How to get the maximum possible battery life on a macbook

Macbook battery life icon.Macs already get great battery life. The newest line of MacBooks are supposed to run 7 hours straight without needing a wall socket. But what if you left your MagSafe charger at home, and you know you’ll need 8-9 hour of work?

In this MacTip, I’ll list the obvious and not so obvious tips to get the longest possible uptime on a single charge.

Bluetooth

Do you use it regularly? Really? Most people do not. Yet, it’s on by default and most people don’t bother or don’t know how to turn it off. It’s another wireless radio that uses precious battery power. Switch it off, and keep it off until you need it.

Turn off Bluetooth for better battery life.

Wifi

Not actively using the Internet? Switch off AirPort. Just like Bluetooth, only this one is more useful and you’ll likely want it back on.

Turn off Airport wifi when you don't need it.

Volume

Mute the sound on your mac unless you really need it. There are various sound notifications made by OS X and your applications. When you’re trying to squeeze the most out of your battery, even the little things matter.

Mute the mac.

Switchable graphics

If your mac has switchable graphics chips that do not switch automatically, make sure you’re using the better battery life setting. This affects some of the previous 15” and 17”  MacBook Pros. If you don’t have this option, then you have auto switching graphics or you only have 1 graphics chip.

Select better battery life.

Energy saving setting

In the Energy Saver System Preferences window, make adjustments to reduce wasted energy.

Adjust energy saver settings.

Screen Backlight

Reduce the brightness of your screen as much as you can. But make sure you can still comfortably see, otherwise you’ll put a lot of strain on your eyes.

Screen brightness

Keyboard Backlight

Backlit keyboards are nice. But it’s a luxury item when you’re after long battery life. If you notice that it comes on, either reduce it to the lowest setting, or switch it off and touch type.

Keyboard backlighting.

Superdrive

The optical disk drive eats up the battery on every laptop. It’s got moving parts. Don’t use it unless you absolutely must. Make sure it’s empty, so your mac won’t periodically spin it up to check the contents.

Close unused apps

Minimize the number of active applications.  Even when you are not actively working in the app, it may still be performing background tasks, or communicating with the Internet. Quit the apps you’re not using.

If you don't use it, quit.

Install ClickToFlash (or similar)

Flash is very useful, Flash players are very common around the net for video playback. However, Flash also uses a very high amount of system resources, and cuts the battery life substantially. If you’re browsing the web while on battery power, you will want to make sure you’re using something like ClickToFlash for Safari, or Flashblock for Firefox. Flash is blocked, but you can enable individual Flash objects on demand.

Avoid doing resource intensive tasks.

Try to prioritize your work so you are doing the light work such as web browsing or text editing on battery power, and leave the heavy duty type stuff such as video conversions for when you’re plugged in. Because let’s face it, if you’re battery goes flat before you reach a charger you can’t do any work at all.

External devices

Unplug every external device such as USB thumb drives or external mice, unless you need them. USB, Firefire and Thunderbolt device all draw power from your computer and will have an impact on your battery life.

Check battery health.

If you’ve followed these suggestions and you’re still getting short battery life you may just be trying to do something very resource intensive. Or it may be time to replace your battery with a new one. Click on the Apple logo on the top left, and select About This Mac. Click on the More Info… button and select Power from the list on the left. You will see the health of your battery, and it will alert you if it’s time to replace it.

Check the health of your mac battery.

Removable batteries can be bought, and swapped by yourself. Integrated batteries need to replaced by Apple.

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