MacBooks have always been renowned for lasting many hours between charges, but even these titans of battery life can drain their cells faster than you’d hope. Here are a few tips to help keep your Apple laptop powered up if it’s starting to run out too quickly.

Why does my MacBook run out of battery so quickly?

Sadly, batteries deteriorate with use. Now, the rate of decay should be minimal in the first few years of ownership, but after that it could be that your battery’s capacity is substantially reduced. This will of course mean shorter bouts between trips to a power source.

How do I check battery health on Mac?

To see the current health of your battery, hold down the Option (or left Alt) key and click on the battery indicator in the top right of the screen. At the head of the drop-down menu you should now see the Condition: field and the status to the right. This will either be Normal, Replace Soon, Replace Now or Service Battery.

How to extend MacBook battery life: Battery Status

If it’s Normal then you’ve no need to worry, but any of the others would indicate that you’ll need to consider either booking your Mac into Apple or an official repairer to fit a new cell. Service Battery means the unit itself is experiencing some issues, so you should immediately book it in for a service. 

While on the battery menu, you’ll also notice macOS lists any apps that are currently using a lot of power. Try closing them down to see if it helps. If so, maybe use them more sparingly or try alternatives that might have better optimised processes.

Increase Mac battery life

Update macOS and apps

If the loss in battery performance has been quite sudden, there’s a chance that an app or the OS itself might be to blame. Therefore, it’s always a good idea to ensure you’re running the latest versions of the aforementioned software, as developers often put out fixes for problems soon after the issue has been discovered.

For macOS you’ll need to go to System Preferences > Software Update and see if a newer iteration is available. If so, click the Update Now button and let macOS do its thing. 

For regular apps you just need to launch the App Store, select the Updates tab from the left-hand column, then run any updates that appear.

Disable Bluetooth

It’s not unusual to connect devices to our Macs via Bluetooth. This could be for wireless headphones, external keyboards or any number of other peripherals. Because of this it’s quite common to leave the Bluetooth feature switched on, but this can add to the demands on a battery as it searches for new connections.

How to extend MacBook battery life: Bluetooth

To switch off Bluetooth, click on the Bluetooth symbol in the top right of the screen, next to the WiFi logo, then select Turn Bluetooth Off. If you’re not using WiFi at the moment, you can also turn that off.

Check cloud storage services

Uploading and downloading files can be another culprit, as it’s easy to forget that you’ve set up a cloud service to sync and then wonder why your battery life is terrible after you’ve just added a load of files to your hard drive.

Most services, like Google Drive, OneDrive and similar, will have icons in the menu bar at the top of the display. Click on one of these and check if the app is uploading a large number of files or has gotten itself confused with a particular file. Sometimes, especially in the case of the latter, it’s a good idea to shut down the program then relaunch it again to clear the issue. You could also opt for the Pause Syncing option that most provide, so you can wait until you get home or near a power source once more.

How to extend MacBook battery life: Cloud Services

Lower the screen brightness

One of the most power-draining aspects of any mobile device is the display. If you’ve got it turned up to be very bright, then battery life will most definitely be affected. That’s why it’s always wise to start lowering the brightness if you’re worried about running out of juice. The fastest way to do this is by using the F1 or F2 keys on traditional Mac keyboards, or tapping the icon that looks like a sun on Touch Bar-equipped Macs and moving the slider to adjust the luminescence.

Work out which apps are draining your battery

To find out what’s really causing the shortness of battery life, you’ll need to break out the Activity Monitor. This built-in utility for macOS can show you precisely the things that are hogging all your power.

Open a Finder window (click on the blue icon in the Dock that looks like a smiley face) then go to Applications > Utilities and double click on Activity Monitor. Select the Energy tab, then click the Energy Impact heading to sort by this metric.

How to extend MacBook battery life: Activity Monitor

Now, you should see which apps are siphoning off all your battery power. Close ones that are unnecessary, such as apps you’d forgotten were open, and hopefully this will let you claim back some precious charge time.

Use the Energy Saver feature in macOS

macOS has a feature that allows you to set how you want the MacBook to behave when running on battery power. To find this go to System Preferences > Energy Saver and you’ll find several options, including how quickly to put the display to sleep, how drives behave, and whether to set a lower brightness when not connected to a power source.

How to extend MacBook battery life: Energy Saver

Use optimising software

If you don’t want to manually go through the steps above or would just prefer a more automated approach that you can use on a regular basis, then the best bet is that try optimisation software. These packages will often clear out junk that could be using up resources, as well as keeping apps up to date and various other clever ways to ensure your system stays in great shape. Our current favourite is CleanMyMac X by MawPaw, which will set you back £29.99/$38 for a year’s subscription.

For more ideas on how to keep your Apple laptop in optimum condition, read How to speed up a Mac.