How to conserve MacBook battery power with Google Chrome’s Energy Saver mode

With the new Energy Saver mode in Google Chrome, the popular browser should stop being this notorious power hog when running on battery power.

Apple's MacBook laptop on a wooden table, displaying the Google search page in Safari
Chrome’s battery-saving mode is off by default | Image: Jessica Lewis Creative/Pexels

Google has been testing a new feature for its desktop Chrome browser for quite some time now, called Energy Saver, designed to conserve battery power. The Google browser is a notorious power hog, especially on macOS, so it’s only natural that people would want to take advantage of any battery-saving feature in the app.

With the new Energy Saver mode, Chrome will save some juice when on battery power by reducing its image capture rate and other background tasks and limiting visual effects and animations. Follow along with us to learn how to enable the new Energy Saver mode in the current Chrome version and test it out ahead of release.

How to turn on Energy Saver mode in Google Chrome

macOS screenshot of Google Chrome's About window displaying the current browser version number
Chrome 108 or higher is required for Energy Saver | Image: Christian Zibreg/iDB

This is currently an experimental feature in Chrome 108 for macOS, Windows, Linux and Chromebooks, which was released on Tuesday, November 29. To check the current version number, choose About Google Chrome from the Chrome menu.

The current version number is displayed beneath the Google Chrome heading. If your copy of Chrome isn’t up to date, you’ll see a message on this screen saying an update is being downloaded. You can download Chrome at google.com/chrome.

After Chrome has downloaded the update, click Relaunch to finish installing it or Not now if you’d like to install it the next time you restart Chrome (our separate tutorial explains how to manually update Chrome on Windows and other platforms).

With the latest Chrome version running, you must enable a special flag to turn on Energy Saver mode. Type the following into Chrome’s address bar and press Enter:

chrome://flags/#battery-saver-mode-available

On the Experiments screen, click the menu next to Enable the battery saver mode feature in the settings and choose Enabled, then click Relaunch for the changes to take effect.

Google Chrome for macOS showing the available experiments, with the Energy Saver mode enabled
This step won’t be necessary when Energy Safer graduates | Image: Christian Zibreg/iDB

Note the disclaimer from Google:

WARNING: EXPERIMENTAL FEATURES AHEAD! By enabling these features, you could lose browser data or compromise your security or privacy. Enabled features apply to all users of this browser. If you are an enterprise admin you should not be using these flags in production.

Now visit Chrome settings to choose when the Energy Saver feature will activate.

How to manage Energy Saver mode in Google Chrome

The Performance section of the Google Chrome settings on macOS showcasing two Energy Saver options
This section only shows up if Energy Saver is enabled | Image: Christian Zibreg/iDB

With the Energy Saver enabled in chrome://flags, a Performance section shows up in the Chrome settings where you can turn the Energy Saver feature on or off at will.

  1. Open Chrome on your computer.
  2. Click the three-dotted More menu in the top-right corner, then choose Settings.
  3. Click Performance in the left section of the Chrome settings.
  4. Toggle the Energy Saver switch on or off, then select the setting you want:

There are two settings to choose from:

  • Turn on only when my battery is 20% or lower: Choose this for the full Chrome experience on devices with long battery life, like Apple silicon notebooks.
  • Turn on when my computer is unplugged: Older Mac notebooks will benefit the most with this setting enabled.

When the Energy Saver mode is switched on, Chrome will conserve battery power “by limiting background activity and visual effects, such as smooth scrolling and video frame rates,” reads the feature’s description. As a result, you may notice changes in the gaming and video performance, warns Google’s support document.

The browser will automatically enter Energy Saver mode whenever your MacBook is running on battery power or the battery is low when unplugged.

When will Google launch Energy Saver in Chrome?

Google has been testing Energy Saver mode for several weeks, but the company wouldn’t say when the feature might be ready for prime time. Considering this is already an experimental feature in Chrome 108, Energy Saver should soon be promoted to an official Chrome feature with its own toggle in the settings interface

Watch this space as we’ll be making sure to let you know when Google officially announces Energy Saver as a shipping Chrome feature. In the meantime, check out more than 40 tips for how to save battery life on your Mac laptop.