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Do you have a MacBook and keep seeing the dreaded “Service Battery” message? If you’re a Mac user, you’ve likely seen this before. This warning appears when the battery isn’t performing optimally, and may require a professional check. What exactly does this mean, and what should you do when your Mac says “service battery”? In today’s post, we’ll tell you what this warning means and the steps to address it.

Life of a MacBook Battery

If you own a MacBook or MacBook Pro, you can expect your battery to last for 10 hours for typical activities like internet browsing, word processing, data collection, and audio playback. But if you’re pushing your computer to its limits with video or audio editing, the battery will deplete faster than usual. So, how long can your battery last?

Apple claims its batteries are designed to last through 1,000 charging and discharging cycles without significant capacity drops. Even after the 1,000th cycle, the battery should still have at least 80% of its original power. If you’re consistently charging and discharging your battery (say, every day for three years), you’re in luck! The battery should still be able to hold a charge, though it won’t be as strong as it was at its peak. Over time, the battery will eventually break down and cease functioning, but that could take a while.

Worth mentioning is that macOS can monitor the cycles of your battery. A cycle is only complete when the battery is fully charged. Any partial discharge-charge cycles will only be counted as a fraction of a cycle. 

What Does It Mean When My Mac Says “Service Battery”?

Your MacBook monitors its battery’s state to ensure it is in good health. 

When you move your mouse over the battery icon that is located in the status bar at the very top of your screen, a popup will appear that displays the current status of the battery, the amount of power that is still available, and a list of applications that consume a significant amount of battery life.

When you get a “Service Battery” message, you should look at the “System Report.” This will tell you how often your MacBook battery has been used and its overall condition.

Click the Apple icon in the upper left of your screen and select About this Mac from the dropdown menu.

Next, locate the option marked “System Report” from the window that pops up next.

Look for the selection labeled “power.”

A screen will appear with specific details about your computer. All we’re worried about is the tab on the left. It shows the health and cycle count of your MacBook’s battery. 

Battery health information shows you the cycle count and health condition.

What to do about the Service Battery Warning on Mac?

1. Reset System Management Controller

By resetting the System Management Controller (SMC), you can fix problems with the service battery warning.

But resetting SMC will only work on laptops with built-in batteries or batteries that You can’t take out.

To reset SMC, you must: 

  • Turn off your MacBook
  • Plug your MacBook into a power adapter
  • Hold down the Shift, Control, Option, and Power keys.
  • Turn on the Mac.
  • Look at the battery status menu to see if the Service Battery Warning message is still there.

2. Recalibrate the Battery

A service battery warning on a MacBook can be a real bummer, but the good news is you can fix the issue. All you have to do is recalibrate the battery. Apple recommends you do this often to ensure your battery remains in good condition. 

It’s super simple. Follow these steps: 

  • Plug your MacBook in and let it charge fully.
  • Keep it plugged in and powered on for about 2 hours.
  • Unplug the charger and let the battery run down until it shuts off automatically. 
  • Let your MacBook sit for 5-6 hours after it shuts off.
  • Plug the charger back in and let the battery charge back up again.

Sometimes the simplest solutions are the best, and that’s the case here! If that doesn’t do the trick, you may need to bring it in for service.

3. Go to Apple’s Customer Service Center

When everything fails, it’s time to take your laptop to the Apple service center. The technician will take a closer look to determine what’s draining your battery and advise you. If your laptop is old, you may need to replace the battery for it to work again, or better yet, consider purchasing a new laptop.

Ignoring the Service Battery Warning on Mac: Is Anything Bad That Could Happen?

It’s best not to ignore the all-important service battery warning. After all, it’s trying to tell you something – that your battery isn’t functioning as well as it used to. But the warning won’t just come out and say ‘change your battery’ – no, it’ll be a bit more subtle than that. Depending on the warning you get, you’ll know exactly what to do next.

Regarding the battery, four important messages will signify its health status.

