How to check your MacBook's battery health

No, it won't last forever! Here's how to check your MacBook's battery health and figure out whether to replace it or rely on corded power

13-inch MacBook Pro
(Image: © Future)

Sadly, nothing lasts forever, so it's a good idea to know how to check your MacBook's battery health. Without a doubt the most important piece of hardware on your Mac, without a working battery you'll be confined to wherever your cord can reach, which can be a bit of a pest if you're not at home or in the office.

Although the best MacBooks and Macs have been designed to last many years with regular use, the one thing you're likely going to need to replace at some stage is the internal battery. Unfortunately, batteries in Apple's MacBook series will only last a certain number of cycles and then you'll likely notice a substantial drop in performance. 

It's an issue you'll run into regardless of whether you stick with Apple or decide to jump ship and invest in the best Windows laptop, so, either way you're going to want to know how to check the health of your battery. If you end up discovering that your battery is nearing the end of its life, you can then choose whether to continue using the laptop through corded power only or purchase a new battery from Apple. 

Below, we walk you through how to check your MacBook's battery health so that you know where things stand. And if you'd like to learn more about how to make the most of your Mac, check out our guide to the best Mac tips, tricks and timesavers

It's all about cycle count

When it comes to how to check your MacBook's battery health, the first thing to understand is cycle count. Every time you use your MacBook, its battery goes through charge cycles. One cycle is when you use all of the battery's power. An important point to understand is you don't exhaust a cycle count each time you charge your computer's battery. 

For example, if your MacBook battery is at 40% and you recharge it, you still have 60% left on the current charge. The next day, you charge the battery at 50%, which leaves 10% in the cycle. In this case, you've gone over two days before exhausting one cycle. 

In another example, you charge your MacBook's battery at 50% on one day and 50% on the next. Here, it took two full days to exhaust one charge cycle. 

As you continue using your MacBook, the battery's charge capacity will slowly diminish. As it does, a charge cycle won't last as nearly as long. When the device reaches maximum cycle count, it should retain up to 80% of its original charge capacity, and it will go down from there.  

Battery cycle count on Mac

(Image credit: Future)

Find your battery cycle count and health

To check your MacBook's battery health, you'll want to find the cycle count on your MacBook. You can do this by holding down the 'Option' key while clicking on the Apple menu at the top left. Choose 'System Information'. Under the 'Hardware' section of the 'System Information' window, choose 'Power'. You'll see the current cycle count under the 'Battery Information' section.  

In this same section, you can also find the battery condition and its current maximum capacity percentage. If the battery condition is anything but 'Normal', you should contact Apple Technical Support. 

Maximum cycle counts

Apple has a running list (opens in new tab) of maximum cycle counts for each MacBook, MacBook Air, and MacBook Pro version. More recent MacBook models have a maximum cycle count of 1000, while earlier models have a count from 300 to 500.

It used to be you could replace the battery in your MacBook; those days are long over. When the time comes to purchase a replacement, contact Apple Support (opens in new tab)

And there you have it, you now know how to check your MacBook's battery health. Pretty simple, right?

Bryan M. Wolfe is a staff writer at TechRadar, iMore, and wherever Future can use him. Though his passion is Apple-based products, he doesn't have a problem using Windows and Android. Bryan's a single father of a 15-year-old daughter and a puppy, Isabelle. Thanks for reading!