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What's the purpose of having a 60-second timer for the shutdown dialog in macOS? Why automatically shut down the user's computer if they leave the dialog box open?

  • 1
    Good question. It assumes that you are going to accidentally choose to shut down your computer.
    – PhillipW
    Commented Apr 11, 2017 at 5:42

6 Answers 6


Some thing can be done remotely when a user is logged on, this allow a cancel to save work. Also it can be used in unattended installs.


Ubuntu (Xubuntu at least) has something similar but 30 seconds. It's mainly an "are you sure" that doesn't prevent the user clicking shutdown and leaving the machine (what happens if you shut the lid of a laptop with this open? I'd expect it to shutdown rather than sleep on a mac). I (as an example) often hit save on a big piece of work, stand up, then hit shutdown and walk away, losing sight of the screen an instant after htting the button. Another user may tap the physical power button.

But it serves another purpose in this case. That checkbox for restoring the session. You have to have the chance to tick it. A less user-friendly approach would be to have a dialog box like

|Shut down                        |
|Are you sure?                    |
|[no] [yes]                       | 
|[yes, restore session next time] |

without a timer. that gives you the same potions, except the impatient user comes back later to find the screen saying "are you sure?"


I assume it serves two purposes: confirmation that you want to shut down, but also in the case of if somebody clicks the shutdown button and then walks away from the computer, expecting it to shut down, it isn't just stuck on the confirmation option.


Though I do not use mac, I would take an educated guess, that the purpose of this is for, clearing active memory instruction runtime's, ending; operations, functions and tasks, shutting down the kernel, shutting down the gui, shutting down the system.

It is basically the same reason it takes time to boot up. You will never have a computer that just turns on in less then a second, all computers require time to boot up, and all computers require time to shut down.

The visual timer on the mac is a visual cue showing you how long till system shutdown.

That would be my guess anyway.

  • 1
    Not sure if it's a timer to clear all of those processes for two reasons: first because a user can skip the timer and press Shut Down, not giving time to the system to clear all those processes and second, from time to time, the computer can take more time to shutdown processes, taking more than 1 minute to close them. Commented Apr 11, 2017 at 9:23
  • if the user can skip the timer process, then my second guess is it is there for aesthetics. I can not think of another reason apart from a design aspect of the Mac OS. Commented Apr 11, 2017 at 9:27
  • 1
    Also the user can hit "cancel", it which case they probably want those processes.
    – Chris H
    Commented Apr 11, 2017 at 11:51
  • 1
    This is entirely incorrect. The timer is not counting down until shutdown is complete, but counting down until the "Shut Down" button being pressed will be automatically assumed. The user can shut down the system at any point by pressing the button. The actual shutdown (whether user-initiated or timer-initiated) is shown with a black screen and a spinner, and typically only takes a couple of seconds (certainly not 60!). Chris H and Troy Troy have provided the correct answer.
    – Dave
    Commented Apr 11, 2017 at 18:51

The Timer appears to be a countdown for the user ( to change their mind), before the computer goes into shutdown. There is a "Shutdown" button to over-ride the countdown.That appears to confirm the purpose of the timer. However My Imac Doesn't shutdown if you click the "Shutdown" (over-ride timer) button. (It used to but not anymore.) The Finder Bar disappears and the desktop stays there assumingly forever unless you hit and hold the power button or pull the plug. However if you let the timer run to zero it goes into shutdown and shuts down. So for me it's easier to let the timer run down.


To make sure that's what you wanted to do, so you don't lose unsaved work. Probably a bit less relevant currently. This warning used to come up when first pressing the power button. But, really it's like would you really like to shutdown the machine at this momemnt.

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