macbook battery health

How to Extend Your MacBook’s Battery Life

If you’re like me, you’re always carrying your Mac charger everywhere you go. I use the crap out of my MacBook Pro almost everyday internet surfing, photo/video editing, graphic design, writing, and LOTS of YouTube. And since I do most of my work in coffee shops, it’s a bit a of headache when I forget my charger.

Well I contacted Apple support and an awesome tech support guy named Nathan was great enough to give me a complete rundown on conserving my battery life. Here’s are the tips he gave me:

Check your Energy Saver Options

mac energy saver

If you go into your System Preferences, then Energy Saver, you’ll be taken to a screen with a display slide bar and some checkboxes.

The slide bar tells your MacBook to turn off it’s display after so much time, so if you leave it on and leave or you’re just listening to music, it’ll cut the display to save power. Since then, I leave auto-off at 1 minute. Don’t worry, if you’re watching Netflix or YouTube, even if you’re not moving the mouse or anything, you’re Mac’s display will only cut off if it’s left idle with no action going on, so if you’re watching a video, you’ll be fine.

Uncheck Your Auto-Brightness

mac auto brightness

So this was new to me, you actually waste more battery by using auto-brightness. If you’re constantly moving around, lights are turning on and off, your brightness will keep changing, but this will run your battery more than if you kept it at a higher brightness.

Go to the “Displays” section in your System Preferences and uncheck the Auto-Brightness box. That little checkbox could actually have a huge impact on your life… your Mac’s too.

Nathan from Tech Support recommended dropping your brightness one square periodically after your eyes adjust. The small drop in brightness won’t be too dramatic and you’ll save power at the same time.

Turn off Bluetooth

mac turn off bluetooth

Occasionally I’ll link my MacBook to a speaker for music, and sometimes leave it on when I’m not using the speaker. Well, there goes my battery.

Like a light switch in a room, when it’s not being used, turn it off. If you have the Bluetooth icon in the top right of your screen, simply click on it and turn it off. You’ll know it’s off when the icon grays out.

The same thing goes for WiFi; if you’re not using the internet, just turn off the icon.

Close Your Programs and Internet

mac close programs save battery

This might sound obvious, but I’m guilty of having a billion tabs open pretty often. The more programs and tabs, you have open, the more power you’re using. I typically have YouTube, for music mostly, open, LinkedIn, Facebook, email and maybe a news tab open when I’m working on something. And when I’m taking a break from editing or writing, I’ll minimize the program, but not actually close it.

The best thing is to save your work and close the program completely. At first I argued with myself justifying it’ll save me time leaving it open, but then again, it only takes a second for Mac to boot up Pages or Illustrator. Also using iTunes offline, if you’re one of the few that stills buy music instead of YouTube or Spotify, helps save a TON of battery.

Power Off Instead of Sleeping

macbook shut down power off

Just like every other person now, I like having my Mac starting as soon as I flip up the screen. But turns out that, not surprisingly, that powering it completely off really saves your battery.

And after timing it, it only takes it about 15 seconds to power on, and it took about 47 seconds to reopen all my pages, connect to the internet and sync my Dropbox. Actually not that bad if you consider shutting it off between classes. Also would be a good idea to shut it off before going to bed, or when going to work or whenever you don’t take it out with you.

It should be noted though that turning on the Mac does require power, so if you’re closing and reopening it within seconds or minutes each time, you should just close it and put to sleep instead.

Bonus Notes!

So there’s the myth that you should charge your laptop when it’s about to die as opposed to somewhere in-between. Two things; this is actually true! But most likely not relevant to you.

For certain laptops and even phones, if you constantly put your device to charge when it’s, let’s say, around 60% or 35%, your battery would actually trick itself into thinking that 80% was actually 100%. So it might display 100%, but it’s actually filled up to 80% charge.

But for you, this most likely shouldn’t be a problem. In 2009, Apple started using different batteries in their Macs that didn’t experience this problem. The batteries in this case were “smarter” and would properly charge to their max capacity no matter where it was when you plugged it in.

The last interesting thing I learned from Nathan from Tech Support was the Mac’s Power Cycles. If you go to “About This Mac” to “System Report” to “Power” and then check the Cycle Count, it’ll give you a number. That number is how times your Mac has been metaphorically fully charged. The average life of Mac’s built after 2009 is 1000 cycles. When it’s starts reaching that point, it won’t hold a charge as strong as it used to, and you’ll most likely want to replace the battery.

There you go everyone, now you can work on saving your battery life and hopefully not freak out about leaving your charger at home.

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