Extend a laptop’s battery life at home, work or school by following these simple steps.
We’ve all been there: you’re doing work on your laptop and there’s no electrical outlet in sight. It could be on your daily train commute, at a café or a room inside your home. Situations like these can be stressful as you race to complete work before your laptop’s battery drains to 0%.
There are a number of factors that can affect a laptop’s battery life: the type of laptop, your total usage and age of the battery. Typically, you’re looking at between two to six hours per charge on average. Power-hungry gaming laptops have the shortest battery lives, while basic laptops and notebooks last the longest between charges.
No matter which laptop option you go with, there are simple steps you can take to help prolong battery life. We’ve outlined nine such tips below, which are designed to help extend the time between charges and promote good battery health.
- Dim the screen.
- Use battery saver mode.
- Switch off WiFi and Bluetooth.
- Unplug or disable any unused devices.
- Disable unused apps and processes.
- Adjust your system settings.
- Limit multi-tasking.
- Upgrade to an SSD.
- Carry an extra battery.
Dim the screen
A bright screen may be the culprit behind the bulk of your laptop’s battery drain. Like your smartphone, the laptop battery drains a lot faster when the screen brightness is high. You can extend the battery life by simply dimming the display a few notches. Make sure to keep the screen visible, though—you don’t want to strain your eyes while working.
Use battery saver mode
Most laptops are set to a “Balanced” power mode by default, which balances performance and battery usage. This is great for when your laptop is plugged in; however, when unplugged, “Balanced” mode can drain the battery faster. To conserve power, you can toggle on your laptop’s “Power Saver” or “Eco Mode”, which tells the system to prioritize battery life. These battery-saving modes ration power and shift some of your laptop’s components into low power.
On a Windows laptop, you can generally activate Eco or Power Saver mode by clicking the battery icon in the lower right-hand corner of the screen and changing a slider or a toggle. You can also find it in Power Options in your laptop’s Control Panel. For Mac users, choose the Apple menu and go to System Preferences, then click Energy Saver. This is a simple and effective way to reduce the laptop’s power consumption when working on-the-go.
Switch off WiFi and Bluetooth
Here’s another simple trick: if you’re not using your laptop’s WiFi and Bluetooth capabilities, turn them off. WiFi, in particular, is very power-hungry when not in use, as it constantly scans for available networks.
Disabling WiFi is easy. Windows users need to click on the WiFi icon in the bottom right-hand corner of the Task Bar and then toggle WiFi off. Mac users can simply click the WiFi icon in the menu bar, then choose “Turn Wi-Fi Off”. Some laptops also have a manual switch to disable WiFi.
To disable Bluetooth, Window users should type “Bluetooth” into the start menu to find the settings, then toggle it off. For Mac, click the Bluetooth icon in the menu bar, then choose “Turn Bluetooth Off”.
Unplug or disable any unused devices
USB accessories, such as mice, keyboards and external hard drives, also draw power from your battery. To conserve power, disconnect the devices when not in use. You can also open up your device manager and disable unused components, such as your laptop’s sound system.
Disable unused apps and processes
Just like hardware, your laptop’s software can put a strain on the battery as well. At any given time, you’re likely to have numerous apps and processes running in the background, some of which you may not need. By disabling this software, you can help your laptop battery last longer.
To see what apps are running on a Windows device, look at the System Tray in the lower right corner of your screen. From there, click on an app’s icon to open the software, and check the menu for a way to turn it off. Alternatively, press Ctrl+Alt+Del and open your laptop’s Task Manager. For Mac users, click on the Finder icon in the bottom-right corner, then open Activity Monitor from the Utilities folder of your Applications folder. It will show you all of the processes that your Mac is currently running, and give you the option to disable it. Make sure to only disable processes you recognize as being unnecessary, as some processes are crucial to your laptop’s functioning.
Adjust your system settings
There are many additional ways to tweak your system settings and reduce strain on your laptop’s battery. From the start menu, click on the Settings gear in the lower left corner and navigate to System Settings. On Mac, this is done by launching System Preferences from the dock.
Here, you’ll see many options that can be adjusted to save power. For example, if you have keyboard backlighting, turning it off should extend the battery life. Likewise, instead of using a screensaver, you can set the display to turn off after a few minutes of inactivity.
Do you usually have multiple programs and multiple browser tabs open at once? Consider trying to curb these habits, at least when you’re running on battery power. Multi-tasking strains your computer’s resources and memory, so sticking to a single task is better for your battery life.
Upgrade to an SSD
Most laptops are equipped with a standard hard disk drive (HDD), which contains moving components that consume precious battery power. A solid-state drive (SSD), on the other hand, has no moving parts and therefore uses less power. SSDs use flash memory, allowing for lower latency and quicker access time.
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