How to use low power mode on your Mac

Read this tutorial to learn how and when to turn on and use low power mode on macOS in order to boost battery life and make your Mac notebook run cooler and quieter.

macOS Monterey brings low power mode to the Mac

Low power mode is one of the new features of macOS Monterey, which launched publicly in October 2021. Low power mode 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 the Mac’s low power mode a macOS-optimized version of the same feature that’s available on the iPhone.

Follow along as we show you how and when to turn on low power mode on macOS.

Using low power mode to make your Mac run quicker and cooler

Low power mode on macOS is managed in your battery preferences. From there, you can toggle low power mode for plugged and unplugged operation separately.

  1. Click the Apple menu on your Mac, then choose System Preferences.
  2. Choose Battery in the System Preferences window.
  3. Select Battery or Power Adapter from the lefthand sidebar.
  4. Tick the box next to Low power mode to turn the feature on.
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 my 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. macOS Monterey doesn’t use icon tinting to convey the status of low power mode. 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 toggle low power mode on or off without using System Preferences? Not out of the box 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 the Mac notebooks manufactured in 2016 or later. Specifically, the feature is supported on the following Mac computers:

  • MacBook (Early 2016 and later)
  • MacBook Pro (Early 2016 and 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.

Apple devices that support low power mode

Aside from iPhones and Macs, low power mode is also available on any Apple tablet with the iPadOS 15.0 software or later. Aside from slowing down the processor and dimming the display a bit, the iPad’s low power mode also temporarily reduces background activities such as downloads and mail fetch.

When should you turn on low power mode on macOS?

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 Mac’s run time. Whenever I blog on the go, I put my Mac in low power mode. I’m more relaxed knowing the system is conserving as much power as possible without degrading CPU and GPU performance significantly. Read: 12 tips to save battery life on iPhone

And if I feel like running a resource-intensive app like maybe a high-end game or a powerful video editor, I just toggle off low power mode and am good to go.

Apple allows developers to build low power mode sensing in their apps. An app like a game could use this information to, say, reduce graphics fidelity and decrease the frame rate as soon as the user has turned on low power mode.