Battery service warnings on your Mac/MacBook can turn up suddenly and unexpectedly, even if your precious laptop has only been out of the box for a few months.
If you check the official Apple support community page, the concerns and complaints are likely related to software updates, a bug, poor battery management and maintenance, strange battery performance, or simply the need to replace the battery itself.
Note: this battery problem could have arisen from several factors and is a case-to-case basis. If the warning isn’t solved after executing the first two DIY solutions, you may have to go down to an authorized Apple service center for a proper checkup.
Before we move forward, let’s look at a rundown of the three battery conditions to detect if you need a service. On the battery status menu you’ll see one of the following:
- “Normal” – this means your battery functions well and normally
- “Replace Soon” – the battery is still working but has the potential to lose its ability to charge
- “Replace Now” or “Service Battery” – needs to be serviced
We have a few possible fixes for you, but you should do something first.
Check Your Cycle Count
Each MacBook battery has a certain cycle count which stands for the amount of 100% – 0% uses its battery has before its overall battery life starts diminishing. The more recent a MacBook, the better its battery and the bigger the cycle count. (You can find all the relevant information on Apple’s official support page).
Once you’ve hit your MacBook battery’s official cycle count, it’s normal to start expecting “Service Battery” warnings. Thankfully, you can keep track of your cycle count right there in macOS.
To do this, hold the Option key, click the Apple menu logo, then click “System Information.” Scroll down to the “Hardware” section in the pane on the left, click “Power,” and you’ll have all the relevant battery information displayed. This includes your cycle count.
If your cycle count here exceeds the number listed on Apple’s support page, that would explain the Service Battery warning. If, however, you think your cycle count is way higher than it should be, read on.
Reset the System Management Controller (SMC)
You can try resetting the SMC if your MacBook comes with a non-removable battery (e.g. Mac computers 2009 and up).
1. To reset the SMC, shut down the computer.
2. Plug in the power adapter or MagSafe to your computer and power outlet.
3. Press Shift + Ctrl + Option keys and the power button simultaneously.
4. Release the three keys plus the power button at the same time.
5. Afterward, press the power button to turn on the computer. Check the battery status menu to see if the “Service Battery” warning disappeared.
Normally, resetting the SMC should do the trick. However, if nothing happens, you may want to try the next suggestion.
Recalibrate the Battery
This method will take you hours. However, if you really want to get rid of the warning, follow the steps below. Apple also suggests users do this as a way to take care of the battery performance every few months. However, the intervals are dependent on how often the computer is used.
1. Charge your battery up to 100% and make sure that the MagSafe light ring charging jack shows the green light, which indicates a full charge.
2. Once it is fully charged, continue using the computer while the MagSafe is still plugged in to the power source; do this for two hours. Afterward, unplug the cord and use it until it runs out of battery power, and you’ll see the low battery warning on the battery status menu. The Mac will sleep automatically without any warning. Once it sleeps, simply turn it off.
3. Wait for five hours or more, and then connect the Mac to the power adapter or MagSafe and charge it. This will calibrate your battery.
Note: in the author’s case, the battery status goes back to “Good” (for the mean time), and the Service Battery warning disappeared (screenshot on 717 loadcycles).
Lastly, if still nothing happens, here’s the ultimate option:
Go to an Authorized Apple Service Provider
If the Service Battery warning isn’t solved, perhaps your battery needs to be replaced, and it’s time to hand things over to the experts.
Author’s case: The Service Battery warning came out five months after an authorized Apple service provider fixed my battery issue – I had the habit of charging my devices via USB and plugging them into the MacBook, which had caused an irregular flow of the power, draining the battery faster. When I recalibrated my computer, the warning disappeared. However, after a few weeks it showed up again, and as of this writing my computer has the warning. Perhaps recalibrating the battery again will help.
It’s always good to be prepared should a Mac catastrophe strike, so you should know what to do if you spill water on your Mac. For something a bit more techy, check out our list of the best Android emulators for Mac.
This article was first published in May 2015 and was updated in May 2018.