OS X: Checking Your Mac's Remaining Battery Life

Today we’re going to discuss how to find the so-called cycle count on your Mac laptop’s battery. The cycle count is the number of times the battery has discharged and charged, but this isn’t necessarily just when you allow it to run completely dead and then recharge it; increments matter, too, and they eventually add up to full cycles. So as Apple notes in their support article on the subject, draining your battery halfway, charging it back up, and then doing the same thing the next day counts as one full cycle.

Now what do you do with this information, you ask? Well, on that same support page, Apple has a list of their laptop models and each one’s theoretical maximum cycle count, which is the approximate number of cycles you can expect before you’ll need to replace the battery. Finding out that info for your own machine can be helpful if you’re noticing decreased battery performance or if you’re trying to sell it and intend to show that the battery’s got plenty of life left.

So to check this out on your own computer, first you’ll need to launch the System Information program. Do that by typing its name into Spotlight; opening it from Applications> Utilities; or by holding down the Option key, clicking on the Apple menu in the upper-left corner of your screen, and choosing “System Information.”

When the application opens, select the “Power” option on the left side. 

Under the “Battery Information” subsection, you’ll then find the cycle count for your laptop. 

So for example, my machine’s battery has cycled 263 times, and on that support page I mentioned, Apple says that a mid-2012 MacBook Air like mine can expect 1000 such cycles before the battery gets so degraded that it’ll need replacement. I feel pretty good about that! 

Of course, this isn’t a hard-and-fast rule, as you might start getting less life out of a charge before you reach that sinister maximum cycle count. However, this’ll give you a general guideline of how healthy your battery is and how much longer it should be able to keep on truckin’.