How to Fix Bad OS X El Capitan Battery Life

OS X El Capitan recently released, but battery life seems to be a concern for many users. Here’s how fix bad OS X El Capitan battery life so that you can squeeze out a bit more usage from your MacBook before needing to recharge.

OS X El Capitan comes with the same overall design and look as OS X Yosemite, except for some minor changes that you may or may not notice, like a new font and a new spinning beach ball, but otherwise most of the user interface is the same.

However, there are a handful of new features included with the new version of OS X, including improvements to Spotlight Search, a new Split View multitasking mode, transit directions in Apple Maps, and even a revamped Notes app that almost puts it on par with Evernote.

Unfortunately, not every user is having a great time with the new OS X version, as some users are reporting worse battery life this time around, with a couple of users reporting that they’re losing hours of battery life with OS X El Capitan.

To say the least, some users have been getting horrible battery life with OS X El Capitan, but before you downgrade to OS X Yosemite, here are some things you can try in order to fix bad OS X El Capitan battery life.

Use Safari Instead of Chrome

It’s possible that you use Chrome on your MacBook, but you’ll actually get better battery life by using Safari, which is Apple’s built-in web browser in OS X.

safari

While it’s almost a couple of years old, this test revealed that Safari is the best browser to use in OS X over Chrome, Firefox, and Opera.

It shows that memory usage of Safari is better than other third-party browsers, so it saves on system resources, which in turn saves battery life in the long run. The difference may not be anything insane, but it could have the potential of giving you a little extra juice toward the end when your MacBook would’ve otherwise died already from a dead battery.

Dim the Screen Brightness

The easiest thing you could possibly do in order to save battery life on your MacBook running OS X El Capitan is to dim the brightness of the screen whenever you can.

MacBook-Pro-620x452

You can even disable automatic screen brightness in the settings and leave it all manual so that the screen doesn’t raise the brightness automatically when you don’t want it to. To do this, go into System Preference and click Displays. From there, uncheck Automatically adjust brightness.

You can easily add at least an hour to your battery life by dimming down the display to a level that you’re still comfortable with, instead of your MacBook adjusting the brightness for you. The screen is one of the biggest battery hogs on your MacBook.

Discover Resource-Hogging Apps

While Apple optimizes its own built-in apps on OS X, many third-party apps aren’t so efficient, and if you use a lot of third-party apps, it’s possible that they might be consuming a ton of resources and running down your battery more quickly.

os-x-activity-monitor

The easiest way to see which apps are using up the most battery life on your MacBook is to click on the battery icon in the menu bar in the upper-right corner of the screen. This will display a pop-up that will show you a section called Apps Using Significant Energy. Under that will be the apps that OS X says are using up a lot of energy.

You can also use Activity Monitor, which is a utility built into OS X that can show you what apps and services are using up the most CPU power. Simply go to Applications > Utilities > Activity Monitor to open it up. Once there, select the CPU tab.

Sort the list of apps by CPU percentage with the highest percentages first. This will tell you which apps and services are using up the most resources.

If it’s anything in the 60-70% range and higher, then it’s a pretty significant resource hog. Click on the app and click the Quit Process button in the upper-right corner of the window. You can also just quit the app like normal, by right-clicking on it in the dock and hitting Quit.

Customize Energy Saver Settings

If you want more control over how your MacBook acts when it’s on battery power, there’s a settings pane in System Preferences that allows you to do just that.

os-x-energy-saver

Open up System Preferences and click on Energy Saver. It features settings that you would expect from a name like that.

You can determine when the screen should shut off after a certain amount of time that the MacBook isn’t being used, and you can also have your MacBook shut off your hard disks when they’re not in use.

You can also automatically dim the display when you go to battery power, which can save some battery life, but if you prefer full manual control over brightness, then you may want to uncheck this setting.

In the end, it could just be that El Capitan isn’t taking too kindly to your MacBook, and it’s most likely a bug that Apple will patch up soon enough in a future OS X update. For now, though, try these little tricks in order to get a bit more out of your battery.

29 Comments

  1. c

    10/17/2015 at 6:09 pm

    This is dumb. These are obvious fixes. Tell us something new.

    Reply

  2. grigoris

    10/19/2015 at 4:48 am

    it destroyed my battery.
    The fan is always up cause my laptop is now always burns. Wtf

    Reply

  3. Maconote

    10/20/2015 at 8:25 am

    what a dumb article. Dim the screen? Seriously?

