A working battery is arguably one of the most vital components of a laptop. Without a battery, a laptop needs to be plugged in at all times, thereby making it nothing more than a smaller desktop. It can, therefore, be quite alarming to receive a Service Battery warning on your Mac, especially if you only recently purchased it. While this problem may be solved from home, under certain circumstances, such an issue shouldn’t be taken lightly, as it can cause your Mac to automatically shut down while you are in the middle of an important task.

You may be worried that the battery will need to be replaced, which can be quite costly, however, it’s possible to fix the problem without spending a dime. You may be experiencing this issue due to a number of reasons including, but not limited to, software updates, bugs, poor battery management, or unfortunately, the need to replace your current battery. To get started and fix the battery service warning on your Mac, continue reading below.

If you click the battery status bar, you’ll see one of three options.

  • Normal – Your battery is working well.
  • Replace Soon – Your battery is working well, but may soon lose its ability to recharge.
  • Service Battery or Replace Now – Your battery requires immediate service.

Before you try troubleshooting options, you should first check your cycle count. One cycle count occurs when you have used all of your battery’s power and then fully recharged it. According to Apple, MacBook’s have an average cycle count of about 1,000. Most batteries last past 1,000 cycles, however by that point, experience declining returns in terms of battery life.

Check Your Cycle Count

It is fairly easy to check your cycle count in macOS using the steps below,

1. Hold the option key on your keyboard and click the Apple icon in the upper left corner.

2. Click the first option, which will be System Information.

3. A window will pop up with two panes. On the left pane, under the Hardware section, click Power.

Cycle Count

4. Now on the right pane, you should see relevant information pertaining to your laptop’s battery, including the Cycle Count.

If your cycle count has surpassed the number listed for your specific Mac on Apple’s support page, then this explains why you are receiving a Service Battery warning. If the cycle count hasn’t reached its limit, try the troubleshooting options below.

Note: Before trying the options below, check to see if your Mac has the most recent software update installed, as an old software may be unable to properly calculate your battery’s life.

Reset the System Management Controller (SMC)

If you purchased a Mac model from the year 2009 or onwards, your Mac does not have a removable battery, and you can therefore, try resetting the SMC, using the steps below. The SMC stands for System Management Controller. The SMC is a chip on the logic board of your computer, that controls may of the hardware components on your system, including the battery. For this reason, if you reset your SMC, you may resolve the problem. Don’t worry, this is a lot easier than it sounds.

1. Save your work, and shut down your computer.

2. Plug in your charger to a power outlet, and put your Mac on charge.

3. Click Shift + Ctrl + option and the power button at the same time, making sure to release them all at the same time as well.

4. Now to turn your computer back on, press the power button as you normally would.

5. Check the battery status bar to see if the Battery Service warning has disappeared.

The System Management Controller on your Mac controls not only battery issues, but also fans, backlights, ports, and aspects of the display. Therefore, when you reset the SMC, you actually will be forcing your Mac to revert back to the default settings for the hardware features it controls. Hopefully, this solve your battery service issue as well. If the issue hasn’t resolved, try the suggestion below,

Recalibrate Your Battery

If you use your Mac daily, and often, this is a method Apple recommends you carry out every few months, in order to maintain top-notch battery performance.

Note: This method is highly time consuming, however, has proven to work for many users.

1. Plug in your charger to an outlet, and charge your Mac up to 100%. Be sure the MagSafe light has turned green indicating full charge, or the battery status bar has reached 100%.

2. Keep your Mac running for at least two more hours, while it is connected to your charger.

3. Now unplug your charger, and continue using the Mac until it runs out of battery completely. You may simply keep it running on the side, while doing other tasks. If you wish to speed up the process, run intensive programs, or play a movie in the background.

4. When your Mac turns off on its own due to battery loss, keep it off for at least five hours, or overnight.

5. After the allotted time has passed, charge your Mac once again. Your battery has now been calibrated.

6. Check the battery status bar and see if the warning has disappeared.

If the problem has been resolved, you will no longer see the Battery Service warning. Furthermore, carrying out this process has now allowed your Mac to give a more accurate reading on the status of your battery. Please carry out this method every few months, especially if you use your Mac often. This will improve battery performance, and ensure that your battery will last a very long time, which will in turn, ensure that your Mac lasts a very long time.

Visit Your Local Apple Store

If the problem still persists, it is best to take your laptop to your nearest authorized Apple service provider, where you will be notified if you need to purchase a new battery or not. After an Apple employee inspects your device, they will let you know of any costs to be incurred for repairs or replacements.

If you’re a member of Apple Care or still have your warranty under effect, it’s likely that Apple will cover the costs of any repairs or replacements. While having to go to the Apple Store may sound like a drag, it’s a much more viable option than tinkering too much with your Mac all by yourself. This may not only cause further damage to your device, but it will also annul your warranty.

When visiting the Apple Store, it’s best to make an appointment in order to ensure that you’ll be seen in a timely manner, as the store tends to get crowded. If you’re unable to make an appointment, don’t worry, as the Apple Store accepts walk-in concerns, however, please note that it may take some time for your turn to arrive. If possible, try to arrive when the Apple Store opens, bright and early in the morning. If you don’t want to visit the Apple Store, you may call Apple Support and your problem may be solved over the phone.

While this is usually unlikely in the case of battery problems, it’s still worth a try, and may save you a trip to the Apple Store. Please also avoid visiting unauthorized technical service repair shops, as these shops may carry out troubleshooting methods which are not approved by Apple, and can cause further damage to your battery and system. Apple may even revoke your warranty, if any third-party service shop tinkers with your device in an unapproved manner. It’s always best to only trust an Apple employee to inspect and carry out repairs on your device. It’s much cheaper to pay for repairs on your Mac, than it is to have to buy a new Mac, because someone tinkered with the device in an unapproved manner.

How to Take Care of Your Battery

Most people purchase a Mac computer because they’re known to have longer lives, so to speak, than other computer models, such as Windows. However, you must keep in mind that in order to sustain the lifecycle of your Mac, you must treat it like a car, that requires continuous service. Preventative care is always best.

Obviously in order to keep your Mac long term, you must keep the battery in top condition as it’s the piece of hardware that allows your Mac to function accordingly. Below are some tips you should follow in order to take care of your battery. While some of them tips may be annoying to carry out, they are far less annoying than having to shell out a large amount of money to fix your battery or purchase a new Mac.

  • Remain Plugged In: While the point of a laptop is to have a portable machine, it’s best to keep your laptop plugged in if possible. This will reduce the amount of times your Mac will have to charge.
  • Avoid Extreme Temperatures: You may already know that It’s best to avoid using and charging your Mac in extremely hot temperatures, however, the opposite is true as well. You should avoid charging your Mac in freezing temperatures as this will most definitely damage your battery. Between 62 and 72 degrees F is the ideal temperature range to use and charge your Mac.
  • Half Charge Your Mac when Storing it: Surprisingly, even in storage, your Mac will slowly discharge. If you intend to keep your Mac in storage for about a month, it’s best to keep it charged at about 50%. This is because if you fully charge it, it may lose capacity, and if you leave it with no charge, you may be unable to chare it at all in the future. If you intend to keep your Mac in storage for more than six months, then it’s best to recharge it back to 50% every six months, in order to keep it in top condition. Make sure to keep your Mac stored in a dry environment, where the temperature will not exceed 90 degrees F.

If you follow the methods above, your battery will remain in tip top shape, and you’ll be able to keep the same Mac you’ve right now, for years to come.