How to Monitor Battery Health on Mac Laptops

Mac Battery Hero

Understanding how Apple’s lithium-ion batteries function and perform over time can help you maximize the lifespan of your battery while maintaining peak energy performance for as long as possible. Learn how to care for the battery health on your Mac by monitoring usage, charge cycles, and battery life cycle status.

How to Check the Number of Charge Cycles on Your Mac

  1. Click the Apple icon in the upper-left corner of the menu bar.
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  1. Select “About This Mac” from the drop-down menu.
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  1. Click on the “System Report” button in the new dialog window that appears.
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  1. In the System Information app window, click “Hardware” in the upper-left corner to reveal a new menu.
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  1. Select “Power” from this menu.
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  1. Locate the current cycle count of your Mac’s battery under the “Battery Information” header in the right pane.
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Understanding Battery Charge Cycles

The lithium-ion batteries inside most MacBook models are designed to retain 80% of their original capacity after 1,000 charge cycles. You have performed one charge cycle once you have discharged 100% of your battery’s capacity. You can view the cycle count limit for your Mac’s battery by visiting Apple’s battery support page.

For example, if you consume 50% of your battery’s capacity before charging it back up to 100%, you have completed only half of a charge cycle. It’s a great idea to top off your Mac’s battery whenever you can to reduce the number of charge cycles.

A couple of battery-related terms you need to know about in addition to “charge cycle” are:

  1. Battery life: this is the amount of time your MacBook will run before it needs to be recharged.
  2. Battery lifespan: this is the amount of time your battery will last until it needs to be replaced.

How to Check Battery Health on Mac

To check the battery health on your MacBook:

  1. Launch the System Preferences app.
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  1. Navigate to the Battery settings menu by selecting “Battery.”
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  1. Select “Battery” once more from the menu on the left.
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  1. Click on the button at the lower right titled “Battery Health” and analyze the “Battery Condition” parameter using the status indicators.
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Status Indicators for Battery Health on Mac

Mac batteries are consumable components that will become less effective as they age. Your Mac will display one of two battery status indicators:

Normal: Your Mac notebook’s battery is functioning normally.

Service Recommended: The battery inside your Mac laptop is unable to hold a charge equivalent to its original capacity, or it is not functioning properly. You may also see a “Service Now” status at this point instead of “Service Recommended.” Take your Mac to an Apple-authorized service provider or Apple Store to get its battery serviced or replaced. You can fix a battery service warning using a few simple steps.

How to Make Battery Percentage Visible in the Menu Bar

To monitor your battery more effectively, you can add a percentage indicator next to the battery icon in the menu bar. To do so:

  1. Navigate to the System Preferences app.
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  1. Click on the “Dock & Menu Bar” icon to start customizing the menu bar.
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  1. Locate the menu items on the left sidebar and scroll down to select “Battery” from the “Other Modules” section.
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  1. Click the empty boxes next to the “Show in Menu Bar” and “Show Percentage” options. The battery icon should now appear in the menu bar.
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How to Conserve Battery Life on Your Mac

To activate various power-saving measures on your Mac, first visit “System Preferences -> Battery -> Battery.” Check or uncheck the box to the left of each setting as discussed here.

  • Slightly dim the display while on battery power: check this box to conserve energy by immediately dimming screen brightness to 75% when you unplug your computer from power.
  • Enable Power Nap while on battery power: leave this setting unchecked to prevent your Mac from using battery power to fetch iCloud, Mail, and other data during its sleep state.
  • Automatic graphics switching: check this box to allow some MacBook Pro models to save battery life by dynamically switching between multiple graphics processors.
  • Low power mode: check this box to slightly throttle performance on your Mac and increase overall battery life.
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Frequently Asked Questions

I can't find the “Battery” menu in the System Settings app. What should I do?

On older versions of macOS the “Battery” menu item is labeled differently. Click on the “Energy Saver” menu item to locate the battery settings pane.

Is it a good idea to discharge my Mac’s battery to 0% before charging it?

No. This practice will actually inflict unnecessary stress on your Mac’s battery, as it typically leads to the accumulation of more charge cycles within a shorter length of time. The capacity of all lithium-ion batteries is slightly reduced after each complete charge cycle, which is why routinely discharging your Mac’s battery before charging it will quickly reduce its battery life.

Why does my Mac take so long to charge past 80%?

Apple’s lithium-ion batteries charge to 100% in two phases to extend battery lifespan. This process is called Optimized Battery Charging. In Stage 1, batteries fast charge to 80% capacity. In Stage 2, batteries ease into a slow charging or “trickle charge” state until they reach 100% capacity. In rare cases, your Mac may need to cool down before it can charge past 80% capacity. Thankfully, Apple provides recommended ambient temperature guidance for all MacBooks on its battery support website.

Image credit: Luke Southern via Unsplash All screenshots taken by Brahm Shank

Brahm Shank
Brahm Shank

Self-proclaimed coffee connoisseur and tech enthusiast Brahm Shank is captivated by the impact of consumer tech: “It’s profoundly moving when people discover that the phone in their pocket or the tiny computer on their wrist has the power to enrich their lives in ways they never imagined.” Apple, Inc. and its unique position at the intersection of technology and the creative arts, resonates deeply with Brahm and his passion for helping people unleash their potential using technology. Over the years, Brahm has held various podcasts - including famed technologist David Pogue of The New York Times on topics such as Big Tech and digital wellness.

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