Get More Life Out Of Your MacBook Battery

11 years ago in Articles, How do I?, Useful Links by Brent | 38 Comments


Apple says your MacBook battery, when new, is good for about 4 ½ hours. Of course, there’s some variability, depending on what you’re doing with the computer. Here are a few tricks to keep your battery from dying on a long flight or something:


  1. Optimize your battery life settings.
    • Go to “Energy Saver Preference.” Choose “Battery” and set the optimization for “Better Battery Life.” This automatically puts the display to sleep when it is inactive for more than a minute and reduces your processor performance. Your MacBook won’t run quite as fast, but you’ll save more battery power.
  2. Power down your hard disks when you don’t need them.
    • Go to “Energy Saver Preferences” and enable “Put Hard Disks to Sleep When Able.”
  3. Decrease your screen brightness
    • Go to the “Displays Preferences” pane and adjust the screen brightness down a bit. Disable “Auto Adjust.”
  4. Turn off things you don’t need, like Airport or Bluetooth when you aren’t using them.
  5. Close the Dashboard so that there aren’t any widgets running.
  6. Minimize processor use while you’re on battery.
    • That means, don’t run applications that take a lot of processor power, don’t run too many applications or more than you need to.

All laptop batteries eventually wear out, and as they do, they operate for less and less time. You can prolong the life of your battery with regular monthly maintenance. Once a month, run your MacBook on battery until it puts itself to sleep, indicating the battery is empty. Then plug it in and fully recharge it.

You’ll have to decide when to replace your MacBook battery. You can get an add-in utility to track your battery capacity, and replace the battery if you notice the capacity is dropping. Or you can just monitor how long your MacBook will run before going to sleep (keep track during your monthly maintenance). When the battery life falls below whatever your acceptable level is, it’s time for a new one.

Links to battery capacity apps:

Helpful links for more info:

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  • Andre

    Thanks for the tips.

    Looking at iStat tonight, I just noticed that my MacBook Pro’s battery health is only at 66%.. Something I was quite surprized to see. I’ve had the MBP for a year, but my battery was replaced not that long ago in the recall. It’s been through a mere 73 cycles, and I cycle my battery more or less once a month. I wasn’t planning on buying a new battery for at least another year, but at this point I’m thinking it’ll be much sooner than that. Maybe when it hits 40% ish.

    BTW: How do you disable Dashboard?

  • Brent

    Dashboard: It’s not the easiest thing to do from what I can tell, especially since I’m not the terminal guru but here’s a link to an article about it: Link

  • goshop

    To maximize the performance of your battery,you should “Fully charge/discharge battery up to 4 cycles before achieving full capacity of a new battery ” and there are lots of “battery do” and “battery don’t”, you can see it at : offer replacement laptop battery,camcorder battery,power tools battery, battery charger and more accessories with low price and 1 year warranty.welcome visite our site!

  • Brent


    Careful there… you are teetering on the edge of comment spam. I do like the tip on the charging though so I’ll let it pass through. Thanks for the tip!

    Question for you: Does NEC make the MacBook batteries? I guess I have never looked.

  • Andre

    I vote for comment spam there.

    Anyways, thanks for the link. 🙂

  • Bret Wingert

    With lithium batteries does it really help to cycle them by running them to empty. I thought this went the way of the NI-CADs… Do I have bad info?

  • Brent

    I’m not a battery expert, but I think it isn’t so much the memory issue any more with lithium batteries, but it’s just a good idea to “work them out” a bit so they last longer (lifetime wise).

  • Tyler Fazakerley

    1) use your out-of-the-box mac until it completely discharges and goes into deep sleep where you can’t wake it without plugging in the power cord
    2) leave it in deep sleep for 5 hours
    3) completely charge
    4) completely discharge

    Also see

  • Flikk

    As of today, my MacBook and I have been together for 40 days. Yesterday, while I was happily surfing (on battery), it powered down with no warning. Okay, these things happen. I plugged it in, restarted, and all seemed to be fine. Battery was about 70%. I did other things on my other machines and when it was about 90%, unplugged it and everything was good. This morning after using it unplugged for 1.5 hours it did the same thing, but decided to only work with the power adapter, not on battery alone. When trying to boot without AC, it would try to spin the CD and then fall back into off. When on AC, if I pulled the adapter, it would last two seconds and go blank. I made an appt. with the Apple store (Fashion Show Mall, Las Vegas) for 3:20pm. I got there right at 3:20pm and the monitors showed I was 5th in line. Store was fairly packed, at least one patron at every display item. Monitors also said the next MacGenius appt. was “approx. 8:30pm.” Glad I made an appt! I was served about 15 min. later, during which time the monitors had changed to “No more MacGenius appts. available today, please try tomorrow.” However, one guy came by without an appt. and was told he would be put on standby and to come back in 30 min.

    Once I explained my issue with my MacBook battery, my Genius tried one of his batteries. “I just want to make sure it’s your battery and not your motherboard.” My machine worked fine, so he said “No problem, I’ll have you out of here in 10 minutes.” He got me a brand new battery, tested it, and put my old one in a box on the rear counter with four others. He pulled the serial number from the “About this Mac” area, didn’t need my receipt for purchase date or anything. I had even printed this page: to use as ammunition, but didn’t need it. He did approve highly of my dashboard widget “iStat pro”, available here:

    So the battery issue is a very common problem, and one that Apple has tried to deal with as painlessly as possible for the consumer. My Genius did ask if the battery showed an “X” in the icon bar, and I said no. Just wouldn’t run on battery. On the way out of the store, one of the 3 MacBooks, in fact the one closest to the door, had an “X” on the battery icon. When I unplugged the power, it shut down immediately! The moral of the story is to contact Apple immediately with problems and give them a chance to fix them. Hope this helps others.

