"Should I Sleep?" keeps your Mac awake while in use

We've all been there: sitting in front of your Mac when the screen suddenly dims, or goes to sleep right when you were reading something. If you have the screensaver set to require your password to unlock it, this can be a bit of an annoyance. But until recently the only other option was to set a longer delay before the screensaver kicks in, which could mean leaving your computer unattended and unlocked for longer than you want.

That's where "Should I Sleep?" comes in.

I have to admit, when I first read about this, I was skeptical. Using my web cam to see if I was in front of my computer? Wouldn't it be annoying to have that LED glowing all the time?

Fortunately, the app is smarter than I had expected. During normal use, your Mac's camera stays off until Should I Sleep? detects that the computer is getting ready to sleep. Then the webcam comes on for a few seconds to check to see if you are in front of the computer. If you are, it won't sleep. If you aren't, it will.

Having used it for the past month, I have to admit that it works very well, and it's very handy. I can keep my energy settings low for the screen to turn off when not in use, but I no longer have to keep tapping on the "Shift" key to tell my Mac not to sleep if I am idle for a few moments longer than expected.

The app comes with one free sensor for facial recognition, and has other sensors that you can buy for an additional US$1 each. Right now you can get all four current sensors for $2, which is what I did. That gives you additional sensors for sound, downloads, external monitors and motion detection. The latter is especially handy if you are in front of your computer but not facing it directly.

Should I Sleep? may not be an essential tool, but it's a very useful one, and one of my recent favorite "little things" that makes my computer use a little better.