Mac Tutorials

How to Show the Time Remaining on a Mac Battery

 

 

Finding out the remaining Mac battery time can be important if you want to calculate how long and how intensively you can use certain applications on your MacBook before you have to plug in the power cord.  

 

This task is complicated by the fact that not all versions of macOS show the exact remaining battery time and the percentage of charge. In addition, running different processes on your laptop can lead to faster battery consumption, so it’s hard to talk about the accuracy of predicting the remaining time.  

 

However, there are several tricks that can help you estimate the approximate battery time remaining on your Mac, and save some battery if you find yourself in a situation where you cannot access a power source.
 

Before we start
 

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Here’s how to see the remaining battery time on a Mac:

  • Use Energy Saver (in older OS X versions)
  • Use Activity Monitor (in newer macOS versions)
  • Use third-party apps

Use Energy Saver to see battery time (OS X before Sierra)

The remaining MacBook battery time in the versions of OS X that precede Sierra can be viewed in the following way:

  1. Go to System Preferences
  2. Click on Energy Saver
  3. This will show you a notification of how many hours and minutes you should be able to work in this session without recharging.

 

Starting with version 10.12.2, Apple removed the remaining time indicator, previously located under the battery icon, and left only the percentage of full charge and the list of software that is currently using the most energy.

 

The reason for removing this indicator was a discrepancy in its readings. The remaining battery time either increases or decreases depending on how energy-intensive the programs opened and closed are. Of course, most users do not bother to track all fluctuations. At the same time, the problem does not lie in the inaccurate estimation of the remaining battery time—it is just that the charge controller is constantly recalculating the figures, and the data remains correct only in a specific operating mode.

 

On the other hand, the battery percentage icon in the MacBook menu bar cannot be erroneous or inconsistent with the current figure, as it only reflects how much charge the battery has, and does not predict how long it will last.

Use Activity Monitor to see battery time (macOS Sierra or later)

For those who use newer macOS and want to get a calculation of the remaining battery time, this option is still provided in the Activity Monitor.  

 

How to show the time remaining on Mac battery in macOS Sierra, High Sierra, Mojave, or Catalina:

1. Open the Activity Monitor by pressing Space + Command (⌘), then enter Activity

open activity monitor with spotlight

2. Go to Energy tab

3. This will open a window, at the bottom of which you will see the percentage of charge remaining, the estimated remaining time, and the actual battery life since the last charging session.

check remaining battery time in activity monitor

The percentage of the remaining charge is still the most informative part for the user. We recommend analyzing how your laptop's battery is consumed during your usual mode of operation and estimating how long the charge will last based on these observations.

Use a third-party utility

Besides the built-in services, there are also various third-party applications that allow you to find out the battery time remaining on a Mac and other data related to battery health. Their advantage is that you can get more information about the state of the battery in fewer steps.

 

However, using such applications also has some downsides and risks to it. First of all, Apple is not responsible for the accuracy and reliability of the data shown by such apps (or for their safety). Moreover, many users have noticed that the built-in charge indicator does not always show the same remaining percentage as the application. Finally, these applications run in the background, which means they consume both energy and RAM—and that means you will not be able to save battery power with their help.

 

As an example, let’s consider the algorithm for using the CoconutBattery application.

  1. Install the CoconutBattery app on your MacBook
  2. Open it and go to СoconutBattery > Preferences
  3. Check the Launch at startup box
  4. For the charge status to be shown in the menu bar, place the application in the general Applications folder. If done correctly, a second battery icon and a charge percentage indicator will appear in the menu bar
  5. Click on the new battery indicator. You will see a message with information on how long your laptop can last, the remaining percentage of the charge, how many full charge-discharge cycles your MacBook's battery has already worked, and even the current temperature of the battery.

How does battery health affect battery life?

The extent to which the actual ability of the battery to hold a charge differs from that declared by the manufacturer for a particular MacBook model is affected by the battery health. While pressing the Option key on the keyboard, click on the battery icon in the menu bar to open the battery status menu. You will see the current state of battery health. These may be as follows:

  • Normal. This status means that the battery is not yet worn out and, in an average session, consumes its charge within the number of hours declared by the manufacturer.
  • Service Recommended. This status indicator appears when the battery is worn out and its ability to hold a charge has decreased, or if the battery has for some reason started to malfunction.
  • Early versions of macOS use different wording for indicating battery wear. So, you can see indicators Replace soon or Replace now (which indicates a lesser or greater degree of wear.
see battery status from the upper mac menu

Another thing you need to take into account is the full discharge cycles of the laptop. It is their number that determines the guaranteed battery lifespan. For most MacBook models, the number of these cycles is about a thousand. It means that the manufacturer guarantees that the laptop can be charged a thousand times to 100% of the battery charge, and then disconnected from the power source and discharged to complete zero. The duration of discharge in one cycle constitutes the above number of hours (from 10 to 13 hours for different models).

