Automatically Restart Your Mac if it Freezes in OS X Lion

Jul 19, 2011 - 24 Comments

Automatically restart Mac if freezes

Your Mac will automatically restart itself if it freezes, thanks to a new feature in OS X Mountain Lion and Mac OS X Lion. Tucked away in “Energy Saver”, the auto-restart ability is an option that can be disabled if for whatever reason you don’t want your Mac to basically fix itself in the event of a disaster.

To toggle this feature to auto-reboot when a serious system freeze happens, just do the following in the OS X system settings:

  • Launch System Preferences
  • Click on “Energy Saver” and look for “Restart automatically if the computer freezes”

Macs very rarely freeze, but if you do encounter random freezes and crashes, it may be a good idea to test your RAM for defects. At this point, Mac OS X is so refined that it’s very unusual for the entire operating system to go down or simply freeze, especially with any regularity, so this can be an indicator of something greater than a random one-off freeze.

Regardless of the causes of a system freeze, this is a great feature. If you were wondering why it’s tucked into Energy Saver, it’s probably because a restarted Mac can sleep the display and hard drives, whereas a frozen Mac will continue to display the screen and spin the hard drive, wasting energy. This is just one of many new and subtle features tucked into Mac OS X 10.7 Lion, but, curiously, it was removed in later versions of OS X.

Automatically restart Mac if freezes in OS X Lion

If you want to adjust the automatic reboot on freeze feature in OS X Yosemite and OS X El Capitan, you’ll need to turn to the command line instead.

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Posted by: William Pearson in Mac OS, Tips & Tricks, Troubleshooting


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  1. Leonard says:

    Mine used to freeze a lot. Then one night I accidently spilled beer all over my keyboard.(macbook pro) Haven’t had a freeze or crash ever since.
    3 months since last freeze.
    Note: Don’t spill beer on your mac, it may kill it. I was lucky

  2. BT says:

    the fact that someone could say that a mac never freezes is the lie of the century. I just paid FULL PRICE for 2012 mac mini, latest and greatest. It TOTALLY freezes once per week. I first thought it was due to 2 monitors, and the onboard graphics not supporting both monitors. I switched down to 1 and still happens. I get a total full screen-ful of colored pixels, and a loss of keyboard and mouse. Don’t let anyone tell you that Macs don’t freeze. I am a life-long PC user trying to switch. This is my 1st real month on a mac and am ready to go back.

  3. Sally Quinn says:

    but thanks for the Energy Saver tip, to restart automatically if the computer freezes !! that may help, but what about the “F” icon — doesn’t anyone out there know?

  4. Sally Quinn says:

    using Lion – What about an “F” icon that appears in the status bar on start-up — if you click it, the computer freezes and have to restart by holding down the on-off button for a second. Not everything freezes, and toggle thru applications; mostly it’s the use of the mouse that freeze and any open windows are frozen. Can relaunch the Finder using the keyboard but that doesn’t solve the freeze. Right-clicking on the “F” reveals nothing.

  5. Helga says:

    Freezing is normal on Macs. Crashing, that’s different.

  6. Lucas says:

    Hi all,

    I have scheduled restart set on my mac mini with lion – works great however if a user is connected or has been connected at some stage during the day it will not restart automatically.

    Any ideas on a work around on this one?

  7. Fred Johnson says:

    I bought an MBP 17″ and it freezes about once a week. The option mentioned above does nothing. MacOS never restarts. The supposed “geniuses” at the Mac store couldn’t find any problems. What a waste of $2500. At least with a PC I would expect to have these kind of problems.

  8. sean says:

    Just got a MBA with Lion and get freezes often… rarely got them in Snow Leopard. Wish it were easy to put SL on this thing.

  9. Tom says:

    Different apps constantly stop responding in Lion (MacPro 1.1 2 x 2.66 GHz Dual-Core Intel Xeon). Only recovery is a cold reboot. Apps that freeze:
    Adobe Bridge
    Photoshop CS5
    and a couple other I can’t think of right now. Rebooting a couple time or more a day – never did before. This is all new with Lion.
    Also problems with Time Machine – however it seems to have self cured……

    • emily says:

      @Tom that is exactly what is happening to my system!
      I can’t even go thru my mail app wo getting something frozen…safari doesn’t function as well as it did.

      have you found any solutions as of yet?

  10. Rob says:

    I have had 3 freeze/crashes since upgrading to Lion. I’ve been a mac owner since 2006 and it seems like I have only had that many since the upgrade. Anyone else having any problems with Lion?

    • Aussie Rob says:

      Yep, I bought a brand spanking new iMac, had it on Snow Leopard for 2 weeks, the thing ran like a dream.
      ‘upgraded’ to Lion freeze and crash city.
      Ridiculous considering the 16 GB of RAM.
      Seriously need an update for this OSX

      • Ro-mac says:

        My Mac Mini freezes daily since the lion upgrade. Must have frozen once or twice in the 2 years i’ve owned prior to the upgrade.

        This is PC standard.

  11. […] ello, Lion nos ofrece una nueva función en la que el Mac se reiniciará automáticamente cuando detecte que es imposible salir del bloqueo, mejorando la salud de nuestros componentes […]

  12. […] to a new feature within , your Mac can now automatically restart itself  if your system freezes. The option is hidden away in the Energy Saver preferences, and should make […]

  13. […] to a new feature within Mac OS X Lion, your Mac can now automatically restart itself if your system freezes. The hack is hidden away in the Energy Saver preferences, and should make […]

  14. Hyhybt says:

    Really? Where might I find this in Windows XP?

  15. osxtasy says:

    And it’s been in Windows since XP if not 2000 at least….LOL

    • saut says:

      Really? Auto restart in Windows? Though it’s frozen many times, never seen an auto restart in Win 2000, XP or 7 at work.

  16. Tom says:

    This isn’t a Lion only feature. It’s on my Mac Mini running 10.6.8 server.

  17. Diogenesis says:

    This with Resume is a powerful combination

    • Hyhybt says:

      “This with Resume is a powerful combination,” unless Resume brings back whatever caused the freeze in the first place.

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