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I have brand new Macbook Pro (15", i5 2.4GHz, 4Gb RAM) purchased at the end of May 2010 and Apple advertises up to 7 hours of wireless web battery life, however I consistently getting only about 4 hours when I use it normally, i.e. WiFi is turned on and quite a few apps are running, but nothing too resource hungry like games or Photoshop. I tried to figure out if my settings are incorrect or if I'm using some apps that really drain the battery, but can't find any obvious issues, so I wonder what other MBP owners typically get from their batteries? Is 4 hours a typical or I need to replace my battery or do something with my setup? When Apple states up to 8-9 hours, must you turn off all wireless, dim your screen to the minimum and perhaps the only app running be Terminal?

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10 Answers 10

up vote 14 down vote accepted

It's likely that you are running something in the background (such as Skype) which is triggering your dedicated graphics card, despite it not actually doing anything graphically intensive. This is a known issue in Apple's graphics card switching technology.

Download and run gfxCardStatus and see if I'm right. If so, close the problematic program or use gfxCardStatus to manually switch to the much lower-powered integrated chip. You should get longer battery life after that; I haven't directly measured it but I know I get at least 30 minutes to an hour of extra life.

And of course it also depends on what you're doing with your computer, what background programs are running, the brightness of your screen, etc.

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gfxCardStatus is super useful. Thanks @Ricket! – pithyless Dec 18 '10 at 20:55

Run Activity Monitor and watch the graphs and stats for a while when you are using your machine. Is there a bunch of threads that seem to be 'busy' even though you're not particularly doing anything? Yes? Have a look at the processes that own these threads and see if you're actually using those apps or if they're just wasting your battery.

Here's an Apple Support article that walks you through the whole thing, with screenshots too.

I did this and found the two worst culprits were:

  1. backupd. This is Time Machine running. Let it run - it is important and eventually stops.

  2. 'Flash Player (Safari Internet Plugin)'. Even though I wasn't playing any Flash Video, it seems that some Flash files just burn through CPU because they don't have a proper 'idle' state. My solution to this was to install 'ClickToFlash' plugin for Safari which allows you to control which sites run Flash automatically and which do it on your say-so.

Just doing (2) doubled my battery life on my MacBook Pro 2,2 as a large proportion of my Mac-time is reading news and articles on the net. Many pages use Flash for advertisements and videos, which we know, but you may not know that many sites use Flash just for the nice fonts that they embed into the file (sIFR text).

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+1 Flash is terrible. – g . Oct 8 '10 at 10:03
I'm going to try this evening and purge 'Flash Player'. My battery health is 95% and my MBP is 4 months old. – Rolnik Jan 31 '12 at 15:35
I think it's been superseded by ClickToPlugin which is even better IMO – JBRWilkinson Feb 3 '12 at 19:45

I bought my macbook pro in December 2008 and I found that there are 2 main reasons for short battery.

Screen Brightness and Heavy resource programs (like games/photoshop as you mentioned)

For example

  • At full brightness I can do simple things like email, AIM, and search the web for about 2 hours of battery at full brightness.
  • This changes to 3 hours if I put the screen at 1 level above the screen back-lighting being off.

I found that my battery lasts about 1hr 20min at full brightness when I am working with Adobe After Effects though.

I would say that your battery life is typical or better compared to both mine and my friends who have the same system.

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I have the MacBook Pro 6,1 (i7, 4GB, 250GB 7200 RPM Drive).

I get around 6-7 hours when using it for browsing and email. Normal standard stuff. When running Parallels or playing Games I get around 4 hours. Overall I am extremely impressed with the new one's battery life. Watching videos I can push 4 hours out as well, which I do quite often.

My old MacBook (Dual Core, 4GB, 5400RPM Drive) still gives me around 3-4 hours battery life after 3 years.

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I have a MBP 15" i5 2010. Eight hours is certainly realistic for light usage.

The main battery killers for me have been:

  • Using the nVidia graphics unexpectedly. e.g. MagicPrefs for the MagicMouse causes the machine to switch away from the Intel GPU! Install gfxCardStatus so you have an icon in the menu bar that you can monitor and even force the machine down to Intel-only.
  • Flash.
  • Screen brightness.
  • CPU utilisation.

For the past couple of weeks I've been working in a small office away from my usual desk, just writing documents in a wiki and updating a ticket system. Using a wireless network. I recharge the machine overnight and have had a full days usage of 7-8 hours out of the battery every day.

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I have an early 2011 MBP i7 Intel and I charge and discharge the battery on a daily basis (i.e. charge it to 100%, disconnect mains, use it till it goes down to 5-10%, then charge it again).
In doing so, it has rarely given me more than 3 hrs of battery time.

I have ended up consuming 400 battery cycles in 8 months.
On inquiring at various forums, I see that people recommend I should keep power connected to my MBP most times and let it drain only once in a while.

I guess I will do that now and see how it improves the battery performance.

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I have the same model and cannot confirm this at all. My battery life is between 5 and 6 hours. Is it possible that you are using discrete graphics all the time? Please check your settings in System Preferencs > Energy saver. – gentmatt May 12 '12 at 14:53

I had a graphic designer working with me and used his own MacBook Pro in 2010, he claims that he bought his MacBook Pro 3 years prior (that'd be 2007, I guess).

He used the MacBook Pro for Photoshop, wireless during working hour, and his MacBook Pro really did last for 6-7 hours.

But after I got my MacBook Pro and reading many comments from my MacBook Pro-using friend and over the Internet, seems like we are squeezing the MacBook Pro to just get a little improvement. I guess 7 hours is an historical index and not applicable for newer MacBook Pros.

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I think Apple calculates 8-9 hours just when you turn your macbook-pro on without wireless or any application running and also no keyboard light and with lowest brightness.

my macbookpro keeps battery for average 2 or 2.5 hours.

you can find helpful information here.

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I have the same model, MacBook Pro 15" Core i5 (May 2010). I get about little over 6 hours for just web browsing with watching some videos on YouTube and etc. If I don't watch videos I'll probably get 8+ hours. I usually have my brightness set to about 70-80%.

Here's AnandTech's review of the new MacBook. They also got 8+ hours for light browsing.

I'm pretty sure Apple's estimate is based on "light browsing" which means:

  • Not full brightness. ~60% Probably..
  • WiFi on.
  • No GPU-intensive apps running (this means no Flash video)

Try it and see how many hours you get.

With my "Normal" usage, I get about 5 hours which is still good in its class.

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I have a macbook pro from late 2009. Even when I just do word editing and turn wifi off as well as keep my screen at half-brightness, with no other apps running, I can get about four hours at max. Keyboard light and bluetooth are also off.

Of course I have been using it for about a year now: I got more around 6 hours earlier in 2010.

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