A couple of months ago, my Mac received a small notification mentioning that my Mac was running on a “service battery”. In a nutshell, this means that the battery isn’t acting the same as it did the first week I bought it. I can charge it and it will work to full capacity, but there are times when it shuts off at 10% battery, other times at the normal 0%. Later in the future, I know I will have to turn it for repair. During the process, I learned that this was due to heavy usage and some improper handling techniques. To prevent you from making the same mistakes that I made, I am going to share some essential tips on caring for and extending your Mac’s battery life as far as possible.
Understanding Your Battery
Before you can maximize your battery life, you must first understand its status. There are two ways of finding out this. The first way is by just looking in the menu bar at the top right corner. You can get more detailed information from the battery icon by clicking on it, go to “show” and get it to show percentage. You also have the option to see how long you have until the battery is out. This is the easiest way to check the status of your battery, though the information is not enough to determine the lifespan of your battery.
The most informative way is by clicking the “Apple icon at the extreme far left -> About This Mac -> More Info…“. From there, click on “System Report”, and finally click “Power” under the “Hardware” section. Here, you can find out the number of charges, the battery condition, and more. This is essential in knowing the exact problem that your Mac may be experiencing, or how long you have until your Mac will burn out. Most Macs burn out after a thousand or so charges.
Some Maximizing Tips
First of all, you should never let your battery stays on the charger longer than what’s needed. This will essentially kill your battery faster than it should. Battery is meant to be charged and discharged. When connected to the charger, your battery stays at 100% constantly due to the fact that your battery is taking up more energy from the outlet to keep it constant. This will essentially fry your battery over time and it will give out.
In addition, you should charge your battery in full and let it run its course over the day. When you get the alert that your battery is 10% capacity, then bring out the charger. This is the true time when your Mac is preparing itself to shut down completely. A second tip is to monitor the lifespan of each discharge cycle. Charge your battery to full and run the course of the battery life until it shuts off. Jot down how long it took. Overtime, when you notice that the time it takes to shut down decreases drastically, you know that it is in for a repair.
One setting that can affect your battery life more than anything is the screen’s brightness. Whether you are typing a paper in Microsoft Word or playing a battery intensive game, the screen’s brightness can still play a huge factor. For this reason, you should access your “Energy Saver Preferences” and enable the automatic brightness settings so your Mac can go to sleep after a certain amount of time of inactivity.
You must also remember that your Mac’s applications run in the background when not in use. This means that, even though you exited out the window, you must still click “Command+Q” on most applications to successfully end them. To make sure that the applications you want to quit are, in fact, ended, you can look in your dock. The applications that have a light under their icon are still running. You can quit them by also clicking the icon with two fingers and pressing “Quit”. Always quit Bluetooth and WiFi when not in use.
When the Time Comes to Change
A Mac will usually reach the end of its life between two and a half to three and a half years or longer from original purchase, depending on the usage frequency. At this time, you are at the dilemma of having to replace the battery or just purchasing a new Mac all together. In this economic time, it’s cheaper to replace the battery when the external condition of the Mac is still quite usable. If you do choose this route, you should remember to get your battery replaced professionally by Apple and their authorized dealers. This will prevent a lot of headaches if someone not authorized did it incorrectly. You also won’t have the damage officially covered by Apple.The average cost of getting a battery replaced ranges from $120 and up to $300. This means that you are saving close to $600 and $900 by purchasing just the purchasing a new battery rather than purchasing a new laptop outright.
As you can see, while the hard drive may be the memory of the Mac, the battery is the heart. Without the battery working properly, your Mac’s activity may range from a few glitches to a full on system problem. You can make sure that your Mac is in perfect operating condition by doing regular checks in “System Info” in the “About This Mac” section. When your Mac’s battery eventually dies out, the Apple store can be there to repair the battery correctly. While it is a bit costly, it is worth it in the end, preventing you from hundreds of more dollars in repairs.