Apple’s portable Mac notebooks like the MacBook, MacBook Air, and MacBook Pro are all powered by Lithium-Ion batteries, and these batteries don’t last forever. They go through cycles as they’re charged up and used over and over. After a number of cycles, batteries tend to lose their effectiveness at storing power, and will eventually need to be replaced.
If you have ever wondered just how close you are to needing a battery replacement in your Mac, then you’ll be happy to know that OS X is actively monitoring your Mac’s battery and can tell you with a quick keyboard shortcut, which we’ll be discussing in this short information piece.
Why you should check the battery condition of your Mac
Heavy battery use will wear down the battery’s lifespan, and it’s important for you to know the health of your battery so you’ll always have power when you need it while you’re on the go. The last thing you want is to end up with a dead battery at the last minute when you’ve decided to take your MacBook with you on the go.
If you suspect that your battery is misbehaving, either because it doesn’t seem to last as long as it should anymore, or because you often get the annoying ‘not charging’ indicator when you plug your MacBook in to a power source, it may be time to check your battery condition.
How to check the battery condition of your Mac
OS X includes a feature in the Mac’s Menu Bar that will allow you to see the battery condition of your Mac. By simply pressing the Option (alt) key on your Mac’s keyboard while you click on the battery icon on your Menu bar, you’ll open a more detailed battery menu with additional information on your battery, including your current battery health:
As you can see, our Mac is reporting “Condition: Normal,” which is what you want to see. This means the battery is in good health and isn’t suffering from any abnormalities. It also means that either the battery is still relatively new, or that you take insanely good care of it if the computer is older.
As you check your Mac’s battery status, you may see any of the following conditions, as Apple notes in an online support document:
- Normal: This means your battery is either new, or well taken care of. Your battery is acting just how it should and you have nothing to worry about.
- Replace soon: This means your battery is older and may be showing minor signs of wear and tear, such as holding slightly less of a charge than it did when it was new. This is an alert to tell you that your battery is still working alright, but you should prepare to replace the battery in the future.
- Replace now: This means your battery is old and wearing out and may be showing moderate signs of wear and tear. It also suggests that your battery holds significantly less of a charge than it did when it was new. You should replace the battery as soon as you can to continue to enjoy the portability your Mac notebook.
- Service battery: This means your battery is skating on thin ice. It may not hold a charge, may be damaged, or may be overheating. You will want to replace this battery immediately to prevent harm to the rest of your computer’s hardware. Although built-in fail-safes prevent damage to your computer, there’s nothing worse than a swelling or exploding battery.
What about battery charge cycles?
The amount of times that you drain and charge a battery to full capacity are referred to as charge cycles. Your Mac keeps track of how many times you do this, and every Mac model has a different charge cycle limit that it will reach before Apple estimates the battery has reached its final moments.
Many modern MacBook, MacBook Air and MacBook Pro batteries can handle 1,000 charge cycles, but depending on the year, they can have as low as 300 charge cycles before they might have to be replaced. You can follow our guide on how to find out how many charge cycles you’ve put on your battery, and this might help you get an understanding of how close your Mac’s battery is to going kaput.
Now that you’re armed with additional information on keeping track of your Mac’s battery health, you can better manage the life expectancy of it.
Battery replacements are typically free while the computer is under warranty, but after the warranty expires, battery replacements can get quite pricey unless you do them yourself. Since Apple has moved away from self-serviceable batteries, and more towards gluing them to the aluminum computer case, self-servicing batteries has become significantly more difficult and less people are inclined to tackle it themselves.
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What is the status of your Mac’s battery? Share in the comments below!