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Monitor and Track your MacBook Battery

July 21, 2011

Batteries are a fickle thing. They can become uncalibrated and they will degrade over time. Apple’s newest laptops have batteries that promise three years or 300 charge cycles before they degrade 30% or more, but how do you know what the health status of your battery is? With a few simple tools you can monitor the battery health of a MacBook and know if you need to have it serviced.


Now that you have calibrated your battery, There are a few utilities you can use to check the battery health. The first one is Apple’s System Profiler (System Information in Lion). The easiest way to open System Profiler is to click the Apple menu then click About This Mac. In the displayed window click on More Info (In Lion you have an extra step, you then need to click on the System Report button)




Inside System Profiler, click Power on the left hand side under Hardware. In the main window, underneath Battery Information you will find Full Charge Capacity. This is what the battery now has as a maximum charge. This number will vary depending on the age of the battery and what size it was to begin with. Mine shows 5494 mili amp hours (mAh). If you know what the battery mAh should be as new then you can calculate your loss. For my Core 2 Duo MacBook Pro, the battery should have been 6500 mAh when new so I am at 85% and still within the Apple warrantee standards. 


Don’t know what your new capacity should be? There programs you can download to help with this. First, a program called iStat Pro by iSlayer, is a Dashboard widget that give you plenty of system information with the simple tap of the F4 button to open the Dashboard. In the Battery section it shows the Battery Health (percentage compared to new), the charge cycle count and the current charge information. 


Another program that I use is called coconutBattery. CoconutBattery will show you the same information as iStat Pro but also give you the ability to track changes. In the top right hand corner is a little arrow that when clicked opens a secondary window that includes a Save button to save the current information. By using this utility over time you can determine any patterns with battery health and capacity. 


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