Six ways to maximize Mavericks battery life

Erik Eckel provides some tips for getting the most out of your battery life in Mavericks OS X.


Apple OS X Mavericks battery

Mac business users frequently work outside the office. That’s why they buy MacBook Pros and MacBook Airs. Portability is required to meet the challenges of modern careers. However, preserving battery life is often a critical task when working remotely. 

Certainly, Apple’s taken notice. Its developers included several power-saving features within Mavericks, the new OS X release. Time Coalescing is one such feature. The technology enables Macs, including the popular laptop models, to group low-level operations, thereby creating idle periods for the CPU. Why is that important? Because the CPU can then enter lower power states more often. Apple claims the method can reduce CPU activity as much as 72% with little adverse effect noticeable to the user. Best of all, the feature is enabled automatically, which means Mavericks users don't have to do anything to benefit from it.

App Nap is another Mavericks refinement aimed at reducing power so that Mac business users obtain longer battery life. The system reduces resources dedicated to apps that are placed in the background and not performing other actions. Because email, Safari, and other apps constantly draw resources, Apple claims the new technology can reduce energy use by 23%.

Thus, Mavericks is already designed to maximize energy use. But particularly demanding road warriors can also leverage additional choices to further extend a MacBook Pro or MacBook Air’s battery charge. Here are six more ways to maximize Mavericks battery life.

1. Consider an SSD

Solid-state disk drives, while more expensive, offer faster performance. They also consume less energy. MacBook Airs ship with flash storage drives. Many 13” MacBook Pros, however, ship with 1 TB 5400 rpm drives, although solid-state drives are available as an upgrade.

Skeptics should consider the numerous Internet reports that confirm an SSD’s performance benefits. Lifehacker notes an SSD drive boosted a 13” MacBook Pro’s performance by approximately 20% and almost halved startup. Laptop Magazine, meanwhile, measured SSD power consumption and found “significantly more battery life.”

2. Disable Bluetooth

If you’re working on the road using a MacBook Air or MacBook Pro, disable Bluetooth. Chances are you don’t need wireless connectivity to a mouse, keyboard, or printer left back at the office anyway. Disable Bluetooth simply by clicking the Bluetooth icon in the menu bar and selecting Turn Bluetooth Off.

3. Disable wireless networking

A Mac’s wireless radio also consumes considerable energy. When an Internet connection and email access are unnecessary, disable the laptop’s Wi-Fi radio to further extend battery life. Disable Wi-Fi by clicking Apple’s wireless icon in the menu bar and selecting Turn Wi-Fi Off.

4. Lower display brightness

Mobile users seeking to squeeze every last drop of electricity from their Mac can lower the display brightness, too. Tapping the F1 key incrementally lowers the display brightness and further extends a battery charge.

5. Avoid using an optical drive

Some tips seem obvious, but occasionally they're necessary to point out truths. Listening to a CD or watching a DVD places quite a demand on a laptop’s electrical resources. The optical drive motor alone consumes quite a bit of energy, so avoid those practices when you need to extend a system’s battery life, if possible.

6. Leverage Energy Saver

Apple also includes Energy Saver options within System Preferences. Road warriors can specify explicit battery-saving preferences within Energy Saver. Adjusting how quickly the computer and display sleep, using the provided slider bars, can significantly extend the laptop’s battery charge, particularly if there are many activity lulls. Other Energy Saver options include choosing to put hard disks to sleep, when possible, and dimming the display when running on the battery.

Do you have any other suggestions for maximizing the battery life in Mavericks OS X? Share your tips and tricks in the discussion thread below.