Improve your MacBook battery life (2011 edition)

MacBook battery life FAQ: How can I improve my MacBook battery life (or MacBook Pro or MacBook Air battery life)?

I've written about MacBook battery life before (see the links below), but with a new MacBook Air, I've become increasingly interested in MacBook battery life. I just did some more battery life research on the Apple website, and here's what I found.

Apple's MacBook battery life statements

Apple makes several statements about their new lithium batteries in general, and MacBook battery life specifically. Each of these are quotes from the Apple website:

  • Most importantly, use your Apple notebook in its comfort zone for temperature Don’t leave it locked in a hot trunk during the summer. (Or outside in Alaska in the winter. ;)
  • The built-in battery of your MacBook, MacBook Pro or MacBook Air is designed to deliver up to 1000 full charge and discharge cycles before it reaches 80 percent of its original capacity.
  • Adaptive Charging reduces the wear and tear on the MacBook battery, giving it a lifespan of up to five years.
  • For proper maintenance of a lithium-based battery, it’s important to keep the electrons in it moving occasionally. Apple does not recommend leaving your portable plugged in all the time.

And very importantly, something nobody tells you when you buy your new Apple MacBook:

  • Apple recommends charging and discharging its battery at least once per month.

I wish I knew that when I bought my MacBook Pro, it might have helped extend its battery life.

How to improve MacBook battery life

My older MacBook battery life tips still hold true, and parallel what Apple says about MacBook battery life on their website, specifically:

Monitor Brightness When running your MacBook on battery power, turn the monitor brightness down to just the level you need.

AirPort Wireless Settings If you're in an area where you don't have access to free WiFi, or you just don't need to access the internet, turn off your AirPort Wireless service. (Click the Wireless icon in the Mac menubar, then turn AirPort off.) This tip alone will save a ton of battery life.

Shut Down Browsers If you just turned off your AirPort Wireless service, it probably doesn't make sense to leave any browsers running (unless you're reading something you already have loaded in a window). Shutting down your browsers -- especially Firefox, or any browser window running Flash -- will absolutely improve your MacBook battery life.

Bluetooth Wireless Settings I don't normally have Bluetooth wireless turned on for my MacBook, but if you have it turned on and don't need it, turn it off.

Energy Saver Settings Go to the Energy Saver panel under System Preferences, and make sure your settings are conducive to saving energy. Put the hard disk to sleep when possible.

Disk Drives Finally, hit your disk drives only as much as you need to. If your disk drives are sleeping, it's better to let them sleep, they'll use a lot less energy that way.

Other Applications Many other Mac software applications can also eat your MacBook battery life. (Just try playing the Mac Chess application on your battery life and see how that goes.) Just like your browsers, if you don't need Mac apps running, turn them off.

More MacBook battery life tips and tricks

While I just wrote this article based on the latest MacBook battery life information for 2011, I've written about Apple battery life before, including these articles:

Also, here's a link to Apple's notebook battery page.

Improve MacBook battery life - Summary

I hope these tips on how to improve your MacBook battery life have been helpful. If you know of any other great MacBook battery life tips, just leave a note in the Comments section below.