Have you ever run into a situation where the battery icon in your menu bar is stuck at 80% even though your Mac has been plugged in for hours? Luckily, there are several easy workarounds, but first, let us explain what’s going on.
In the past few years, Apple has added optimized battery charging features to many of its battery-powered products, including the iPhone, the Apple Watch, and the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro. In all cases, Apple’s goal is to increase the lifespan of your devices’ lithium-ion batteries by reducing the amount of time they spend fully charged.
With the iPhone and Apple Watch, Apple achieves this by learning your charging patterns and delaying charging past 80% in certain situations. The optimized charging algorithm then charges the device to full just before you’re likely to unplug it. For most people, that probably happens overnight, so the device is ready in the morning.
With the MacBooks, the background is slightly different. Many people use their MacBooks at desks, often connected to large displays, so they spend a lot of time plugged into power. In the past, that would keep the battery fully charged and generate heat, both of which shorten the lifespan of lithium-ion batteries. So once again, Apple’s optimized battery charging technology tries to hold the battery at 80% and charges it to full only when it thinks you’ll need to use it away from the desk. If you seldom take it anywhere, it could be held at 80% most of the time.
That works best when you have a regular schedule, but it’s easy to end up in a situation where you need to grab your MacBook and head out—such as for an overnight trip—where you won’t be able to recharge easily. If the optimized battery charging algorithm wasn’t expecting that, you could find yourself with a battery that’s only at 80% to start, significantly reducing your battery life.
There are three ways to work around this problem, depending on how troublesome it is for you:
If all this seems fussy, it’s because Apple was criticized some years ago when it introduced optimized battery charging for the iPhone without informing users, some of whom were upset by the seemingly unpredictable charging behavior. Apple now makes the controls accessible to users, which is good but adds complexity.
Although we recommend leaving optimized battery charging enabled in most situations, there are times when it’s reasonable to turn it off to ensure you have as much power as possible for the upcoming work session.
(Featured image by iStock.com/Konev Timur)
Social Media: Has your MacBook’s battery ever been stuck at 80% when you would prefer to have a full charge? We explain what’s happening and how to work around Apple’s optimized battery charging features.