How to Care for Your MacBook Battery

A LockerGnome reader asked, “My MacBook is less than a month old and iStat shows me that my battery health is 95% with only 17 cycles. I’m not sure if frequently unplugging and replugging my MacBook charger is causing this or not.”

This is a great question. Notebooks are meant to be portable and accessible pretty much anywhere. Unfortunately, a weak battery can ruin a user’s experience. The good news is that your frequent use of the battery actually has a positive affect on overall battery life. A stale battery that never gets the chance to discharge can age and lose its capacity at a slightly faster rate. Thankfully, Apple has a process called “adaptive charging” which

Battery Calibration
My first piece of advice is to make sure you’ve calibrated the battery on your new MacBook properly. It’s recommended that you go through a calibration cycle when you receive it and once every month or two afterwords to maintain accurate readings on your battery level monitor. iStat is a great tool, but it may not be very accurate without a properly calibrated battery.

According to Apple, calibrating your battery can be done using the following process:

  1. Plug in the MagSafe Power Adapter and fully charge the battery.
  2. Allow the battery to rest in the fully charged state for two hours or longer.
  3. With the computer still on, disconnect the power adapter and continue to use your computer.
  4. When you see the low battery warning, save your work and close all applications. Keep your computer turned on until it goes to sleep.
  5. After your computer goes to sleep, turn it off or allow it to sleep for five hours or longer.
  6. Connect the power adapter and leave it connected until the battery is fully charged. You can use your computer during this time.

While you are discharging and charging the battery, you can use your computer as you normally would except for a brief period of time during steps 4 ad 5 as indicated.

Charging and Discharging
Apple does not recommend that you leave your MacBook plugged in all the time. In fact, Apple describes an ideal usage situations as, “a commuter who uses her notebook on the train, then plugs it in at the office to charge.”

Apple expects its current line of notebook batteries to hold at least 80% of their original factory capacity through 1,000 charges and discharges. A system they call “adaptive charging” is in place with the intention in mind of keeping the battery healthy for up to five years.

It’s recommended that if you use your notebook infrequently, the battery be discharged at least once every month in order to maintain calibration and sustain capacity.

If you plan on storing the MacBook for extended periods of time (six months or more), Apple recommends that you discharge the battery to 40-50% prior to doing so. If you store a battery for long periods of time at full charge, it may lose capacity more quickly.

38 comments On How to Care for Your MacBook Battery

  • What about instances where a user has a Macbook Pro, connected to an Apple LED Cinema Display where the Macbook is constantly plugged into power?
    I’d say that my 98% of my Macbook’s usage comes when it is in its Twelve South dock, plugged in to the charger via the Apple display.
    How would I go about becoming the ideal Apple user; ”a commuter who uses her notebook on the train, then plugs it in at the office to charge.”

    • Just did some research on this topic…
      Found that just because the Magsafe is plugged into the Mac, doesn’t mean it’s charging the battery.

      About 1 hour after the Magsafe LED turns green, the battery stops charging. After that the Mac is powered just from the Magsafe. The battery is isolated from the system. If you leave the Mac like this, after a few days or weeks the charger will add a little top up charge to the battery.

      So leaving the Macbook plugged into the Magsafe is no different than simply unplugging it. The charger is very smart and will look after your battery as well as possible.

      Read the Apple article carefully. It does not say do this to keep the battery healthy. It says “The battery needs to be recalibrated to … keep the onscreen … display accurate and to keep the battery operating at maximum efficiency”

      Calibration is more about accurately estimating how much charge the battery can hold. It’s like having a car with an inaccurate gas gauge, and a tank whose size varies with time. The only way to really know how much gas the tank can hold is to empty it completely, and then fill it up noting how many gallons it takes.

      • Had my battery replaced last Thursday(4-7-11). After 29 cycles in 2 years the 2nd battery had expanded again.Apple bar dudes said not to leave it plugged in all the times.I mentioned that i thought they were smart enough to stop/trickle charge, but home boy still said,”no, you shouldn’t leave them plugged in all the time”. Tried to hit me up for 99 bills, I said,”No! Way!.Free battery followed shortly.