    Reply

  4. Gary Lubrani

    10/22/2015 at 2:01 pm

    battery level now drops to 87% (used to recharge at 94%); charger light stays green. Have to disconnect charger, restart then connect charger then light turns amber and charge level in toolbar drops to 85% then it recharges just fine. I have an early 2008 Macbook Pro 17

    Reply

    • Maw

      01/11/2016 at 7:14 pm

      Please clean ur charger connector and the charger port on your macbook had the same problems :)

      Reply

  5. yanez1971

    10/26/2015 at 8:44 am

    I subscribe and quote: “what a dumb article. Dim the screen? Seriously?”

    Reply

  6. Joe French

    10/28/2015 at 3:53 pm

    I’ll just turn off my Macbook too, that will probably help save battery power right? -_-

    Reply

    • John S

      10/29/2015 at 1:00 pm

      Joe, I agree maybe its best to just turn it off. These articles are a waste of our time. Obviously something wrong when I get almost two hours less then with previous OS. Not to mention if your using Chrome why should you get even less life with a upgrade? I know Chrome eats more then Safari but all things equal it should not get worse. That’s like telling someone who get’s bad gas mileage to haul less people then before. Or drive half the speed. Ridiculous! What is needed is solutions or ideals on why its happening in the first place. If you don’t know? Don’t write simple Simon solutions that are just cheats for a obvious problem.

      Reply

      • Jorge Obando Lopez

        07/17/2016 at 5:25 pm

        ‘Use Safari instead of Chrome’ –> This isn’t useful anymore: I have an MBP Retina 13″/2016 and let me tell you something: Activity monitor reports Safari Enery Impact of 100+; I even ran a clean install of MacOS El Capitan, so no Flash Player or other plug-ins installed, and Safari’s energy impact keeps on 100+.
        Decided to give Google Chrome a try: Chrome’s energy impact, as reported by Activity Monitor, is very variable, from 5 to 100, while Safari is steady in the 100s.
        Have searched Google and no page mentions this Safari issue, I don’t know if is an issue from El Capitan, or a technical issue from my laptop, but you’re right ‘dim the display brightness’ is like suggest Aspirin to treat a brain tumor.

        Reply

  7. John S

    10/29/2015 at 12:54 pm

    So I should dim the screen more to get same battery life as I did with Yosemite? What benefit is that? Another Apple fan trying to make the best of an upgrade to the OS I guess? I don’t use Chrome, I don’t have apps running and I got 9 hours on my Macbook Air 2014 with Yosemite and even more with Mavericks. Now I get maybe 7 1/2 hours with El Capitan? Gee if I keep upgrading I might as well buy a PC notebook. The whole reason I bought a freakin Macbook Air is for the battery life. Maybe I’ll just go back to Mavericks, I don’t see anything of interests with El Capitan anyway.

    Reply

  8. crap article

    10/29/2015 at 3:53 pm

    This article was crap. That fixed nothing!

    Reply

  9. bob97

    11/03/2015 at 4:41 pm

    I can’t believe you wrote this pile of crap!

    Reply

  10. ma

    11/05/2015 at 11:24 pm

    blame google for rating this pos article as first result page worthy

    Reply

  11. fedey

    11/16/2015 at 1:07 am

    The ultimate method of fixing your battery life:
    – turn off your mac and don’t use it at all
    – buy hundreds miles of extension cord and keep your mac always plugged in

    Reply

  12. Wel wheeler

    11/22/2015 at 2:27 pm

    Worst I came time online ajajai

    Reply

  13. Project404

    11/30/2015 at 4:02 am

    This article is clearly written to attract search engine traffic. It is literally full of keywords and is of no use at all to anyone. Thanks for wasting 5 minutes of my life.

    Reply

  14. capt cook

    12/06/2015 at 6:54 pm

    what a waste of time

    Reply

  15. Amy

    12/08/2015 at 5:06 am

    Damn El Capitan, I have no battery charge, I lost all my applications, it took me two days to install the upgrade….just for a little communication problem between my mac air and iphone. A “genius” at apple store suggested to upgrade to “El Pirate”. Now my time, my battery charge and my apps are wasted.

    Reply

  16. CrazyPoorAppleExperience

    01/09/2016 at 8:32 am

    Total BS. After “upgrading” to El Capitan my battery life became negative. I’m bricked now! in 2016! What the hell is Apple doing? The SMC appears to be mis-programmed in El-Cap. Charging is slowed down to a crawl! and can not even maintain internet surfing while plugged in with Apple’s new 12″ Macbook. Wow, I bought this and had problems with legacy wifi right of the bat. Now it won’t even charge its battery. Gee, I guess battery life and wifi are unimportant and Apple can f them up for their customers. Shades of the first post Jobs laptop I that chased me away from Apple!!!