 

This does not necessarily mean that after a MacBook has worked through a thousand cycles, its battery will immediately become unusable. But it is most likely that the period of discharging from 100% to 0% will be reduced, and will gradually keep decreasing further—up to the complete inability to hold a charge without being connected to a power source.

 

In addition, most users hardly ever use their laptops in "clean" cycles—charging from 0% to 100%, disconnecting the power cord, and completely discharging the battery in one continuous session. It is not uncommon to unplug the power cord before the battery is charged to 100%, or use a fully charged laptop with the power cord plugged in rather than disconnected, or start charging it before the battery dies. However, no matter which mode is convenient for you, the cycles are still counted—even if you never see 100% or 0% charge. The more you recharge your MacBook, and the less you use it unplugged, the slower the 1000 cycles go (even though you are not counting them).

 

Contrary to an opinion often voiced by concerned users, using MacBooks with the power cord connected after reaching a full charge does not pose a danger to the battery lifespan. This is a common misconception. To avoid "overcharging", each laptop has a built-in controller. As soon as the battery reaches 100% charge, the controller stops the process, lets the laptop discharge by 1-2% (that is, up to 98-99%), and then allows it to recharge. As a result, these microcycles are also counted as parts of a full cycle—each 1% is counted towards the 100%.

 

The operating mode of the MacBook also affects both the energy consumption during a particular session and the performance of the battery as a whole. For example, the battery loses charge faster when used at temperatures below freezing. Moreover, its ability to hold the declared charge may irreversibly deteriorate if you store your turned off MacBook at temperatures below -15 degrees Celsius / +5 degrees Fahrenheit. However, high temperatures (exceeding +35 degrees Celsius / +95 degrees Fahrenheit) are also harmful, as they lead to overheating of the processor and the need to spend energy on cooling it. To avoid overheating your Mac, you can place it on a special cooling stand.

 

Assuming the irregularity of use, the average battery lifespan in a MacBook is 3-4 years. But this is a very approximate indicator that does not appear in the manufacturer's warranties, since it varies greatly depending on the intensity of use, the length of periods without use, and the operating conditions.

 

FAQ

 

How to get my Mac battery 'time remaining' estimate back?

Wondering how to get your Mac battery 'time remaining' estimate back? You can do this by using Energy Saver in older OS X versions or Activity Monitor in newer macOS versions. You can also use third-party apps.

 

To view battery time remaining on Mac with OS X versions preceding Sierra, simply go to System Preferences and select Energy Saver. To check the battery time remaining on Mac with macOS Sierra or later versions, open Activity Monitor and select the Energy tab.

 

You’ll find several third-party applications that let you view the battery time remaining on Mac in fewer steps. They also offer more detailed information. However, you will notice discrepancies between their results and the ones you’ll see on Mac’s built-in services. The third-party apps also run in the background and consume energy and RAM.

 

How long is my Mac battery supposed to last?

So, how long is your Mac battery supposed to last? The answer depends on the model of your Mac. The estimated time for the latest models released (2018 onwards) is approximately the same.

 

MacBook Air can run up to 12 hours while using a wireless connection and up to 13 hours of continuous Apple TV video playback. The 13-inch and 15-inch Macbooks can run up to 10 hours, while the 16-inch models can operate without a power source for up to 11 hours.

 

Note that these numbers are just an estimate, as the battery time remaining on Mac depends on the type of work you do and the applications you run on your Mac.

 

Battery time remaining missing in Big Sur, how to fix it?

You may have noticed the battery time remaining missing in Big Sur. How to fix it?

 

Apple has made strides in providing estimates of remaining battery life since it removed the feature in 2016. You no longer have to go to System Preferences or Activity Monitor to check the remaining battery time. Simply click on the battery icon that’s readily available on the menu bar to see the battery time remaining on Big Sur.

 

You may still head over to the System Preferences app to get more details. Just choose Battery from the preferences pane. This will show you Usage History and more information on power management controls and your battery’s health.  

 

How to bring back 'Battery Time Remaining' in macOS Sierra?

Apple purposefully removed the Battery Time Remaining feature from macOS Sierra after observing discrepancies in its readings, so you won’t find an easy answer to the question of how to bring back “Battery Time Remaining” in macOS Sierra. You can bring the functionality back by using third-party apps like Battery Monitor and Battery Time Indicator.


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