How to put the video display (monitor) to sleep instantly on a Mac under OS X (and, fixing a bright/stuck pixel)

Perhaps you have noticed that they don’t make monitor power switches the way they used to – in the past they were a large button prominently featured on the front of the monitor, but on newer models they tend to be small and harder to locate, and sometimes difficult to press. But since LED monitors draw very little power in sleep state, many people simply go into the Energy Saver settings, and set the Display Sleep value to something relatively low. But for some users, that’s an imperfect solution, because if you set it too low it might cut out on you whenever you take a brief pause from whatever you’re doing. On the other hand, if you set it too high, it might display an image when you don’t really want it to.

Another solution for OS X users is to use Hot Corners, one of which will put the display to sleep instantly. But some users hate Hot Corners, because it is much too easy to inadvertently activate one. Fortunately, for those users there is another solution, and it is found in a program called Sleep Display. While the description of Sleep Display might lead you to believe that the last supported version of OS X was Snow Leopard, we can attest to the fact that it works in Lion (though you need to press a key, such as the shift key, to wake up the display – moving the mouse won’t always do it), and there’s probably no reason it wouldn’t work Mavericks. All you do is click on the apps’s icon and the display goes to sleep. In case you wonder how it works, it’s probably just an updated version of this.

The only thing we didn’t like about Sleep Display is that it had a generic application icon, but since changing icons in OS X is easy we just created a new one in a graphics program and used the free lite version of Img2icns to convert it to proper OS X icons. Unfortunately, we can’t share it with you because it includes an image of a copyrighted cartoon cat sleeping on a pillow (which we placed in front of the image of a monitor screen, so the sleeping cat blocks the view of the display, just as a real cat might do), and even though the image we started with can be easily located using a Google image search, we don’t have the deep pockets of Google and we’d rather not get sued. It’s kind of sad that even a mashed-up icon might be lawyer bait these days, but such are the times we live in.

In case you have the opposite problem, and your display goes to sleep even when you don’t want it to, just go into the Energy Saver settings and set the Display Sleep value to Never (or a high value, such as 3 hours, if that works for you). That will stop OS X from putting the display to sleep after a short fixed delay, so it will never put the display to sleep when you don’t want it to, but you can still put it to sleep instantly any time you like using the Sleep Display app.

And just to avoid confusion, we are talking about putting the display to sleep here, not the entire computer. That feature is sometimes called “hibernation” and while that’s also an option for some users, there are others that need to leave the computer on 24/7 even if they don’t want the display on constantly. It’s this latter group that this article is aimed toward.

BONUS HINT: If you bought a new monitor on Black Friday and it has a bright pixel, a.k.a. a stuck pixel, you might be able to fix it without returning it to the store. We are not saying this is a good idea, but if you are very careful not to use too much force, it’s sometimes possible to fix the pixel yourself, and if not then you can probably still return it:

How to Fix a Stuck Pixel on an LCD Monitor (WikiHow)
5 Ways To Fix A Stuck Pixel On Your Screen (MakeUseOf)

The only thing we would say different from the advice given is that you should never put any hard object directly against the display, since you might scratch it or worse. In our case, when the software method failed to produce results (always try that first!), we used a rounded pencil eraser and placed a (non-perfumed el cheapo) facial tissue over the screen so the eraser could not touch the screen directly, and tapped lightly in the area of the bright pixel a few times, and it cleared the pixel (we also had a software fix running over the pixel area at the time, specifically this one). The trick is to use a light touch, so that you do not make things worse! If somebody in the next room says “What’s that tapping noise?” then you are doing it much too hard! And you certainly don’t want to mess up the display so badly that the store won’t exchange it.

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