Don’t try this at home if you’re concerned about bringing a magnet anywhere near your computer, and don’t blame us if you do and something funky happens.

That said, be sure to attach an external keyboard and mouse first. Then, find a small magnet from your fridge. Don’t use anything stronger than that, ok? Connect the external display to your MacBook, slide the magnet around the outside lip of the MacBook screen until it goes right to sleep. Once it goes to sleep, press any key on the external keyboard you connected up, and the MacBook should display only on the external monitor.

This is of course more dangerous than just closing and re-opening your MacBook when connected to an external display, but that trick no longer works that well in OS X Mountain Lion.

Have fun dissipating heat and using your graphics chip to its highest ability, and let us know in the comments what your favorite tip is.

Got an OS X tip? Need help troubleshooting OS X? (sorry, you need Javascript to see this e-mail address)or leave a comment below.

Related
  • p_matsui

    Well, I use Control-Shift-Eject to turn off just the screen when rendering. It’s easier and you can do it with just one hand.

  • Robin Kanters

    @p_matsui I was expecting that in the list, yes

  • Broy Lim

    How about lowering the brightness all the way to zero? Does it does the same thing?

  • Amr Khalifa

    How about lowering the brightness all the way to zero? Does it does the same thing?

    No, it’s not the same. When the brightness is zero, you can still see elements on the screen, i.e. the screen is not turned off.

    I find the best way is to just use the keyboard shortcut: control + shift + Eject (without the + obviously)

  • rjalgeo

    Is there anything similar with iMacs that are connected to externals? I use a Cintiq as my primary monitor but it looks like I’ve got to have both monitors on at the same time…

  • CBergerman1515

    These are some terrible, dangerous ideas. Most readers here are “tech-savvy” but for those that aren’t these tips could cause a lot of trouble.

  • Broy Lim
    How about lowering the brightness all the way to zero? Does it does the same thing?

    No, it’s not the same. When the brightness is zero, you can still see elements on the screen, i.e. the screen is not turned off.

    I find the best way is to just use the keyboard shortcut: control + shift + Eject (without the + obviously)

    I tried it on my Mac and it works though – I don’t see any elements on the zeroed brightness screen. Or maybe it’s just me… :S

  • weaponized90th

    Option # 2 worked perfectly for me. I use an early-2011 Macbook Pro running Mavericks, and I prefer using ONLY my external 1920×1200 display when sitting on my desk.

    Exactly the same thing can be done by just closing the lid, but I don’t want to do that as the internal temps of the laptop go a little higher when the lid is closed (I use iStat Pro to see temperature readings).

    Option # 1 does not work for me as I need to unplug from my desk sometimes and continue working from another location – and I don’t want to reboot every time I need to do that.

    Thanks for the great tip!

About the author

Rob LeFebvreAnchorage, Alaska-based freelance writer and editor Rob LeFebvre is Cult of Mac's Culture Editor. He has contributed to various tech, gaming and iOS sites, including 148Apps, VentureBeat, and Paste Magazine. Feel free to find Rob on Twitter @roblef

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