Tip: quickly turn off your Mac’s screen with this handy keyboard shortcut

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If you don’t want a bystander to read what’s on your Mac’s screen or just want to temporarily shut off the display—for instance, to save battery—you can take advantage of several built-in macOS features.

For that purpose, I’d typically define hot corners in Mission Control settings so that moving the mouse pointer to the upper left corner would instantly start my screen saver. The problem is, even a blank screen saver won’t completely shut off the display.

As it turns out, macOS makes your life even easier by providing a dedicated keyboard shortcut to quickly turn off a Mac’s display without having to define a screen saver or use dedicated third-party applications.

How to quickly turn off your Mac’s screen

It doesn’t get any easier than this: at any time, press Shift (⇧)-Ctrl (⌃) – Eject or Shift (⇧)-Ctrl (⌃) – Power (⎋) on newer Mac models.

Pressing the shortcut will instantly fade to black both the built-in display and any external screens connected to this Mac and shut off their backlighting. As mentioned, this is a great way to save battery on Mac notebooks without having to set up a blank screen saver, prevent a bystander from seeing what’s on your screen and more.

Requiring macOS password after display sleep

As a precaution, you may want to make some customizations so that macOS requires your Mac user account’s password after the screen goes blank. Doing that will prevent others from using your computer if you, say, press the key combination to hide what’s on your computer’s screen or leave the machine unattended for a short period of time.

First launch System Preferences on your Mac and then hit the Security & Privacy preference pane. Now click the lock icon and type in your macOS administrator password to unlock the settings.

OS X El Capitan Safari view saved passwords Mac screenshot 001

Next, hit the General tab, tick the box next to “Require password after sleep or screen saver begins” and then click the pop-up menu and choose an option: Immediately, 5 seconds, 1 minute, 5 minutes, 15 minutes, 1 hour, 4 hours or 8 hours.

OS X El Capitan System Preferences requires password after screen saver Mac screenshot 001

My Mac is set to ask the password 5 seconds after it goes to sleep or the screen saver kicks in. This lets me quickly resuming using the machine after accidentally pressing the keystroke, without needing to enter the password.

The shorter the password lock, the better

Having macOS require password a few seconds or minutes after the screen goes to sleep versus 15 minutes or more will drastically shortening the window of opportunity for any possible foul play while your computer is unattended.

In my case, five seconds is an ideal setting. If I shut off my Mac’s screen by intentionally pressing the keystroke, I can press any key within the next five seconds to wake the display from sleep and continue using my Mac immediately.

OS X El Capitan login profile image Mac screenshot 002

But after five seconds have passed, macOS requires me to type in my administrator password to continue using the computer. The best thing about this handy keyboard shortcut is that it doesn’t put your Mac to sleep, nor does it log out the current user.

While the display is shut off, the machine continues to function normally as if nothing happened: you’ll still receive emails and notifications and running task won’t pause. I’ve actually completely disabled my screen saver: using this shortcut in conjunction with the password timeout setting described above lets me save power when needed while increase my privacy—without degrading my user experience.

As commenters have pointed out, you can set up Hot Corners to put the display to sleep rather than start your screen saver, which can be quite useful as well.

OS X El Capitan Hot Corners Put Display to Sleep MAc screenshot 001

Hope you like this handy little tip?

Hat tip goes to iDownloadBlog reader Peter B.

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