Bad MacBook Pro battery life is a problem with the 2016 MacBook Pro 13-inch and 15-inch models and with older MacBook Pro models as well. This is how to diagnose MacBook Pro battery problems and how to fix them on your own when possible.
Apple promises long battery life of 10 hours on the new MacBook Pro and similar battery life times on the older models. There are currently some issues with estimating the battery life remaining for the MacBook Pro with Touch Bar that will likely be fixed in a new macOS Sierra 10.12.2. This fix will only help you see a better representation of battery life, but we are holding out hope that it will also specifically fix bad MacBook Pro battery life on the 2016 MacBook Pro models.
This will show you how to check your MacBook Pro battery life capacity and health to see if you have a battery problem or if you need to change your habits to get better battery life.
How to Check Your MacBook Pro Battery Life
When you hover your pointer over the battery on the MacBook Pro status bar you will see some information about your MacBook Pro battery, including the estimated time remaining. This isn’t all you need to look at when checking your MacBook Pro battery life.
Hold the Alt/Option key and then click on the battery icon in the upper right corner will show more information. You can see the battery condition. If it is normal than there isn’t a problem with your battery itself, but if you see Replace Soon, Replace Now or Service Battery then you need to see Apple or a third party repair service for most models.
If you see an issue with that report, you may want to use CoconutBattery to look at more detailed information about how much of your actual battery is available to use at each charge. Over time the capacity will drop, meaning a 100% charge will last longer.
Reset PRAM and NVRAM
Although not a guaranteed fix you can try resetting the PRAM and NVRAM settings on your MacBook Pro to essentially tell the system to start over with many options and settings, any one of which could be the cause of bad MacBook Pro battery life. This will not delete your data, but you may need to set up speaker volume, screen resolution and some other settings.
- Shut down your Mac
- Turn on your MacBook Pro
- Press and hold the Command, Option, P, R keys at the same time right after the startup sound.
- Hold until the computer reboots and you hear the startup sound again.
On the 2016 MacBook Pro you need to hold the keys right after you turn your 2016 MacBook Pro on and keep holding them for at least 20 seconds.
After performing this step our 15-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar lists the estimated battery life at over 10 hours, which is the highest we’ve seen. We will continue to test to see if it actually fixes the bad MacBook Pro battery life or only the estimate.
Lower MacBook Pro Screen Brightness
The best thing to do when you need to get better MacBook Pro battery life is to lower the screen brightness. Simply turning the screen dimmer will make it easier to get good MacBook Pro battery life after you’ve taken the steps above.
You can use the Touch Bar to lower the screen brightness or the on keyboard buttons to change the screen brightness. Experiment to find the best mix of usability and power efficiency for your eyes and your work environment.
Check for Apps Using More Power
You can now see what apps are using the most power by clicking on the battery icon in the upper right corner of your MacBook Pro. This will show you apps that use more power so that you can turn them off if you need more battery life or look for an updated, more battery friendly version.
Some apps that need more performance and require the dedicated graphics card on the 15-inch MacBook Pro will simply use your battery life faster and there is nothing you can do except close them when you are done. For others like Chrome, it’s a smart idea to switch to Safari while you are on battery power.
Disable Un-Needed Items
When you need better MacBook Pro battery life you should consider disabling services and unplugging accessories.
WiFi and Bluetooth use power that you can save when you don’t need them. Obviously there are many times when you cannot do without an Internet connection, but if longer battery life is more important you can turn them off at the menu bar or in preferences.
Unplug flash drives, SD cards and other connected accessories that may be drawing power from your MacBook Pro to extend battery life.
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Woolnut makes this for the 15-inch and 13-inch MacBook Pro models as well as a variety of other MacBooks. You can also get a matching iPhone case. This is a pricey sleeve, but it is worth it.
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