It happens all the time. You’re low on battery. Maybe you’re halfway through a five-hour plane ride. Maybe you forgot the charger in the office… six hours ago. The point is, you need to work some battery magic.
These days, laptops have improved microprocessors, sharper graphics, and beefier storage. They’re also more efficient than ever. There are plenty of strategies to enhance your battery life, even if you don’t have a solid state drive.
Here’s what to do when you need to save power on the fly. We’ll also key into some long-term ways to condition your laptop into that power sipping machine you’re always wanted.
Tips and tricks to optimize battery life in a pinch
1. Enable power saver mode
Just about every laptop has some kind of power saving mode. Enabling power saving mode will automatically improve your computer’s battery efficiency with small adjustments such as dimming your monitor and setting a quicker sleep timer.
Windows: Select the battery icon on the task bar then choose the bubble labeled Power saver. Alternatively, from your computer’s Control Panel choose Power Options. From here you can manually configure your power settings to reduce the power consumption by setting a timer to enter Sleep mode and adjusting brightness (you’ll be surprised how much these add up). You can jump into advanced battery settings, which will allow you to disable ports, various display quality, and desktop settings. These settings can also reduce your efficiency if you set them improperly, though, so watch out.
Mac: Click on the battery icon in the upper right corner then choose Open Energy Saver Saver Preferences then set your desired energy saving preferences.
2. Eject any discs you aren’t currently using
If your computer has an disc drive, remember, your battery will drain faster when it’s spinning a disc. Some PC games let you install the entire program to the hard drive, so choose this option whenever possible and you’ll get more life out of the laptop. Needless to say, your laptop battery will last much longer when using programs that require less physical hardware response and therefore put a smaller drain on system resources.
3. Disconnect peripherals
Devices plugged into ports will drain power. Familiar culprits are webcams, USB thumbsticks, or wireless PC cards. We’d recommend you get used to employing your notebook’s touchpad instead of using an external mouse on the plane. Wireless connectivity options such as Bluetooth and Wi-Fi can also drain your supply, so be sure these radios and hands-free earpieces are turned off.
4. Close any background apps
You may not realize just how much more power you’ll use by having multiple apps running at the same time. You should take stock of which apps are running in the background and killing your battery.
Mac users can identify which apps are sucking power by clicking on the battery icon in the upper right corner. From here, you’ll find a list of all the power-sucking apps. You can click on any app in this list to get an overview of your how your computer is spending its battery. Make sure to close any of the apps that you’re not currently using.
Windows users should make sure you’re not running anything extra by glancing at the taskbar on the bottom of your screen. Alternatively, go to the Windows Control Panel and type in Task Manager into the search bar. This will pull up an overview of all the apps you’re currently running and how much power they’re using.
Next page: Seven long-term upgrades and software downloads to optimize battery life