How to improve Mac, iPhone & iPad battery life in 26 tips

Everything you need to know to tweak additional battery life from your Mac, iPhone, or iPad.

Apple, Mac, iOS, iPhone, MacBook, battery life, tips
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If you want to tweak the most battery life you can from your iPhone, iPad or MacBook (Pro) you’ll want to review these tips, some can squeeze a little more time from limited charge, but others you need to use early for best results.

iPhone, iPad, iOS battery life tips

Here are some of the best tips to squeeze extra power from an iOS device (iPhone, iPad, iPod touch).

Up to date

Make sure your iOS is kept up-to-date to ensure your device is utilizing Apple’s latest battery life preserving tweaks.

Battery usage

Get to know your battery. Open Settings>Battery and wait for your Battery Usage data to load. You’ll be able to see which apps use the most power and switch them off.

Reduce Brightness

Open Settings>Display & Brightness and disable Auto-Brightness. You should also reduce the brightness of your device using the slider here (or in Control Center).

Auto-lock

You will save some power by setting your device to lock in the shortest available time, which is 30-seconds. You achieve this in Settings>Display & Brightness>Auto-Lock.

Use AirPlane Mode to control connectivity

If you don’t need to use Bluetooth, Cellular, or Wi-Fi, then you should swipe up from the bottom of the display to raise Control Center and then tap the Airplane Mode button to on.  If you need to use Bluetooth or Wi-Fi you can always enable them using their settings in Control Center, as even limiting cellular connection will save a little more power. If you are in a location with poor cellular coverage you’ll save significant power by disabling the cellular radio in your device – this is because it constantly seeks a strong connection, using battery power as it does. You can enable and disable Bluetooth and Wi-Fi manually inside Control Center if you need to keep cellular coverage. Wi-Fi uses less power than cellular, Apple claims.

Switch off AirDrop

You can disable AirDrop manually in Control Center. Just swipe up to get to Control Center, tap the AirDrop item, and set it to ‘Receiving Off’. This saves a good amount of energy as it works by scanning for nearby devices when it is active. That’s also why Apple disables it in Low Power Mode (see below).

Switch it down

You’ll also want to switch down the volume on your device and turn off Vibrate on Ring and Vibrate on Silent to further trim power need. You can also switch off Background App Refresh in Settings>General, though this is done automatically for you in Low Power Mode, which may be better if you’re likely to forget to switch this one again.

Reduce Motion and other stories

Apple’s parallax and other visual effects can be disabled to save a little energy. Once again, Apple’s Low Power Mode will do this, but here’s how to do it yourself:

Settings>General>Accessibility, and switch on Reduce Motion.

You can also try switching off Spotlight settings in General>Spotlight Search where you can define which sites and apps it uses to search.

Notifications control

Do you have apps set to share Notifications that you don’t read or don’t use? You probably do. Open Settings>Notifications to find an extensive list of all the apps capable of sharing notifications through your device. Tap on the ones you aren’t interested in and selecting None to prevent receiving items from that app, or switch off Allow Notifications from that app to disable it completely.

Don’t push that Mail

When you want to maximize battery life you will want to disable Push email, as this requires plenty of power. To do so in Settings>Mail>Contacts &Calendars choose Fetch New Data and turn Push to Off. You can now choose to check for emails at certain intervals, or switch it to Manually for best control (and best power saving). Once again, this is what Low Power Mode does for you.

Silence Siri

Open Settings>Siri and switch it off. You’ll miss it, but doing so may help conserve a little more power.

Location Services

In Settings>Privacy>Location Services toggle these to off. You will no longer be able to use all your apps and services, but you will also stop your device trying to figure out where it is. Alternatively disable location services for those apps you won’t need to use.

Browser control

Every Safari website has its own scripts, ads and ‘other stuff’. These don’t take up too much power, but the combined demand mounts up. If you want to extend battery life it makes sense to close any browser window you don’t need to use. You don’t need to quit Safari (the apps themselves make little difference when conserving power), but it is worth quitting some websites.

Ditch Facebook

I continue to believe you will save significant power by deleting the Facebook and Messenger apps from your device. You can always check the site and your messages using Safari.  

Automatic Downloads

You’ll want to open Settings>iTunes & App Store and switch Automatic Downloads off.

Other things to avoid

It may sound a little obvious, but avoiding media playback, games and camera usage will all help you squeeze a little more use out of your device.

