Replace the missing battery time remaining menubar indicator on the Mac
Apple made a tiny change to macOS 10.12.2, but it is a major irritation for some people. That change is the removal of the ‘battery time remaining’ menubar indicator. Here’s how to put it back.
What was it?
If you use a MacBook on the battery, there is an icon in the menubar on the right that shows the battery power remaining. In previous versions of macOS and OS X before that, it could show the time remaining too.
Click the battery indicator and there in the menu is the time remaining. This information was also visible if you went to System Preferences, Energy Saver.
It was useful because you knew how long you could use the Mac on the battery before it would shut down. If you knew you only had an hour left, you could make sure you finished anything important before it expired.
If you're not getting enough out of your battery, here's how to improve the battery health of your MacBook.
Why was it removed?
There were some complaints from owners of the new MacBook Pros with the Touch bar launched late 2016, that it was not lasting as long on the battery as Apple said it should.
A 10 hour battery life is claimed by Apple for the new MacBook pros, but some people were getting only 6 hours before the power was gone. The ‘battery time left’ indicator in the menubar was a clear statement of battery life and it wasn’t matching up with the 10 hour expectation that people had.
Apple’s battery solution
A solution from Apple was provided in macOS 10.12.2 and the company simply removed the time left from the battery menu in the menubar and in Energy Saver in System Preferences.
Now you can’t tell how long the battery will last!
That’s a fudge. Removing the time isn’t fixing the problem!
Is it a problem though?
I never used the time left indicator anyway because it is impossible to accurately predict the time left. The reason is because the MacBook’s power consumption varies depending on what apps you are running.
If you spend an hour using a lightweight low-power app, the battery time remaining would be many hours. However, if you then used power-hungry apps, the MacBook would not actually run for the left of time it originally said.
The time remaining indicator was a guess at best and you could not rely on it. Use a low power app and you could get significantly longer than it said, but use a high power app and you could get significantly less time.
The percentage battery indicator is more accurate, but it does not tell you how much time is left.
Use the Terminal
Bear in mind that the time remaining may not be accurate and it never has been. If you really want to see how long the Mac will last, go to the Utilities folder, open Terminal and type:
pmset -g batt
The time remaining is shown and the figure is based on previous usage. Obviously that is not very user-friendly.
Use Battery Health 2
You don’t to have to open the Terminal and type in commands every time you want to see how much longer you can use the MacBook on the battery.
A bettery solution is to use a free app in the Mac App Store called Battery Health 2 - Monitor Battery Stats and Usage.
Run the app and it adds a battery indicator to the menubar. It shows the percentage change by default, but if you click the icon, click the gear icon and select Preferences, there is an option to show the time remaining.
Clicking the icon in the menubar displays a window that contains lots of useful information about the battery. For example, it shows the current maximum charge and the original maximum, so you can see how much the battery has degraded since you bought the MacBook.
It shows the cycle count and the age. Batteries are designed to last a certain number of cycles and it varies with the MacBook model. Some old ones are only designed for 500 cycles, but newer ones are good for 1,000 cycles.
A cycle is 100% drain, which could be all in one go, or over several days. Using 60% on one day, charging it up and then using 40% on another day is just one cycle because it adds up to 100%.
Battery Health 2 is a good alternative to the macOS battery indicator. Disable the macOS battery in Energy Saver and use Battery Health 2 instead.
App: Battery Health 2 - Monitor Battery Stats and Usage
macOS: 10.7 or later