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Caffeine: Keep Your Mac Awake

There are times when I want my Mac to not go to sleep or even start the screen saver.  These of course are settings that you can change in your Mac system preferences as I have discussed previously.  The problem with that of course, is when you change the settings for a temporary reason, you have to change them back again.  First world geek problem as it may be, it is still annoying and in my opinion just screams for a small, well written application to step in and save the day but in an inconspicuous manner.  Let me introduce you to, Caffeine!

The name of this little application is spot on!  If you are starting to run low on energy and need an extra, though admittedly temporary, boost one of the things you may reach for is a hot steaming caffeine filled cup of hot brown.  Well, the creators over at Lighthead Software were thinking along those same lines when they created one of the neatest little utilities called Caffeine.

As the name suggests, it literally keeps your Mac awake longer than normal for a temporary amount of time.  Once you run the software for the first time it sits silently in your task bar asking for nothing in return.  Just a lonely little empty cup of coffee until you click it when suddenly that little cup of coffee fills to the brim with the caffeine needed to override your current energy settings and keep your Mac awake and kicking.

Just as the icon in your task bar is simple to use, as are the preferences as you see here.  I almost feel silly explaining these settings.  I would advise that you change these default settings to ensure that Caffeine automatically starts on login, and does not activate at launch; this is better used as an on-demand utility.  The default duration is pretty straight forward although does depend on the task at hand and the environment you are working in.

Typically I use caffeine while I am doing something like encoding video or up or downloading a large file.  This way I ensure that my Mac doesn’t go to sleep because of my energy System Preferences and kill the encode or the data transfer.  For example, at this moment I have my iMac encoding and uploading my daily video blog I created to YouTube.  As such, I don’t want my machine to go to sleep and kill the transfer as has happened before when I didn’t use Caffeine.  I also know about how long this task takes so on my iMac, which is obviously plugged into a power source, I choose 2 hours for Caffeine to keep my iMac awake.  For my MacBook Pro however, I am a bit more cautious, especially if I am on battery power.  In this case I change it to 30 minutes and monitor it a bit more closely.

I love little utilities like this. Simple, targeted bits of well written software that do exactly what they are suppsed to and nothing more.  As far as I am concerned Caffeine is a home run and is one of my must have pieces of software.  What is even more fantastic is even though I would be willing to pay $4.99 or maybe even more, it is a free download in the Mac App Store.

About Matthew Snider

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