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Run newer PowerBooks with the lid closed System
People often ask how to run a PowerBook with the lid closed. You can, if you connect a monitor and mouse, close the lid and restart, but here's an easier way that works on most new PowerBooks: There is a magnetic sensor that tells the machine the lid is closed and it should go to sleep.

On my 12" aluminum PowerBook, the sensor is on the right palmrest under the right arrow key, and there is a magnet on the lid in the corresponding position. Take a thin flat piece of steel, say 1" by 0.5" (a big paperclip works for me) and stick it to the magnet on the lid, then close the lid. The metal blocks the magnetism, and the PowerBook will not sleep! Great for carrying the book from place to place while it continues to run. Just be careful to use a piece of metal that won't scratch the machine's finish.

[robg adds: I haven't tested this one, and I'm not sure what the official Apple stance is on running the machine with the lid closed but the display active (which it would be unless you dimmed it, I believe). Proceed at your own risk. Given the minimal time it takes to sleep and wake under OS X, I'll personally stick with letting the machine go to sleep when the lid shuts.]
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Be Careful
Authored by: theRhino on Feb 21, '03 10:39:45AM

This is a fantastic way to burn out the screen. Most of the heat from the laptop is released through the keyboard. Ever seen a laptop that didn't properly sleep when someone closed the lid? We've had several here, and they were all very expensive to fix. The screens were fried and had to be totally replaced. Apple's new laptops are not designed for this.

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Hard Drives are robust, but...
Authored by: jdbraun on Feb 21, '03 01:58:23PM

IMHO, carrying around a running PowerBook (heat issues aside) is just not a good idea. Take a look at some of the specifications for Hitachi (IBM) or Toshiba's laptop drives. The operating specification for the amount of motion (shock) they can sustain is only about 12% of the non-operating shock. (200Gs-2ms vs 800Gs/1ms on Hitachi TravelStar drives) I'd definately not recommend putting your 'book in this headless mode to carry it around.


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Hard Drives are robust, but... - More then you would think
Authored by: michaelmazzen on Jul 02, '03 12:30:06PM

You're right about the paper specs on the drives but...
I know from experience that the amount of abuse and beatings a standard harddisk can take is simply unbelievable. Take any laptop - You can shake it and throw it around and drive around with it powered on under your carseat, and it normally just keeps going.
Of course you should be insured and make regular backups ;-)

It's only under the most extreme conditions you should go for a mil-spec ruggedized laptop (to bad Apple doesn't make such a thing, there's definitely a market for those bastards)

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Hard Drives are robust, but... - More then you would think
Authored by: tahart on Aug 13, '04 12:12:09PM

It also depends on what the drive is actually doing when it's taking a beating. If it's trying to write something, you might lose some data... but I think head crashes are pretty rare these days. ;c)

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why Be Careful
Authored by: Dillsmalan on Nov 03, '05 05:46:34AM

does't using your pb with your screen closed and external keyboard/screen also damage your screen... apple seems to think its fine

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Run newer PowerBooks with the lid closed
Authored by: Greedo on Feb 21, '03 10:49:34AM

But, if you dim the screen right down to "off", this shouldn't be too much of a problem, should it?

I've often wanted to run iTunes on my iBook while it was closed ... it doesn't fit on my shelf next to my stereo when it's open. :)

Any idea if this works on iBooks too?

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It works.
Authored by: Numbski on Feb 21, '03 11:00:24AM

Indeed, power down the screen first!

Bad bad bad idea to leave the screen on while doing this...

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Brilliant way to ruin your laptop
Authored by: klktrk on Feb 21, '03 11:26:55AM

Apple's laptops are designed so that the heat from the processor dissipates through the bottom and through the keyboard. From an engineer's point of view, the keyboard is an essential vent for the processor and should never be blocked while the machine is running. It's not just the screen you should be worried about; it's your processor overheating that's the main danger. If you haven't run into any problems yet, consider yourself lucky and be happy with that, but don't encourage anyone else to risk ruining their machine.

