How to Get Better MacBook Battery Life

Back in October, Apple launched refreshed MacBook Pros that boast nine hours of battery life thanks to the inclusion of the latest Intel Haswell chips, compared to 7 hours of the previous generation. MacBook Airs get even better battery life thanks to the slight-slower internals that require less power.

However, while nine hours for the MacBook Pro is more than impressive, there are times where we need to squeeze out just a bit more juice out of the battery, especially during situations where we’re not near an outlet. However, there are things that you can do and settings you can change in order to squeeze another hour or two of battery life out of your MacBook.

How to Get Better MacBook Battery Life

Dim the Screen and LED Keyboard

Probably the easiest trick you can do in order to get more battery life is to dim your MacBook’s display and its LED backlit keyboard. What’s perhaps better is that the keyboard has dedicated keys for adjusting the screen brightness and the LED backlight brightness of the keyboard itself, so there’s no excuse to not dim your display.

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You can easily add an hour or two of battery life to  your MacBook by dimming the display and not having it on full blast. As for the backlit keyboard, the LEDs don’t eat up a lot of battery life, but even a small change can make a difference, which usually why the lowest brightness setting on the backlit keyboard is usually enough to see just fine while typing in the dark.

Use Safari

Your browser of choice is most likely a third-party option, like Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox, but compared to Apple’s on-board Safari web browser, these two options are resource hoggers. Just like on iOS devices, you can cut down on power use and increase battery life by switching to Safari, however temporary, in order to squeeze out a bit more battery life before your MacBook gives way.

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This test from a few months back shows that memory usage of Safari is better than other third-party browsers, thus it saves on system resources, which saves battery life in the long run. Of course the difference might not be astronomical, but it could be the difference between your MacBook dying now or dying 30 minutes from now, giving you extra time for last-minute work.

Stay Away from Flash Content

One of the worst resource hogs for a MacBook (or any computer for that matter) is Flash content. Most videos that you streaming on video sharing sites are played using a Flash player, which is a huge battery drainer.

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Stay away from video streaming websites temporarily if you need to get as much juice out of your battery as possible. If you absolutely need to watch those cat videos on YouTube, at least use the HTML5 player, which still in beta, but you can easily enable it here for videos that support it.

Adjust Energy Saver Settings

If you open up System Preferences and click on Energy Saver, you’ll get a few options that you can adjust to help increase battery life. For instance, you can have the display turn off after a certain amount of time of inactivity. I have it set at 10 minutes, but you can set it for shorter if you want to stretch the battery a bit.

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There are also settings for turning off the hard disks when they’re not being accessed, as well as automatically dimming the display when you’re on battery power. You can also enable a new feature called Power Nap, which allows your MacBook to still check for updates from various online services, even when the MacBook is in sleep mode. Disabling this feature can increase battery life.

Use Activity Monitor to Discover Resource-Hogging Apps

There will come times when an app will mysteriously consume a ton of resources, whether it’s because of a bug in the app, or if it’s just being used without the user noticing. An app like this can seriously have a huge effect on battery life, not to mention overall performance of your MacBook at that given time.

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However, you can keep things under control and spot these resource-hogging apps by using Activity Monitor, which is a built-in feature of MacBooks. Simply navigate to Applications > Utilities > Activity Monitor to open it up. Once it’s open, select the CPU tab.

Sort the apps by CPU percentage with the highest percentages first if it’s not already. This will tell you which app are being resource hogs. Usually anything in the 60-70% range and higher is pretty resource-heavy. Click on the app and hit Quit Process button on the upper-right corner of the app (it looks like a stop sign with an X in the center) or just quite the app as normal, by right-clicking on it in the dock and selecting Quit.

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