This is likely the same problem I saw reported countless times. However, mine comes with a twist, so I wonder if anyone can provide extra insight. Briefly, my laptop randomly shuts down (I think it happens only on battery). It's an early 2011 17" version running the latest macOS.

A few weeks ago I reinstalled the whole macOS after it wouldn't turn on anymore. I thought it might've been a hardware issue as many people suggest replacing the motherboard, but I was still able to boot it in the safe mode, which would suggest it's a software component issue.

Fast-forward and it's started happening again, although only infrequently and I am able to turn it back on very quickly if I have a charger nearby. Now, here are 2 insights I noticed and wonder if anyone can explain futher.

1/ Once the laptop "dies", I usually need to connect it to the charger to start it again. It feels like giving it some juice to power up. The battery level doesn't seem to play a role here (happens on 90% too). Sometimes if I connect the charger, turn it on, remove charger, it dies instantly. As if I had to keep the charger in for a certain amount of time until it feels confident to run without it. Feels like teaching a child ride a bike.

2/ Lately, I developed a new theory that it happens only when discharging AND I have to have the laptop on my lap, bed, or other unstable surface. I am paying attention now if it happens again when I work on desk, I couldn't replicate it so far. It's this point that drives me crazy, wondering what it could be.

Any experience with this issue is welcome. 😸

[UPDATE]: I removed case from the Macbook, dusted it off a bit and since then it's been running without any issues again. I haven't changed any settings or components. Computers are weird.

  • You have an 8 year old laptop - the battery plays a significant (humongous) role here. What do you get when you issue the following command in the Terminal: cat /var/log/system.log | grep -i "shutdown cause"
    – Allan
    Feb 26, 2018 at 1:01
  • I guess it's a battery issue. Download CoconutBattery and see battery health and capacity. Since it's a 8 year old laptop chance is that the battery capacity is very less. I had this issue with my old iBook which was 7/8 years old which was good again after battery change.
    – Pratik
    Feb 26, 2018 at 4:49
  • @Allan Thank you, I completely understand that. That command currently returns only a newline character (empty), I might try running it again some time.
    – Lubos
    Feb 26, 2018 at 15:46
  • @PratikaRana I actually installed CocountBattery a few days ago – which metrics would be of most interest?
    – Lubos
    Feb 26, 2018 at 15:47
  • @Lubos Battery Cycles, Full charge capacity, macOS battery status. The full charge capacity would be very less. coconut-flavour.com/coconutbattery/assets/img/…
    – Pratik
    Feb 27, 2018 at 4:05

2 Answers 2


The symptom of powering off suddenly at various charge states (sometimes 25% left, sometimes 75% left) is almost always a battery that can’t keep up with the designed current.

Some times it’s physical damage from a drop, sometimes chemical damage from being in a car trunk, sometimes just an out of spec battery.

Any service technician with Apple diagnostics can diagnose and repair that for you. Be sure your firmware and software is up to date before paying for service, though. Also, try once a SMC reset.

DIY repair is possible, especially if you are patient and aware an improper battery swap is a fire hazard and can afford a do over if you damage the battery when it’s out or don’t get the adhesive properly handled.

  • Hi, thank you for the advice! I have to say it first started happening this winter and I thought it was because I carried it outside in freezing temperatures for 2-3 hours couple times a week (walking to work with laptop in my should bag). Could that be related to your example with chemical damage?
    – Lubos
    Feb 26, 2018 at 15:53
  • @Lubos low temperature doesn't harm the chemistry - it just makes things temporarily less effective. So when your device is actually cold - less charge can get out but once it warms up that temporary loss of capacity is reversed entirely.
    – bmike
    Feb 26, 2018 at 21:16

Batteries of that vintage are known to swell and damage the case if not not caught or leak into internals. Keyboard mis-clicks are an indication of this.

Coconut Battery is very good product because it tells you the health of the battery ... when 90% charged is really 5% of original capacity.

Apple Stores no longer officially service the hardware of 2011, but may make an exception. AASP (Apple Authorised Service Providers) do not care about the year of the system, and OtherWorldComputing (macsales.com) sells the proper battery for self-service ... easy to do in my opinion.

ifixit.comhas many DIY guides for operations of all vintages of Macs, from memory swap (usually easy) through screen replacement (if one is so bold!).

  • Hi, thank you for the reply! Disclaimer: I am not a strong hardware person. With that said, is this still an issue with newer versions? Or does that happen as a result of battery ageing, regardless of its date of manufacture?
    – Lubos
    Feb 26, 2018 at 15:49
  • I downloaded CoconutBattery recently and it shows "Full Charge Capacity 7593 mAh" and "Design Capacity 8450 mAh" (97.7% and 89.9% respectively). Count cycle is 449 and battery status says good. At the same time, you can do ALT + click on the battery icon in taskbar to reveal its status. I did that a few days ago and it showed "normal" as well, but yesterday it said "low: replace now." And today it's "normal" again. Seems to be a battery issue then for sure I guess?
    – Lubos
    Feb 26, 2018 at 15:51
  • EDIT: What I am trying to see is whether it might be worth just buying a new model instead of changing battery.
    – Lubos
    Feb 26, 2018 at 15:54
  • New battery is far cheaper than a new system. You could gamble a new battery ($50-ish) before spending $2500+ on a new system that is locked into a newer OSX (Macs cannot run older OSX than they came with) and must be purchased with the SSD and RAM you think you will need in the future. I cannot determine if your revered "aircraft carrier" has outlived its usefulness ... only you can.
    – Ozymandias
    Feb 26, 2018 at 16:43

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