How to wake your Mac over the network

NetworkIconXWhile for the most part you usually wake your Mac by pressing a button on the keyboard or clicking the mouse, you can also do so over the network. This may be useful in instances where you are unable to get to the Mac, such as if you have a Mac Mini set up as a media or network server and have it tucked away in a closet.

Granted in most situations like this, you might set the system to never go to sleep, but there may be instances where a non-server system has been put to sleep and you need to access it.

Wake on lan settings in OS X

Check this box in the Energy Saver system preferences to allow the system to be woken up.

Unfortunately waking a Mac over the network is not always a straightforward process that requires zero configuration, and you might need to first ensure the Mac is set up to be woken over the network, and then get some information from the system to target and wake it. This information is required for waking the system, so one option for small networks is to make a list of this information for each system so it can be quickly accessed.

First ensure the Mac is set up to be woken over the network:

  1. Open the Energy Saver system preferences
  2. Check the “Wake for network access” option. Note this may be in a separate tab, and might be called “Wake for Ethernet Access” or “Wake for Wi-Fi network access,” depending on the configuration of your system.
MAC address in OS X

The Mac address for the selected network port can be found here.

Next, get your Mac’s local IP and MAC addresses (the MAC address is required, but the IP address may be useful):

  1. Go to the Network system preferences
  2. Select your active network connection (Wi-Fi, or Ethernet) from the sidebar
  3. Click the Advanced button.
  4. In the TCP/IP tab, make a note of the system’s IPv4 Address and subnet mask
  5. In the Hardware tab, make a note of the system’s MAC Address

The final step is to wake your system, which can be done in a number of ways, but might most easily be done using a third-party utility such as Wake On Lan, or Wake Me, that are available from the App Store. Simply download the App and launch it, supply the MAC address for the target system into the address field (and optionally the IP address information), and if all goes well, then clicking the “Wake Me” button in the app will wake the system up.

WakeMe application in OS X

With the MAC address entered, click the Wake Me button to wake the targeted system.

Troubleshooting

This process should work as described, but sometimes it may run into problems, some of which are relatively simple to overcome:

  1. Ensure both systems are on the same network
  2. Check that you have the appropriate MAC address (there will be a separate one for each network interface)
  3. Check that the IP address of the system has not changed
  4. Check that there are no IP conflicts or other network configuration errors—reset your router to help clear these.
  5. Check the port being used. The default of 4343 should be the appropriate port for Wake On Lan activity.
  6. Check router settings. While most routers should allow Wake On Lan, some might have security features enabled to block this. Check to ensure no specific option is enabled to block Wake On Lan features.

6 thoughts on “How to wake your Mac over the network

  1. Lynne

    thanks for that info. I have a slightly different problem- quite often when I’ve left my mac on with several programs open, closed the lid, when I open the lid tap either the spacebar or the touchpad, my screen appears but it’s sometimes 2 minutes before I can actually type anything of click on a link etc. this doesn’t happen consistently nor with the same programs but it usually happens if I’ve left the mac lid-down for more than 2 hours.

    Reply
  2. msadesign

    Thanks, Topher. And like Lynne, I have a slightly different but related issue: my 86 year old dad puts his mac to sleep and he lives 100 miles away, so I cannot initiate video with him because Messages doesn’t see him. If there’s a way to wake it I sure haven’t found it.

    Reply
  3. Lynne

    msadesign.
    my friend uses a mac program from home to wake her server and her admin computers in her lab – I don’t remember the name of it but I wonder if something like that would work for you? I can find out the name of it if you’d like.

    Reply
  4. kadso

    Lynne » Please do find out the name of the program. I have a similar elderly parent living a distance away from me situation.

    Reply

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