Constant battery drain issues on all devices for years

The TLDR; anecdotally it seems I always get less battery life from any device I ever get and i would like to get some help troubleshooting this issue.

What’s the best way to go about this?

Activity Monitor?
An app like FruitJuice?
Istat menus?

What variables should I be looking at?

These seem to be using resources at least for my Macs:

  • WindowServer - what does this do and how? And why is it a constant drain?
  • Screen brightness - not much I can do here, I often need to run my screen at almost full brightness.
  • Safari - have tried removing bookmarks, reading list, closing iCloud tabs, clearing the cache, history, tabs (btw do pinned tabs have an effect?)
  • Spotlight - happens quite often

Possible other culprits:

  • Launchbar - I’m kinda stuck with this and would love to learn more about how to most efficiently manage Launchbar with Spotlight. I’ve tried turning off spotlight indexing but sooner or later I find myself “needing” its functionality again.
  • Timing App menu item/background activity - might have seen somewhere that these kind of tracking apps can contribute to battery drain.

Dropbox does at times contribute to issues but this is much less of a problem (at least visibly) now that I have a new 16 inch MacBook and don’t selectively sync or use finder integration.

iCloud Drive and Apple ID - this is hard to validate but in general over the course of several years I’ve experienced issues.
Also, location information and services. Again these are hard to pinpoint.
The most I’ve ever gotten out of of a MacBook has been on long flights years ago; about 6 hours running Logic Pro X (which is a hog in and of itself), with WiFi and Bluetooth off.
The most I’ve gotten from my new MacBook working at a cafe has been about 4 hours.
My earlier MacBooks lasted maybe 2, 2.5 hours at the most.

Even if y’all have a “debugging” framework you use to test these kinds of things with eg a test account might be helpful.

Closing or restarting programs that rank highly in the energy tab of Activity Monitor works well for me. If I only see single digit energy levels, I am fine for hours.

WindowServer (part of the system) occasionally acts up but I don’t think I’ve had to restart to fix it since High Sierra. Assuming you’re not driving an external display on battery? There isn’t really any trick beyond closing tabs and programs that don’t manage power well when they’re idle.

I suspect you are simply using the device a lot, but it’s hard to say without knowing specifics. And are you sure you need max brightness?

Quick question.

When you’ve changed computers in the pat, have you ever tried setting up from scratch rather than doing Migration Assistant? It may be that an old setting is causing this, and it may be hard to debug.

You may be able to side step the whole rebuild by setting up a new profile and only installing the software you absolutely need.

On top of this, what kind of work are you doing? If you’re browsing or doing email or writing word documents, you should get good battery life, if however you’re running Logic (as you’ve said) and Adobe apps and/or other apps which are CPU and/or GPU intensive, then your battery usage And longevity may be normal.

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Marco Arment mentioned that he uses Turbo Boost Switcher to extendnbattery life when he doesn’t need raw processing power. You do lose some speed. Find it at

Do you see this often, double digit number apps?

On external display on battery; iPad Pro with Sidecar yes. But in those cases the battery time I get is even less, maybe 2.5 hours or so.

I try to keep the brightness to a level where it doesn’t drain too much, but I’m usually around 2 to 4 steps from max brightness.

Yes I think I’ve more often than not set up a machine from scratch. I’ve used Migration Assistant only a handful of times, where I’ve either set up a machine from scratch or done a nuke-n-pave more times than I’d like to recall.

As for the work I’m doing, actual work work, is Safari, Chrome or Brave when I really need to, a bunch of Markdown files/editors, a spreadsheet or two.

Apps like Logic, Ableton, Affinity, Sketch, Pixelmator and the like I do use but generally less and even then for more specific purposes.

Like right now, this machine is a couple of weeks old and my stats are as follows

Thanks, I did purchase the Pro version of the app a few years ago and it did help somewhat. I just can’t find my license anymore for the life of me and the developer hasn’t helped either.

FWIW I also use Endurance which is included in my Setapp subscription.

Forgot to mention this earlier, but as is evident in the screenshot, even Finder uses significant energy and this happens a lot and often.
Same goes intermittently for iCloud Drive.
I don’t know if there’s something going on with my iCloud account. I’ve on a couple of occasions tried using a different iCloud account but haven’t been able to pin down anything relevant, plus I’m so tied to my iCloud and AppleID settings and whatnot that not using my account feels like nailing jello to a tree (though it seems like my System Preferences don’t always all sync across machines, especially keyboard shortcuts).

Definitely. Chrome, Affinity Photo, a terminal process, etc., will do it.