About Mac notebook batteries

Learn how to optimise the life of the battery in your Mac notebook, fix battery issues and get service.

Understanding batteries in Mac notebooks

MacBook, MacBook Air and MacBook Pro computers come with lithium polymer batteries to provide maximum battery life in a compact space. To understand battery technology and battery life, it's good to know common battery terminology:

  • Cycle count: Batteries are expected to function for a certain number of cycles. This number represents the sum of total and partial discharge cycles throughout the life of the battery. You can see the cycle count limit for your computer by reviewing Determining battery cycle count for Mac notebooks.
  • Full charge capacity: Measured in mAh (milliampere hours), this refers to the amount of power the battery is capable of containing, minus the energy required to shut down the device. This number lowers as the battery becomes depleted with usage and age.
  • Remaining charge capacity: This number represents the current amount of power left in the battery as measured in mAh (milliampere hours). Using the computer when not connected to AC power will cause this number to decrease as power is depleted from the battery.
  • Consumed/depleted: Consumable parts are those that deplete over time as their internal components are used. Batteries, due to their chemical components, are considered consumables, and over time they lose their ability to hold a charge. If the cycle count on a battery exceeds its expected limit, the battery is considered consumed.
  • Defective: Batteries are considered defective when they stop working due to a defect in materials or workmanship, or due to a manufacturing defect. Defective batteries are covered under Apple's one-year limited warranty and extended-service contracts.
  • Load: The amount of activity being performed by a task or tasks. Certain power-intensive processes place a heavier load on the battery and result in a greatly reduced runtime per charge.

Setting up your Mac for the first time

When you set up your Mac for the first time, some activities – such as setting up Mail and Photos, downloading your files from iCloud and indexing your files with Spotlight – can use more power than your Mac requires in general use. 

If you have a large amount of data to transfer over Wi-Fi, it might take a few days for your Mac to finish its setup process. It's best to keep your computer connected to a power source during this time. Once setup is complete, the battery life will begin to reflect the regular activities you perform on your Mac.

The battery status menu

Your primary resource for viewing battery status is the battery status menu. It shows you how much charge your battery has and whether it's currently charging. This menu is on the right-hand side of the menu bar:

The battery status menu also tells you if your display or any apps are using significant energy. Click Display Brightness if it's listed under Using Significant Energy, and your display will dim to 75% brightness. Also consider closing any apps that are listed to save battery power.

To see the health of your battery, hold the Option key and click the battery icon in the menu bar to reveal the battery status menu. You'll see one of the following status indicators:

  • Normal: The battery is functioning normally. 
  • Service Recommended: The battery's ability to hold charge is less than when it was new or it isn't functioning normally. You can safely continue to use your Mac but you should take it to an Apple Store or Apple Authorised Service Provider to get your battery evaluated.

In earlier versions of macOS, the battery status might display Replace Soon, Replace Now or Service Battery if your battery holds less of a charge than when it was new or needs to be serviced. If the battery's lowered charging capacity is affecting your experience, get your battery evaluated at an Apple Store or Apple Authorised Service Provider. 

While some third-party apps report on battery health conditions, the data reported by these apps may be inaccurate and isn't a conclusive indication of actual diminished system run time. It's best to rely on the information reported in the battery health menu described above.  

Optimising battery life

Your notebook battery life depends on your computer's configuration and how you're using the computer. Here are some settings and steps you can take to get the most from your MacBook, MacBook Air or MacBook Pro battery.

Check Energy Saver settings

The Energy Saver pane in System Preferences has options to help improve the battery life on your Mac notebook when it's idle. For instance, setting your display to sleep when idle temporarily turns off the backlight and significantly improves the battery life.

Deselecting 'Enable Power Nap while on battery power' can also extend your battery's charge.

On Mac notebook computers introduced in 2016 or later, the display brightness adjusts to 75% when you unplug the computer from power if you have 'Slightly dim the display while on battery power' enabled.

Energy Saver preference pane showing the options available in the Power Adapter tab.

The example above is from macOS Catalina. Some features such as Automatic graphic switching and Power Nap aren't available on all Mac notebooks or versions of macOS.

Adjust keyboard and display brightness

Your Mac notebook's built-in keyboard has settings that can help to conserve battery power automatically:

  • To allow your keyboard's backlight to dim or brighten automatically, choose Apple menu > System Preferences, select Keyboard, then select 'Adjust keyboard brightness in low light'.
  • In the Keyboard section of System Preferences, you can also allow your keyboard's backlight to turn off after a period of inactivity.

You can use the F5 and F6 keys to adjust your keyboard's brightness manually, setting it as low as possible while still allowing you to see the keys. 

Your display's brightness has a major effect on battery life, and allowing your display to adjust automatically can significantly help conserve power. Choose Apple menu > System Preferences, then select Displays. Enable 'Automatically adjust brightness' to allow your display to dim or brighten based on your surrounding's light levels.

To adjust your display's brightness manually to a comfortable level, use the F1 and F2 keys.

MacBook Pro with Touch Bar

If your Mac has a Touch Bar, you can quickly adjust your display brightness by tapping  in the Control Strip on the right-hand side of the Touch Bar. To access the keyboard brightness buttons, tap  in the Control Strip:

Touch Bar showing the control strip view in Finder.

The Control Strip expands, and you can tap     to adjust your display's brightness, and tap     to adjust keyboard brightness:

Touch Bar showing the additional options available when you expand the control strip.

