We’re Losing Power Captain! What to do when you Macbook’s Battery is Low

Almost day to day, I have to type something up, whether it’s notes, papers, ideas, etc. This week, I was doing such when I realized my battery was in the red. I couldn’t put the laptop to sleep in the middle of class, much less turn it off. I started doing what I knew I could do to save power, which got me thinking if other people did as well.

If you Macbook (or any laptop for that matter) starts getting low on power (& you obviously can’t use your charging cable for whatever reason), here are 5 things you can do to lower its power consumption. These tips are not exclusive to Macbooks, but will revolve around such.

1. Look in the Background: If you’ve got something big running in the background, this can really eat up you battery. Large downloads, video and picture rendering, updating, and scans usually eat up a lot of memory. Plus they heat up you computer, causing the fan to kick in (and no one likes a noisy fan). All of these things eat up your battery, so cancel anything that isn’t necessary to your work at the moment.

2. Dim the lights! Your screen is usually one of the largest power drains, especially for those with larger screens. By dimming the backlight, it can really slow the power consumption. Likewise, if your Macbook has the backlit keyboard, turn it off (or at least dim it if you’re in a darkened room); it may not eat as much as the screen, but it certainly doesn’t help. Especially since a bright screen/keyboard can turn up the heat, this can also kick the fan into high gear, thus draining the battery.

3. Cut the fan: Considering the previous 2 statements on heat, this should be no surprise. If your Mac’s not overheating, and your Mac isn’t doing any strenuous work, cutting the fan speed will lower power consumption. While we’re on the subject of heating, keyboard covers can keep heat insulated a bit, so removing them can help lower the fans job just a little bit. By default, Mac’s usually run the fan automatically, but some people run manual fan control apps, like smcFanControl.

4. Unplug unnecessary hardware: Peripheral devices (flash drives, external hard drives, speakers, headphones, etc.) tend to use power, and the more you have the more stress it put on your battery. If you can unplug any of them, go ahead. It won’t hurt, unless your presentation comes from a flash drive.

5. Turn off the Internet? Well if you’re not using it, don’t bother with it. Whether or not you’re connected to the local connection, you Mac is still open to receiving it. This is especially true of WiFi, which your Airport will keep looking for whether or not you can connect to any. So if you don’t need the web, turn off your AirPort by control-clicking the icon in your menu bar, and select turn off. Also, go ahead an unplug the Ethernet (this also counts as unplugging peripherals).

5. Start turning off unnecessary apps: When giving a presentation, does iTunes really need to be running? How if you just finished running it, can you turn it off? Don’t have Twitter running if you don’t have Internet. Pretty simple stuff. Start by having major applications turn off, and only turn off background apps (anti-viruses, Dropbox, etc) if you absolutely have to. Just stick to the minimum as needed for low power situations. Here’s another good place to start: If it connects to the Web, plays media, or is a game, it is a program that will drain power the fastest.

Those are 5 easy tips for saving power on your Macbook. Got any tips yourself? Feel free to comment or email me at easysox@live.com and I might update this to include your tip. be sure to subscribe and let me know if you have any other suggestions for any other topics.

Thanks for reading.

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Posted on April 12, 2011, in Hardware, Personal, Software, Tutorials and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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