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Step 10: Tweak Your Power Settings

Out of the Box Laptop Tips


Most notebooks come with a vendor-supplied power management utility, in addition to Windows 7's power menu in the Control Panel. Use either one to create a custom power profile that meets your needs and work habits. It can save you valuable battery life.

Each vendor's power utility has its own set of menus, but to use the Microsoft power utility, launch Power Options from within the control panel, select one of the existing plans, click Change plan settings, and then Change advanced power settings.

In advanced power options, you will want to make a few key decisions, based on how you plan to use your notebook. Here are some of the most important choices you can make.


  • Display brightness: Set your brightness (from 0 to 100 percent) for use on battery and when plugged in. When plugged in, you'll want all 100 percent of your brightness, but a lower percentage is better for endurance when running on battery. The default brightness of 40 percent is a good setting, but you may want to tweak this until you find an even lower level you're can live with.
  • Sleep after: How many minutes of inactivity will it take before your notebook goes to sleep? If you pick too short a time, your system may go to sleep while you're staring at the screen thinking about what to write. Wait too long, and if you walk away, your notebook's battery will drain. We recommend an interval of five to ten minutes.
  • Dim display after and Dimmed Display Brightness: Windows 7 can dim your laptop's display after a few minutes of activity, lowering power usage without going to sleep. You can set the amount of time before the display dims and percentage brightness it dims to. We recommend you disable this feature altogether.
  • Turn display off after: After this period of time, your display will turn off. There's no need for this setting with sleep mode enabled because sleep will turn off your display.
  • System cooling policy: By default, your notebook is set to use passive cooling, instead of its fan, when you're unplugged. However, if your laptop gets hot, change this setting to Active.


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