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The quality of battery inside a MacBook is one of its strongest components, with Apple known for offering some of the best power and software optimisation amongst all notebook manufacturers. There's always room to squeeze a little extra juice, however, and keep the battery life maximised.
In this tutorial, I’ll show you how to maximise the battery life on your MacBook Pro or MacBook Air.
Diagnose and Monitor the Battery
Knowing the state of the battery is a fundamental step in improving the battery life of a MacBook. By keeping an eye on the health of the battery, you'll be able to quickly identify when the condition of your battery is degrading, how many charging cycles your Mac has performed and other useful indicators of when action can be taken.
One great app to do just that is Battery Diag which adds an icon to the menu bar. Clicking on this menu bar app provides some useful information, such as the current charge and the overall capacity of the MacBook's battery.
Use this tool in conjunction with the other tips mentioned in this tutorial to diagnose any problems and identify areas for improvement.
Use Energy Saver
The Energy Saver tool in the System Preferences app on a Mac is a really basic, yet useful, way of improving the battery life.
Launch System Preferences and select Energy Saver. Use the sliders to set a custom time for which the MacBook will stay idle before it goes to sleep. As you reduce this number, the Mac will go to sleep sooner when idle, thus reducing the amount of power wasted if it is not being used.
Use the Schedule button to set a custom time to put the Mac to sleep, shut it down or restart it automatically, useful if the MacBook needs to stay turned on until a certain time and you're not available to manually do so.
Toggle Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and Brightness
Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are two technologies that'll be running in the background even when you're not using them, though both can be easily toggled. When turned off, the amount of power the Mac consumes decreases, leading to an extended battery life and more time for offline, non-connected activities.
To turn off Wi-Fi and/or Bluetooth, select their respective icon on the right-side of the menu bar and choose the Turn off option. To turn either back on when needed, click the same icon again and select Turn on.
Additionally, you can reduce the power consumed by the MacBook's display by reducing the brightness. Use either the screen brightness keys, on the keyboard, to reduce brightness or, in System Preferences, click Displays > Display and drag the brightness slider accordingly.
Upgrade to OS X Mavericks
Released in 2013 the current version of OS X, Mavericks, includes a number of useful tools and technologies to reduce power consumption.
These improvements include App Nap, a feature that put apps running in the background unused to sleep until needed, in addition to better energy efficiency when watching HD video in iTunes.
Safari Power Saver is a feature that turns off plug-ins and other extra content in Safari to reduce power usage until you choose to toggle them back on.
If you're not already running Mavericks, use the Mac App Store to update for free. As best practice, update the Mac as often as possible as new firmware and software updates can bring additional power optimisation.
To learn more about power-saving technologies in Mavericks, refer to Apple's Advanced Technologies page.
Based on Apple's recommendations, if you're planning to store your MacBook for more than six months without use, reduce your battery to 50% charge before turning it off.
If you store a battery when it’s fully discharged, it could fall into a deep discharge state, which renders it incapable of holding any charge. Conversely, if you store it fully charged for an extended period of time, the battery may experience some loss of battery capacity, meaning it will have a shorter life.
Additionally, try best to store a MacBook at a temperature within the -25° to 45°C (-13° to 113°F) range, avoiding anything outside of this.
Ideally, Apple recommends you store a MacBook as close to 22°C as possible, taking care to note seasonal changes while the MacBook is in storage.
Eject Media and Disconnect Peripherals
The Mac uses additional power when peripherals are connected and when the SuperDrive is in use. To reduce consumption and extend battery life, disconnect any peripherals that are not in use, including any external mouse, hard drive or SuperDrive not being used, and eject any CDs or DVDs if the MacBook has an internal SuperDrive.
In this tutorial, I have offered some tips on improving the battery life, both short-term and long-term, of a MacBook. If you have any concerns about your MacBooks battery, especially if you feel it is unsafe, contact AppleCare or visit your nearest Apple Store.
Alternatively, if you wish to voluntarily replace your MacBook's battery, you can find out more about buying a replacement or entering your Mac for service on Apple's Battery Replacement page.