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Brilliant way to ruin your laptop
Authored by: PapaJosh on Feb 21, '03 12:11:53PM

If this is truly a problem, then what about all those times that I run my PB closed while connected to an external monitor? The same amount of heat is produced, and if the processor overheats in this state (an Apple approved operating state), then I'd say there's a serious design flaw.

Besides, more heat is dissipated through the heatpipe/fan combination than through direct readiation from the keyboard. If anything, the keyboard actually acts as an insulator for the heat.

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Brilliant way to ruin your laptop
Authored by: Jay on Feb 21, '03 12:27:24PM
You're right, operating with the lid closed is an Apple approved state.

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Brilliant way to ruin your laptop
Authored by: Mikey-San on Feb 21, '03 01:29:39PM

Yeah, but check this one out regarding iBooks:

That having been said, a few ponderances:

The PBG4 generates more heat than the iBook, so shouldn't this also apply to the Ti?

Counter-argument: The iBook has less non-keyboard venting and is encased in heavy plastic instead of thin, heat-conducting/sinking metal. Also, it's MUCH tighter inside the iBook than the Ti, resulting in better airflow inside the Ti.

It seems that Apple hasn't been really, really sparkling clear on this subject. I'd like to see a KBase article that just comes out and says when it's safe and when it isn't. Or whatever.

I'm sleepy, at work, and bored. Two cents. :-)


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Brilliant way to ruin your laptop
Authored by: bpaul on Feb 07, '04 12:24:05AM

Any engineer who honestly believes that dissipating heat through the keyboard is a good idea is a fool. A computer should never be intended to run only with the display open, and it surprises me that Apple has implemented this pathetic system. Here is why.
The Macintosh philosophy readily adapts to the newest, latest peripherals. On a Mac you will never find interfaces found in 99.9% of industry, such as RS232 or GPIB ports, yet there will be two Firewire ports. The thing that separates the computer from a $5.99 toy is not the display, but the processor, and our ability to unconditionally interact with it should never be comprimised.
If you burn your display out in one of the ways suggested above, that is Apple's problem, not yours. You bought a processor, and that's what you're using it as.
Windows laptops do not suffer from this problem. It is shameful that macintosh has to get a tick for being inferior in this category.

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Run newer PowerBooks with the lid closed
Authored by: jonhenshaw on Feb 21, '03 11:33:51AM

With my older PowerBook G4 (800) with the power cable unplugged, I'm able to close the lid, it goes to sleep, I plug in (in this order) my monitor cable, usb cable (mouse & keyboard), and then the power. It comes out of sleep and I can use the external keyboard and monitor.

Are you telling me that you can't do this with the new PowerBooks? If not, the new PowerBooks are lamer than I thought...

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Run newer PowerBooks with the lid closed
Authored by: dfbills on Feb 21, '03 07:53:11PM

This works great. I've used my three different powerbooks in this mode daily since 1998 without screen damage. The only drawback is that the fan runs more often to keep the heat levels down.

Powerbook G3 400 (Lombard)
Powerbook G3 500 (Pismo)
Powerbook G4 500 (TiBook)
Powerbook G4 800 (DVI)

Of these, the G3 500 runs the coolest and rarely, if ever, has the fan come on. It is running headless right now playing iTunes music though my stereo.


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Run newer PowerBooks with the lid closed
Authored by: david-bo on Feb 25, '03 01:16:10PM

(especially interested in the Pismo)

Did you use this magnet-trick to run the PB:s with the lid closed or are there other ways to do it?

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Run newer PowerBooks with the lid closed
Authored by: brandondrew on Feb 22, '03 03:43:59PM

The solution to this problem (a need/desire to run without being open versus the need for heat dissipation) would be either
1) for apple to allow the screen to be easily removed (without tools! it should just pop off) or
2) for someone to build a very thin yet very effective heatsink that fits between the screen and the keyboard. (I don't know if this is even possible, and would probably require apple to put more space between them)

Playing music, however, doesn't seem to be a good enough reason to close your powerbook. *Wearing* your computer on a strap around your shoulder while you shoot digital video (or do something like that) seems like much more compelling reason to need to have it closed and compact.

