6 Tips to Get Better Battery Life From Your Mac

Closeup of electronic power button with indicator light

One of the biggest selling points of Apple computers for most people is the look and feel they’re known for. Thin, light, and all-around beautiful, Macs really are the best-looking computers on the market.

All this comes at a price, however, and we’re not talking about dollars. Instead, that price is usually battery life. Macs are pretty great at saving as much battery power as possible with features like App Nap and new processors. But this still might not be enough to get the time away from an outlet that you need.

Check out the six tips below to get the most out of your Mac’s battery.

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1. Upgrade to the Newest OS X Version

The first step in getting better battery life from your Mac is to make sure you have the most recent OS X updates installed. Simply updating to OS X 10.9 Mavericks can give you a big boost in battery life, as there are quite a few under-the-hood changes in Mavericks that make your battery last longer without affecting performance.

2. Lower the Screen Brightness

One of the biggest draws on power comes from your screen. The backlight used to brighten the display takes a lot of juice, so the dimmer it is, the longer battery life you’ll get. You can do this easily by hitting the screen brightness buttons on your keyboard. Depending on the version MacBook you have, they will vary in placement, but they always have a sort of sun icon with larger or smaller dashes around it for brighter and dimmer, respectively.

You can also lower or disable the backlight on your keyboard if your Mac has that feature. These icon looks like a rising sun with larger and smaller dashes.

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3. Turn Off Power Nap

Power Nap is a feature on newer Macs that allows your computer to perform system functions when your Mac is sleeping. This is great when you’re plugged in, but not so great when you’re running on battery power.

Click on System Preferences > Energy Saver > Battery and make sure Enable Power Nap while on battery power is NOT checked.
Energy Saver window in Mac OS X

4. Disconnect Peripherals

Something that many people forget about is all the stuff plugged into your Mac. From keyboards to mice to your iPhone and iPad, all those devices draw power from your Mac and lower the battery life. The same goes for external drives, especially traditional HDDs.

Unplug as many peripherals as possible and you should notice an uptick in available battery life.

5. Minimize Active Applications

One of the great power-saving features in OS X Mavericks is App Nap. This feature pauses apps that are minimized or in the background so they don’t suck up as much power and memory resources. By minimizing apps that are open but not in use, you make sure App Nap does its job and saves you as much power as possible.

Many people think that simply closing apps completely as you finish with them and reopening them as needed is the best way to save power. But this will actually use more power in the long run, as it takes far more energy to reopen an app than to reactivate it. Minimize it and you’ll be fine.

6. Clean Up the Login Items List

When your Mac starts up, a list of programs loads with it. These range from important apps like Dropbox or Google Drive to less useful ones like toolbar apps. You can limit your startup applications to save on the energy required to get your Mac up and running.

Users & Groups window in Mac OS X

To do this, open System Preferences > Users & Groups and click on your username in the list to the left. With your username selected, click the Login Items tab and click on any item in the list you want removed. Ignore the checkboxes and instead click the minus ( – ) button at the bottom of the list to remove it.

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