That means most Mac users have a Mac that uses a battery, and a battery needs to be recharged, and has a limited life span. How can you check your Mac’s battery health? The Mac App Store has a dozen battery life checking and battery statistics apps. Many are free, most are no more than a few dollars.
Here are a few favorite apps and one that will knock your socks off.
Battery Maintenance: Free? Or, Expensive?
MacBook users with a limited budget will enjoy Battery Health, a Mac app that monitors you battery charge, maximum current, and time remaining while doing certain tasks.
99-cents gets you BatteryExpert, which also displays battery information, including the number of battery recharge cycles, original and current capacity, and even the temperature.
A couple of bucks gets you ResourceWatcher which displays a list of your apps and how much CPU usage each takes. CPU usage equates to battery usage on Mac notebooks, so any app that measures both would be welcome.
A dollar more gets you BatterySqueezer which throttles resource hungry apps when they’re in the background, ostensibly so your battery will last longer. This is good for limiting Flash advertising animations or anything else that sucks battery juice while you’re doing something else.
For a lot more money, more than any battery-related app I’ve seen or tested, is FruitJuice. What this app claims to do that others do not is to calibrate your Mac’s battery (Apple gives a step-by-step routine for battery calibration).
FruitJuice setup is simple enough. Download, double-click to decompress, drag FruitJuice to the Mac’s Applications folder, and you’re ready to go. Double-click the app to startup.
The FruitJuice trial version asks for authorization to install some system-level software but doesn’t describe what it is or what it does.
The details of my MacBook’s battery were interesting. It’s three years and four months old. Factory capacity is 4100 mAh, but the current charge was 3876 mAh, and it has never been calibrated. The battery should have 500 full charges, but I’ve used less than 100 to date.
At this point FruitJuice wants you to create an account online before it begins to calibrate your Mac. There’s a reason for setting up an account with FruitJuice.
As it calibrates your Mac’s battery, FruitJuice uploads information to an online site, then sends you email with instructions (plug in the Mac to a power source, or remove the MagSafe connector, etc.).
The idea here is to charge your Mac’s battery to 100-percent, then slowly discharge the battery to as close to zero as possible. The FruitJuice recommendation is to perform this action once a month or so for longer battery life.
FruitJuice doesn’t display as much battery information as my favorite, Battery Health, and it jumps you through a few hoops to do pretty much the same thing as Apple’s battery calibration instructions.
What you do get are periodic messages and instructions from FruitJuice.
Is there any difference between using FruitJuice and Apple’s recommended and relatively simply calibration? Not that I can tell.
The FruitJuice web site compares and contrasts battery calibration vs. battery conditioning, but in my overnight discharging and recharging tests, the battery lasted about the same amount of time it always has.
What does FruitJuice cost? $9.99. Per year. Per Mac. It’s an annual subscription service to keep your battery conditioned and calibrated which supposedly gives the battery a longer life.
I told you it was a crazy new way to maximize your MacBook’s battery life.
UPDATE: I put my MacBook’s battery through the draining and recharge procedure twice. The first time the battery gained an extra 20-minutes of power. The second time it gained just over 10-minutes. That’s a 30-minute improvement on an old battery. Well done.