How to Wake Up a Computer From Sleep

This is all you need to do to turn on a sleeping computer

What to Know

  • Wake the computer by moving the mouse or pressing any key on the keyboard.
  • Press the power button if it still won't wake up.
  • Restarting the computer should do the trick if all else fails.

This article explains how to wake up a sleeping computer, and what to do if the normal methods don't work.

How Do I Wake Up My Computer From Sleep?

Regardless of the operating system you're using, turning off sleep mode is as simple as waking up the computer, which you can do by simply interacting with it in some way.

Usually, this means one of the following:

  • Move the mouse
  • Swipe the touchpad
  • Press any key on the keyboard

Some devices are a little different, and will respond only after you press the power button or a special sleep key.

Give all of these actions a try if you're not sure how your specific computer wakes up: Wiggle the mouse a few times, strike a few of the keys, and then press the power button once to get it going.

Don't press and hold the power button, or it will shut down the computer. Of course, that is another way to wake it up (see below), but it also increases the risk of data corruption, so don't try it until you have to.

Why Won't My Computer Come Out of Sleep Mode?

The above steps don't always work. When a computer is stuck in sleep mode, there's most likely some sort of software conflict, or your computer isn't set up to utilize some of those wake-up methods.

For example, if using the keyboard doesn't undo sleep mode, Windows' Device Manager includes an option you can toggle on to allow the keyboard to wake up the PC. Turning that on should make the keystroke wake-up method work.

How to Fix a Computer That Won't Wake Up

If your computer doesn't wake up when you expect it to, there are a couple things you can try. But since it's asleep, and therefore unresponsive, you can't do anything within the OS to make it work.

You really have just a few options:

  1. Reboot the computer. Unless there's another problem occurring, a simple restart is the best way to fix a computer that won't wake up, whether it was actually off or if it was stuck in sleep mode.

    Look for a power button along the bottom or top of the screen, and choose the Restart or Shut down option. If you can't access the menus, press-and-hold the physical power button for five seconds or so, until it shuts off.

  2. Check the power source. If it isn't receiving power, and thus the computer won't turn on, then it's not really asleep anyway, but completely dead.

    Plug in to the wall if you're on a laptop, or check for disconnected power cables for a desktop computer. Be sure to check every power source relevant to your situation, including any battery backup systems.

  3. If the computer sounds like it's running but it isn't fully on, and a reboot didn't fix it, troubleshoot it as a computer that turns on but displays nothing.

Editing Sleep Settings

Once the computer wakes up and you're logged in, there might be some changes you're interested in making to prevent auto-sleep from happening again, or to make it easier to wake up the computer, should you choose to keep the standby feature on.

However, before continuing, make sure your computer's drivers are up-to-date, and that the operating system as a whole is fully updated. Sleep-related problems can arise if important updates are missing. Learn how to update Windows and how to update macOS for directions.

Windows Sleep Settings

Try these solutions to see which one works for you:

  1. See How to Keep Your Computer Awake Without Touching the Mouse to learn how to stop your computer from sleeping automatically. When you do that, you can choose to never have your PC fall asleep.

  2. If you do want your PC to sleep sometimes, but your keyboard doesn't work to wake it up, open Device Manager and find Keyboards > HID Keyboard Device > Properties > Power Management > Allow this device to wake the computer.

    Allow this device to wake the computer toggle in Windows 11 Device Manager
    Keyboard properties in Windows Device Manager.

    For a quick way to see which devices support waking the computer, enter powercfg -devicequery wake_from_any in a Command Prompt.

  3. If you find that your keyboard or mouse won't wake up your Windows computer, the reason could be something called USB selective suspend, which will prevent USB-connected devices from working when the PC goes to sleep.

    To change that, search Control Panel for Power Options, and then change the advanced settings for your selected power plan so that USB settings > USB selective suspend settings is set to Disabled.

    USB selective suspend setting set to disabled in Windows 11 power options
  4. Some users have found the source of their PC sleep issue to be continual crashes while it's trying to sleep. The resolution here could be to change the Multimedia settings > When sharing media setting to be Allow the computer to sleep. You can find this in the same Power Options area as the above solution.

  5. Enter BIOS and disable the Block Sleep option for USB devices. It should be listed in a power-related menu, such as Power Management > USB Wake Support.

Mac Sleep Settings

Mac users can go to System Preferences > Energy Saver, and choose Never, to stop the computer from sleeping. For more detailed information, check out How to Prevent a Mac From Going to Sleep.

The macOS Energy Saver preference pane with certain features highlighted.
  • Why does my computer wake up from sleep?

    Background tasks may stop your computer from staying asleep. Other possible causes are wake timers, scheduled tasks, and internet communications. First, try closing any open apps. You can also check for wake timers in your computer's power settings. Finally, try turning off Wi-Fi to stop communications from waking up your computer.

  • How do I put a computer to sleep with the keyboard?

    You can usually put a laptop to sleep by pressing (without holding) the power button. For a desktop computer running Windows, press Alt + F4, and then use the arrow keys to navigate to Sleep. On a Mac, press Option + Command + Eject. The keyboard shortcut Control + Command + Q also works for both Macs and MacBooks.

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