Stop your MacBook Pro battery draining so fast with macOS Sierra
There have been several reports of Apple’s new MacBook Pro battery draining fast, mainly with the model with the Touch Bar. Here are the best tips to reduce battery drain on any MacBook.
Some reports suggest that Apple originally wanted to put a larger battery in the MacBook Pro with Touch Bar, but ran into problems with it and had to settle for a smaller capacity model.
It is not just new MacBooks Pros that have battery problems and everyone wishes the battery would last longer in their laptop.
When you have been running on the battery for a few hours and the charge is down to 30% or less and you need to get work done, what can you do to make the remaining charge last that little bit longer?
1. Turn down the brightness
The screen takes a lot of power and in a modern MacBook with a solid state drive, it is probably the most power-hungry component.
Reducing the brightness of the screen makes a difference to the power consumption and it should be set as dimly as possible while still being useable.
It is difficult on a bright and sunny day and if you sit next to a window. Try to sit out of direct sunlight if you can, then turn down the brightness.
2. Close unused apps
Apps that are running in the background can consume power. Switch to any apps you are not using with Command+Tab and then close them.
Power is required to open apps, so only close them if you will not be using them for some time. Don’t close an app if you are going to be needing it in two minutes time.
You might have only one app open, but if it is a web browser and it has 10 tabs open, it is like running 10 apps. Close all the tabs you don’t need.
macOS shows the apps that are using the most battery power. Just click the battery icon in the menu bar. There is a section in the menu called Apps Using Significant Energy.
3. Use Activity Monitor
Another way to see which apps are using the most power is to open Activity Monitor. Use Finder’s Go menu to open the Utilities folder, then run Activity Monitor and select the Energy tab.
The Energy Impact column is a live display of the apps using the most power. Click the column title to sort the apps by energy usage (click it again to reverse the sort).
To the right of this is the average energy impact column. An app may briefly use a lot of power and then use very little after that, so the average power usage is sometimes more important than the current energy impact.
Select the CPU tab and click the CPU column title to sort the apps by CPU usage. Those at the top are using the most power and if possible, they should be closed. If it is an app you are using then it won’t be possible of course.
It is best not to touch the various system processes and just to focus on apps - apps with windows you can switch to and close. It might help to restart the Mac if system processes are using a lot of power, although this in itself uses a lot of power. You have to weigh up the pros and cons of restarting.
Don’t leave Activity Monitor running because it uses power itself. Run it, take a quick look at what is using the power and then quit.
4. Avoid macOS updates and app updates
Checking for updates to macOS and apps, and downloading and installing updates uses a lot of battery power.
For this reason you should turn off automatic updates.
Go to System Preferences and open App Store. Clear all the ticks.
When the MacBook is connected to mains power, open the App Store app and select the Updates tab. This checks for updates and they can be downloaded and installed.
5. Reduce animations and effects
The macOS interface uses some animations and effects, and these use a tiny bit more processing power, which means more battery power. Turn them off to save power.
Open System Preferences and then open Dock. Clear the tick next to Magnification.
Go to Accessibility in System Preferences and tick the boxes next to Reduce motion and also Reduce Transparency.
If you are not using location services, the Maps app and Siri use them, they can be turned off. The benefits are tiny, but every bit helps.
Open Security & Privacy in System Preferences.
Select the Privacy tab.
Select Location Services in the list of items.
Clear the tick next to Enable Location Services.
MacBook Pro battery replacement
The battery in the MacBook Pro will degrade over time and it gradually loses its ability to store a charge. It is designed so that after 1,000 charge cycles it will charge up to 80% of its original capacity. This figure continues to fall with continued use.
At some point it will fail to charge sufficiently and you might consider a MacBook Pro replacement battery. If the MacBook Pro battery is not charging, Apple offers a battery replacement service, so enquire about this at your nearest Apple Store or Apple authorised service provider.
When the MacBook is being charged, do not cover it with anything or put it under anything. Never put it under the bed, under a sofa or inside anything. It can overheat.
There have been cases of battery swelling and battery bulging. I’ve seen this with the old white plastic MacBooks, which had a plastic battery cover, but it probably wouldn’t bend an aluminium MacBook. It could swell and damage internal components though.
Send your MacBook to sleep
The display, the disk (if you have an old style mechanical disk drive), and the MacBook itself can be automatically put into sleep mode. This reduces the power usage to almost nothing.
This is not useful when you are working on your MacBook, but if you leave it for some time, such as to take a coffee or meal break, and forget to put it into sleep mode, it can be set to sleep automatically.
Go to System Preferences, Energy Saver and select the Battery tab.
Enable, Put hard disks to sleep whenever possible.
Enable, Slightly dim the display while on battery power.
Drag the Display Sleep slider to one or two minutes. One is better, but can be irritating if it keeps switching off.
Set the keyboard brightness
The MacBook’s keyboard lights up to make it easier to see the keys. This light is adjustable and reducing the light will reduce the power consumed. It's not enough, but it does helps the battery to last longer.
Open System Preferences and select Keyboard.
Select the Keyboard tab
Tick the option, Adjust keyboard brightness in low light.
Tick the option, Turn keyboard backlight off after - and set it to 5 secs.
With all these tweaks to macOS, you should find that your MacBook Pro lasts longer when running on the battery.
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