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Amphetamine for Mac: Help your Mac stay awake

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There may be moments during your work week when you want to prevent your Mac from going to sleep. It could be that you need to download a large file while you are at lunch, or you plan to use it to present during a meeting that will have some longer discussions. To prevent your Mac from locking or sleeping, you can get Amphetamine… umm, the app.

What is Amphetamine?

Amphetamine will keep your Mac awake for as little or as long as you want. This is useful if you need to keep programs active, screens on, connections live, drives mounted and available, or just prevent your lock screen from coming up for a period of time. Amphetamine will override any energy saving settings so that you can keep your Mac awake whenever you need to without any need to mess with your system preferences.

Installing Amphetamine on your Mac takes just a few clicks via the Mac App Store. Simply open the App Store app and search for Amphetamine. Select the option near the Amphetamine icon that says “Install” and it will start installing the app. When installation is complete you will be able to launch Amphetamine via Spotlight or by finding the Amphetamine in your Applications folder. When launched it will not open a window but will appear in your menu bar at a pill icon (a circle with a horizontal line).

You can use Amphetamine for occasional use or you can schedule it to activate with certain triggers. If you only need it from time to time then you can simply launch the app when you need to and click on the menu bar item icon (default is a circle with a horizontal line). The options to start a new session will let you set a number of hours, minutes or connect the session to the use of a particular app.

Custom Settings and Schedules

If you want to set a regular schedule for Amphetamine to run on you can head to the app preferences via the menu bar item. In the “Triggers” section you can push the “plus” symbol and get four options:

  • WiFi – set your Mac to stay awake when connected to a particular network.

  • App – prevent sleep when a specific app is running. When the app is quit normal settings will resume.

  • Schedule – keep your Mac running during set times and days during the week.

  • Power – set a battery power level so that when your battery is above that then your Mac will stay awake.

The Amphetamine preferences allow you to set up Hotkeys for toggling sessions on and off, starting a new session for a set time length, and for showing the menu that can then be navigated with the arrow keys. Along with setting any preferred hotkeys, we also recommend reviewing the following Amphetamine preferences:

  1. If you have any triggers set (see above) go to the General tab and select “Launch Amphetamine at login”.

  2. Go to the Battery tab and check “Ask to end sessions if battery % is below:” and then set the preferred percentage to receive the reminder (mine is 20%)

  3. Click on the Notifications tab and consider when notifications you may wish to see. I recommend the first one that reminds you if a session is currently running in case you accidentally start an indefinite session.

  4. Customizing the appearance is fun because you can pick from a set of icons and see how they look when a session is active.

Advantages of Amphetamine

Amphetamine is my preferred app for overriding energy saving features. It is free and easy to use with just enough features. Other good apps exist that do similar things and some can even do a bit more. For example Amphetamine will not be able to keep your system running when the lid on your Mac is closed. Let’s look at a couple of apps that will do this and more.

A decent alternative to Amphetamine is InsomniaX, though it does not have the ability to schedule its use or enable it automatically when an app is open. It is a menu bar app that allows you to disable sleep started by idle time or closing the lid. You have the option to disable the sleep indefinitely or set a timer for up to 6 hours. There are also a few hotkeys you can assign, and options to disable sleep when plugged in. Along with limited features comes a few extra steps to allow the app permission to perform its primary function, but it can keep your system running when the lid is closed.

AntiSleep is another alternative to Amphetamine with much of the same functions. The app has no preferences window, just a long menu of options. This app is different from Amphetamine in that you can select to keep awake just the screen, or the disks, or the system. AntiSleep is also able to keep the system awake when the lid is closed.

None of these alternatives are as easy to use as Amphetamine, with its nice interface and valuable triggers that can help you fine tune your use of the app automatically. Though it will not keep your Mac awake when the lid is closed, Amphetamine will give you many useful options for how and when your Mac will be prevented from inadvertently going to sleep.

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