How to fix the battery charger on Mac

One of the areas where Apple has made great progress in recent years is in batteries for notebook computers like the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro. The result of that progress is that the latest M1 MacBook Airs can last a full day or more on a single charge. However, if you have an older MacBook you may have discovered that its battery runs down more quickly. That’s frustrating, but normal. However, if your Mac charger isn’t working, that’s much worse and may mean you can’t use your Mac when it’s not connected to the mains. If you have that problem, here’s how to fix it.

Why is my charger not working?

First of all, it’s important to diagnose the specific problem. Is your MacBook not receiving power at all, or is it just that the battery isn’t charging? If it’s the first of those, it could be the power adapter that’s at fault. But if it’s the latter, it’s more likely to be the battery in your Mac.

Basically, there are 3 sets of explanations:

  • The battery itself fails to charge
  • Battery management (software-related)
  • The adapter or its connectors are not working

Cool your Mac down

Computers don’t like getting too hot. They generate enough heat of their own, and when ambient temperature adds to that heat it can cause problems. Batteries get hot when they are connected to mains power. Once the temperature inside your Mac gets too high, its thermal sensors take action. As well as running fans in those Macs that have them, the sensors throttle processor speed and prevent the battery from charging. So, if you’re in a warm environment and especially if your Mac feels hot to touch, move somewhere cooler, if you can. Once your Mac has cooled down, try charging it again.

Reset the SMC

The SMC chip on your MacBook’s motherboard controls power management, and if something goes wrong with it, it may prevent your battery from charging properly. To reset it, do the following:

  1. Shut down your MacBook.
  2. Connect the power adapter if it’s not already connected.
  3. Hold down Control+Shift+Alt and the power button for around four seconds.
  4. Release the keys and press the power button to start your Mac again.
How to reset the SMC

What to do if your Mac is getting power but not charging

There are two possibilities if your Mac is getting power but the battery is not charging. The battery could be faulty or so old that it is no longer capable of charging. Or there could be a software problem preventing it from charging.

If your Mac is not charging or is not holding its charge, it may well be a software problem. CleanMyMac X’s Maintenance tool can fix many of those problems, some of which may cause your Mac to use lots of CPU cycles and, therefore, battery power. Among the tools in Maintenance is the tool called Run Maintenance Scripts. It will not affect the battery directly but will generally smoothen out the performance.

Maintenance Scripts in CleanMyMac X

Download the free version of this software (Apple-notarized application).

Click on Maintenance > Run Maintenance scripts.

How to check your battery status with CleanMyMac X

Once you install the app, click the small “iMac” icon in the top menu bar of your Mac.

Now, check what it says about the battery.

CleanMyMac X menu

If it says ‘Service Battery’, it means you need to replace the battery. The best way to do that is to make an appointment at an Apple Store Genius Bar or Apple Authorized Service Center. You can do both of those on Apple’s website by clicking here.

Tip:

Your Mac could be having display issues which means your battery is working while your screen is not. Try restarting your computer and make sure it produces the startup chime — this way you’ll know your Mac is actually turned on.


Clear the port and the charger connector from dirt

By following the steps above, you should have identified whether the problem lies with your charger or your Mac. If it’s your Mac, there might still be a fairly simple fix. It could be that the connection between the charger and the Mac is compromised because of dust or dirt in the socket. This is more likely if it’s a MagSafe connector. Try cleaning the socket with a cotton bud or something else soft. Be careful not to damage it and never put anything metal in there.

Mac charger

Check whether your Mac or charger has been recalled by Apple

Apple has issued recalls a few times over the years for MacBooks with faulty batteries and for wall chargers. Before you try and diagnose and then fix the problem with yours, you should find out whether it’s eligible for recall programs. Before you start, you’ll need your Mac’s serial number.

How to check your serial number
  1. Click on the Apple menu.
  2. Choose About this Mac.
  3. Select the Overview tab.
  4. Copy the serial number from there.

Once you have the serial number of your Mac, follow the relevant link below.

MacBook Pro 15-inch sold between September 2015 and February 2017

MacBook Pro 13-in non-Touch Bar sold between October 2016 and October 2017

Wall charger recall program

You can find a full list of Apple recall programs here.

What to do if there is no power getting to your Mac at all?

This is the more serious of the two possibilities described above, because it means that when the battery runs out, you won’t even be able to use your Mac while it’s connected to mains power. To check where the fault lies, do the following, one step at a time.

  • Check the plug
    Check the plug is securely in the mains power socket and the socket is switched on. If this works, breathe a sigh of relief and be glad it was such an easy fix.
  • Change the socket
    Try plugging into a different mains socket. If this works, it means there is a problem with the mains socket you tried first.
  • Try a different charger

If you have access to a different charger that’s compatible with your Mac, try using that with your Mac. If this works, it could mean the adapter is faulty or the cable with the plug on it is faulty. Try the adapter with a different cable. If that doesn’t work, it means there is a problem with your Mac’s charger and the easiest solution is to buy a replacement. If your Mac is less than a year old, however, you should contact Apple first and ask for a replacement under warranty.

  • Try a different Mac

If you have access to another Mac that uses the same charger, try connecting your charger to that. If this works, it means the charger is fine and the problem lies with your Mac.

Did you know?

Most MacBooks are designed to have 1000 charge cycles. You can check the actual number of battery cycles in About this Mac > Overview > System report.


What to do if your battery won’t hold its charge

The batteries used in laptops like the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro have a finite number of charging cycles, after which they just won’t charge anymore. As they age, their capacity reduces and they won’t last as long on a full charge as they did when they were new. So, a battery that doesn’t hold its charge as long as it used to is nothing to worry about. However, if you notice a sudden change in the length of time your MacBook will run for on a single charge, there are a few things you can do.

If you’re running macOS Big Sur or newer:

  1. Go to Apple menu> System Preferences and click on the Battery pane.
  2. Choose Battery.
  3. Make sure the ’Turn display off after’ slider is towards the left, certainly at less than 15 minutes.

Optimizations you can tick:

  • Check ’Slightly dim the display while on battery power’.
  • Check ‘Optimize video streaming while on battery’.
  • Check ‘Optimized battery charging’

While you’re there, you can click Battery Health to see what condition your battery is in.

Mac battery settings

If you’re running macOS Catalina or earlier:

  1. Launch System Preferences.
  2. Choose Energy Saver.
  3. Set the sliders for Computer sleep and Display sleep to no more than 15 minutes.

The optimized charging feature in Big Sur and later is designed to prevent your battery being overcharged. However, even in Big Sur, and certainly with earlier versions of macOS, it’s a good idea to let the battery discharge completely once in a while, before you recharge it.

Manage your battery better

The apps that drain your processor power, at the same time drain your battery. This means if you want your battery to last longer, you need to cut down on some apps. Or more precisely, you’ll need to minimize memory-heavy apps.

In CleanMyMac X, you’ll find the tool to switch off apps that run in the background.

Get the free version of CleanMyMac X — download it here from the developer — and open the Optimization tool.

Here you can find Launch Agents — use this tool to disable apps that secretly run in the background consuming your battery resources.

CleanMyMac X - Launch Agents

If your MacBook charger is not working, there could be a number of reasons, not all of which mean the charger is broken. For example, if your Mac is not holding its charge for as long as it could, that could be a software issue. Follow the steps above to identify the likely cause of the problem and then the instructions to fix it and you should be back up, and running soon with a fully charged battery.

Laptop with CleanMyMac
CleanMyMac X

Your Mac. As good as new.