How to Use Battery Health Management Features on Your Mac

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While there quite a few (myself included) that upgrades their iPhone on yearly basis, the same can’t be said about a MacBook. Regardless of what kind of MacBook you use, chances are it’s going to be a work horse for you for years to come. That’s why it’s extremely important to make the most out of it, including Battery Health Management.

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When macOS Catalina launched last year, there were a lot of bugs and issues that have plagued users. Many of these have been fixed, allowing Apple to focus on introducing newer features to the masses. The latest of which has arrived with the release of macOS Catalina 10.5.5.

What’s new in macOS Catalina 10.5.5?

This latest update had a lot of focus on fixing a plethora of issues for MacBook owners. Some of these bug fixes included were:

  • Fixes an issue that may prevent Reminders from sending notifications for recurring reminders
  • Addresses an issue that may prevent password entry on the login screen
  • Addresses an issue for Mac computers with the Apple T2 Security Chip where internal speakers may not appear as a sound output device in Sound preferences
  • Resolves an issue where the built-in camera may not be detected when trying to use it after using a video conferencing app

However, Apple also took the time to introduce some new and useful features. These include a new option for Group FaceTime calls, making it possible for video tiles to not automatically resize when that person is speaking. But the biggest new feature is called Battery Health Management.

What is the purpose of Battery Health Management?

All MacBooks, just like our iPhones and iPads, use Lithium Ion batteries. And while battery life may seem amazing when you first get your device, over the course of time, the battery degrades as it’s used. And now that we are out of the glory days of user-replaceable parts, you either have to rely on Apple to replace your battery, or get a brand new one altogether.

Since we don’t want to replace our computers on a yearly basis, it’s important for the battery to keep up for as long as possible. Battery Health Management is a step in the right direction for users who need to make sure their computers last for years to come.

How does Battery Health Management work?

Apple does a pretty spot-on job at explaining how this new feature works on macOS Catalina 10.5.5. Here’s one portion that explains what’s going on:

Based on the measurements that it collects, battery health management may reduce your battery’s maximum charge when in this mode. This happens as needed to ensure that your battery charges to a level that’s optimized for your usage—reducing wear on the battery, and slowing its chemical aging.

Essentially, macOS Catalina 10.5.5 analyzes your usage, including which apps are running, what processes are being used and more. Then, it takes that analyzed data and automatically adjusts the capacity of your battery at a system level.

This may mean that your battery may not last as long throughout the day without being plugged into power. Apple has done this by design, as Battery Health Management is designed to improve the longevity over the years for your battery, and not just on a day-by-day basis.

How to turn off Battery Health Management

By default, Apple has turned on Battery Health Management for everyone who has updated to the latest version of Catalina. This also means that the feature will automatically be enabled if you purchase a brand new MacBook that’s already been updated by Apple.

As we mentioned above, using this feature is likely to reduce the duration of your battery life on a daily basis. Apple thought about those who either don’t care or need as much juice as possible and makes it possible to turn this feature off.

  1. Open the System Preferences app on your Mac.
  2. Click Energy Saver.
  3. Select Battery Health at the bottom.
  4. Toggle Battery health management.
  5. Tap OK.

Turn off Battery Health Management 3

Now this will be turned off, and it will not automatically turn itself back on even after a restart. In the event that you change your mind, you can follow the above steps to turn this back on.

What else can you do to improve battery life of your Mac?

We cannot stress how important it is to be able to prolong the life of your MacBook, unless you have the ability to upgrade every year. And in addition to these new features from Apple, there are a few other things you can do.

The basics

Energy Saver System Preferences

  • Lower your keyboard and display brightness – Backlit keyboards are amazing and extremely useful. But the power has to come from somewhere and prolonged usage of backlit keys will drain the battery. The same can be said for using your built-in display with its brightness set to 100%. Chances are this can be lowered and your battery will thank you for it.
  • Turn off features that are not being actively used – As is the case with your iPhone or iPad, if you are not actively using the likes of Bluetooth or Wi-Fi you can turn this off. There won’t be a dramatic increase in battery life, but you can squeeze a few precious minutes out if you do turn these off.
  • Keep your MacBook updated to the latest software – Outside of the possible vulnerabilities, Apple releases bug fixes that aim to improve the operating system as a whole. These bug fixes can improve battery life, even if Apple’s change-log doesn’t specifically say as much. So always keep your MacBook updated to the latest version.

Advanced options

  • Adjust your Energy Saver settings – From the Energy Saver panel in System Preferences, you can adjust an array of features. These include how long it takes for your display to turn off, putting your hard drive to sleep when possible, and enabling Power Nap.
  • Toggle Automatic Graphics Switching – For some MacBook models, there is are two built-in graphics card (discrete and integrated) that helps with intensive applications. With this feature disabled, battery life may be affected as a discrete GPU will draw more power than the integrated GPU.
  • If powering other devices, plug your MacBook into a Power Source – This one is pretty simple, especially if you have used a portable charger for your iPhone or iPad. If you are using your MacBook as a portable charger, the battery will drain much quicker, and you might be left without a charge at the wrong time.

Conclusion

Seeing Apple make these strides in an effort to improve macOS Catalina shows us a few things. First, it seems that many of the major issues that have plagued users have largely been fixed. Secondly, it’s a relief that Apple can now focus on minor, yet important, feature additions to improve the overall experience.

It will be interesting to see what’s to come for the next version of macOS, which should make an appearance during WWDC. However, I’m quietly hoping that Apple doesn’t launch a new version this year, and continues to provide incremental updates like Battery Health Management.

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