Depending on the model, a new MacBook Pro should be getting upwards of 9 hours of battery life. However, this is often not the case. In rare circumstances this can be down to fault in the battery or the MacBook but, more often than not, the problem is in how the MacBook (and battery) is being used.
Number 1 MacBook Pro Battery Killer!
The main culprit of battery life depletion is keeping your MacBook Pro plugged into the mains all the time, even when the battery is charged to 100%.
Your MacBook Pro battery has a limited number of ‘cycles’ which are essentially charges. When you keep your laptop plugged in all the time, the charging continues, even when 100% battery power is reached, so you are working through your finite number of battery cycles.
Keep your MacBook Pro Battery Healthy
As soon as your MacBook is charged to 100%, unplug it and keep it running on the battery until it next needs a charge.
My MacBook Pro Battery life is very low
If your MacBook Pro has a battery life of a few hours or less, then you need to investigate. The first thing to look at is the battery cycles as mentioned above.
Choose Apple menu > About this mac > More info
On the left contents menu select Hardware > Power
Look for cycle count and condition under Battery Information, condition should be normal if the battery is working well. If the cycle count is approaching or even above 1000, then your battery is seriously depleted and you will be looking at getting a new one soon.
If your battery seems healthy but you seem to be only getting a few hours of charge, then the next thing to look at is your applications.
Applications and MacBook battery life
Applications that use up a lot of CPU or processing power are very heavy on the battery of your MacBook Pro. To check if any application is using an undue amount of processing power, go to the Activity Monitor. In the dropdown menu select ‘All Processes’ and sort the column by CPU usage (you can click the % CPU column header to do this). Generally anything using over 50% of CPU should be a red flag and is probably contributing to your short battery life. Close down the culprit program, charge your battery to 100% and see how long it takes to run down the battery without this CPU-hogging application running.
MacBook Pro gets very hot
When your MacBook pro seems to be overheating it is usually a sign that your CPU is being overworked and resources are being hogged by a rogue application. The actions set out above will help you pinpoint any problems. This can often happen with Snow Leopard users still using Safari. There are no new releases or updates for Safari on Snow Leopard so running the application can cause CPU and stability issues. Try using another browser if you are experiencing these issues.
Tips for a longer battery life on your MacBook Pro
Although we have outlined the main battery-draining culprits above, there are lots of little things you can do to extend and improve the life of your MacBook Pro battery:
- use the Software Update feature as there are often battery life enhancement patches and updates (Apple > Software Update)
- adjust your screen brightness, even lowering this by a couple of levels can make quite a difference
- shut down applications if you are not using them, particular graphics and other processor-intensive programs
- restore the energy saver preferences to the default settings
- unplug peripheral devices and turn off Bluetooth when not in use
Replacing a battery on your MacBook Pro can be expensive and you will therefore want to avoid having to do so. Following the advice above should help prolong the life of your battery. If you have other battery-saving tips be sure to post them below.