How to use the power button in OS X Mavericks: It's just like your iPhone and iPad now

If you've upgraded your Mac to OS X Mavericks, you may have already noticed that the physical power button behaves differently when pressed than it did in previous versions of OS X. As it turns out, Apple has brought some of iOS to the Mac when it comes to powering up and shutting down. Here's what's changed and what you need to know:

Video Walkthrough

How to put your Mac to sleep

Putting your Mac to sleep in OS X Mavericks couldn't be easier. Just tap on the power button. That's it. Your monitor will turn off and your Mac will sleep. To wake it up again, simply tap the power button again. If you have a passcode set on your Mac, you'll be asked to enter it in order to go back to what you were doing.

If you own an iPhone or iPad, this behavior should sound very familiar to you since it's essentially the same thing you would do to put any iOS device to sleep and wake it back up again.

How to restart or shut down your Mac

There are a few ways to shut down your Mac but the easiest by far is by simply holding the power button for about 2 seconds. A dialog pops up asking you what you'd like to do. Your options under OS X Mavericks are Restart, Sleep, Shut Down, and Cancel. Choose your option and you're done, no menus or additional mouse clicks needed.

Again, for those that use iOS, this is pretty much the same as holding down the power button on an iPhone or iPad and sliding to power off. Considering iPhones and iPads don't have a restart option, it's a little different. If they did, I'd bet this is exactly where you'd find it.

How to force your Mac to shut down

Just like any other computer, a Mac can occasionally freeze up due to an app that isn't responding or an operating system error. If this happens, simply hold down the power button on your Mac until the screen turns off. Ignore any prompts that come up. This behavior hasn't changed over time and has always remained the same.

This one is a little different than iOS but not by much. If it sounds familiar to how you'd hard reboot an iPhone or an iPad, you'd be right, minus the Home button part on iOS.

The bottom line

OS X took a lot of cues from iOS where Mavericks is concerned. The power button functionality being changed was one that left quite a few Mac users scratching their heads. Hopefully this helps explain not only how it's changed, but perhaps why Apple changed it. Whether we like it or not, it seems to be here to stay.

Just think of how you'd turn your iPhone or iPad on or off and apply the same principles to your Mac running OS X Mavericks and you'll be in good shape.

Allyson Kazmucha

iMore senior editor from 2011 to 2015.