Even the longest-lasting laptop batteries will die eventually. Here’s everything you need to know to maximize the amount of time between visits to the power outlet.
Who wants to make an urgent dash to a power outlet to rescue their laptop battery? That’s no fun, especially if your family is working and learning from home these days in various corners of the house that may not have a convenient socket nearby. Luckily, modern laptops are much more efficient than their predecessors. Nowadays, even inexpensive desktop-replacement laptops and some gaming behemoths can last for more than eight hours on a single charge. Ultraportables often endure for 14 hours or more.
Still, the inconvenient truth is that the battery in your PC or Mac laptop won’t last as long as the manufacturer advertises unless you pay attention to some key factors: your power settings, how many apps you’re running, even the temperature of the room in which you’re working. The good news is that none of this requires much effort to sort out, once you know which settings to adjust. Let’s take a look at the highest-yield, least-effort ways to get the most out of your laptop’s battery.
Use the Windows Performance Management Tool
The first stop on our battery-life betterment tour is the Windows performance management tool. In Windows 10, it’s a slider accessed from the battery icon in the task bar. In Windows 11, you’ll find it in Settings > System > Power & Battery > Power Mode. It aims to group all of the settings that affect battery life into a few easy-to-understand categories.
The company that made your PC determines exactly which settings the battery slider controls. But in general, keep these guidelines in mind:
- The Best Performance mode is for people willing to trade off battery runtime to gain speed and responsiveness. In this mode, Windows won’t stop apps running in the background from consuming a lot of power.
- The Better Performance (or Recommended) mode limits resources for background apps, but it otherwise prioritizes power over efficiency.
- The Better Battery mode delivers longer battery life than the default settings on previous versions of Windows.
- The Battery Saver mode, a slider choice that will appear only when your PC is unplugged, reduces the display brightness by 30%, prevents Windows Update downloads, stops the Mail app from syncing, and suspends most background apps.
For a MacBook: Use Battery Settings on macOS
Recent Mac laptops running up-to-date versions of macOS have extensive battery and power settings that you can control. In macOS Monterey, open the System Preferences app and click on Battery.
Make sure that “Slightly dim the display while on battery power” is checked, and “Enable Power Nap while on battery power” is unchecked. (With Power Nap enabled and your MacBook asleep, the machine will wake up now and then to check for updates. Disabling it keeps your MacBook fully asleep until you choose to wake it up.) On recent MacBook Pro laptops, the display brightness adjusts to 75% when you unplug the computer from power if you have “Slightly dim the display while on battery power” enabled.
Depending on which MacBook and which version of macOS you have, you may see additional options in the Energy Saver preferences pane. These include “Optimize video streaming while on battery” for disabling HDR video playback and “Optimized.” Some Macs also have an Energy Mode setting, which is very similar to the Windows performance management tool described above. If you see Energy Mode in the Battery section of system preferences, you’ve got the following options:
- Low Power: Reduce energy usage to increase battery life.
- Automatic: Have your Mac automatically use the best performance level.
- High Power: Increase energy usage to improve performance during sustained workloads.