Where is the boing? (Mac scheduled startup)


I'm a bit obsessive about wasting power. For example, our TV's and everything connected to them are wired to power switches so that at the end of the day I can kill them dead - no electrons wasted for "instant on". It's not that I can't afford the $50 or so a year that letting that be would cost, it's that it drives me nuts to do that. I detest wasting money on electricity when I could be wasting it on pizza and other more tangible things.

I do pretty much the same thing with our computers. I have everything, even the ethernet switch, plugged into a power strip that I turn off when we are done for the day. I make one concession: the Verizon FIOS router remains live because getting a new IP every day is annoying. Other than that, everything else gets power yanked at the end of day.

By the way, they make smart power strips that can help setup a bunch of stuff to turn off when you power off one thing, like your TV or computer. I'm not sure how well those really work, but they look like a good idea.

Where's the boing?

In the morning I'd stumble in and flip on the power to the computer stuff and then reach for the iMac's power button to turn it on. The expected Macish "boing" would result and I'd go get a cup of coffee while the iMac booted. By the time the Keurig had filled the cup, the iMac would be ready for login. Another day begins.

Except that one morning I missed the "boing" and the iMac was not ready for login when my coffee cup was filled. It wasn't ready for login after peeling a banana, either. It did eventually get there, but it took too long. I didn't take too much notice, but then the same thing happened the next day. And then the next, and every day after that. What the heck was going on with my Mac?

I went on mildly worried about that for a week or so and then happened to work a little later than usual one night.

Mac about to shutdown

Oh, yeah, I forgot about that, didn't I? I had set my iMac to shutdown automatically at night because sometimes I would forget to do a shut down before killing the power. I figured if I set it to shut itself down I might save myself that mistake. That's fine, but apparently I had also scheduled it to turn on in the morning.

Mac scheduled startup and shutdown

Could that be the explanation? Maybe the Mac turned itself on when I restored power and I wasn't turning it on at all - just waking it from sleep. At first thought, that seemed wrong. How could the Mac start up if the power was off?

It's in the BIOS

It turns out that it can. This scheduling is apparently controlled by the EFI BIOS and its battery. As an experiment, I scheduled my Mac to startup ten minutes from now, shut it down properly and then pulled its plug. I waited fifteen minutes (well past its scheduled start time) and plugged back in. Four or five seconds later it started itself up with no assistance from me.

Unfortunately for my theory, there were two things wrong there. The first is that it loudly boinged while starting after I restored power. The Keurig machine isn't that noisy; I would notice that. More important is that the abnormal startup I had been seeing every morning was definitely not waking from sleep. It had the gray screens, the typical Apple logo and it took a lo-o-o-ng time. Scratch that idea.

But maybe there was more to it? My habit would be to turn the power back on and then quickly reach for the power switch? Could that be interfering with the startup it wanted to do? I tried the "start up ten minutes from now" experiment again, but this time I pressed the iMac power switch right after restoring power.

I had high hopes for that, but no, I still got a "boing". I also tried deliberately crashing the iMac by pulling its power plug without shutting down. It still boings when plugged back in and turned on. It doesn't take all that long to start up, either, so it is not that.

If I never heard the startup chime ever, of course I could Google for many possible solutions. However, the startup chime works fine and it has worked fine ever since I shut OFF that automatic startup in Energy Saver. There is plainly something I'm missing, but I'm not sure what.

While trying to investigate this, I came across these:

Those made me wonder if my experimentation needed a longer delay between scheduled shutdown and removal of power, so I repeated them with a five minute wait added, but saw no difference. Could this all be coincidental? That seems unlikely to me. On the other hand, I can't seem to replicate this odd behavior (no chime, long startup), so if there is some hardware issue, it only appears over night.

It will have to remain unsolved for now.. unless some reader has a better idea, of course.

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© Anthony Lawrence

Fri Mar 23 16:18:43 2012: 10772   NickBarron


Not fair!

I was reading more and more thinking how puzzling this is then when I thought I would get to the point where you explained the mystery you stopped and said I am still stumped!

Fri Mar 23 16:22:00 2012: 10773   TonyLawrence


I saw your comment and expected YOU to have a solution.. not fair!

Fri Mar 23 16:27:35 2012: 10774   NickBarron


Thats the spirit!

So you have no issues starting up now? Its only in the morning, so we can discount a logical drive issue? Ran fsck?

Fri Mar 23 16:31:14 2012: 10775   TonyLawrence


I have no issues since shutting off that schedule - but I have no issues in testing that manually either - I can't replicate the behavior!

Fri Mar 23 16:33:07 2012: 10776   NickBarron


Hmm does the issue re-appear if you re-enabled the scheduled shutdown and restart in the morning?

Fri Mar 23 16:38:58 2012: 10777   TonyLawrence


I don't know - I'm going to try that next..

Fri Mar 23 16:44:28 2012: 10778   NickBarron


Give it a whirl and update the post.

Sat Mar 24 12:00:20 2012: 10783   TonyLawrence


So of course it chimed this morning..

Maddening effing thing.

Mon Apr 23 13:02:08 2012: 10878   anonymous


one possible cause is the volume settings being on mute.
the volume settings do have an effect even on the chime.

Secondly you can use COMMAND-SHIFT-P-R at boot to zap the parameter ram where such settings are stored. after that it will have probably forgotten the startup time etc but settings are back to default.

Sun Apr 6 13:47:11 2014: 12428   TonyLawrence


I found this in a comment on Bela Lubkin's Facebook page. Apparently muting sound before shutdown causes it not to boing on startup. This comment by Katy Briwnfield said:

I found something that works, a variation on the instructions here:


Here are the commands:

>> sudo vi /Library/Scripts/unmute.sh
>> sudo defaults write com.apple.loginwindow LogoutHook /Library/Scripts/unmute.sh

Here are the contents of unmute.sh:

logger "running unmute.sh"
osascript -e 'set volume 10'

Below are the corrected syntax, for OS X 10.6, of the commands given in the article, but they don't seem to work if the volume was muted with the slider. 'set volume 10' sets the maximum volume for me. I did not research the possible values.

#osascript -e 'set volume with output muted'
#osascript -e 'set volume without output muted'

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