  • Patrick Virgadamo

    This could be a fun and creative way to create new and totally original intro music for youtube videos and podcasts.

  • We homeschool our daughter. This app would be great as part of her music class. She already writes the lyrics to her songs but she could actually put them to music with this, I think.

  • I would let my cat run over it and create feline music.
    I would of course film this and it would go viral since I have a cute cat…

  • I just paid $22.87 for an iPad2 (64GB) and my girlfriend loves her Panasonic Lumix GF 1 Camera that we got for $38.76 there arriving tomorrow by UPS. I will never pay such expensive retail prices in stores again. Especially when I also sold a 40 inch LED TV to my boss for $674 which only cost me $62.81 to buy. Here is the website we use to get it all from,

  • I would use it for entertaining guests, or heck, maybe even trick a record company in to the thinking I’m a boss with music, before you know it, i’ll be crankin’ out a 6 album record deal with Universal, and doin’ more drugs then Ossy Osborune….. Just kidding I’m only 13…. =(

  • I would use this app to create deep emotional electronic music.

  • I would use it to create a simulation for people of what the world sounds like to people like me with normal hearing in one ear and an acoustic neuroma (tumor) distorting audio in the other ear. Sometimes what I “hear” is actually pretty funny and other times dangerous or annoying. Any kind of deafness tends to be isolating, because you want to avoid having to keep asking people to repeat themselves.

  • I would try to learn how to make music 🙂

  • I would use TableTop to try to create music fore my animations and cartoons.
    I study Animation an interaktiv media and it is always a pain in the ass to find Music fore my projekts

  • I would use it to entertain my sister (and myself) while we go through her chemo treatments. They can take HOURS! Then later, I can share our creations with my nieces… they can add their input. Then after that, we can enlighten (torture) my parents with our final songs.

  • i love music. itd be cool if i could make my own =D

  • Hi! I’m curren

  • I wouldn’t, because I don’t have an iPad, but I would give it to my parents (65+) to see what they can do on the iPad I gave them. Sounds like a lot of fun! 🙂

  • i would use it to make sound tracks for finalcut pro x

  • As a new iPad user I will use it to for my children school projects. They love to use their Apple products and create interactive projects. It may come handy in including music or music fusion…

  • I Would start making music to travel the world with just a single tablet on my hands.

  • I would write and write and write Dub Step/House for people around the world; while still being able to play Metal. which tells everyone that I love music, all kinds.

  • I would give it away to my nephew edeer hes 21. He works
    with a lot of youth in need. he a musician him self “drummer”
    him self n I know him n his kids would have a blast making music
    for there youth christian band. thanks

  • With this app I would be able to put the ideas in my head down immediately, whereas now I just have my recorder app where I can just sing the tune in my head…not very useful if I have multiple tracks running in my head lol. This is my music studio on the go and wherever I am, because my iPad is attached to my body!

  • I would use this app to create songs like rebecca black’s Friday!!!

  • apps like this are why I have an iPad

  • I would mix sound recordings of my year old nephew with some cool effects and gift the final cut to my brother for my nephew’s second birthday.

  • Christopher Rubarth

    I would use it to create hipster pretentious body-gyrating electronic music.

  • I would go to the zoo and play a monk to the elephants

  • I would use it to create original music for my YouTube videos. That way I wouldn’t get flagged for copyright infringement.

  • Dexter Belgrade

    I’d use it to create music to end all music! Tiesto made a return to Ibiza so he’d get inspiration for In search of Sunrise 6, I’d make music on Ibiza’s beach, how’s that for inspiration!

  • Ethan LaFreniere

    I would use it to create mixes that i can use to play at shows!

  • I would use it to brainstorm musical ideas wherever I am 😀

  • I would use it to create music, to get my creative juices flowing

  • Clifford Miller Jr

    I would use it to create music for local plays that cannot afford pay for such things. It would be very much appreciated.

  • I would use it to make my own one man electronic band

  • I would start making music. I have always wanted to make some house, or Drum&Bass.

  • i would use it in my live setup, alongside a loopstation and indigenous instruments from Southamerica.

  • thanks for sharing this…..

  • I learn a lot from your article! Thank you!

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