MacBook Pro battery life: Squeezing more out of it

My job often requires me to work for many hours at an unplugged laptop. I’ve picked up a few tricks for making the battery last longer. None of these are particularly brilliant, but they’re very helpful:

  • Turn off WiFi. That’s a big battery suck right there. In practice, I end up turning it on again briefly if I need to check something, then turning it right off again.
  • Likewise, dim the screen as far as I can still read it. That’s one or two ticks up from completely dark.
  • When I’m not typing, I shut the screen off manually. I close the lid if I think it’s going to be a while, and for short periods I have a hot corner set up to shut off the screen when I move the mouse to the bottom right corner.
  • Use Activity Monitor to find which apps are using the most energy and shut them down. For me, that’s Google Chrome and Microsoft Teams.

By taking these four measures, I was able to get about nine hours’ usage out of my MacBook Pro on Monday.

Do you have any tricks for getting more out of a laptop battery? I’m told shutting off Bluetooth helps, but in practice I haven’t found it to matter much. And I’m also told that Chromebooks can easily get 10+ hours of battery life without having to do any tricks at all.

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I’ve been fighting the same battle recently, with the additional challenge of using the app Graphic that forces the high performance GPU into use and kills battery life.
I don’t actually use any particular energy saving routines except closing the lid frequently (touch id is great here), but I have found these 2 apps:

gfxCardStatus: allows me to force my Mac to use the low performance gpu. Graphic works fine like this still and battery life makes a massive improvement. It’s a bit finicky on a newer OS (settings don’t always stick correctly) but I’ve used it for over a year and it’s fine.

Turbo Boost Switcher: allows me to stop the Mac using turbo boost. My primary thing here is it means my Mac runs cooler for lap use, but it also helps battery. When Apple controls its own chips I expect this to become obsolete, but currently I find it helps battery life to turn off turbo.

There’s an app called Endurance on SetApp that seems to control turbo boost and more, but as I have these already I haven’t tried it.

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I use a combination of the TurboBoost app and a portable usb-c battery for the laptop.

And I also use the Anker PD Charger as well.

I’m also very careful about which apps I use or leave open. SublimeText is my text editor which is extremely energy efficient. I’ll utilize preview over pdf expert. PDFExpert is a memory hog and I’ve seen cpu spikes.

I’ve set up a set of actions in keyboard maestro to dim screen, turn off Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, etc…

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Also be careful with Hazel. I was getting 1.5 hours only from a machine that normally gets 4-5+ hours & it turned out I had a rule configured to keep running even on previously matched files. Turned it off and usage returned to normal.

Incidentally I used to run a Windows machine in DOS to get 12-16 hours instead of 2-3.

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I have found several reasons for battery drain, and also use my laptop all day, for 8 hours a day, without recharging.

WiFi definitely makes a difference, as does the software that you use. I use iWorks instead of MS office and this definitely makes a noticeable difference. Also, Safari instead of Chrome/Brave.

I do the same with the screen when not using it, this adds at least an hour a day.

I was quite lucky because I got a new battery when my keyboard was replaced in January, and this has meant I now have battery left at the end of the day.

I also use my iPad whenever possible so I don’t have to be on WiFi and draining the MacBook. Unfortunately, a lot of things in my daily workflow are just impossible on mobile Safari so I inevitably end up having to use the MacBook.

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Safari is – still – more efficient for power than Chrome. Alas, I am addicted to extensions.

Fantastic thread. I have a 2012 MBPro. The battery life is awful. I have Setapp but hadn’t seen Endurance (that I can remember) although it seems I may have installed it at some point. So now I’m keeping it open and hopefully, it helps me.

Teams, I believe, is another hot garbage Electron app. Electron is doing nothing at all for the benefit of mobile computing.

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I believe you are correct. If not electron, then electron-like. I wonder if I’d be better off just running it in a browser.

Here are some goodies worth mentioning:

  • blueutil is a command line utility you can download for turning bluetooth on and off
  • echo YOURPASSWORD | sudo -S mdutil -a -i off turns spotlight indexing off. replace off with on to turn it back on
  • networksetup -setairportpower en0 off command line for turning wifi off
  • Using keyboard maestro you can adjust the screen brightness.

I have all of these set up as a macro in Keyboard maestro along with TurboBoost set to disable turboboost if not charging or if charging and below a certain percent.

I haven’t tried App Tamer yet but plan to.

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