Brandon Z

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Authored by: Anonymous on Jul 09, '03 02:33:35PM

> thin yet very effective heat-sink

Well there are those new (still experimental?) silicon-based heat-*pumps* that somehow use electricity to make heat go where it doesn't want to through silicon (don't remember exactly how they work, although I think similar principles as diodes/transistors)

I also remember reading a little brief in Scientific American (couldn't manage to find it on the site though) about some group that had invented a heat-sink that had microchannels filled with liquid methanol or some such liquid. The methanol would heat up, vaporize, go to the outside, dump the heat, reliquify, and repeat the process. So basically a heat pipe. I want Apple to incorporate those into the 'books.. <Drool>


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Authored by: tahart on Aug 13, '04 12:17:22PM

Sounds like a stinky solution, but it just might work... ;c)

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Run newer PowerBooks with the lid closed
Authored by: dcheng on Feb 23, '03 08:54:52PM

I've been doing this for quite a while with my G3/600 iBook (16 VRAM) to no ill-effect; You just need to use your common sense!

I typically place a quarter or some other coin below the end key, and turn the screen brightness to zero (i.e., no backlight) before closing the lid.

I routinely drive around with the closed iBook on the passenger seat of my car with a line-out from the headphone jack to my car's deck. The notebook barely even gets warm.

My iBook has a fan which kicks in when the processor is running far too hot. This happens very rarely it seems, and only when the processor is allowed to run full-tilt, as specified in the Energy Saver system pref panel. For lid-closed, non-processor intensive activities like playing music, I simply set the processor performance to low.

The fan has never come on in my lid-closed operation. As noted above, the left-hand palm rest (where the processor is located) barely even gets warm! Certainily, with a little common sense, you can surmise that this isn't anymore detrimental than resting the notebook on your lap, where no air is allowed to circulate underneath the casing.

Actually, here's another bit of advice if you're using your notebook as an overgrown iPod:

If you carefully place the mouse cursor over the "next track" button in the iTunes window before you close the lid, you can gently press down on the edge opposite the hinge to "click" the mouse button underneath the trackpad. This lets you select the next track in iTunes -- especially useful if you're doing a shuffle-play with the lid closed, and want to skip a song.

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Run newer PowerBooks with the lid closed
Authored by: McGornigle on Feb 24, '03 10:41:41AM

I think it can't be so wrong to run the PowerBook with the lid closed, as
Apple has put this option in the PowerBook manual. In the manual that
came with my G4 12" it works like this:
You can use the PB with the lid closed, when it is connected to
keyboard, mouse, monitor and power.
1) Connect USB-keyboard and mouse to PowerBook
2) Close lid and PowerBook goes to sleep
3) Connect monitor to PB
4) Wait a few seconds and press a key on the keyboard, so the PB
wakes up

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Run newer PowerBooks with the lid closed
Authored by: eniltra on Feb 24, '03 10:47:07AM

Thanks for this amazing tip. It works great for me (Ibook 800 mhz combo).
And to all european works just as good with eurocents.

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Not good for your screen
Authored by: dshirley on Feb 24, '03 09:19:24PM

I don't know if you've seen those poor notebook users who sit there and squint at apallingly dim screens? Well, some of them just have the bad luck to buy notebooks with cheap screens. Others, however, are enjoying the results of aged screens.

The problem with running the notebook with the screen closed is not so much an issue with internal temperatures (there are enough heat-pipes and fans to get the heat out by other means), but with the negative effects of overheating your screen.

Simply put, extended exposure to heat is not good for the backlight, unless it has been specifically designed for it. The heat accelerates the aging of the backlight, slowly dimming it. Some Toshibas used to have backlights which were designed to be used in this way, but very few notebooks do nowadays since they cost more, though people are rarely willing to pay more for this feature.

Not advised! :)

Quidquid latine dictum sit altum viditur

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My 12in Powerbook Never Turns the Monitor Off
Authored by: digitalone on Mar 17, '03 12:47:17AM

My 12in powebook never goes to sleep when the lid is closed. If you don't put it to sleep first, the monitor lights up when you close the lid if it was off. This occurs no matter what, with nothing plugged into it, no airport (I have none yet) nothing, just on battery power. I though this was the normal behavior, but I am starting to think otherwise after seeing these hints.

