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How to enable low power mode on a Mac

The great thing about laptops, whether they run Windows or macOS, is portability. You aren’t tethered to a power source and you can get a reasonable amount of use, 3-5 hours, out of the battery. As batteries age though, the amount of use you can get out of a single charge depletes so users tend to look for a way to make the battery last longer.

On Windows 10, it’s easy. Switch to a low power mode plan. On macOS, it is a bit complicated.

Low power mode on Mac

macOS does not have a one-switch power mode that users can turn on. iOS has one, and it’s really great, but Apple has yet to add one to macOS. There are some settings you can change that will give reduce battery usage when your MacBook is idle/in sleep but there’s not much you can do out-of-the-box to reduce power consumption when you’re actively using it.

Basic power control settings

A few things you can change to reduce power consumption, if they do not disrupt your workflow are;

  1. Turn Bluetooth off (not recommended if Bluetooth mouse/keyboard are in use).
  2. Reduce brightness.
  3. Turn off wireless networking (Airport utility).
  4. Reduce or turn off keyboard backlight.
  5. Enable battery saving options from System Preferences>Energy Saver>Battery.

Power reduction apps

To fill in for the lack of a low power mode on macOS, there are apps that help reduce power usage. Endurance is one app that does well. It isn’t free. It costs $20 but it has a 7-day free trial.

  1. Install Endurance.
  2. Access the app’s preferences.
  3. Go through the power reduction measures the app can use and enable the ones that suit you.
  4. You can enable low power mode right away by selecting the ‘Low power mode is enabled’ option or, you can set it to enable when your battery reaches a certain level.

We tried the app on a MacBook Air 2015 model with about 250 battery cycles. It was 89% when Endurance was enabled. In three hours of heavy usage (multiple Chrome windows open, screencasts recorded, files uploaded online), the battery was at 20% in 3.5 hours.

Conclusion

There has been a push for Apple to add a low power mode to macOS but so far, there doesn’t seem to be one in the works. If Apple were to add one, it is possible it may only work on newer MacBook models. There are other apps similar to Endurance and they may be worth checking out too.

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