If you run into abnormal battery drain after moving from macOS Catalina (or an older version of macOS) to macOS Big Sur, there are some steps you should take before getting in contact with Apple customer service.
Mac users are reporting a number of macOS Big Sur-related issues. The list includes some of the usual suspects including bad battery life.
While some of these battery issues might be hardware-related, others are related to Apple’s new macOS Big Sur software. In a lot of cases, an app is causing the issues.
If you start seeing terrible battery drain after installing the new operating system, your first thought might be to downgrade back to older macOS software.
Downgrading is definitely an option, but before you do that, you’ll want to try and fix your issues. Fixing battery life problems can be tricky, but we’ve got some solutions that have worked for us, and other Mac users, in the past.
This guide will take you through fixes for bad macOS Big Sur battery life and there’s a chance they’ll help you get your issues resolved in minutes.
Reboot Your Mac
If your Mac’s battery starts draining rapidly for no apparent reason, the first thing you’ll want to do is reboot your computer.
Rebooting can end rogue processes and it can help you get better battery life/overall performance.
Update Your Mac
Apple will periodically release new macOS software. Point updates (x.x.x) are typically focused on fixing bugs while milestone upgrades (x.x) usually deliver a mix of features and fixes.
The company might not call out battery life fixes in a macOS update’s change log, but new software always has the potential to help.
For more on the latest version of macOS Big Sur, take a look at our guide.
Update Your Apps
Many apps are getting support updates for macOS Big Sur and a new version could help alleviate the battery life issues you’re currently seeing.
Check for updates in the Mac App Store. If you’re feeling leery, you’ll want to dig into reviews from Mac users that are currently running macOS Big Sur.
You’ll also want to click on the battery icon in the upper right corner of your Mac. If you see an app “Using Significant Energy” you’ll want to check with that developer to see if there’s update, an update planned, or a known issue with macOS Big Sur.
Use Battery Usage History
The macOS Big Sur update gets rid of the “Energy Saver” section of your computer’s System Preferences. In its place is a new “Battery” section with better reporting capabilities.
Here you’ll notice a new Usage History feature. Usage History gives you details about your Mac’s battery life over the last 24 hours or the last 10 days.
It’s broken into Battery Level and Screen On Usage so you’re able to see how your battery is performing. If the readouts are way off, you might need to get into contact with Apple customer service.
You’ll also notice new Battery and Power Adapter sections. Here you can select when to turn your Mac’s display off, turn power nap on or off, and more.
You’ll also notice a battery icon in the menu. If you click it, you’ll get an estimate on your Mac’s remaining battery life.
Reset PRAM and NVRAM
This next step is a little more involved, but it can fix annoying battery life issues.
Try resetting the PRAM and NVRAM on your MacBook. This resets some settings, but does not delete your Mac’s data. You will need to set up speaker, screen resolution and some other settings after you do this, but there’s a chance it fixes your battery life issues.
Here’s how to do this:
- Shut down your Mac.
- Turn on your MacBook.
- 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.
If you have the 2016 MacBook Pro or newer you need to hold these keys as soon as you turn your MacBook Pro on and hold them for 20 seconds.
Note that the steps might be different on Apple’s new 2020 MacBooks.
You can also try resetting the SMC on your Mac. It only takes a minute and you might help you avoid a trip to the Apple Store.
The process varies across Apple’s MacBook models, but for most you can use these directions:
- Choose Apple menu > Shut Down.
- After your Mac shuts down, press Shift-Control-Option on the left side of the built-in keyboard, then press the power button at the same time.
- Hold these keys and the power button for 10 seconds. If you have a MacBook Pro with Touch ID, the Touch ID button is also the power button.
- Release all keys.
- Press the power button again to turn on your Mac.
Install macOS Big Sur 11.2.2 for Better Security
If security is important to you, you should think about installing the macOS Big Sur 11.2.2 update.
macOS Big Sur 11.2.2 doesn't have any known security updates on board. However, if you skipped earlier versions of macOS, you'll get the security patches from updates you skipped with your upgrade.
The previous version of macOS Big Sur, macOS Big Sur 11.2.1, had three security patches on board. You can read about them over on its security website.
If you skipped macOS Big Sur 11.2, you'll get its patches with your upgrade to macOS Big Sur 11.2.2.
macOS Big Sur 11.2 included 50+ security patches. You can learn more about these patches over on the company's website. These patches will help protect your computer from harm.
If you skipped macOS Big Sur 11.1, you'll get its 51 security patches with your upgrade to macOS Big Sur 11.2.2. You can read about them right here.
macOS Big Sur 11.1 also included a new privacy information section on App Store pages that includes a developer-reported summary of the app’s privacy practices.
If you're moving up from macOS Catalina, you'll also get macOS Big Sur 11.0.1's 50+ security patches. If you're interested these improvements, you can read about them over on Apple's website.
In addition to those patches, macOS Big Sur comes with additional security and privacy upgrades including improvements to the App Store and Safari.
In Safari, you can now tap the Privacy Report button to better understand how websites handle your privacy.
With macOS Big Sur on board you can now get information on the App Store that will help you understand the privacy practices of apps before you download them.
Researchers also discovered that Apple brought a new "BlastDoor" sandbox security system to macOS Big Sur, iOS 14, and iPadOS 14. The system is meant to prevent attacks from occurring via the Messages app.
You can read more about "BlastDoor" right here.
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