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Normally, the procedure for resetting the SMC on a MacBook includes first removing the battery if it is removable. I often use my Mac without its battery to avoid overcharging during long periods of plugged-in use. Could I still reset the SMC by skipping the battery removal step and just unplugging the MagSafe adapter and holding the power button for 5 ~ 10 seconds?

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I often use my Mac without its battery to avoid overcharging during long periods of plugged-in use.

(Why is this even a thing?) The SMC that you are attempting to reset manages the flow of current to/from the battery to ensure that it's not overcharged. There's dedicated charging circuitry specifically for the task of safely charging your battery.

Additionally, all modern battery packs have over/under charge protection circuitry built into them. So, removing your battery "during extended period of plugged-in use" is completely unnecessary and you risk damaging things if your battery is the non-removable type (those connectors weren't designed for repeated connects/disconnects).

To answer your question...

Could I still reset the SMC by skipping the battery removal step and just unplugging the MagSafe adapter and holding the power button for 5 ~ 10 seconds?

  • If your battery is removable - this would be a moot point given that you're supposed to remove it. Reset the SMC and plug the battery back in.

  • If your battery is non-removable, plug the battery back in and reset the SMC. Leave the battery plugged in.

There are reasons to reset the SMC and this shouldn't be done in the course of "normal maintenance." Too many times folks react to common errors with "I need to reset the SMC/NVRAM) - this is hardly the case. Please see Apple's support page: Reset the System Management Controller (SMC) on your Mac for more information on Indicators that the SMC might need to be reset.

  • The reason for the SMC resets for me is that the fans sometimes go bonkers, even with little to no load. Another reason is that it occasionally tends to kill itself when on battery power (possible faulty battery?). – Mona the Monad Jul 10 '17 at 12:36
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    If you have to continually reset the SMC because the fan "sometimes goes bonkers" you probably have an underlying issue. The description "it occasionals tends to kill itself when on battery power" is a bit vague - do you mean to say that your battery drains quickly while on battery power? If this is the case, I don't see how it ties into leaving it disconnected while plugged in solves that problem. From the question and the follow up comment - it sounds like an XY problem. Consider adding relevant details to the problem you are actually having. – Allan Jul 10 '17 at 12:48
  • I meant to sat that the MacBook suddenly loses power, on occasion, even when the battery is at, say, 72%. I guess this might be due to a loose battery or something, though this isn't the first time I've reseated the battery. – Mona the Monad Jul 10 '17 at 14:22
  • So, plugged in and battery connected, it just turns off with a battery capacity reading of 72%? – Allan Jul 10 '17 at 14:28
  • My bad, I meant to say that this occurs when not plugged in, but with the battery. And because of the occasional sudden deaths, I tend to use my MacBook plugged in without the battery. – Mona the Monad Jul 10 '17 at 15:12

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