Has anyone ever done a study about how your Mac battery health can affect your own health? They really should because who hasn’t experienced something similar to this…
You’ve been working on this presentation for a month. It includes 53 slides, a dozen charts and five Steve Jobs quotes. The presentation was made on a Macbook Pro while consuming 60 cups of coffee and ignoring 13 phone calls from your mother asking why you don’t call anymore.
It took a lot. You gave a lot. And now is your time to shine.
So why are there 10 blank faces staring back at you?
Maybe it’s because the presentation screen is blank.
"Has anyone got a power cable?"
When your Mac battery dies, you can be assured that it’s never at a convenient time. So how about we help you to make sure that never happens?
Your Mac battery is not immortal
Computer components don’t last forever but batteries have particularly short life spans. Every time you charge your Mac battery to 100% you are adding a charge cycle. This cycle can be split across days, so 20% on Monday and 80% on Tuesday equals one cycle. Once a battery reaches its maximum charge cycle count, you can expect your reliable battery to turn into a temperamental teenager.
Different Mac batteries have different maximum cycle counts (essentially your Mac’s battery life), from 1000 for a Macbook Pro Retina to 300 for the first Macbook Air. Apple has a full list of Mac models with their corresponding battery cycles counts on their website, if you’re interested.
Once the cycle count is reached, your Mac battery should be replaced as it will start to show problems like these:
- Your battery isn’t charging
- Battery won’t charge to 100%
- Mac battery runtime is low
How to tell you need a Mac replacement battery
Getting on the bus and sitting down to watch a movie on your recently charged Mac is the perfect way to pass the time on a long journey. So when your Mac reaches a critical battery level and then dies after 15 minutes we wouldn’t judge you if you wanted to shed a tear or two. If a fellow traveler sees your tears just show them your dead Mac and they’ll understand.
While this scenario makes it easy to recognize that you need a Mac replacement battery, a dying battery may not always be that obvious about it.
Here are three ways to check battery health on your Mac in order to determine whether you need a Mac battery replacement:
The Painful Way
Your Mac won’t turn on. When you press the power button there are no signs of life at all. Not even a flutter from the fans. However, when you plug in the main power cord your Mac suddenly works perfectly.
This means your Mac battery is dead. The diagnosis is simple: you need a replacement battery for your Mac.
The Fun Way
If your Mac battery is behaving strangely you can check on its condition from within Mac OS X (or macOS, if you will). Follow these steps:
- Navigate to Apple menu > About This Mac > More Info.
- Click on the Power section from the list to view cycle count and condition rating.
- The four battery conditions are - “Normal,” “Replace Soon,” “Replace Now,” and “Service Battery”.
The Quick Way
Basically the “fun way” but for lazy people. Instead of navigating through menus, just hold the Option key and click on your battery icon.
If your Mac battery condition says, “Replace Now” or “Service Battery”, you need to replace your Mac battery as soon as possible because it is not long for this world. When it is “Mac battery – Replace Soon”, then you have a bit more time but be on the lookout for problems.
How to save battery life on your Mac
As long as your Mac battery isn’t on its last legs, there are a number of tips and tricks that can improve your battery life on your Mac. These tips will even help you squeeze more time out of perfectly healthy batteries.
1. Turn on battery percentage
Before we start improving your battery performance, it would help if you could see your battery charge level to get a better idea of your Mac battery performance. Having the percentage visible on your menu bar will also make it easier to diagnose when your battery starts behaving badly.
To turn on battery percentage, click on the battery icon in the menu bar and select Show Percentage.
2. Update your software
We like to think that Apple developers are hard at work, trying to improve our OS X experience. Let’s give them the benefit of the doubt and start with the absolute basics of making sure your OS X is up-to-date. A new software release could mean the difference between watching Game of Thrones on your commute and a blank screen due to a dead battery.
To update your software, simply click on the Apple Icon and select Software Update.
3. Use energy saver
You’ve seen enough movies to know that if you crashed on a desert island, you’d need to ration your supplies. By default, your Mac is a bit of a power glutton, but it’s very easy to command it to ration power usage and stay away from a critical battery level. The central hub for your battery saving options is found in the Energy Saver section.
Here’s how to use it:
- Click on Apple > System Preferences and select Energy Saver.
- Turn on Automatic graphics switching.
- Turn on Put the hard disk(s) to sleep when possible.
- If you aren’t using a network, temporarily turn off Wake for network access.
4. Dim your screen
Lowering your screen brightness will have the effect of increasing your battery life, so if your screen is so bright that you feel like you can get a tan, why not drop it a few levels and add some extra minutes to your battery time? Every person will have to determine the right level for them but if it’s so dim that you’re having to squint and press your nose against the screen, you’ve probably gone a bit too far.
To dim your screen, click the Apple icon and select System Preferences. Click on Displays and adjust the “Brightness” slider to a level that suits your needs.
Alternatively, look for the F key buttons that have a little sun icon on them, as they will increase and decrease brightness. They are normally F1 and F2 on Macbooks and F14 and F15 on desktop Mac’s.
5. Shut down background apps
If you’re trying to make your Mac battery last the trip home, you’re going to want it to focus on just the essentials. But in your heart you know that your Mac is doing no such thing. It may seem like it is only committed to your viewing of Game of Thrones, but in reality you know that behind your back it is playing around with all kinds of other applications, which is using up your Mac’s resources and draining your battery faster than what is needed.
To find out what processes are running, navigate to
Applications > Utilities > Activity Monitor
and start closing the items that you are sure you don’t need running right now.
This exercise will probably reveal a lot of applications that you had no idea were running; applications that you know you’ll never need and now want to get rid of them to save on battery life and also make your Mac run faster.
The best way to uninstall apps, without leaving behind remnants that can slow and cause problems for your Mac, is the Mac optimizing app, CleanMyMac 3. Follow these easy steps:
- Download CleanMyMac 3 for free.
- Install CleanMyMac 3.
- Navigate to the Uninstaller tab and remove the applications that you are sure you don’t need.
6. Turn off Wi-Fi and Bluetooth
If you’re on the move, chances are you aren’t blaring music from your Bluetooth speakers. Unless you’re that guy on the train. There’s also a good chance that you aren’t needing or able to connect to Wi-Fi, in which case, turning both off will give a nice little boost to your battery life.
To turn off Wi-Fi on your Mac just click on Airport in the menu bar and choose to Turn Wi-Fi off.
To turn off Bluetooth you click on the Bluetooth icon in the menu bar and click on Turn Bluetooth off.
7. Clean your system
A Mac that isn’t optimized is a lot like driving a car that is packed with family and luggage. The car is heavier and requires more effort to do everything. That hill, which you usually glide over like a champ, is now an uphill slog that tests your vehicle to the limits and burns up more fuel in the process. So, by optimizing your Mac you will put less strain on it and, consequently, burn up less battery power.
Rounding up on Mac battery health
This final tip is something that everyone needs to know. When your Mac battery charge level reaches zero and you finally get your hands on a charger, your instinct is to turn your companion back on straight away. However, in your rush to bring life back to your Mac you are actually doing long-term harm to your Mac battery health.
Congratulations, you are now equipped with the knowledge necessary to take care of your Mac’s battery health and recognize when you need a Mac battery replacement.
So next time you find yourself giving a big presentation, we are confident that your Mac will now perform as it should. Okay, sure, this time you might have forgotten to wear pants, but there are some things we can’t help you with.