Saving battery power on a MacBook

23 February 2015, 04:55

Despite considering it common knowledge, I still see people on the Internet asking how to get the most from their MacBooks when out and about. Here is my selection of tips.

  1. Turn LCD screen backlighting as low as possible. This is simply the biggest factor that will affect your battery longevity.
  2. Turn off keyboard backlighting. Does anybody actually use this? It’s always seemed like a gimmick to me.
  3. Quit any menu bar apps, especially cloud apps. Menu bar apps are those that live at the top right of the desktop near the clock. Cloud apps like Dropbox or Google Drive will eat power checking and uploading files. Of course, if your work involves using cloud files then you may have no other choice than to keep apps like this running. You’ll have to remember to restart them when you’ve back on mains power, though.
  4. Quit all open apps that you aren’t using right now. Just start them up later if you need them. A quick way of doing this is to use the Alt+Tab way of switching apps, then moving the highlight to an app you want to quit and tapping Q.
  5. Use Safari browser, if you can. It has power saving features built-in that other browser developers have yet to match (assuming you’re running Yosemite).
  6. Turn off Bluetooth if you’re not using it, or even turn off Wi-Fi if you’re working without the need for Internet. Connect to the network/Internet via a wired connection, if you can (that is, Ethernet). Unfortunately OS X doesn’t have any kind of AirPlane Mode button. I reckon the next version of OS X probably will.
  7. Use your iPhone/iPod/iPad to listen to music, rather than your Mac. It’s only a little bit of juice needed to power those headphones but why not let a dedicated device take the hit?
  8. Remove any USB storage devices you’re not using, or any SD cards. If you’ve more than one disk installed in your MacBook (I have two SSDs, for example), then unmount any you’re not using. This can be done using Disk Utility — select the disk, then click the Unmount toolbar icon.

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