Recent versions of the Mac’s operating system will let you see how your laptop battery is doing. To check yours out, hold down Option and click on the battery icon in your menu bar.
That “Condition: Normal” text at the top indicates my battery is all right, but if you see something different, it’s important to know what it could indicate. Apple does maintain a support article that you can access just by clicking that “Condition: Whatever” text under your battery icon, but here are the different battery status possibilities and what Apple says they mean:
Normal: The battery is functioning normally.
Replace Soon: The battery is functioning normally but holds less charge than it did when it was new.
Replace Now: The battery is functioning normally but holds significantly less charge than it did when it was new. You can continue to use the battery until you replace it without harming your computer.
Service Battery: The battery isn’t functioning normally, and you may or may not notice a change in its behavior or the amount of charge it holds. Take your computer in for service. You can continue to use your battery before it’s checked without harming your computer.
So yours says “Service Battery.” What’s next? Well, you could consider doing the replacement on your own if you’re handy like that. A good way to get started would be to search iFixit for instructions on replacing the battery in your particular model, as they have oodles of step-by-step guides on that awesome site. For example, if you check out how I’d go about doing the repair on my particular model, you’ll note that there are 34 rather complicated steps. Yikes! As someone who has a severe case of butterfingers, I don’t think I’ll touch that with a ten-foot pole.
If you’re like me and you aren’t comfortable doing the replacement yourself, you can always make an appointment with the Genius Bar to have Apple do the heavy lifting. Their prices are pretty reasonable for the service (they range from $129 for the MacBook Air to $199 for some models of the MacBook and MacBook Pro).
Oh, and one more thing—if you’ve noticed that your laptop’s battery isn’t just underperforming, it’s actually swollen (indicated by a bulging case or possibly a malfunctioning trackpad), you need to get the problem fixed as soon as you can. While injuries from exploding batteries are very rare, why risk it? Just get it taken care of, and then I can sleep soundly knowing you’re all safe.