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How to Shut Down MacBook: 3 Best Ways

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Last updated: September 6, 2023

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While the easiest way to shut down your Mac is by clicking the Apple icon and selecting Shut Down from the drop-down menu, it may not work if your Mac is frozen or unresponsive. Knowing how to shut down your Mac safely in such situations is essential for preserving the lifespan of your MacBook and ensuring optimal performance.

In this comprehensive guide, I’ll show you how to shut down MacBook with 3 quick and easy methods.

Before You Shut Down Your MacBook

shut down warning prompt on mac

Before shutting down your MacBook, it’s a good idea to perform a few important steps to ensure a safe and proper shutdown. Here’s a checklist you can follow:

  1. 💾 Save your work: Make sure you save any open documents or files you’re working on. Close any applications you no longer need to use.
  2. 📂 Backup important data: It’s a good practice to regularly back up your important files on Mac. Consider using Time Machine or any other backup solution to create a backup of your MacBook.
  3. ☁️ Sync iCloud data: If you use iCloud services to sync your data across devices, ensure that your MacBook is connected to the internet so all changes are synced before shutting down.
  4. 📑 Close all applications: Close all running applications to ensure there are no active processes that might interfere with the shutdown process or cause data loss.
  5. 💽 Eject external devices: If you have any external devices connected to your MacBook, such as external hard drives or USB flash drives, safely eject them before shutting down to prevent data corruption or damage.
  6. 🔋 Check battery level: If your MacBook relies on battery power, ensure the battery has enough charge. If it’s running low, connect your MacBook to a power source before shutting down.
  7. 🔄 Quit background processes: Some applications might have background processes running even if you’ve closed their windows. Check the status bar at the top right of your screen for any active processes, and quit them if necessary.
  8. 🌐 Close network connections: If your MacBook is connected to a Wi-Fi network or Ethernet, consider disconnecting from the network before shutting down.

How to Shut Down MacBook: The Standard Shutdown Process

Before we dive into alternative shutdown techniques and force shut down, let’s cover the standard method of turning off a MacBook:

  1. Click the Apple icon in the top left corner of your screen.
  2. From the dropdown menu, choose Shut Down.
Shut down your Mac from the Apple menu
  1. A pop-up window will appear. Click Shut Down again and your Mac will turn off.
click shut down on the warning prompt

Shutdown Your MacBook Using Keyboard Shortcuts

There are two Mac keyboard shortcuts you can use to shut down your system.

The first shortcut is designed to safely close apps before shutting down, while the second shortcut forces an immediate shutdown without closing any applications. I recommend using the first shortcut in most cases.

Keyboard Shortcut to Save Files and Shut Down Your Mac

To safely shut down your Mac, press Control ^+ Option ⌥ + Command ⌘ + Power/Touch ID.

macbook pro control option command power

Avoid holding down the power button alone, as this will force a shutdown. Instead, give it a brief press along with the other buttons.

Keyboard Shortcut to Shut Down Your Mac Without Saving Files

If the first shortcut doesn’t work because some apps cannot be safely closed, you will need to force your Mac to shut down.

Press Control ^+ Command ⌘ + Power/Touch ID to initiate a forced shutdown. Hold down these keys for a few seconds until your Mac shuts down.

macbook pro control command power

Shutdown Your MacBook via Terminal Command

To shut down your MacBook using Terminal, you can use the shutdown command. Here’s how you can do it:

  1. Open the Terminal application on your MacBook. You can find it in the Utilities folder within the Applications folder, or you can use Spotlight Search to locate it quickly.
launch terminal from utilities 1
  1. Once the Terminal is open, you can simply type the following command and press Enter:
sudo shutdown -h
  1. You will be prompted to enter your administrator password. Type your password (you won’t see it as you type) and press Enter again.
type the shut down command in terminal
  1. Terminal will proceed to initiate the shutdown process, and your MacBook will shut down shortly after.

Using the shutdown command in Terminal requires administrative privileges (hence the use of sudo).

How to Force Shut Down Your MacBook

Force shutting down your Mac should only be used as a last resort when your Mac becomes unresponsive or when normal shutdown methods are not working.

