Does Your MacBook Need a Battery Replacement?

Have you noticed anything odd going on with your Macbook’s cursor? Is it jumping around on the screen without your moving it, deleting things on accident or acting otherwise erratically? If so, this is just one of the weird symptoms of a Macbook battery replacement being needed.

Since your Macbook battery is an important part of your Mac, it’s important to know how the battery is doing health wise. Without the AC power adapter plugged in, the battery is your computer’s only way of staying powered and providing you the portability of a laptop. The sad news is batteries go bad, and Mac computers are not immune nor invincible against a failing battery. Macbooks that are continuously used will at some point experience the signs and symptoms of a battery going bad.

What are the Signs and Symptoms a Macbook Battery is Going Bad?

There are several indicators that will tell you your battery is going bad. One of the more obvious indications is when you unplug your Macbook from the AC power adapter and your battery life decreases at an astronomical rate. Around 35-40% you may experience the computer completely shutting down without warning. The drop in battery strength is quick and can often happen within 20 to 30 minutes of use.

If your battery indicator at the top right of your screen never says 100% or has an “X”, it is a sign the battery is going bad. Healthy batteries charge completely. You may notice that even when the power adapter is plugged in, your battery strength is around 96% to 98%.

As we spoke of at the beginning, one of the weirdest signs your battery is going bad is an erratic cursor. For no reason your cursor will jump to a different section of a document you are typing in, highlight text randomly, or even delete text. Many Mac users are driven crazy by this behavior because they believe it may be due to a bad trackpad or keyboard.

One way to tell if the erratic cursor issue is due to a bad battery is to take your battery out while your computer is attached to the AC power adapter. Try typing in a document and see if the erratic cursor issue starts. If it doesn’t, then the erratic cursor issue is due to a bad battery.

 

bad-macbook-battery

Example of a bad (bulging) Macbook battery.

Ignoring any of the signs above may lead to your battery exploding. Yes, your Macbook battery literally explodes, but the explosion is contained within the battery pack. There are signs and symptoms that a battery may be on its way to exploding. If your battery bulges from the bottom of your computer, it is going bad and needs to be replaced.

How can the Health of the Battery be Checked?

You can periodically check the health of your Macbook battery by clicking on the battery icon at the top right of your screen. The drop down menu will indicate one of four statuses: Normal, Replace Soon, Replace Now, and Service Battery.

battery condition

Obviously, the normal status means your battery is functioning at 100% efficiency. When you start to see the replace soon status, start looking for a replacement. The amount of time between a status of replace soon and replace now can happen within a few months or can happen within a year. Don’t ever let your battery get to the service battery status, this is when a battery explosion is more than likely.

You can also view the cycle count of your Macbook battery by going to the System Profiler. A cycle is counted as the number of times your battery is completely depleted and recharged. The higher the cycle count, the more likely your battery will need replacement. Macbooks range from 300-1000 cycle counts before the battery is depleted.

macbook battery cycles

The example above shows Battery Information as listed under System Profiler on Mac OS X v10.6 Snow Leopard on a MacBook Pro. The battery here has six cycles on it.

Follow these steps to access information on your Apple computer’s battery, including the cycle count:

  1. Your first step will vary depending on which version of Mac OS X you are using:
    • Mac OS X 10.6.8 Snow Leopard or earlier: Open Apple System Profiler by choosing About this Mac from the Apple () menu. Then, click More Info.
    • OS X 10.7 Lion or later: Open System Information by choosing About this Mac from the Apple () menu. Then, in the About This Mac window click System Report.
  2. Click Power in the Contents list (under the Hardware section as shown below).
  3. Cycle Count is listed under the Battery Information section. 

Can the Life of a Macbook Battery be Prolonged?

You can prolong the life of your Macbook battery by adjusting a few settings. However, after several years of use, battery replacement is inevitable.

One setting that will help with the life of your battery is the brightness setting. Setting the brightness level at less than 100%, typically at around 50-60% can increase your battery life by up to three hours.

energy saver in mac

Energy saving settings are also useful to prolonging your battery. Set your energy settings to put the computer to sleep after a certain time idling and choose the better battery life option. You can also set the dimming of the screen to automatically occur when running from the battery vs. the AC adapter.

You can find some more tips on extending your Macbook’s battery life, here.

Is a Replacement Battery Expensive?

Replacing your Macbook battery is not expensive. There are some die hard Mac gurus who insist you only replace your battery with an Apple made battery, but there are several aftermarket battery replacements available. An Apple made battery will run you around $129, while an aftermarket battery can run around $50-60. Aftermarket batteries are just as reliable as Apple made ones.

With the battery being such an integral part of the overall use of your Macbook, watching for signs and symptoms of a bad battery is key to keeping your computer running properly. Waiting to replace the battery until it explodes can cause damage to your computer and may render your Macbook unusable. When you do decide to replace your battery, replace the AC power adapter too. A fresh AC adapter and battery will keep your Macbook running smooth.

50 Kimberly Carver


Kimberly Carver is a trained Mac Specialist/Expert. Trained both in school and on the job she continues to educate herself about Macs at every opportunity she gets. Kim’s official training and areas of expertise include: Mac specialist, AOL IT Tech, certified paralegal, research specialist, and licensed private investigator.