The keyboard is one piece aluminum anyways with a teflon coating, it can't dissipate more heat than the case. Actually, it's probably less due to the teflon, an extremely poor heat conducter vs. the all aluminum case.

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My 12in Powerbook Never Turns the Monitor Off
Authored by: heathpitts on Mar 24, '03 10:14:41PM

I am about to buy a 12in powerbook. I was wanting it to be able to be used as a desktop hooked up to an external monitor, keyboard, mouse, scanner, etc... Can this not be done with the powerbook with the lid closed? How do you normally use the machine as a desktop unit when you are not traceling with it?

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My 12in Powerbook Never Turns the Monitor Off
Authored by: tahart on Aug 13, '04 07:52:26AM
Apple states on their support site that you should never operate the powerbook or ibook with the lid closed, but htey don't say why. Probably the heat thing. I'm using an iBook as an internet server and want to let it stay awake while the lid is closed, an also to prevent my 1 year old from banging on the keyboard so I may use the paperclip method.

Here's more info from after a search on 'ibook lid' in the Support area:

What might prevent a computer from going to sleep or going into an idle state?

If Apple DVD Player is the active application, the computer will not go to sleep when left idle.

Other applications, such as some fax software, can also prevent the computer from going to sleep regardless of Energy Saver preference settings. Tip: The Mac OS X 10.3 Panther faxing feature does not prevent a computer from going to sleep or entering an idle state.

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Run newer PowerBooks with the lid closed
Authored by: MBHahn on Mar 24, '03 04:17:24PM

This is the closest I have seen to solving my problem. I want to be able to shut the lid after I start the shutdown process. This would allow me to put my powerbook away and get going without having to wait. Any suggestions

M B Hahn

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12-inch can turn off LCD :)
Authored by: elmer-12 on Mar 25, '03 12:55:46PM
Of course you can run the 12-inch with lid closed (its in the manual), but the following is cooler, IMHO, since I like the 12-inch's keyboard:
I have a mouse but not an external keyboard. I wanted to use my external VGA monitor and the built-in keyboard without using the LCD on my 12-inch PowerBook.
It works!
- connect VGA monitor
- set to mirror mode
- unplug USB mouse
- close lid and wait for sleep
- plug in USB mouse and wait for wakeup and VGA monitor on
- open lid (be careful not to let it bounce and put itself to sleep again)

You should now be able to use the internal keyboard and the USB mouse. The LCD is not turned on and it does not show up in the Displays menu item. The external VGA display has whatever setting you want - I use 1280x1024@85Hz.

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Or just patch the kernel
Authored by: melguin on Jul 09, '03 04:15:24PM
I echo everyone who said "um, why not?" as long as you're sensible.

Another (geekier) option to running with the lid closed is to patch the kernel and recompile. Though very interesting stuff (makes me nostalgic for my Linux days), its probably not for the faint of heart.

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Keep iBook awake when shut
Authored by: chrismo on Jan 23, '06 09:05:45PM

Running an iBook with the lid closed would be very handy. It's very irritating having to keep it open to play music - in the car or living room etc, or play a movie on a TV. I no longer have an iBook to test this (No, I didn't melt it) but I believe there's a way to get around the heat issue of running with the lid closed.

I think it must be possible for whatever triggers the sleep mode when the lid is closed to instead trigger a change of energy saver preferences - low cpu speed, screen off.

Also there is a file in the System folder (I researched this a while back and I can't remeber where it is or what it's called exactly) that sets the fan speed and the temperature at which it's activated at. Anyone with a newish mac which has OS controlled fans should be able to locate this file, I guess it's with the driver for the fans. It was certainly present on my iBook G4 12" 1.2GHz but isn't on my current PowerMac G4/533. I think it would be posible to set the fan driver setting so that the machine is kept cool enough while the lid is closed. Obviously if the fans are spinning it would decrease battery life somewhat and increase noise levels slightly.

I would be very interested to hear from anyone who has experimented with this as I think there's real potential. I'm going to try it next time I can get my hands on someone's ibook :)

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