To force shut down your MacBook, follow these steps:

  1. Locate the power button on your MacBook, typically found in the top-right corner of the keyboard or as a separate button on newer models.
  2. Press and hold the power button for about 10 seconds. You may hear a click sound, and the screen should go black.
  3. After holding it for 10 seconds, release the power button.
  4. Give your MacBook a moment to shut down completely.
  5. Press the power button again to turn on your MacBook.

You can also use Touch ID to force shut down your Mac. To do it, press and hold the Touch ID button for approximately six seconds, and it should trigger a force shutdown.

macbook pro touch id

Force shutting down your MacBook should be used sparingly and only when necessary, as it may lead to potential data loss or system instability.

Shutdown vs. Sleep Mode

sleep vs shut down 1

Sleep mode and shut down serve different purposes. While sleep mode is suitable for short breaks where you need to preserve your session, the shutdown is better for extended periods of non-use.

Regular shutdowns can reduce wear and tear on your MacBook’s hardware, contributing to a longer device lifespan. Moreover, shutting down when not in use can save significant battery life compared to leaving the device in sleep mode.

What to Do If Your MacBook Won’t Shut Down

If your MacBook won’t shut down using the regular methods, here are some steps you can take to troubleshoot the issue:

  1. 💥 Force quit unresponsive applications: Press Command ⌘ + Option ⌥ + Esc to open the Force Quit Applications window. Select unresponsive applications and click Force Quit to close them. Try shutting down your MacBook again.
  2. 🔄 Check for software updates: Outdated software can cause shutdown issues. Go to the Apple menu > System Settings > General > Software Update. Install available updates and then attempt to shut down your MacBook.
  3. 🔌 Disconnect peripherals: Disconnect any external devices connected to your MacBook, such as printers, external drives, or USB devices. Sometimes, issues with peripherals can interfere with the shutdown process.

If you’ve tried all of these steps and your MacBook still won’t shut down, it’s time to contact Apple Support or visit an Apple Authorized Service Provider for further assistance.

Shut Down Your Mac Properly

Mastering the shutdown process is an important part of MacBook ownership. It help you keep your Mac in top shape. Besides knowing how to shut down MacBook properly, you should also learn other troubleshooting tips to improve your Mac performance:

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Is it bad to force shut down a MacBook?

    Yes, it is bad to force shut down a MacBook frequently as it affects the hardware. Force shutting down a MacBook should be a last resort as it can lead to data loss or corruption.

  2. How often should I shut down my MacBook?

    You should shut down your MacBook if you’re not using it. By shutting down your Mac regularly, you can preserve its battery and extend its lifespan. Moreover, a turned off Mac doesn’t conserve any energy resources, so it’s better for the environment.

  3. What is the difference between Restart and Shut Down on my MacBook?

    Restart and Shut Down on your Mac are different as restarting involves an immediate reboot of the system while shutting down completely powers off the MacBook. Your system won’t turn on itself after you shut it down.

  4. Does shutting down a MacBook clear RAM?

    Yes, shutting down a MacBook clears the RAM, offering a fresh start when you boot it up again. This can be beneficial if your MacBook has been running slowly or if you’ve been using a lot of resource-intensive applications. It gives the system a chance to reset and prevents lingering issues from past sessions.

Hashir Ibrahim


I'm Hashir, a tech journalist with a decade of experience. My work has been featured in some of the top tech publications like MakeUseOf and MakeTechEasier. I have a bachelor's degree in IT, a master's in cybersecurity, and extensive knowledge of Apple hardware, specifically MacBooks. As the senior writer at MacBook Journal, I write in depth guides that help you solve any issues you have with your mac and unbiased reviews that help you make the right buying decisions.



Hi there! I'm Ojash, a tech journalist with over a decade of experience in the industry. I've had the privilege of contributing to some of the world's largest tech publications, making my mark as a respected Mac expert. My passion lies in exploring, using, and writing about MacBooks, and I enjoy sharing my expertise to help others make informed decisions and get the most out of their MacBook experience. Join me as we delve into the fascinating world of MacBooks together!

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