Check graphics settings

MacBook Pro 15-inch and 16-inch notebooks commonly include two graphics processors, or GPUs. You might see them documented as a discrete GPU and an integrated GPU. The discrete GPU generally provides substantial performance at the expense of high power draw. The integrated GPU allows for optimum battery life, but in most cases doesn't have the performance of a discrete GPU.

For optimum battery life on your MacBook Pro, use automatic graphics switching.

Turn off features and technologies that use power

Mac notebooks have a number of integrated technologies that can have a significant effect on battery power.

  • If you don't need Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, you can turn off Wi-Fi or Bluetooth from their menu bar icons or in System Preferences. This will help save power.
  • External USB, SD card and Thunderbolt devices connected to your notebook can also draw power and should be disconnected for optimum battery performance.

Troubleshooting batteries

A great place to start when troubleshooting battery issues is the built-in diagnostics that are available on your Mac notebook. Learn how to use Apple Diagnostics on your Mac.

If Apple Diagnostics tells you that your battery requires service and cites reference code PPT004, you should confirm this issue by running Apple Diagnostics over the Internet, which uses the latest diagnostic information. To do this, turn off your Mac by choosing Shut Down from the Apple menu . Then press the power button to turn on your Mac. Immediately press and hold Option-D until Apple Diagnostics begins.

If running Apple Diagnostics over the Internet confirms the issue, contact Apple or take your computer to an Apple Authorised Service Provider or Apple Retail Store. They'll tell you which service and support options are available.

If you don't find any issues with Apple Diagnostics, read on for more information about troubleshooting your battery.

My battery runtime is low

  1. If you set up your Mac recently, wait until your Mac has finished the initial setup. When you use your Mac for the first time, activities like setting up Mail and Photos, migrating your iCloud content and indexing your files with Spotlight use more power than your Mac requires in general use. If you have a large amount of data to transfer, it can take several days before your battery life returns to average daily use.
  2. Identify what the battery life should be for the product you're using. The Tech Specs site provides Apple's battery life expectations for battery usage. The specifics for wireless web usage and standby time are included in the Tech Specs article for each product.
  3. Find out how to minimise common causes of battery drain:
  • Optimise your battery life using the Optimising Battery Life section earlier in this article.
  • Learn how apps can affect Mac battery performance. Some applications – such as web browsers, video editing software and video games – require more power depending on how you're using them. Check regularly for updates to your software – it's important to use the latest versions available.
  • Configure automated backup and sync software to run only when your computer is connected to a power source or to pause when your battery level drops below a certain percentage.
  • Check Activity Monitor for any malfunctioning software processes, especially after installing software updates or a new operating system. Installation of updates is important to ensure optimum performance for all applications.
  • If you still have battery issues after optimising your computer's performance and checking for malfunctioning software processes, test in safe mode. Safe mode limits the active items on the system and allows testing in a more minimal environment. If the battery life is better in safe mode, you might need to do further software isolation for the items disabled by safe mode to determine what the power draw is when not operating in safe mode.

My battery isn't charging

Confirm the correct wattage AC adapter for your computer. A power adapter rated for a lower wattage than is required for the system might not charge the computer reliably. If you're not sure which power adapter to use with your computer, learn how to find the right power adapter and cord for your Mac notebook.

For more help, find out what to do if your USB-C power adapter isn't charging your Mac notebook. If issues persist, reset the SMC

My battery won't charge to 100%

Occasionally, the battery might not show a full charge (100%) in macOS, even after the power adapter has been connected for an extended period of time. The battery might appear to stop charging between 93 per cent and 99 per cent. This behaviour is normal and will help prolong the overall life of the battery.

My battery isn't recognised

If the battery in your MacBook, MacBook Air or MacBook Pro is fully drained of power, the battery will put itself into a low power state to preserve its ability to charge in the future.

Connect your Mac notebook to AC power and allow it to charge for at least five minutes. If the 'Connect to power' screen persists after charging for five minutes, reset the SMC

The low battery warning isn't displayed

If you don't receive a warning when your battery has a low charge, generally reported at or under 15%, it might be because the battery menu bar icon is disabled. Follow these steps to enable the battery status menu item:

  1. Open System Preferences.
  2. Click Energy Saver.
  3. Select the 'Show battery status in menu bar' tick box to display the battery status menu item.

Portables using OS X Mavericks v10.9 or later display the low battery warning when the battery has approximately 10 minutes of power remaining. Earlier versions of OS X report it at 15% or less.

Servicing the battery in your Mac notebook

MacBook, MacBook Air and MacBook Pro computers with built-in batteries should only have their batteries replaced by an Apple Authorised Service Provider or Apple Retail Store. Attempting to replace a built-in battery yourself could damage your equipment, and such damage is not covered by the warranty.

Most older Mac notebooks have removable batteries that you can replace yourself. Contact an Apple Authorised Service Provider or Apple Retail Store for assistance servicing a removable battery.

Battery warranty information

Your Apple One-Year Limited Warranty includes replacement coverage for a defective battery. If you purchased an AppleCare Protection Plan for your Mac notebook, Apple will replace the notebook battery at no charge if it retains less than 80 per cent of its original capacity. If you don't have cover, you can have the battery replaced for a fee. 

Information about products not manufactured by Apple, or independent websites not controlled or tested by Apple, is provided without recommendation or endorsement. Apple assumes no responsibility with regard to the selection, performance or use of third-party websites or products. Apple makes no representations regarding third-party website accuracy or reliability. Contact the vendor for additional information.

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