(Click to Enlarge)

One of the things that Microsoft got right with Vista are the various sleep modes that it has. For laptops when a user puts the computer into standby it will quickly pause what it’s doing. It will then keep some juice flowing through the memory so that you can resume your work within seconds. If the laptop’s battery dips too low it will write the contents of the memory to the hard drive and enter what’s known as hibernation mode. This takes a little longer to resume from, but it’s better than having the computer lose whatever you were working on.

Apple did something similar with Mac OS X, but not quite as intelligent. When the user puts the computer into standby/sleep it takes a little longer because it also prepares for hibernation right then and there (Vista does this for desktop computers by default). If power is ever lost to the system it will still be able to resume it’s normal operation. That makes sense for desktop computers since they don’t have any batteries, but for laptops the lengthy time it takes to go into sleep mode can be frustrating.

That’s where the free SmartSleep app comes into play. It lets you customize what happens when you put your computer into standby, and it conveniently offers a “Smart Sleep” option. By selecting that it will only move into hibernation if you’re computer’s battery level gets below a point that you specify.

Here are the different sleep states that the application offers:

  • Smart Sleep – Lets the computer sleep while the battery level is high, but if it drops below a certain point (default is less than 20% or 20 minutes) it will move into hibernation.
  • Sleep – Forces the machine to go to sleep quickly without preparing for hibernation first. If the battery is removed (or dies) the current state will be lost.
  • Hibernate – Forces the machine to go into hibernation right away, which means no battery power is used. The downside is that going into hibernation and resuming from it takes longer than it does for the sleep mode.
  • Sleep & Hibernate – This is the default setting for new computers. If power is lost it will still be able to pickup where you left off, but it takes longer to go into sleep mode.

This is a configuration option that should really ship with all Apple laptops, but luckily there is a free third-party app that can offer a fast solution.

Get SmartSleep for Mac OS X