  • Connie

    Another tip you might want to consider is removing the battery when you can easily connect it to the power chord, that way you don’t overcharge the battery.

  • Hobos in Love

    Very interesting tips! I have the macbook and pro book, I am always running out of battery! Thanks again

  • Berian Lowe

    Word of warning.

    Don’t drop the battery…

    I dropped mine yesterday, and it’s bent. Kind of like S-shaped.

    Thankfully it still fits in, with only one of the edges sticking out a millimeter.

    Be safe!

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  • tl

    Hi there
    I have only rarely run my macbook pro from the battery.
    Lately though, when I do and even though I might have anywhere from 50 to 70% of battery life left, my machine just stops working, shuts down.
    I’ve learned finally never to run on anything but electric.
    I’ve had the mac about a year and a half.
    I will have to get a new battery I assume but it seems such a short time for it to wear out,

  • Colette

    thanks so much for this!! I thought I needed a new battery for my macbook but I tried your tips and all is working well again so far!!!

  • meeting rooms edinburgh

    thanks, Now just compare size and weight of your fat and heavy brick of d830 with razor thin and light mb air and think about it a little. You may start understanding some interesting and pretty obvious things about notebooks, just use your brain, will you?

  • Web Design

    what is the average stand by time for a mac battery. mine goes for 1.5 hour and 2 hours non functional. Is this OK ? or I need new batteries.

  • brentspore

    That sounds a little short of what they claim but it does really depend on how many things you have eating up the battery. When running on battery power, the time depends on the amount of resources you are using if that makes sense.

  • animalpeaches

    My 15″ Macbook pro shuts down when my battery gets to about 77%. The only option then is to run it on the power cord. When operating on the battery alone, the power drops from 97% to 77% in mere minutes. The cycle count for the battery is at 90. Is it safe to assume the battery is crap or should I look for other problems?

  • Nathan

    An Apple tech told me that my MacBook battery has an expected life of 200 charging cycles; when I checked my cycle count in the about this Mac menu I found I had over 350. I figured it was time for a new one because it just wasn't working. I was also told that the battery needs to be used; leaving the computer plugged in while the battery is fully charged will decrease the life of the battery.

  • Kubilay

    I recommend using low light display by ctrl-alt-cmd-8. It helps the battery life if you only deal with the text and not the images etc (ex. coding on the train or reading a papers etc…)

  • appleconvert

    A few things to note.
    If you are under warranty or have an APP and are having issues with your battery dying suddenly, like some of you are. Then take it to your Apple repair store and they can run a test to see if it is a dud battery or its just used. If if its a dud then they can replace it if you are covered by warranty.
    Also with good battery practices for macbooks… if you have your laptop plugged in all the time try to once a week un plug the macbook and let it run on battery and once it gets around 25% plug it back in. This keeps the battery in good condition and will let you get the best battery life out of your macbook… I just checked mine and I have just gone over 450 cycles and my battery health is still 100%. Good luck 🙂

  • John

    If your battery health is below 100%, can doing the above tips bring it back up? Or will it always be at a lower health?

  • brentspore

    I think it's an age thing… If it's a couple years old and your health is below 100% then I don't know if there's a method to get that back up.

  • Mouldycheesecake

    If your battery health is below 100%, can doing the above tips bring it back up? Or will it always be at a lower health?

  • Ed

    my macbook battery after 3yrs:
    max capacity 5149
    Health 100%
    cycles 236

  • replacementmacbookbattery

    You should change macbook battery with new one. Replacement macbook battery is a good choise!

  • laptop battery… pple MacBook Pro 17 inch Battery

  • Simon

    macbook battery lasted 20 months and did 485 cycles – ran it alot on just battery – ended up shutting down after 3 mins. Just put new one in. Problem solved. Thanks for comments above.

  • Canada batteries

    yes,all laptop batteries eventually wear out, and as they do, they operate for less and less time. You can prolong the life of your battery with regular monthly maintenance. Once a month, run your MacBook on battery until it puts itself to sleep, indicating the battery is empty.

  • Alec_macisaac

    Is it better to leave a laptop plugged into an outlet when it is fully charged? Thus the laptop runs on the AC charge instead of the battery, therefore enhancing the life of the battery?

    Or is it better to unplug it from the outlet when the battery becomes fully charged, then use the battery. Thus you do not overcharge the battery, shortening the life, but allow the electrons to flow causing a longer battery life.

    These are two different arguments I've been hearing. Could someone point me to the truth?

  • brentspore

    I do the “plugged in all the time I can” thing and my battery has lasted 3 years so far. That's all I know 🙂

  • Laptop Adapters

    Nope, I don’t have a laptop, nor do I plan to travel with one. I’m only planning to bring my digital camera and mp3 player.

    I’m glad to hear I won’t be the only one carrying around 2 adapters.



  • JoshS

    In addition to Coconut Battery and Mini Status Battery Widget, you might want to check out low battery saver. It’s an app that makes sure your Mac sleeps before the battery completely
    runs out and lets you set a warning to alert you that the computer is
    about to sleep.  (  It won’t fix your battery problems but at least
    you won’t lose your work, have to restart your computer etc.

  • cokou

    You can change macbook battery with new one. Replacement macbook battery is a good choise!such as:

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