What to do if your Mac shows the wrong battery level

By , Sep 6, 2016

Macbook Pro Battery Level

All Macs with internal batteries have an indicator that appears in the Menu Bar. In rare circumstances, the indicator may not display the correct battery level.

In this piece, we’ll be talking about the various troubleshooting steps you should try to remedy this problem.

Why is my battery level wrong?

A battery that’s showing the wrong percentage level in your Menu Bar is reporting a higher or lower percentage than it’s actually exhibiting. When it does this, you may get low power alerts sooner than you would expect to and you may be tethering your computer to an AC adapter more than you have to.

Pay attention to these signs, as your battery percentage could be out of whack. To effectively fix what’s going on, you first need to know what could be causing the problem.

These kinds of things don’t seem to happen too often, and because of this, it can be tricky to diagnose. On the other hand, 9 times out of 10 the issue with your Mac not registering the proper battery level is going to be a software glitch and not a hardware problem.

Fixing the problem

No matter what the cause may be, there’s always a fix for an incorrect battery level in your Mac’s Menu Bar. Below are some things you can try to get it working again:

Restart your machine: Believe it or not, sometimes just a restart of your Mac can solve this problem. A glitch in the software of your memory may be allowing an old reading to continue displaying in your Menu Bar. Your Mac calls for the variable that stores your battery level and then shows it there, and if the variable isn’t updating properly, the wrong figure will be displayed.

Reset your Mac’s SMC: If a restart didn’t work, the problem could be with your Mac’s system management controller (SMC). This is a special piece of hardware that controls various aspects of your Mac, including power to the system. Sometimes, it can become corrupted and stop working right. You can try resetting your Mac’s SMC to factory settings and this can often fix the problem.

Cycle the battery: It could be that your battery is sustaining too much damage from how you’re using it. Try putting the battery through a full power cycle by letting it drain completely, and then charge it back up to 100% before using it again. Doing so should make your battery happier and reset the systems that report its health to your operating system and force it to show a more accurate reading.

Check your battery health: It can also help to know if your battery is healthy or not. To check this, hold down the Option key and click on your battery indicator in the Menu Bar. This should display a battery health indicator. If it says Normal, then this is a good thing, as your battery is working as expected. If it says Replace Soon, Replace Now, or Service Battery, then you might have a battery replacement in your near future.

Re-seat the battery: If you’re comfortable opening your Mac up, try disconnecting the battery. While it’s disconnected, press and hold the power button for 30 seconds, and then plug the battery back in and button your Mac back up and try again. Doing so could jog your Mac into getting a more accurate reading of your battery’s percentage level.

Contact Apple: If nothing seems to be working, and you have a fully-charged battery that you can’t seem to make last or a dead battery that always registers with a higher percentage than it really has, then the problem could be hardware-related. Often times, Apple will just replace the battery, or in some cases, the whole computer. In some cases, based on your warranty coverage, the fix could be free.

Having issues with your Mac displaying the correct battery percentage is never a fun ordeal. Nevertheless, after working through the checklist above, you should have been able to remedy the problem.

Has your Mac ever exhibited an incorrect battery level before? If so, let us know in the comments what you did to fix it.

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