How to use Low Power Mode and boost the battery life of your MacBook

Read this tutorial to learn how and when to turn on and use Low Power Mode on macOS to boost battery life and make your MacBook Air or MacBook Pro run cooler and quieter.

Low Power Mode in System Settings on MacBook Pro

What is Low Power Mode?

Low Power Mode is a battery-saving feature for MacBook computers that helps increase battery life by reducing energy usage. With Low Power Mode turned on, macOS adjusts the following system features:

  • Decreases CPU clock frequency
  • Reduces display brightness

By under-clocking the CPU and dimming the display slightly, Low Power Mode helps extend your Mac’s battery life whilst making the computer run cooler and more quietly than before. We’re not exaggerating if we call Mac’s Low Power Mode a macOS-optimized version of the same feature that’s available on the iPhone.

Enable Low Power Mode on a MacBook

On macOS Ventura and later

  1. Click the Apple logo  and choose System Settings.
  2. Select Battery from the left sidebar.
  3. Click the drop-down menu next to Low Power Mode and choose Always, Only on Battery, or Only on Power Adapter.
Enable Low Power Mode on Mac in macOS Ventura

On macOS Monterey and earlier

  1. Hit the Apple icon  and choose System Preferences.
  2. Choose Battery.
  3. Select Battery or Power Adapter from the lefthand sidebar.
  4. Tick the box next to Low power mode to turn on the feature.
A Mac screenshot showing the Battery preferences on macOS Monterey with Low Power Mode turned on for battery power

As mentioned, you can independently adjust this mode for when the Mac is on battery power and plugged into power by choosing Battery or Power Adapter from the sidebar. You can also glance at the Low Power Mode status without opening System Preferences.

How to tell if your Mac is running in Low Power Mode

On iPhone and iPad, the battery icon in the status bar turns yellow when Low Power Mode is turned on. The Mac doesn’t use icon tinting to convey the status of Low Power Mode. So, is there a faster way of verifying whether the computer is in Low Power Mode?

Yes, there is. Simply click the battery icon found in the macOS status bar to reveal a menu with additional useful information about the computer’s battery. If you spot a line saying “Low Power Mode: On,” you’ll know your Mac is running in this energy-saving mode.

A Mac screenshot showing the Battery menu bar item on macOS Monterey with Low Power Mode turned on

Is there a faster way to enable  Low Power Mode?

No, because Apple hasn’t provided a shortcut in the battery menu where you’d logically expect to find it.

You could build a script in the Shortcuts app to quickly enable Low Power Mode with a keystroke, but you’ll need to know how to use Shortcuts to build macOS automation workflows. Thankfully, developer Jordi Bruin has taken the matter into their own hands with a nifty little menu bar utility dubbed Cooldown.

A macOS Monterey screenshot showing the menu bar app Cooldown by Mac developer Jordi Bruin
Cooldown by Jordi Bruin lets you toggle Low Power Mode from the macOS menu bar.

With it, you can quickly turn Low Power Mode on or off without using System Preferences. Best of all, the app is completely free to download and use without restrictions.

But if you end up using it, please consider paying the developer a few bucks.

macOS Low Power Mode system requirements

Low Power Mode is available on Mac notebooks (MacBook Air and MacBook Pro) manufactured in 2016 or later. The feature requires that your compatible computer be running macOS 12.0 Monterey or later. Low Power Mode is unavailable on desktop-based Macs like the iMac or Mac mini.

When should you turn on Low Power Mode?

Low Power Mode offers a trade-off between performance and energy consumption. To boost battery life, the feature reduces energy consumption by optimizing performance. This entails reducing the CPU speed, which will make your Mac run slower.

Unlike with iPhone, which slows down considerably in Low Power Mode, you may not notice any performance drop in everyday usage if all you do on your computer is read your favorite blogs and websites, check email, use social media, and so on.

A Mac screenshot showing the Battery preferences on macOS Monterey with Low Power Mode turned on for the power adapter

In those circumstances, it’s a good idea to turn on Low Power Mode to extend your MacBook’s run time.

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