I recently got my MacBook Air, and the battery cycles is already at 12. Is this good/average? I don't know if I am not charging it properly or something, because I don't want to ruin my battery in the first year of having it.

Earlier today, I didn't even run the battery all the way down to 0% (it went down to 6%) and then I charged it up to 94%, and the battery cycle count has increased to 12, but that is not a full cycle, or is it? I'm confused about this whole battery cycle thing, because I'm used to a desktop and not worrying about batteries.

So, how can I preserve the battery cycles and not use as much cycles in a week? Maybe I am charging it too much or something?

  • My MacBook Pro is 15 months old, and has 175 cycles on the clock. My battery health is down to 93%, so it's really nothing to worry about. The only real no no is to leave it plugged in all the time. Just use it as a laptop, and charge it when it needs charging.
    – AlanJC
    Jul 30, 2012 at 21:16
  • @AlanJC, where can I find facts/reasons to back up the claim not to leave it plugged in all the time? I've read this all over, but have never been convinced by some official recommendation/facts about batteries. Jul 27, 2015 at 14:42

2 Answers 2


Don't stress about it so much.

A Battery cycle refers to, more or less, one mostly full discharge and recharge. Typically, your battery should be rated for somewhere in the neighborhood of 1000 cycles. Eventually, the battery just won't hold a charge for as long as it did when it was new, but that's why batteries are easily and affordably replaceable. It's a consumable part. If it dies prematurely (which is the only thing you should really need to pay attention to cycles for), then it's covered under your warranty. The 'Battery Cycles' indicator is mainly there so that you can diagnose this. If, in a years time, your laptop's battery only lasts half as long as it did when it was new, but you've only used say, 400 cycles, well, that's not performing up to spec, and it should be covered under your warranty. If you've used 1500 cycles (doing that in a year would be some pretty heavy and impressive use though, I've gotta say), well, that's to be expected. You used your battery a lot, and it wore out.

Use your laptop as normal. Battery cycles are not a scarce and precious resource to be hoarded. 12 cycles in about a week and a half sounds pretty normal for a new laptop being used heavily to me. That's about, what? 6 hours/day unconnected to a power source? If you're using it on the go, that's a perfectly reasonable amount of consumption.

  • 2
    I agree with less pop. I've had numerous MacBook Pros and use my computers daily off battery, charging them at night which means I cycle the battery daily. I generally get 3 years out of my computers and I've only had to replace batteries twice in the entire time I've had PowerBooks and MacBook Pros. Both times they were covered under AppleCare (a good thing to have if you own a portable computer). I used to think it was important to keep track of this stuff but experience has shown me it's generally a waste of effort.
    – Richard
    May 3, 2012 at 3:07
  • 2
    "Don't stress" - excellent advice. May 3, 2012 at 6:41
  • Thank you for your detailed answer. I understand it all now :)
    – Nathan
    May 4, 2012 at 4:01
  • If I have the possibility to use from AC or Battery what would you suggest?
    – Anonymous
    Jul 30, 2012 at 21:05

It is, to the best of my knowledge, complete nonsense that on a newish macbook pro and air, that keeping it plugged into the wall damages the battery.

It was the case on older pc laptops, and most probably older macs too, but the newer macs are intelligent enough not to keep pumping power into the battery once it's charged.

Once the battery is fully charged, it's my understanding the computer stops putting power to the battery, and uses the power adaptor solely to power the computer.

I believe that this is what the green or red light on the magnetic charging connector signifies.

When it's green, the power is bypassing the battery, thus it's not damaging the battery.

When it's red, power is going into the battery.

Kind of the same as electronic cigarette battery chargers which flash red when charging, and green once they are charged.

You may remember in the news that some electronic cigarette batteries were exploding when they were left plugged in, before the manufacturers started using the different type of charger that cuts the charge, once the battery was at capacity.

My friend (who is the 'mac expert' in my circle of friends, and also a programmer) said that the way to check this is by waiting until your mac is 100% charged, then go to the top right of your screen and click on the battery icon, while the adaptor is still plugged in.

The menu that opens will say "battery is charged" and underneath it - "Power source: Power adaptor" which shows it's not using the battery to power the mac.

Then, unplug your charger and look at it and it will say "Power source: Battery"

Your battery cycles won't keep adding up if you keep it plugged in. And it won't ruin your battery, like older laptops.

The cycles will only start adding up when you use the mac without power, and then you recharge.

If you were to use the mac SOLELY with the power supply connected for the next week, you will notice your cycles will remain exactly where they are, because the battery isn't being used at all. It's just sitting there waiting to be used, should you unplug it.

I had the same concern when I first got my mac.

I was thinking that I had to unplug it when it was charged and was concerned I was gonna burn through my battery rapid style, as I work about 8 - 12 hours a day on it.

I was coming from a 2010 sony vaio where keeping it plugged in had damaged the battery. (It only stayed on for about 4 minutes unplugged!)

But, I was relieved to hear the MacBooks are smarter.

Check out what I am saying for yourself and try it out.

In short, I believe that keeping it plugged in does not damage the battery on a macbook pro & air(I have the 2014 pro retina 15" model) because the mac doesn't keep trying to charge a full battery and does not power the laptop at all with the battery when the power supply is connected.

Save your battery cycles to use during the times when you can't plug it in, to maximise the life of your battery.

The new systems are very clever and not like the older systems.



PS. here I have copy and pasted the info about my battery:

Charge Information: Charge Remaining (mAh): 8221 Fully Charged: Yes Charging: No Full Charge Capacity (mAh): 8221 Health Information: Cycle Count: 20 Condition: Normal Battery Installed: Yes

This shows that my battery is 100% charged, and still running at full capacity. (8221 mAh)

It also clearly states that the battery is not charging, and it's plugged in right now as I write this.

So I hope this gives everyone who is concerned about this some relief. And you can look forward to your battery lasting a lot longer than you initially feared.

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