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Tech tips

7 tricks for extending the battery life of your laptop

Are you struggling with short battery life with your laptop? Does it seem like your battery power goes from 100% to 20% in a short period of time? If so, you’re likely aware of how frustrating laptop battery issues can be.

While there are times when your laptop battery needs to be replaced, many issues with battery power stem from things you’re doing — often without realizing it. Tap or click here for 5 signs it’s time for a new laptop.

Luckily, there are a few tricks you can use to temper the issue and protect your work from the hazards of a dead laptop battery. Let’s take a look at seven ways you can extend the battery life of your laptop.

1. Dim your screen

One of the first things you should do is turn down that bright screen. It may not seem like a major issue to you, but the backlight of your screen is one of the most power-hungry components in your laptop and having it brighter than it needs to be will cause you to lose power like nobody’s business.

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To turn down the brightness of your screen, all you have to do is locate the brightness key on the keyboard of your Mac or Windows laptop. It’s usually one of the “F” keys at the top of the keyboard.

On Macs, this key is usually denoted as a sun symbol. The key with the longer rays is to turn up your brightness, and the one with the shorter rays is to turn it down. The same goes for Windows computers.

You can also turn down your brightness in your settings, but it’s much easier to use the “F” key to do it. But, if you want to change your brightness settings manually, here’s how.

To change your brightness settings manually on a Mac:

  • Choose Apple menu >> System Preferences, click Displays, then click Display. Drag the Brightness slider to adjust the brightness of your display.

To change your brightness settings manually on a Windows laptop:

  • Open the Settings app from your Start menu or Start screen. Select System >> Display >> drag the Adjust brightness level slider to dim your screen.

2. Close/quit any apps that are running in the background

There are often programs and apps running in the background of your computer that you weren’t aware of, and they will drain your battery life without you noticing. And, while it may seem like a pain to have to search for the apps that are running in the background, it’s actually not very difficult to do.

If you’re using Windows 10:

Search for and enable the Battery Saver, which will go into battery-saving mode when your laptop is down to its last 20% of battery life. The Battery Saver option automatically does things like lower the brightness on your screen and close or block background apps that don’t need to be running to help conserve battery.

If you’re using a MacBook:

You can manually shut down apps on a MacBook, and this guide from Apple will tell you how to do it. You may also want to search for and enable Power Nap, which will cause your Mac to “sleep” and allow you to save what little battery life you have left.

You can also change your settings to allow for automatic graphics switching, which will flip on a lower graphics mode when you are doing tasks in Pages or other text-based apps that don’t require higher resolution graphics.

3. Shut down your Wi-Fi and Bluetooth when you aren’t using them

Believe it or not, leaving your Wi-Fi and Bluetooth settings toggled to “on” can drain your battery — even when you aren’t using them. Part of the problem is that your laptop will expend precious battery power “searching” for networks to connect to if these settings are on all of the time.

If you’re trying to conserve your battery, make sure to turn off both options when they aren’t in use. How you do this will vary by the type of laptop you’re using, but these options can generally be located in “Settings” on both MacBooks and Windows laptops.

4. Don’t leave your laptop plugged in

It may seem counterintuitive to unplug your laptop before it’s fully charged, but leaving your laptop plugged in all day, every day can actually wear your battery down faster than unplugging it when it’s between 40% and 80% and then use it, letting the battery drain naturally over time.

Here’s the deal. The rule is that the higher the charge percentage of your battery, the higher the voltage level it has to store.

Having a high level of stored voltage may seem like a good thing, but it’s stressful for your battery to store high voltage levels and doing so can damage it over time. This can cause your battery to lose power or struggle to hold a charge.

So, if you want to protect your battery and maximize battery life, unplug your laptop when it’s partially charged. It will help to alleviate the stress on your battery, and you’ll likely see an extended battery life in return.

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5. Avoid extreme temperatures, both hot and cold

Your battery can be affected when you expose it to extreme temperatures, and this isn’t always caused by leaving your laptop in your trunk. Your battery can also get too hot from your CPU or graphics processor working overtime. Too much heat and your battery will get damaged and lose power, so you need to avoid exposing it to extreme temperatures.

If you start to notice your laptop is getting too hot, turn it off and let it rest. It will not only save your battery from damage, but it will also help you to preserve what battery power you have left.

You should also avoid exposing your laptop to extremely cold temperatures. It can cause your laptop battery to “freeze” — and a frozen battery will lose power more quickly and struggle to hold a charge. Neither is ideal.

6. Update your software and apps

It’s a pain to constantly update your software, especially when it feels like new patches and operating systems roll out on a regular basis. You really should take the time to do this, though.

A major focus of operating system updates is to roll out changes that will help preserve battery life, so if you’re avoiding updates, you could be causing your battery to drain more quickly than it needs to.

Don’t just focus on operating system updates, though. Keep an eye out for app updates and patches, which may help cut down on the battery-draining that occurs with a lot of the apps you’re using.

If you take the time to stay on top of these small updates, you may see a return in the form of longer battery life. That’s a pretty decent payoff.

7. Focus on airflow — and ditch the case

If you aren’t getting enough airflow to your CPU, your laptop battery is going to struggle in response. A lack of airflow can cause overheating, and a lot of times that is caused by your cute laptop case. Yes, you want your laptop to be protected (and fashionable), but many cases aren’t designed with airflow in mind.

Cases can cause your laptop to get too hot because they often block the ventilation ports at the bottom of your machine. It’s not just cases that block airflow, though. If you’re using your laptop on a pillow or setting it in your lap, you may end up with the same overheating issues.

This can also happen if you allow your ventilation ports to become gummed up by debris and dirt, which is why it’s important to keep your laptop clean. Tap or click for the right way to physically clean your devices.

Focusing on airflow is essentially focusing on maximizing your battery life, and if you use your laptop as intended: on a hard, flat surface, you’ll likely see fewer battery power issues over the long haul.

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