Mac notebooks: Tips for maximizing your battery charge
Learn how to get the most from your Mac notebook's battery life.
Your notebook battery life depends on your computer's configuration and how you are using the computer. Here are some settings and steps you can take to get the most from of your MacBook, MacBook Pro, or MacBook Air battery.
About the battery status menu
The battery status menu shows you how much charge your battery has and whether it is currently charging. This menu is at the right side of the menu bar:
The battery status menu updates frequently and changes depending on your screen brightness and system work load.
For example, if you are using a MacBook Pro (13-inch, Mid 2010) to edit a text document and the menu bar reports 8 hours of battery life, then you close the text document and begin playing a DVD movie, the time left in the menu bar will decrease. If you immediately quit DVD player and resume editing a text document, the time left in the menu bar display should return to a higher number due to the reduced power usage by the computer.
If your Mac notebook computer is running Mac OS X v10.6.x or later, you can hold the Option key and click the battery status menu to display your battery’s condition, as in the image below.
Your battery's condition may help you determine if the battery needs a replacement:
- If the condition is “Normal”, the battery is functioning normally.
- If the condition is “Replace Soon”, it is still working but may be starting to lose its ability to hold a charge.
- If the condition is “Replace Now” or “Service Battery”, the battery likely needs to be replaced. If you plan to visit an Apple Retail store, you should make a reservation at the Genius Bar using http://www.apple.com/retail/geniusbar/ (available in some countries only).
Your one-year warranty includes replacement coverage for a defective battery. You can extend your replacement coverage for a defective battery to three years from the date of your notebook purchase with the AppleCare Protection Plan. However, the AppleCare Protection Plan for notebook computers does not cover batteries that have stopped working or are exhibiting diminished capacity except when it is the result of a manufacturing defect.
Set your screen brightness to the lowest comfortable level
Compared to any other setting on your computer, your screen brightness can have the greatest impact on battery life. Press the F1 key to dim the screen until the brightness is as low as possible and the screen is still comfortable to view. For example, on a MacBook Pro (15-inch, Mid 2010) computer, you can increase your battery life up to three hours by changing your screen brightness from 100% to the middle setting, as in this image:
Optimize your battery settings in Energy Saver preferences
- From the Apple () menu, choose System Preferences.
- From the View menu, choose Energy Saver.
Options in the Energy Saver preference pane will vary depending on your Mac notebook and operating system version. Some examples of items that can be enabled to save power include:
- Putting the hard disk to sleep when possible.
- Slightly dim the display when using this power source. (Choose "Battery" or "Power Adapter".)
- Automatically reduce brightness before display goes to sleep.
- Setting the computer and display sleep sliders to induce sleep of the display or computer more quickly.
- Choosing the Better Battery Life option if available.
- Choosing Automatic Graphic Switching if available.
Some of these settings will put the hard disk to sleep whenever possible and reduce the computer's microprocessor or graphics performance to maximize its battery life. If you are using processor-intensive applications or graphic-intensive applications, you may wish to change these settings so that performance is maximized at the expense of battery life.
Starting with the MacBook Pro (15-inch, Late 2008), MacBook Pro systems included two separate graphic processing units or GPUs that you could switch between to achieve better battery life or better performance. For more information on this feature, see MacBook Pro (15-inch, Late 2008), (17-inch, Early 2009), (15-inch and 17-inch, Mid 2009): How to set graphics performance. Additionally, the MacBook Pro (15-inch, mid 2010) and MacBook Pro (17-inch, Mid 2010) models enabled automatic switching between the two GPUs in the system for optimal performance based on the task. For more information on models that support automatic graphic switching, see MacBook Pro (15-inch, Mid 2010 and later), MacBook Pro (17-inch, Mid 2010 and later), and MacBook Pro (Retina, Mid 2012): How to set graphics performance.
Tip: Running graphics-intensive applications such as 3D games, Aperture, iMovie, iPhoto, and others consumes more power. Quitting these applications will allow your computer to switch to the energy efficient graphics processor, which can give you better battery life.
Turn off unused features and technologies
Just as you would turn off the lights in an unoccupied room, turning off unused features and technologies can help maximize your battery life, too. Here are a few suggestions:
- Eject CDs and DVDs you're no longer using. Sometimes the optical drive spins to read CDs or DVDs that are in the drive. This consumes a small amount of power.
- Disconnect peripherals when you're not using them. Connected peripherals—such as printers and digital cameras—can draw power from your battery even when you're not using them.
- Shut down any runaway applications.
- Quit any applications that are running but not in use.
If you're not in a location where you need to use AirPort or Bluetooth, you can turn them off to save power.
To turn off AirPort from the menu bar:
- From the menu bar, click the AirPort icon .
- From the drop-down menu, choose Turn AirPort Off.
To turn off Bluetooth from the menu bar:
- From the menu bar, click the Bluetooth icon .
- From the drop-down menu, choose Turn Bluetooth Off.
You can also turn off Bluetooth or Airport from System Preferences:
- From the Apple () menu, choose System Preferences.
- From the View menu, choose Bluetooth or Network to open the appropriate System Preference pane.
About Apple battery life claims
Published battery life is based on a light duty test that involves wirelessly browsing various websites and editing text in a word processing document with display brightness set to the middle setting.
The more intensive the usage of a computer, the faster the battery will drain. For example, while a MacBook Pro (15-inch, Mid 2010) used as described above can get up to 9 Hours of battery life, the same MacBook Pro computer continuously playing DVD movies with the display set to full brightness will drain the battery more quickly.
For more information on batteries, please refer to http://www.apple.com/batteries/notebooks.html, or one of these articles: