Macbook battery – check the obvious first!

Yesterday I was really worried that my MacBook battery was on it’s way out.  It was showing just 1.5 hours battery life when it was fully charged, and was draining at a fair old rate.

I was so concerned that I downloaded the excellent Coconut Battery to check the original battery capacity, and the charging capacity, which was within acceptable parameters as defined by Apple, as pointed to by this post.

The original battery capacity was 5020 mAh, and the current battery capacity is 5014 mAh, so no complaints there.

So what was the problem?  As it happens, I’d been using my laptop in fairly noisy environments (tic classroom, café Nero, New Street Station), an incidental check with iStatPro showed that the exhaust fan was running, and running fast too at over 6000rpm.  Could it simply be the fan draining the battery?

I checked with Doctor Google, which pointed me to this discussion on the Apple forum, and the final posting rang a bell with me –

…was running my print manager for some reason…

Now I remembered earlier on in the week kicking off a print job, but because my printer wasn’t switched on, the process stalled.  I closed the print manager icon, but could be background process still be running.

I should have run activity monitor there and then, but I was in an urgent need to fix this problem… I had less than 20 minutes battery life.

So, I rebooted the machine.

As soon as the machine was up and running, battery life leapt to nearly 50 minutes, and all was well, no fan noise, and iStat confirmed the more usual 1700 – 1800 rpm.

All is now well, and a day of fairly intensive use today (more tomorrow about the pleasures and pitfalls of installing TalkTalk broadband from scratch) and it’s held up well.

So, if your battery does take a nose-dive in performance, it’s well worth the old helpdesk adage of ‘turning it off and back on’ first.  Saved me a lot of stress, a visit to the genius bar, and maybe the cost of a battery.

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