Use Your Mac as an Alarm Clock

Got a Mac in your bedroom? Great – you can use it as an alarm clock! Here’s how to do it.

ruby iMacYour Mac can wake you up by turning itself on at a set time. On newer Macs, you set this in the Energy Saver control panel in the Schedule tab. On older systems, you’ll run into either CPU Energy Saver or Auto Power On/Off control panels, but they work the same way. Set the time/day you want it to start up (making sure to check the “Scheduled Shutdown Instead of Sleep” checkbox on newer Macs) and then shut down the computer when you’re done for the day.

The startup chime your computer makes when it turns on may be enough to wake up the lightest of sleepers, but for the rest of us, there’s one more step: picking something noisy to wake you up. You can have your computer automatically play a CD, a QuickTime file, a RealMedia file, or launch a particularly audible computer program.

Waking to a CD

Find the CD you want the computer to play and insert it into your computer. Then open up your QuickTime Settings control panel or AppleCD Audio Player. Under the AutoPlay tab in QuickTime Settings, check the Enable Audio CD AutoPlay checkbox. In AppleCD Audio Player, choose Preferences from the Edit menu, then check the AutoPlay checkbox. You’ll probably want to check your volume settings and then shut down your computer. When it finishes booting, the CD will start playing automatically!

Waking to a File or Program

If you have file or program you want played when your computer starts up, just drag it into the Startup Items folder in the System Folder. If it’s an MP3, QuickTime, or other multimedia document, make sure the program that plays it will start playing it when it opens. This is because if it opens and you’re asleep, and thus can’t push the play button, you’re up a creek. So to set this in MoviePlayer/QuickTime Player, just open General Preferences from the Edit Menu and choose Play Movie From Beginning When Opened. Most other multimedia players, like RealPlayer, are set to Auto-Play by default.

Whether you wake to the sound of Bach or Limp Bizkit, your Mac makes it possible!

This column was published before Mac OS X 10.0 shipped. You should be able to do the same thing using the Energy Saver system preference in OS X.

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