Mac notebook batteries have problems. Don’t get alarmed. The problems are few. The most notable is battery life and that issue contains so many variables as to make a solution for increasing battery life a substantial undertaking.
Owners and potential customers of the MacBook Pro released in late 2016 were treated to glaring headlines of poor battery life, thanks to Consumer Reports shooting their wad early during battery testing foreplay. As it turned out, the Mac’s battery life was acceptable, and CR’s testing was flawed.
Regardless, battery life is a major issue for Mac notebook users.
Apple didn’t help the situation by changing the battery indicator in a macOS Sierra update. The time remaining disappeared in favor of a simple percentage indicator. Alright, I understand the problems determining the amount of time remaining on a Mac notebook’s battery. Every user is different. What we’re doing on our Macs now may not take up much battery power, therefore the time remaining indicator is absolutely whacko if we start editing movies on Final Cut Pro.
I get it. Most Mac notebook users get it, too. How do I know that? Because Mac notebooks have been around a few decades, each one with a time remaining indicator and few of us bothered to complain about, but all of a sudden– thanks to Consumer Reports’ prematurely shooting itself in the public foot– the time remaining indicator had bad mojo and Apple took it away.
Here’s how to get it back.
First, head to the Mac App Store. Type in battery indicator. Or, just battery. Here’s what you’ll find. Missing Battery Indicator. One click to the Menubar gives you this.
What else do you need? And, not bad for free, right?
And if you have an aversion to the Mac App Store, the developer also has a free download version. As useful as that utility is, it’s not the only game in town. If you have a dollar, Battery Time Indicator can work for you. It’s a battery icon with the battery time remaining.
If you’re into such things there are more battery related utilities that don’t fix a problem but are cool looking. These include MMBI which measures the battery life in your Apple Magic Mouse, and MKBI which does the same thing for the Magic Keyboard. They don’t do much more than the Bluetooth indicator for connected devices that’s already in macOS Sierra, but they’re cooler looking and a purchase helps to stimulate the third party app economy.
Ah, but there’s more. Back to the Mac App Store.
Use the search term battery life and you get even more battery utilities. One of my favorites is Battery Health 2 which gives you battery information including number of cycles, total charge, maximum charge, battery age and temperature. Got a thing for eye candy? Here it is.
Apple’s problem with the MacBook Pro’s battery life was not the missing time indicator. The real issue– other than Consumer Reports shooting off without checking with Apple on their own test discrepancies– is expectations. Apple’s own expectations for MacBook Pro (which work about the same for other Mac notebooks) are based upon the phrase “Up to…”
- Up to 10 hours wireless web
- Up to 10 hours iTunes move playback
- Up to 30 days of standby time
See how that works? ‘Up to…’ is the name of the game because every Mac notebook will be used differently, so if you’re editing Final Cut Pro movies on a MacBook while using FaceTime and running Mail, Safari, and Calendar in the background, don’t expect 10 hours of battery life.