Sleep and power settings possibly behind Wi-Fi dropouts in Yosemite

WiFiIconXAlong with its perks and new features, OS X Yosemite has not been without its share of problems, with at least some of these being associated with the inability to keep your Mac connected to Wi-Fi. If this happens, there are some basic fixes from toggling Wi-Fi off and on, to fully resetting your Mac’s network configuration; however, there are times when these might not work, and your Mac will continue to drop its connection.

If this happens, then you might find yourself regularly restarting, logging out and back in, or otherwise repeating tasks in hopes to clear the problem, but this might be somewhat fruitless, and the fix might in fact be with some lower-level settings in your Mac.

Recently MacIssues reader Bob G. wrote in with precisely this issue, where his MacBook would drop its Wi-Fi connections when on AC power, requiring him to use a script that would reset his Mac’s DNS services to clear the problem. While affecting his MacBook, the problem did not happen on his iMac, and after some investigation, Bob ended up comparing the power management settings on each Mac by running the following command in the Terminal:

pmset -g custom

In comparing the two sets of settings, the only difference was the “sleep” option was set to “1” when on the MacBook for when the machine was plugged in:

AC Power:
     lidwake 1
     autopoweroff 0
     autopoweroffdelay 14400
     standbydelay 86400
     standby 1
     ttyskeepawake 1
     hibernatemode 3
     darkwakes 1
     hibernatefile /var/vm/sleepimage
     womp 1
     displaysleep 10
     networkoversleep 0
     sleep 1
     acwake 0
     halfdim 1
     disksleep 0

To see if this sleep setting was the issue, Bob ran the following command to turn off sleep when the system is on AC power:

sudo pmset -c sleep 0

(Note that this can also be done by going to the Energy Saver system preferences, selecting the Power Adapter mode from the list of tabs in the middle of the preferences pane, and then dragging the sleep slider to the “Never” setting; however, it may also be beneficial to run the command in the Terminal, which will toggle it in another way.)

After running this command, Bob noticed the system’s network drop-outs no longer occur.

While successful here, this case isn’t to say that the sleep setting itself or the behaviors around it are solely responsible for network connectivity issues, but perhaps the problem stems from faulty storage or retrieval of these settings. For instance, “sleep” value is not merely 1 or 0, and instead is the number of minutes the system waits before going to sleep mode. This value should also be reflected in the slider position in the Energy Saver system preferences; however, you may notice that after upgrading your system, these may not match each other. For instance, on my Macs, upon upgrading to Yosemite the power manager setting was at “1” for all, when the Energy Saver preferences had 10 minutes set for system and display sleep.

Energy Saver system preferences in OS X

To adjust the “sleep” power manager settings in OS X, drag this slider around. To set it to 0, drag the slider to the “Never” position.

Therefore, whether or not this seems related, if you are experiencing network connectivity problems, then a quick toggle of these settings, or a reset of your Mac’s hardware settings, may help your situation out.

To reset your Mac’s hardware settings, simply shut it down and follow the instructions in this article to reset your Mac’s System Management Controller, followed by immediately resetting your Mac’s PRAM when you next start it up, by holding the Option-Command-P-R keys simultaneously when you hear the boot chimes after pressing Power, and holding them until the system’s screen goes blank and restarts again.

11 thoughts on “Sleep and power settings possibly behind Wi-Fi dropouts in Yosemite

  1. Rick Auricchio

    Aha! I often have problems with connections, generally solved by turning wifi off and then back on. My guess was a DNS issue.

    My “sleep” was set to 1. When I adjusted Energy Saver, it immediately changed to the number of minutes I chose in Energy Saver. (It tracks the time as I drag the slider.)

    Thank you! Even if this doesn’t solve my Internet issue, it looks more correct than what was there in the pmset settings before.

    Wait…after a short interval, “sleep” gets set back to 1 again.

    MacBook Pro Retina Late 2013, MacOS X 10.10.1

  2. Rick Auricchio

    Sorry, I was wrong above. I was looking at battery sleep vs. power adapter. They both track the slider properly and retain the slider setting.

    We’ll see if this helps with the connection issues—I always have a good wifi connection but no Internet, which is why it seems to be a DNS thing. If the failure recurs, I’ll just ping a few known IP addresses to experiment.

  3. Ryoichi Morita

    My 2012 Mac Mini was running fine until Dec 31, to be exact. All of a sudden, it refused to connect to the Wi-Fi. I searched for answers on the Internet and tried all kinds of things that were recommended on Mac help sites. You name it, I probably tried it but nothing worked. I struggled for 3 days. The only thing that worked in the end was the clean install. On hind sight, I should have probably done it in the first place but I kept hoping for an easy way out.

