Gremlin inside my old Macbook Pro?
May 31, 2023 11:15 AM   Subscribe

How can I stop my Macbook Pro opening loads of apps all by itself when its lid is shut?

Last night I left only Chrome and Firefox open on the laptop, shut the lid, connected power (the battery is aging), and went to bed.
This morning it has sixteen more apps open (screenshot here*). There's nobody here but me so it's not a prank, and it's happening frequently.

It's a 2015 MBP 15" running Big Sur 11.7.6. I can't find anything in System Settings that relates to enforcing sleep when it's closed. Very strange that it's so busy running things by itself though! Apps never start by themselves, other than me starting them, when the lid is open; this only happens with the lid closed.

Grasping at straws I've tried resetting NVRAM and SMC, but it's still happening. Any ideas will be much appreciated.

(* actually a photo not a screenshot, can't do screenshot with cmd-tab pressed)
posted by anadem to Computers & Internet (10 answers total)
I wonder if it’s restarting for some reason and those apps are set to open at startup?
posted by staggernation at 11:19 AM on May 31, 2023

Adding to staggernation's suggestion: The uptime command, run from a terminal, will tell you how long it's been since the last reboot.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 11:34 AM on May 31, 2023 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Have you tried disabling Power Nap? (I don't mind Power Nap at all, but Macs will look for updates and perform maintenance with various apps while sleeping on corded power if Power Nap isn't disabled.)
posted by eschatfische at 11:50 AM on May 31, 2023

- Open
- From the View menu, choose Show Sources
- you should have a Crash Reports section - does it show anything useful, such as kernel panics?
posted by soylent00FF00 at 12:30 PM on May 31, 2023

Response by poster: thanks for ideas:
- Uptime is six days, so not a restart,
- No crash reports at all
- I'll try disabling Power Nap

Is there a way to know at what time an app has been started?
posted by anadem at 12:47 PM on May 31, 2023

Best answer: You can see when an app (or any other process) was started with ps in the terminal. Paste something like this into the Terminal app, replacing "Mimestream" in the example with whatever app you want to look at.
ps cux | grep Mimestream
You should get back output that looks something like this, with either a date (for older processes) or time (for more recent ones) in one of the columns.
duien 15840   0.0  0.8 414885136 140768   ??  S    Tue10AM   0:33.11 Mimestream
You can leave off the | grep and everything after it to get a list of all processes, but there's a lot of noise in the list from internal/system processes.

A few other things you could look at:

In "Login Items" in the "General" pane of System Settings, it lists background applications as well as login items -- I don't really expect you'll find anything, but if there's something there you don't recognize it could be worth looking into.

Since the two apps that you left open intentionally are browsers, it might be worth taking a look at you extensions in each to see if there's anything fishy there.

Are the applications that it opened all things that you use regularly? Is there an external mouse or keyboard connected, either Bluetooth or wired?
posted by duien at 1:31 PM on May 31, 2023

I don't want to tell you How To Mac and you could well know this already, but when you say you closed the other apps, do you just mean you closed their windows? Because on a Mac, that doesn't close the app - you still need to Cmd-Q or File -> Quit to actually close the app, and until you do, it'll still show up in the Cmd-Tab switcher.
posted by parm at 1:35 PM on May 31, 2023

(Follow-up: the background applications may actually be hiding elsewhere in System Settings -- I forgot that a lot of things in there have been moved around with the most recent OS versions, and I can't remember if Big Sur if before or after that reorg)
posted by duien at 1:37 PM on May 31, 2023

Does the same thing happen if the lid is left open?
posted by freethefeet at 9:07 PM on May 31, 2023

Response by poster: Fixed by eschatfisch's suggestion: disabling Power Nap.

(I didn't explore why Power Nap woke the gremlin, and don't care now)
posted by anadem at 5:03 PM on June 6, 2023

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