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Advanced Mac users may want to shut down a computer from the command line. This can be useful for remote management with ssh, in situations where a Mac boots into single user mode, or many other troubleshooting and system management conditions.
There are several ways to shut down a Mac from the command line, we’ll cover two of the simplest methods using simple syntax.
The Mac Terminal provides many commands for handling various tasks and system functions, so of course the command line also provides a method for shutting down a Mac computer from the Terminal as well.
An important word of caution: Shutting down a Mac from the command line is instant. There is no confirmation, no warning box, no stopping to save documents, no prompting to close apps or save anything. Instead, the Mac will immediately end all active activities and shut down the computer immediately. This can lead to data loss, so be ready to shut down a Mac when giving these commands.
Shutting down a Mac from the command line with ‘shutdown’
Called ‘shutdown’, you can both shut down a Mac and restart a Mac through Terminal. To shut down a Mac with the shutdown command, use the -h flag and give the time for ‘now’, making the syntax like this:
sudo shutdown -h now
Once you hit return and verify the command, the Mac will stop and shut down all applications and processes and shut down the computer. There is no warning and no dialogue, it happens immediately.
Unless you are actively logged in as the root user (via a single user or otherwise), you must prefix the exit command with ‘sudo’ to give the command superuser privileges, which requires an administrator password.
If you’d like to try this yourself (and you’ve saved all the data and opened nothing important), do the following:
- Open the terminal in Mac OS (located in / Applications / Utilities / folder)
- Enter the following command syntax exactly:
- Hit the Return key and authenticate with an administrator password to shut down the Mac immediately
sudo shutdown -h now
The Mac will shut down immediately. No data is saved and no dialog boxes are confirmed, the shutdown is immediate.
You can also use the -h flag to set a time or date to shut down the computer, say in 30 minutes, but if you want to shut down the Mac immediately, use the flag ‘now’ parameter -h instead of a number.
Shut down a Mac in XX minutes from the command line
If you still want to delay the shutdown, you can use the following command syntax instead:
sudo exit -h +30
Replace “30” with a different number of minutes to shut down the Mac during that time. For example, if you entered “2” instead of 30, you would shut down your Mac in 2 minutes.
Shutting down a Mac via Terminal with ‘halt’
The ‘halt’ command can also immediately shut down a Mac via the command line. The process and syntax for ‘halt’ to shut down a Mac is as follows:
- Open the Terminal .app in Mac OS
- Enter the syntax of the halt command exactly as described:
- Hit the Return key, authenticate with sudo to shut down the Mac immediately
Whether you use ‘halt’ or ‘shutdown’ does not really matter, it is mainly the preference and what you can remember if necessary.
By the way, the shutdown command can also be used to restart a Mac from the command line by using the -r flag instead of the -h flag.
Keep in mind that for most users, the command line approach won’t be any better or faster than accessing the Apple menu Shut Down option or using the power supply button keyboard shortcuts, this is really meant for advanced users who are already on the command line anyway.
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