Laptop Top Tips!

So, I am the very fortunate owner of a new 2023 MacBook Pro, 14 inch.

I have never had a laptop as my main machine before.

Are there any utilities that I should be using to keep it in good condition - battery, etc?

I’ve got a dock to go with it to connect to an external screen, but would be grateful for any tips and your wisdom, please.

Thank you!


I recommend two apps.

  1. AlDente Pro for managing your laptop battery. When I bought Al Dente Pro, I was convinced that Apple’s battery management algorithm was deficient and probably developed by an intern. I don’t know what it is like now. I used AlDente Pro on my MacBook Pro M1 16 inch for about 1 year and 9 months. When I sold that machine iit still had 100% of its battery capacity.

  2. iStat Menus. This app gives you full information about the functioning of your Mac. For example, it tells me now that the battery of my M1 MacBook Air is at 100% capacity with 4 cycles of battery use. I bought this machine to replace the 16 inch MacBook Pro (my other Mac is a Mac Studio). This is reassuring to me because I bought the Air from Amazon in “acceptable” condition. iStat Menus provides much more information in a very convenient format.


My best tip: try not to drop it.

Every laptop i have had since the first in 1987 broke. Not so much from dropping but from simply being portable and subject to physical stress. Macs have done better as they are well made machines but each of those have had attention by the Geniuses at the Apple Store.

Otherwise, in my view, most the software you need to care for battery and file management are part of macOS.


I’m in the “just leave it be” camp. I’ve used a battery management app before, and never really saw much benefit.
Controversial perhaps, but I’m leaving things to Apple and not worrying about battery, memory loads, core-usage, or anything like that.

Edit: another top tip is don’t carry it in a waterproof bag with a water bottle also inside.


I have been using laptops as my primary computers for most of the past 30 years. When I’m at my desk, I attach an external display, and use an external keyboard and trackball. A dock is nice to attach those things, but I have not used a dock in 15+ years andI don’t miss it a lot.

I use Bartender to manage all the icons in my menu bar. Not so important when docked at my desk, but helpful when undocked, to make best use of the laptop’s smaller display.

At my desk, I keep the laptop open and elevated a few inches, and occasionally use the laptop display as a second display. When at my desk, the external display is the main display.

I keep a spare power cord and other cords and chargers in my daybag. The financial expense is small, and it’s less that I have to remember to pack.

You probably won’t bring an external drive with you when you’re on the go, so sign up for an internet backup service. Backblaze is a good choice. That’s a good idea even if you don’t take the laptop out and about with you, in case your house is hit by a meteor and all your onsite backups are destroyed.

In my opinion, Al Dente and other battery management apps are useless.


+1 previous posts for iStats Menu and Bartender. The new #bms is spot on and don’t have to worry about it. Enjoy!

The black keys get gross looking after a while. I use this app to turn off the keyboard so I can clean it:


“In my opinion, Al Dente and other battery management apps are useless.”

Well, manufacturers of laptops other than Apple include charge limiters for their customers who often use their laptops plugged in. This includes Lenovo, HP, MSI, Dell, and Asus. So at least some people think such apps are useful.

True, but Apple also includes this in macOS. The advantage of Al Dente is that you can go a step further and prevent charging above 80%. If you are using it mostly as desktop, this is probably helpful. If you want to be able to unplug your machine at any moment and have full length battery-life, Apple’s built in method is better.
In other words, for a laptop, I’d recommend using the built-in tools. For a laptop-as-desktop, Al Dente or similar would be better.

Bartender was a great shout too.
You might want a VPN for use outside of your home network (I hook to my phone and don’t worry about a VPN).
For power, I always buy a second power supply so I have one at home and one at work. I also have a smaller, more portable one in my bag. For my MBA, they can all be quite small these days.
Similarly, if I use a monitor at work I’ll get myself a keyboard and trackpad to leave there.

A lot of people like me use their laptop at home on battery but take the machine out for a few hours from time to time to a coffee shop or a library. In that case, the 80% limit (or lower) is very helpful for laptops that have batteries that last a very long time like those made by Apple. In that case, you rarely need the full capacity.

I think it is perverse that Apple doesn’t give us the option to limit the maximum charge like other companies do. It reminds me of their refusal to build multibutton mice (1984-2005) and their putting crap butterfly keyboards in their Pro laptops (2005-2009).

I meant to write 2015-2019. I also should have added as part of the use case that I and others will use the laptop at home off battery for short periods of time as when taking it to a different room. After using the laptop in that way, I found the Apple algorithm would always charge to 100%. Or, God help you, if you jiggle the charging cable by accident, once again the battery was charged to 100%. The consequence of this is that the battery was at 100% charge much of the time. Fortunately, you can fix this behavior with Al Dente.

You may be right. I don’t know much about non-Macbook laptops.

However, this is the Mac Power Users so I think I can be forgiven for not specifying Macbooks here. :slight_smile:

I’m going to need some convincing here by someone with electrical engineering expertise that it’s helpful to use a third-party tool to manage MacBook batteries. Otherwise, I will continue to think of this as an urban myth, like the folks who think you should force-quit iPhone applications when you’re not using them.


Are you questioning the whole premise of lithium batteries degrading, or just whether patterns of use factor into it?

I’m questioning whether Apple’s built-in battery management technology benefits from augmenting with third-party apps.

Gotcha. I’m not an electrical engineer, but hopefully one will come along.

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It just occurred to me that my brother is an electrical engineer. Literally designs power systems for NASA space probes.

I’ll ask him if I remember to do so, but I suspect he might say, “I dunno, I’ve never looked into it.”

Neat. Emergency power and aerospace electrical systems are recurring topics at our neighborhood coffee meetup. More fun than it sounds!

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Your faith in Apple is touching. We should keep in mind that things have not always gone well for Apple in the area of battery management. In the case of “Batterygate” in 2015-1016, Apple implemented, to their credit, battery saving software for iPhones. Unfortunately, this affected the performance on the phones and people complained. Apple was not initially forthcoming about the source of the problem but did fess up after the developers of Geekbench showed what was going on.

I think in the case of MacBooks, Apple may be trying to avoid any possibility of another ‘Batterygate’. Their algorithm is biased towards the use case where the laptops are in constant use without being plugged in. They insure that the batteries are at 100% much of the time so that there is enough battery for long sessions that could come up unexpectedly. As someone who cares about the functioning of my computer and also about the environment, I would like the option of achieving longer battery life at the cost of a bit of convenience.

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That’s simply not true.

I seldom unplug my MacBook. The last time I used it on battery was July 9. Before that, was Nov.-Dec. Before THAT was probably Dec. 2019.

Essentially, my MacBook Pro is plugged in 100% of the time.

Battery charge right now is 75%. This is not unusual.

What’s the source of your information about how Apple configures its battery maintenance?

Only my experience (100% battery capacity after more than a year of use with Al Dente) and some simple logic, which is not good as hard data. But I see other anecdotes on line, and it was anecdotes that brought “Batterygate” to light. Apple doesn’t provide any information about their algorithm–a white paper would be nice.

The algorithm handles your use case fine because eventually if settles on a 75% limit and leaves it there. But there are other use cases. There are plenty of us who use our laptops in an intermittent way, leaving it mostly plugged in much of the time but take it off power intermittently. My observation was that for this use case the algortihm needlessly drove the charge level to 100% and other people have confirmed that pattern. If Apple has fixed this then I stand corrected.

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