No matter how well you treat your MacBook, its battery won’t last forever. When battery health degrades, leaving the charger at home becomes increasingly untenable, as the time between charges can be drastically reduced.
The obvious sign: reduced battery life
It goes without saying, but a MacBook with severely reduced battery life should benefit from a battery replacement. There are varying degrees of battery degradation, from “a few hours less than I remember” to the machine lasting single digit minutes when disconnected from power.
As your battery ages, it will lose capacity as part of the normal aging process. Modern MacBook batteries are good for 1,000 cycles before needing to be replaced, while older models typically endure 300 cycles. You can see how your battery is affected by usage using the graphs in System Settings > Battery.
Ideally, you want to see a steady decline rather than sudden drops in charge level (unless you know you’ve been doing something intense, like playing games or rendering video). Your Mac should remain relatively stable when not in use.
A “cycle” is a full charge from 0% to 100% and back to 0%. Few people use their MacBooks this way, but the cycles still add up. For example, two days of using half the battery life and charging from 50% to 100% would equal one cycle. You don’t have to be afraid to cycle the number of your MacBook, because the battery is designed to be used.
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macOS battery service warning
Your MacBook should tell you when it’s time to replace the battery. Click on the battery charge indicator in the menu bar at the top right corner of the screen. If you see a “Condition: Replace Soon” or similar warning, macOS has determined that your battery is deteriorating to the point that it will need to be replaced soon.
If you don’t see any of those warnings, your MacBook’s battery should be working normally and doesn’t need to be replaced.
you do not to have to replace your MacBook battery when this warning appears. Doing so will give your laptop a new lease on life when relying on battery power, but if you never leave your desk or find it convenient to carry a charger with you wherever you go, you can simply ignore it and carry it as usual. .
High number of cycles and poor battery health
You can view information about your battery in System Settings > Battery. macOS should report overall health, with an “i” info button that you can tap to see your percentage of full capacity.
You can also find this information under System Information. Click on the Apple logo in the upper left corner of the screen, and then hold down the Option key on your keyboard. Click on “System Information” and then navigate to the “Power” section in the sidebar. Battery information will be displayed at the top of the information panel, with “Cycle Count” available in the “Health Information” section.
Check out Apple’s battery health guide to find out what kind of cycle count to expect from your MacBook before you need to replace the battery. To find out which MacBook you have, click the Apple logo in the upper-right corner of the screen, then choose “About This Mac.”
Unexpected stops or overheating
Your MacBook will automatically shut down sooner than you probably would like if you need to replace the battery. Unexpected power outages or heat issues could also be explained by a bad battery. For example, if your Mac reports that it has a moderate amount of battery left and then shuts down before showing you the low battery warning, a bad battery could be to blame.
The same goes for unexpected power loss while using your MacBook on battery. This is an extreme example of a battery failure, where the cell can no longer deliver the power required to prevent the machine from shutting down. Even if this is the case, the MacBook should work just fine on mains power (at least it does on our old MacBook Air which doesn’t have a battery inside).
Older batteries may also be more prone to overheating. You can check the temperature of your MacBook using a free app called Hot (for Intel and Apple Silicon models). Normal operating temperature for an Apple Silicon CPU (M1 or later) at idle is around 68ºF to 95ºF (20ºC to 35ºC), and around 120ºF (50ºC) or lower for an Intel CPU. Under load, both machines can reach a maximum temperature of around 212ºF (100ºC) on the CPU.
Take these temperatures with a pinch of salt, as ambient temperatures and usage conditions (for example, direct sunlight) can make a big difference in how hot or cold your MacBook is. You’re more likely to notice slow performance as a result of thermal throttling or spontaneous shutdowns if your Mac is affected by heat.
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What to do with your faulty battery
If your MacBook is still under warranty or covered by AppleCare+ or another insurance plan, you may be eligible for a free battery replacement if its maximum capacity has dropped below 80%. You can check your eligibility in System Settings > General > About in the “Coverage” section. Make an appointment with Apple or an authorized service center through Apple Support.
Apple will test your battery and let you know if it needs to be replaced. If you have followed the instructions above to check the cycle count and battery condition, you probably already know the result of this test. If you have a 15-inch MacBook Pro manufactured between 2015 and 2017, you may be eligible for a battery replacement due to a recall.
It’s worth checking Apple’s Service Programs website to see if your Mac is listed for a free battery replacement or if it’s affected by other issues. If your MacBook isn’t covered by its original warranty or service program, Apple can still replace the battery. This is the easiest way to go if you want to replace the battery, but it’s also the most expensive.
You can check how much battery replacement will cost by using the Mac Repair & Service website. Expect to pay around $199 for a new battery, including parts and labor. In many cases, Apple will be able to install a new battery the same day, or you can use an authorized service center or mail-in service if visiting a retail store is not possible.
By going to Apple, you guarantee that only genuine Apple parts will be used. Alternatively, you can go to a nearby (non-authorized) third-party service center and have the battery replaced for you. This is likely to be cheaper, but you may end up with third-party components (whose quality may vary).
Finally, you can always replace the battery yourself at home. You can buy everything you need to do this (including the battery) from websites like iFixit or Other World Computing. Kits can cost anywhere from $60 to around $100 and come with everything you need.
You will also find links to guides on the iFixit website or YouTube that show how to perform the replacement. Replacing a battery is considered a fairly advanced fix, so if you’re worried about things going wrong, it might be worth having someone else do it. That said, if it’s an old MacBook you’re happy to take a chance on and want to hone your repair skills, a battery replacement might be a perfect Sunday afternoon activity.
Keep your MacBook battery in excellent condition
There are some basic practices you can use to keep your MacBook battery healthy. This includes making use of optimized charging, keeping the charge level between 40 and 80%, and avoiding extreme temperatures.
Do you have a 2021 14-inch or 16-inch MacBook Pro, a 2022 or newer MacBook Air? You can quickly charge your MacBook with the right power adapter and cable.