    Reply

  17. Richard Gobel

    01/24/2016 at 12:56 pm

    After updating my new MacBook Air to OS X Captain 10.11.3 my battery icon has a cross through it and I can only start it connected to the power. The moment I turn the power off it powers off. This is really a disgrace and I am now sorry I switched over from Windows.

    Reply

  18. Jude

    02/07/2016 at 3:33 pm

    I agree with those who have said this article is a piece of &^#$!!!!

    My battery life went from 9 hours to 4.5 hours with just an upgrade. And, my mail keeps crashing every time I compose something. I thought it was only with photos, but nope. I write someone a single line of text and it crashes so I write the line again, it crashes, I write the line again…

    Driving me nuts. I have a business to run!

    Reply

  19. Jorge

    03/16/2016 at 4:27 pm

    Unfortunately I also ended up upgrading to El Capitan (after postponing it for a few months)… Although I can’t say I noticed any improvements, I CAN say that I did NOTICED a few…. HEADACHES, such as: Battery went straight to hell (it went from holding its charge for 3 hours straight to “NOT CHARGING – REPLACE NOW!”) . 3 hours may not seem much, but I get a lot of work done in 3 hours (and it would take about 45 minutes to recharge it), but now… like some of the above post read… ” the solution seems to buy miles of extension cord, or not to use the mac at all”… I can’t help thinking: It getting close to where Windows was a few years ago! We should move forward, but like Marty Mcfly we’re going backwards in time…. And the in-your-face-obvious-solution present in this article could’ve been written by grandma… Sad, very, very sad

    Reply

  20. Price Kagey

    03/28/2016 at 2:54 pm

    I am not a computer expert, but find these suggestions on getting good battery life somewhat trivial. My battery life has dropped noticeably since switching to El Capitan – there must be a reason or reasons. Apple should not start using the Windows approach to user’s queries.

    Reply

  21. Wangui Mwangi

    04/04/2016 at 1:36 am

    My battery life has really dropped drastically. From running Mavericks to El capitan. I noticed this within minutes of the switch. Its really bad. Previously I never had the need to carry my charger but now I keep charging the laptop. This article is not helpful at all.

    Reply

  22. rami

    04/08/2016 at 3:56 am

    the article was nice!! i didn’t knew it many things from here!! im a music producer and i was ready to send to repair my macbook but here i learn that just to have my ableton in the background without to use consume almost double battery !! THANK U MAN!! thanks u i fix my problem!

    Reply

  23. Johann

    06/12/2016 at 2:19 pm

    Wow! I had to sign up to say- that’s the biggest load of bollocks I’ve seen written in a long time. Some of us are actually still using Macs in an attempt to earn a living, and not just as status symbols or toys. When tools get broken as the result of ineptitude, articles like this really rub me the wrong way!

    Reply

  24. Paul Smythe

    07/01/2016 at 8:35 am

    Identifying CPU hogging apps is a smart tip, although merely quitting them may not be, especially as they could be key processes.

    Turning down brightness is smart– and a good suggestion in general or until the next version of El Capitan comes out. The same thing applies to changing energy settings,

    Note: some of the battery drain may be caused by reindexing of the drive after the new installation — so, that will go away. Also, some apps may not be working as well with EC, so don’t blame the OS, but do check for app upgrades.

    Also, different users’ experiences vary and there are also some, if not many, unaffected by early releases.

    To those who simply dismiss the article with 4 letter words — grow up and get a vocabulary! Also, be patient.

    Note: I had the same loss of battery life experience with Mavericks, so I feel your pain.

    Reply

  25. Kenny

    09/19/2016 at 1:31 pm

    Wait, I have a permanent fix! Use your laptop less. If you find yourself surfing or working more than 3-4 hours, simply cut down to 30-45 minutes each day. Worked for me. Now I’m playing with myself w/o my Macbook. Genius fix!

    Reply

  26. FireTimCook

    01/19/2017 at 12:03 am

    This article is absolutely worthless! It’s like telling my grandma to go fly a jet.
    My battery was working great, charging with no problems, and lasting for normal amount of hours. Then I said yes to the OS update (already running El Capitan) it just said update for improvements. Boy, what an improvement. As soon as it restarted after the update, the battery shows completely dead, and it was plugged in all the time! Now it says I have to replace the battery? Why? It was perfectly fine “before” this new Apple update………….The problem is OBVIOUSLY the Apple update………..Apple Idiots hosed me again.

    Reply

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