The very best tip: Low Power Mode

The most useful power saving measure you’ll find is only available on iOS devices and is called Low Power Mode.

It works like this: When your battery level falls to 20 percent your smartphone will warn you about it and let you enter the power-saving mode with one tap. When in this mode, display brightness will be reduced, Mail and other apps will not download content in the background, and features like iCloud Sync and AirDrop will be disabled. Device performance and system animations are also optimized.

You can still make calls, access the ‘net and uses messages and email in this mode, but you’ll find your battery life lasts a whole lot longer. You can also enable this mode before your power runs down.

Why Apple hasn’t built a similarly effective tool for Mac users to use to tweak battery life out of their systems eludes me.

Mac battery life tips

At time of writing, Apple’s mobile Macs include the MacBook, MacBook Air and MacBook Pro. Here are some of the ways in which you can get more usable time from your battery. Read this article for effective advice on understanding and maintaining battery condition.

The basic tricks

Always keep your Mac software up-to-date using Software Update. Apple routinely applies enhancements to your system performance, often enabling better battery life when it does.

You should also get to know System Preferences>Energy Saver. This offers several settings that can help reduce power demand:

The ‘turn display off after’ slider helps you save power by reducing the amount of time your display remains active when not in use. To maximize usable time and reduce power demands you should also tick 'Put hard disks to sleep when possible', and 'Slightly dim the display while on battery power'.

Cut demand

You can also reduce power draw by disabling any system features you don’t need to use.

You can dim your screen; turn off Bluetooth; turn off Wi-Fi and Mute sound. You will also save a little more power by disconnecting any peripheral devices. If you are using a Mac with an optical drive, make sure to eject a disk you may have inside.

Applications

When you are using the apps you like to use most often and you are connected to power (ie. Not when you are trying to reduce power draw), launch Activity Monitor and take a look at the CPU and Energy readings. You will probably find Safari, Mail, and any imaging or video editing apps have consumed the most power. Another thing you can do is tap on the Battery Power indicator in Menu. When you do you will be shown a list of apps that are using significant quantities of power. You will certainly want to quit any power-hungry apps (if possible) when you want to maximize battery life. You should also quit any app you don’t need to use at the time, and also avoid power-hungry Websites such as most social networks and video sharing sites. Following these steps significantly reduces power draw.

Browser tips

Every website you have open in Safari probably consumes some system resources. This is why you should close any web pages or browser windows you don’t need when trying to tweak battery performance.

Another useful tip: In Safari Preferences>Advanced enable the Stop plug-ins to save power setting.

Activity Monitor

Launch Activity Monitor and select CPU>All Processes. If you find any app, website, or process that is taking c.70 percent of power you’ll want to disable it. To do so, select the item in the list and then tap the X button top left. This quits the app/process. (You’d be surprised how some poorly-built websites also suck power from your Mac, get to know which ones they are and avoid them when you need more battery time).

Invert colors

You may get a little more battery life if you can work with in this mode. The first step is to open System Preferences>Desktop & Screen Saver>Desktop>Solid Colors and choose the white tile. Next you select System Preferences>Accessibility and tick Invert colors. You’ll end up with a low power demand but very black display.

More Accessibility

There are some other settings you may want to change in the Accessibility pane. I find the all-dark Mac hard to work with, so I sometimes tick the ‘Use grayscale’ item to switch to an all gray Mac. You should also reduce power demand by ticking the ‘Reduce Motion’ and ‘Reduce Transparency’ items here.

Turn it off

There are some application settings you can disable to save a little more power:

If you use a Mac with an illuminated keyboard you may want to turn down the brightness or switch this feature off. Open System Preferences>Keyboard and uncheck ‘Adjust keyboard brightness in low light’.

Limit the apps that can check for Notifications in System Preferences>Notifications. (Or switch on Do Not Disturb to disable them completely).

Stop Mail from automatically checking for new messages in Mail Preferences>General, where you should switch Check for New Messages to ‘Manually’.

Some Mac users also disable their Spotlight preferences by dragging their Mac disk across to the Privacy pane in Spotlight System Preferences.

Feature request

Surely Apple can create a single power saving pane that lets Mac users change all these settings from one place? It could call it Low Power Mode…

What have I missed?

Have I missed a power-saving tip you use yourself? Or do you have other ideas to reduce power demand on Apple devices? Let me know through the social media feeds below.

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