My MacBook battery failed a few months back. For a few weeks, my computer would go to sleep a few seconds after removing the power cord. (It could be awoken by re-attaching the power cord, and it would be in the same state as I had left it.) After a few weeks, it would shut down instantly after removing the power cord.

(Note: This happened a few months after I began heavily using a dual-boot of Ubuntu on my MacBook, as well as upgrading the Mac OS to Snow Leopard. This is a 2008 black 13-inch MacBook.)

I assumed this meant that the battery was completely shot, so I just recently got around to buying a new one. (I know, I should have dealt with this sooner.) It just arrived today—I bought it from a respected eBay seller—but it does not appear to take a charge. One thing that I have noticed is that my computer now stays on for a few seconds after removing the power cord, then goes to sleep; when I attach the power cord, I can wake it up again and it hasn't been powered down. (Just like the way my old battery acted at first.) However, my battery indicator still shows just an "X" where it should show a charge.

I've done some research and found that resetting my computer's PRAM and resetting the SMC have been known to fix these problems. However, I have done both—to no avail.

One last thing: For the past few months or so, whenever I do software update, I always have a firmware update (pictured below) that never seems to actually be applied.

MacBook SMC Firmware update

I have pretty much deduced at this point that it's probably not a problem with the battery, but rather something with the computer or how the computer interacts with the battery. If someone could shed some light on this, I would be eternally grateful.

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    If you live near an Apple Store, you should take it to the Genius Bar and have them examine it firsthand. You owe it to yourself to get someone with all the proper testing tools to investigate this. – user9290 Aug 20 '11 at 13:27

I'm thinking it has something to do with the failed SMC update.

Can you do an update of the SMC Firmware independent of Software Update. Download the update here http://support.apple.com/kb/DL1312

Once you are satisfied that the update has been applied successfully, keep your new battery on charge for 24 hours. Let us know if it fixes the issue.

  • Thanks for the link to the direct download. I tried to apply the patch, and installation was successful, but it doesn't appear to "finalize" it upon startup. Under 'Software Update', the patch is still there. :/ – Josh Leitzel Apr 22 '11 at 3:26
  • Have a look at this support.apple.com/kb/HT2368 Seems that even though the update is successful, it doesn't update the SMC firmware. Looks like there is a file in /Application/Utilities. – robzolkos Apr 22 '11 at 3:45
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    Thanks for the link; I'm actually starting to think it has to do with the fact that I have a dual-boot of Ubuntu on my machine. If you take a look at this page: support.apple.com/kb/HT2434 you'll see that only GUID-partitioned drives can install firmware updates. Mine is Master Boot Record. – Josh Leitzel Apr 22 '11 at 4:05
  • ok, cool - sounds like you have the answer :) I'd go with option one in that linked article and create a boot drive to install the smc firmware. – robzolkos Apr 22 '11 at 4:12

The computer should not go to sleep seconds after disconnecting the power cord. I suspect you got a dud battery. Contact your respected eBay seller and ask for a replacement or your money back.

  • I really don't think so. Like I said, simple deduction will lead one to the conclusion that this is not a problem with the battery. – Josh Leitzel Apr 22 '11 at 0:00
  • @Josh What "simple deduction" are you doing? You said "One thing that I have noticed is that my computer now stays on for a few seconds after removing the power cord, then goes to sleep; when I attach the power cord, I can wake it up again and it hasn't been powered down." When that happens, it's the power management seeing a low charge on the battery and going to sleep to avoid shutting down. Your battery, in effect, has a few seconds of battery life. That's the very definition of a bad battery. The fact that you can't apply the update is merely icing on the cake. You got a shitty battery. – Cajunluke Apr 22 '11 at 0:17
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    The new battery is acting the same way my original (Apple-issued) battery acted. The fact that it now goes to sleep instead of shuts off completely is a good sign (IMO). I would deduce from all of this that my computer is unable to charge the battery. – Josh Leitzel Apr 22 '11 at 3:28
  • @Josh Did your original Apple battery act like this from the start, when you got the computer, or is this a recent development? It could indeed be the computer, but the likelihood of it being the battery (even two separate batteries) is very high, especially when buying things from eBay. My solution for you is to return the battery and get a new one. If three or four batteries behave the same way, it's probably the computer. – Cajunluke Apr 22 '11 at 13:51

Always buy original Apple batteries. I had also bought a battery for my old iBook G4 from eBay, it also did work.

So, my advise is to buy original Apple parts and accessories.


I had exactly the same problem. The key clue is the 'X' icon - the new battery is bad, and the Mac is unable to recognise it.

The other replies suggesting an official Apple battery are the safest option. However, you might want to look into getting something from iFixit (good quality control, reasonable price) or even Amazon (price will likely be lower, and they have an excellent return policy).

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