One of the best things about laptops is that they are portable, so you can take them with you and use them as desktops when you need to by connecting them to an external display. So, you can always get your work done, no matter where you are. Linux or Windows laptops can be used with an external display in clamshell mode (with the laptop lid closed) without a power connection, but a macOS laptop cannot. In order to keep your MacBook from going to sleep when you close the lid, you must have it plugged into a power source.

There is a way around this problem, but you have to change the default properties (pmset, or “power management settings”) of macOS. We do not suggest that you do this. We suggest using a different method instead, which is to use a tool that gets around this restriction. You can find a lot of these kinds of programs on the Internet. They let you use your MacBook in clamshell mode without always having it plugged in. One of these tools is Amphetamine, which sounds like a drug and can be downloaded for free from the Mac App Store. It keeps your MacBook awake in clamshell mode.

MacBook’s “clamshell mode”

Before you start playing Amphetamine, here’s what you need to know about MacBook’s clamshell (closed-display) mode.

How to use the MacBook’s Clamshell mode?

Apple’s usual way to use your MacBook in clamshell mode, with an external monitor and other devices connected, is to always have a power adapter connected to the machine. This gives power to the connected devices and keeps the machine from going to sleep.

Is using your MacBook in Clamshell mode bad for it?

On the other hand, Linux and Windows laptops are smart enough to figure out what peripherals are linked and stay awake even when the lid is closed. But, unfortunately, Apple can’t do this. So, you have to plug your machine into a power charger if you don’t want it to go into sleep mode.

And this is where Amphetamine comes in. It lets you use your MacBook in clamshell mode without having to plug it into a power charger. So, you won’t have to worry about hurting your battery.

The drug Amphetamine

Amphetamine is a free tool for MacBooks that keeps them awake in clamshell mode even when they don’t have power from outside. It’s a free app on the App Store that works with macOS X and the versions above. The app gives you a lot of choices and easy-to-set-up triggers that you can change to suit your needs. The best thing about it is that, even though it’s free, there are no ads or hidden in-app payments.

How to take Amphetamine?

First, click on this link to get Amphetamine on your MacBook.

After the app is loaded, click Next and do what it says on the screen. You only have to do this once, when you first use the app. When you do that, the Amphetamine button appears in the menu bar.

Click on the Amphetamine icon, choose Quick Preferences, and uncheck the box next to Allow system to sleep when display is stopped.

When you uncheck the box, a window pops up offering that you install Amphetamine Enhancer. Even though you don’t have to do this, the app says it’s a fail-safe way to make sure your MacBook works well and doesn’t have any problems.

Click the Get Amphetamine Enhancer button in the pop-up. You will be taken to the app’s GitHub page, where you can download it.

After you’ve downloaded Amphetamine Enhancer, double-click on its (.dmg) file to install it on your computer.

The last step is to run Amphetamine Enhancer. And on the page where you land, choose Closed-Display Mode Fail-Safe as the Enhancement and click the Install button on the right.

Now, you should be able to use your MacBook without a power charger when you close the lid and put it in “clamshell mode.”

Check the app’s icon in the menu bar to see how it is doing and make sure your MacBook won’t go to sleep mode when you close the lid. Amphetamine can be in two states: in session or not in session. And for the app to do what it’s supposed to do, it needs to be in a live session. Just right-click on the app’s icon in the menu bar to start or stop a session. You can also click on the icon and choose either Start New Session or stop Current Session to either begin or stop a session. With the usual menu bar icon, a circle that is split horizontally means that there is no active session, while a circle that is split vertically means that there is an active session.

If that’s all you want to do with your MacBook, you’re good to go. But if you want to check out some of Amphetamine’s other benefits, here’s a quick rundown of some of the best ones.

Start a new session with new settings

When you start a new session with amphetamine, you can do a few different things. Triggers are the name for these factors. You can use the default triggers or make your own. To do this, click the app button in the menu bar and then click Preferences. Here, click on the Triggers tab and make sure the box next to Enable Triggers is checked. Now, click the “+” button at the bottom to make a pair of criteria and values. For example, the trigger can be set to your Wi-Fi link. So, the session starts instantly whenever you connect to that network. You can also start a session for a certain amount of time and have it start when a download or app is running in the background.

Have Amphetamine run automatically at opening and start a session.

By making prompts, you can give the app more control over how and when it starts a session. But if you usually use your MacBook in “clamshell mode,” you can set the app to run at starting and then have it start a new session.

Change the options for the type of session

Amphetamine has different sets of features that only apply to All Sessions or Non-Trigger Sessions. So, you can turn on or off these functions for the two types of events based on your preferences. Some of the features let you change how the screen saver, display sleep, power, lock screen, mouse, and other things work. [To get to these, click on the app’s button and choose Preferences.] One useful feature of the lot has to do with the battery. It gives you the choice to end a session when your MacBook’s battery level drops below 10%.


If you like to use your keyboard for everything, you can use hotkeys to handle different parts of the Amphetamine app with your keyboard. All you have to do is set up hotkeys, which are kind of like shortcuts, for these tasks. Once you’ve done that, you can use these hotkeys to do things quickly.

Other Things

Lastly, you also get a few small features and functions that aren’t as important but that you can change or use as you like. You can, for example, change the quick-start/stop option, hide or show the app icon in the Dock, change the app icon in the menu bar (and make other changes), and reset the settings.

After having trouble for a long time and trying a lot of different ways to stay awake, I’ve found that Amphetamine is the best of the bunch. And a big reason for that is how easy the app is to use and how many choices it gives you. There’s no need to say that it always works. So, if you use your MacBook with an external monitor in clamshell or closed-display mode and want to keep your computer from going to sleep, you should definitely check out Amphetamine.

Get the song “Amphetamine”

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