  4. B. Jefferson Le Blanc

    The only question I have is why is Apple taking so long to fix this? Perhaps they’re immune to bad publicity. But the number of online articles panning Yosemite is growing right along with the number of users complaining about it. Sooner or later it’s got to hurt Apple’s pride if not their bottom line.

    Apparently Apple made some significant changes to how networking works in OS X 10.10. Clearly they bit off more than they could chew in that regard. Troubleshooting the problems they created has turned into a nightmare for everyone concerned. At least we can hope Apple engineers are losing sleep over this – though, frankly, it’s the executive team that should be hurting. Ultimately they are the ones responsible for this fiasco. I’ve said this before, but in my opinion the company’s accelerated development schedule for OS X is responsible for these troubles. I doubt they’re the only problems to result from this misguided policy. It takes time to make good stuff and Apple is quite obviously no longer taking the necessary time to do things right.

    And they’ve yet to explain why they are going so fast. Yes technology moves along quickly. But it’s a foolish illusion to suppose that we have no choice but to keep up with the pace of change, or worse, contribute to it’s destructive influences. The pace as well as the change are manmade artifacts. We don’t need Luddites to tell us things are not working as they should. Nor do we need Apple doomsayers to tell us Apple is doing something wrong. The evidence is right here in front of us. Apple’s leadership needs to take responsibility for their mistakes and, most importantly, stop making them.

  5. Rick Auricchio

    So far so good! I sleep and wake my MBP-13 Retina many times a day. Now the wifi connection (and perhaps DNS, who knows?) is solid as a rock.

  6. Eric

    According to this article, it sounds like the only way to keep wi-fi on is to keep the computer from going to sleep. There are some times when a long internet process is running (such as downloading a large file overnight) that I may want the display to go ahead and sleep or run the screen saver, but I need the wi-fi to stay connected. How can I accomplish this?

  7. Zubair

    Having had a lot of issues connecting my MBP to my work wifi (so much so that i have to use a USB ethernet adaptor everywhere at work now), i started digging into the Wifi/network diagnostics on the laptop. Having read somewhere online that energy settings affect the wifi also, I started playing around with all the settings to see how the wifi behaved; I inadvertently found something very interesting!!

    The wifi card for some reason seems to ‘ping’ the router it’s connected to every now and again, apparently to see if the router is still alive; i think to see whether the wifi card should go to sleep (Energy Saver). Some routers, D-LINK being one such example, don’t support this functionality and you get a ‘Operation not supported’ in the wifi tracing. After a few attempts and ‘Operation not supported’ messages, the tracing states the router device POWER_STATE is off (or something to that end), immediately after that, my wifi disconnects.

    This happened 3-4 times reliably, I’ll have to try this out again properly tomorrow as today I was just playing around with it, and compare results from work to my home router (where I don’t have connection issues) to see if i can hone it down to the power check that the Wifi card does against the router.

    This kind of tallies in with the energy saver settings, where if the settings are to never sleep, the wifi card shouldn’t keep ‘pinging’ the router as it doesn’t care whether it should turn itself off or not.

    Excuse the assumptions, but I will verify all of this with full tracing tomorrow and reply!

    1. Darrell

      I was helping a friend with her Wi-Fi issues on a MAC Air Os – El Capitan

      Then I decided to try my Wi-Fi connection on my MAC Mini OS – El Capitan
      I was using my Ethernet connection with no problems. As soon as I tried using my Wi-Fi on MAC Mini and letting the computer go to sleep.

      After logging back in, I noticed that the Wi-Fi symbol appeared to be scanning and I had no Internet Connectivity. It appears that it was breaking the DHCP portion of the network. I had an IP address of basically it could not find the DHCP server to obtain an IP address on my local area network. I had to Turn off Wi-Fi and then turn it back on. It then obtained the correct IP address and worked just fine.

      After going through some testing I found my culprit to be the WAKE for Network Access check box.

      I restored the Default Settings under System Preferences/Energy Saver and Unselected the Wake For Network Access and tried again after letting the computer go to sleep for awhile.

      After logging back in I had Wi-Fi connectivity and Internet Access.

      1. Anna

        Darrell, you totally hit the nail on the head with unchecking the “wake for network access” box. I couldn’t find a single solution that helped ever since I updated my macbook pro from snow leopard to Mavericks years ago. And my new mac pro with Yosemite had the same issue too with wifi disconnecting after waking. I tried your solution and it instantly fixed the issue on both machines!!!

        1. Darrell


          I am glad that my testing and findings helped someone out. It can be a frustrating problem for folks. Excellent! Glad they are working now.

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