How To Make Your Macbook Last Longer on a Charge

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In our tests, MacBooks have shown strong battery life time and time again. But having bright, Retina screens and being connected to the web all day will take their toll. If your battery indicator is running low, here are a few tips to help you squeeze every last drop of juice out of your Mac.

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This is how to extend your MacBook's battery life:

Turn Down the Screen Brightness

The lights behind that Retina display are the biggest strain on your MacBook's battery, bar none. If you keep your display at 100 percent, you may be shaving hours off of your laptop's endurance. When we tested the Dell XPS 13, the screen brightness could add or subtract up to 3 hours of battery life, and that's the case for most laptops.

You can turn down your MacBook's screen brightness with the F1 and F2 keys, a common command across Apple's laptops. If you'll be away from an outlet for a long time, make the screen as dim as you can tolerate.

Turn Off the Keyboard Backlight

Here's where more light takes a toll on your battery. The keyboard backlight looks pretty, but if you're a touch typist, you won't need those lights even in a dark room. Use the F5 key on your MacBook to bring down the brightness. You can always use the F6 key to turn the lights on again when you're plugged in.

Check Your Login Items

Your login items are apps that open as soon as you turn on the computer. They run in the background whether or not you opened them. You'll undoubtedly want to keep some of these, but others may be taking up valuable system resources and battery life, especially if they connect to the internet.

To delete login items:
- Go to System Preferences > Users & Groups > Login Items
- Select each app to remove and click the minus "-" button.

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Restore Energy Saver Defaults

Your Mac's default settings will turn a display off when it has not been used for 2 minutes, automatically dim the display while the laptop is on battery power and, when possible, put hard drives to sleep.

You can go to System Preferences > Energy Saver and click on Restore Defaults to make sure you are using these settings. You can also further customize them to your liking, and schedule when your Mac will sleep and wake.

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Change Wi-Fi Networks

We run the Laptop Mag Battery Test on an 802.11ac Wi-Fi network. Connecting to a 5-GHz connection rather than an older 2.4-GHz connection can save your battery life, as 802.11ac networks use less power. It's a quick way to increase both your internet speeds and your battery life. Check out our top picks for the best 802.11ac routers.

Switch to an SSD (If You Don't Have One)

Newer Macs come with SSDs, but some non-Retina or Air versions may still have HDDs inside. It's a switch you can make with just some screwdrivers and some patience, and an SSD provides several benefits. Besides taking less power, which will improve battery life, SSDs are more stable, because they lack moving parts, and provide faster data transfers.

Turn Off Bluetooth and Wi-Fi

If you're working locally, turning off the wireless radios may help save some precious battery life. Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are located in two different areas. Here's how to disable them:

- Go to System Preferences > Bluetooth
- Click the Turn Bluetooth Off button

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- Click on the Wi-Fi symbol on the top bar
- Click the Turn Wi-Fi Off option

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Laptop Guide

Author Bio
Andrew E. Freedman
Andrew E. Freedman,
Andrew joined in 2015, reviewing computers and keeping up with the latest news. He holds a M.S. in Journalism (Digital Media) from Columbia University. A lover of all things gaming and tech, his previous work has shown up in Kotaku, PCMag and Complex, among others. Follow him on Twitter @FreedmanAE.
Andrew E. Freedman, on
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1 comment
  • Robert Says:


    As an FYI, SSDs don't necessarily use less electricity than a standard platter drive. It is 100% dependent on the make and model.


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