  1. Normal: this signifies your battery is functioning normally.
  2. Replace Soon: At this point, the battery is no longer holding as much charge as it once did but is still functional.
  3. Replace Now: Although the battery is still functional, its performance is probably dismal. It is time to start looking for a replacement battery.
  4. Service Battery: Because your battery is no longer working properly, you should replace it as soon as possible.

How to make the battery last longer on your Mac

If you want your MacBook to serve you for a long time, ensure the battery is in good shape. The below tips will help you keep your battery in good shape.

Keep your MacBook Plugged In.

Have an AC outlet at home or somewhere else? You should use it. If you are using your MacBook without it being plugged in, try not to let the battery go below 50% before plugging it back in.

This reduces the frequency of replacing your MacBook battery and prolongs its life. If you don’t let your MacBook run out of power before plugging it back in, you’re putting less stress on the battery.

Don’t let your Mac get too hot or too cold.

MacBooks can perform optimally in temperatures ranging from a balmy 62° F to a toasty 72° F (16.5° C to 22° C). Although your machine will still work in the cold, it won’t last as long! And when we say don’t charge below freezing, we do mean it. Charging a lithium battery in freezing conditions is a big no-no.

On the flip side, temperatures above 95° F/35° C can be equally bad and cause permanent damage to your battery’s power. At high temperatures, charging your MacBook can cause even more damage. Fortunately, the software in your MacBook should prevent it from charging in extreme conditions. However, it is still wise to be aware of the temperature range.

Put your MacBook to sleep with a 50% charge.

When you put your MacBook away, the battery will slowly die. If you’re going to store your MacBook for a long time (more than a month), ensure it’s charged to about 50% of its capacity first.

It may lose some capacity if you store it with a full charge. If you store it with no charge, it may no longer be able to charge at all.

Lower your Keyboard and Display Brightness

A bright display and keyboard on your MacBook can make it easier to work but drain your battery faster. If you’re looking to get the most out of your battery, lowering the brightness of both components can help keep your computer powered for longer.

Turning down the brightness of the display and the keyboard can be a simple way to conserve power. To lower the display brightness, figure out if you have a Touchbar MacBook or a standard-keyboard Mac. If you have a standard keyboard, your brightness control keys are next to the “ESC” key along the top row. Your keyboard backlight controls will be a few keys over to the right.

Changing your display brightness on a Touchbar model is equally straightforward. Look for the icon on the right-hand side of your Touchbar. Tap once to bring up the slider, and decrease accordingly. If you want to dim the keyboard, you can do it in the same place. 

You can extend your battery’s life by lowering the brightness of your display and keyboard. Give it a try, and you’ll be able to work for longer without having to plug in your charger!

How to Fix Service Battery Warning on Mac FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

Why does my Mac say service battery?

While the most common cause is a failed battery, this warning can sometimes be caused by firmware or software bugs. To ensure that your battery is actually failing, you should check the cycle count through System Report.

Do MacBook batteries need replacing? 

While your MacBook battery is designed to hold up over the course of a few years, there will come a time when it no longer functions. Like any battery, the lithium-ion batteries used in MacBooks wear out over time. You cannot repair a battery. Instead, you must replace it.

Do I always have to charge my MacBook's battery to 100%?

No, and it’s important to know this because it can make your battery last longer. You should often unplug your laptop and let the battery level drop below 50% to ensure it lasts as long as possible. Every time it drops below 50%, it counts as a cycle. That’s fine, though, because the goal is to make it last longer, not to count cycles.

Can I put a new battery in my MacBook laptop myself?

While it is technically possible, you should not attempt to service your own MacBook if you don’t know what you’re doing. Apple does not design its systems around user serviceability, so you will have a tough time replacing your own battery. However, with the right tools and expertise, you can install a new battery yourself.

What happens if I ignore the warnings about the service battery?

In the end, you really shouldn’t. Still, ignoring the battery service warning could damage your computer’s hardware. It could be dangerous if the battery gets too big and messes up the laptop’s aluminum. Small fires can still happen, so if you know your battery needs to be changed, you shouldn’t ignore the risk.

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