Apple claims the MacBook models with M1/M2 silicon chip can hold the battery up to 21 hours. However, you still have to face some battery issues even with M1/M2 chip. The situation could be worser if you are using old Intel processor and need to carry a bulky charger finding a power socket all around. Though your battery will slow down after some years of usage, how you handle your device will reflect the battery deterioration rate. In this article, we will explore how to check your current battery health and simple ways to improve the battery life in Mac.
Checking Battery Health in Mac
Depending upon Mac model, you can use different methods to check the battery health as explained in this article. The best option for all the models is to use System Information app. Search and open “System Information” app and select “Hardware > Power” option from the sidebar. Check “Battery Information > Health Information” section and find the “Condition” is showing as Normal or Service Recommended.
Though the condition is showing as “Normal”, you need to see the “Cycle Count” information. The maximum cycle count for MacBook models is 1000 and 1160 indicates the battery is to be replaced. You can check what is cycle count and supported number of each model in this Apple support article. If you face battery draining problems with the condition as normal with the cycle count less than the recommended limit, then follow the below tips to improve your MacBook’s battery life. If the condition shows “Service Recommended” or the cycle count is more than the limit, then the below suggestions will not help as you need physical battery replacement.
1. Use Optimized Battery Settings
Mac offers many useful settings to automatically optimize the battery usage. You can access the settings by going to “Apple Menu > System Preferences > Battery” section and clicking on “Battery” option. Remember, you should have thunderbolt 3 ports to see most of the optimization options. Otherwise, the screen will look different without most of these options including the “Battery Health” button.
- Turn display off after – set this time to lower level like 1 or 2 minutes.
- Slightly dim the display while on battery power – enable this option will reduce the brightness of the display to save battery.
- Enable Power Nap while on battery power – disable this option if you do not want the Mac to check emails and iCloud updates while on battery.
- Automatic graphics switching – enable this option to automatically select graphics mode and save battery.
- Optimize video streaming while on battery – enable this to play HDR videos in SDR mode to consume less power.
- Optimized battery charging – enable this option so that Mac will automatically charge 80% and wait until you use. This works based on the machine learning from the usage history input.
Some Mac models will also show “Energy Mode” allowing you to select “Low power mode” for saving the battery life.
2. Charge Your Mac Properly
As mentioned, “Optimized battery charging” will take care when you leave the power cable for longer time. However, if you are using Mac models which do not support this feature, then make sure to remove the plug after full charge (that is after the orange LED turn into green). You can monitor the charging and screen usage to make appropriate changes in your charging pattern.
- Go to “Apple Menu > System Preference > Battery > Usage History” section. Here you can find the battery level and screen usage for the past 24 hours and 10 days. Some models also will show energy usage to find how much power is consumed by your Mac.
- These details can provide an overall idea of how you are using the battery. Especially, you can check the “Battery Level” graph to find how long you are charging and the pattern of usage.
Avoid intermittently charging the computer frequently and follow a consistent pattern to improve the battery life. Also, always charge your Mac with the official cable and adapter that comes from Apple. If the cable is damaged, make sure to purchase another one from Apple instead of using fake items.
3. Find Battery Consuming Apps
Click on the battery icon showing on the top menu bar. This will show the list of apps using significant battery on your Mac. in most cases, you will see third-party apps like Google Chrome, Microsoft Word, etc.
You can’t conclude with one or two time as it could be a momentary situation. Check the status periodically for a week or month to find the high power consuming apps. Once you find specific apps draining your battery, find suitable alternate apps which you can rely on. Otherwise, simply close the app to save battery at that point.
Note that Apps running in the background will also consume battery. Hence, close all unused apps and browser tabs to save your battery.
4. Update Apps and Software
App developers and Apple’s software engineers are making changes to their applications all the time which improves them up to the effectiveness, particularly in terms of performance and battery life. Therefore, always make sure that your system and apps are up to date so that you can avoid performance lags and battery issues. You’ll always be notified whenever OS update is available, you can double-check from your end to make things sure. To do so:
- Go to “Apple Menu > System Preferences…” and then navigate to “Software Update” module.
- This dialog box will appear automatically checking for available updates. It is good if your MacBook is up to date but if it is not, update it immediately.
Applications update can be checked by opening “App Store”. In the “Updates” section, you’ll find all the apps that require an update.
5. Enable Automatic Brightness
Your MacBook’s screen brightness is directly proportional to the battery life. Keeping display brightness high all the time can not only affect battery but also strain your eyes. It is easier to adjust the brightness from the function keys (F1 and F2 keys) whenever required. However, there’s a feature for controlling brightness that follows the light sensor technology in Mac. This will automatically detect the ambient lighting and adjusts the screen brightness in accordance with the surrounding lightning conditions. To enable the auto-brightness feature, follow these steps:
- In System Preferences, go to the “Displays” module.
- Check the “Automatically Adjust Brightness” box.
Through this feature, your controls are preserved and you don’t have to worry about the dim and bright screen as per surrounding lights.
6. Turn Off Bluetooth
Bluetooth turned ON for a long period drains the power unless it is connected to a device. Make sure that you turn off the Bluetooth when it is not in use. You can turn off Bluetooth by clicking on the icon from the top menu bar. If you don’t find Bluetooth in the top menu bar, then consider these simple steps.
- Select “Bluetooth” module from the “System Preferences” pane.
- Click on “Turn Bluetooth Off” button to turn it off.
7. Turn Off Keyboard’s Backlight When Not Needed
In MacBook, the keyboard’s backlight is an amazing feature which allows you to keep working even when the lights are off. However, use this feature only when you need it i.e., when the light is off or you’re working in a dark environment. Follow these steps to turn off the keyboard’s backlight.
- In the top menu bar, open the Control Centre and click on the “Keyboard Brightness” module.
- You’ll see the slide bar here and slide it to 0%.
8. Use Static Picture for Desktop Instead of Dynamic Mode
Mac allows you to setup dynamic or static picture as your wallpaper. The dynamic setup keeps track of your location and time of the day and change the appearance of the desktop picture according to these factors. This may consume battery and still images can be considered as an alternative.
- Go to “Desktop & Screensaver” module in “System Preferences” section.
- Under “Desktop” tab, select any picture under “Dynamic Desktop” or “Light and Dark Desktop” options. These are dynamic or automatic pictures and click on the dropdown showing above the picture list and select “Light (Still)” or “Dark (Still)” option.
- Alternatively, select “Photos” or “Folders” option from the left sidebar and choose a custom still picture.
9. Disconnect All External Devices When Not Required
Connected devices like your USB, smartphone, hard drive and external DVD drive consume a good amount of battery. Moreover, your MacBook’s battery will run out extremely rapidly if your MacBook is also charging another device. Make sure to unplug all the devices, gadgets, and electronics that you are no longer using to prevent battery drain.
10. Avoid Extreme Temperature
According to Apple, 10℃ and 35℃ is the recommended temperature for operating MacBook. Below is the official information from Apple on the comfort working zone temperature for a MacBook.
Extreme temperatures should be avoided since battery cells are sensitive to high levels.
- Avoid using your MacBook in direct sunlight or cold.
- Use the default power cable and adapter for charging.
- If your Mac is heating up while charging, avoid playing HD games or doing resource intensive tasks.
- Pay attention when it is shielded by a case. If possible, remove the case before plugging it in to avoid long-term damage.
If the above-mentioned suggestions do not make any difference, then it means your battery needs service or a replacement. As mentioned, if the battery health is showing “Service Recommended” or the cycle count is more than the limit, then it is a good idea to go for a battery replacement.