Not interested in attracting mosquitoes? Keen to save battery and power? Find out here how to quickly turn off the screen on a Mac at any time using the mouse or the keyboard.

First, a Goddess Wrapped around the Dark Side

of the known earth had an important function in Ancient Egypt: Nut swallowed the sun at night to end the day and, in the morning, gave birth to it so a new day could begin.

Now, how about having your Mac screen’s bright light swallowed at will and any time (without putting the whole computer to sleep)?

How to Turn Off the Screen on a Mac

Using a Keyboard Shortcut

To quickly turn off your Mac’s screen at any time:

  1. Press Control Shift Eject.
    • Tip: The Eject key usually shows .
    • Note: If your Mac’s keyboard lacks an Eject key, you can use hot corners to turn off the display; see below.

Using a Hot Corner on the Screen

To set up a corner on the screen to turn off the display:

  1. Select System Preferences… from the Apple () menu.
  2. Open the Desktop & Screen Saver category.
  3. Make sure you are on the Screen Saver tab.
  4. Click Hot Corners….
  5. Now pick a corner to turn off the screen and select Put Display to Sleep for that corner.
    • Tip: You can require one or more keys to be pressed while the mouse cursor is in the corner for the display to be turned off; hold down the desired key or keys (Command, Control, Option, Shift and any combination) while selecting the Put Display to Sleep from the corner action’s menu.
    • Hint: You can make more than one corner turn off the Mac screen, too.
  6. Click OK.

Now, to turn off the screen with a flick of the mouse cursor:

  1. Move the mouse cursor to any corner configured to turn off your Mac’s screen.
    • Hint: If your hot corner requires holding down a key, you can let go of the key before you release the mouse.

Using the Command Line

To immediately turn off the screen on any Mac running macOS from Terminal (or any tool that can run command line scripts and applications):

  1. Run pmset displaysleepnow.

How to Turn Off the Screen on a Mac Notebook That Uses an External Display

To turn off only the screen on your Mac laptop (MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, etc.) while working on an external display:

  1. Connect the Mac laptop to a power source.
    • Tip: This can be a power cord, of course, but also a display that powers the computer through USB-C.
  2. Use an external mouse or trackpad and keyboard to operate the laptop.
    • Note: The devices can connect via USB or Bluetooth.
  3. Now connect the Mac laptop to an external monitor.
    • Note: Depending on the ports on the display and laptop, you may have to use an adapter.
    • Tip: Connect the external monitor while the laptop is asleep if it fails to turn on.
  4. Close the laptop’s lid for macOS clamshell mode.
  5. Press a key (or click with the mouse) to wake the external display.

How to Turn Off the Screen on a Mac Laptop Connected to an External Display While Using the Built-In Keyboard and Trackpad

To turn down a Mac laptop’s screen without closing its lid while you use it with an external display:

  1. Connect the laptop to an external monitor.
  2. Open System Preferences.
    • Tip: Select  | System Preferences… from the menu.
  3. Go to the Displays category.
  4. Now go to the Arrangement tab.
  5. Turn on Mirror Displays.
    • Tip: Switch to the Displays tab and pick the external display under Optimize for if the monitor resolution seems off.
  6. Go to the Display tab.
  7. Turn down the Brightness to its very minimum.
    • Note: This will almost (but not quite) turn off the screen and Automatically adjust brightness is disabled.
    • Tip: Use the laptop’s function keys to turn up the brightness if the external display disconnects and you sit in front of a black screen.

(How to turn off the screen on a Mac tested with macOS High Sierra 10.13; updated July 2019)