Check MacBook battery health and prolong its lifespan in Catalina [Pro tip]

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abstract-MacBook
Help your MacBook's battery age gracefully.
Photo: Dmitry Chernyshov

Pro-tip-4Apple’s newest macOS update makes it easier than ever to check MacBook battery health, and to prolong its lifespan. In this pro tip, we’ll show you where to find the new battery health features, and how to check the status of yours.

“Mac batteries, like all rechargeable batteries, are consumable components that become less effective as they age,” Apple explains. That’s why your MacBook needs charging more frequently as it gets older.

There’s not much you can do about it. Standard battery-preserving practices, like not allowing your MacBook to sit without a charge for weeks on end, are helpful. But battery degradation is, unfortunately, an unavoidable problem.

Apple hopes to at least make this less of an issue with new battery health features — similar to those introduced to iPhone last year — on MacBook. Here’s where to find them.

Where to find MacBook battery health features

First, ensure your MacBook has been updated to macOS Catalina version 10.15.5. You can do this by opening System Preferences and clicking Software Update. Then, follow the steps below:

  1. Open System Preferences.
  2. Click Energy Saver.
  3. Click the new Battery Health… button at the button of the window.

You’ll see a popup that displays your MacBook’s battery condition, and advises you to get a service if necessary. There’s also an option to enable or disable Battery health management, which is turned on by default.

MacBook-battery-health
How is your MacBook battery aging?
Image: Killian Bell/Cult of Mac

Like on iPhone, this feature reduces the peak capacity of a MacBook’s battery to extend its lifespan. It won’t suddenly revive an old battery or negate the need for a service someday, but it should make servicing less frequent.

What is battery health management?

Apple offers a more technical explanation on how battery health management works:

The battery health management feature in macOS 10.15.5 is designed to improve your battery’s lifespan by reducing the rate at which it ages chemically. The feature does this by monitoring your battery’s temperature history and charging patterns

Based on the measurements it collects, battery health management may reduce your battery’s maximum charge when in this mode. This happens as needed to ensure that your battery charges to a level that’s optimized for your usage – reducing wear on the battery and slowing its chemical aging.

Apple notes that if your priority is making your MacBook last as long as possible in between charges, you should disable battery health management.

For more detailed battery stats

It’s possible to get more detailed battery stats in macOS by using System Report. Here’s how:

  1. Click the Apple logo in the top-left corner of your screen.
  2. Click About This Mac.
  3. Select System Report...
  4. Click Power.

Here, you’ll battery health information, including the cycle count, amperage, and voltage. You can also see how much charge you have remaining, full charge capacity, and the serial number of your MacBook’s battery.

MacBook-battery-stats
More detailed stats can be handy — especially when buying or selling used Macs.
Image: Killian Bell/Cult of Mac