Service Battery Warning on Mac – Do You Need to Replace the Battery?

Posted by Jamie on September 19, 2017

If you see the Service Battery Warning on your MacBook, is it time to replace the battery? Read on to find out!

Computers have advanced in leaps and bounds over the past couple of decades but one technology still lags behind. Batteries. While battery technology has advanced a little, compared to the rest of the industry batteries now provide a significant bottleneck to performance.

The battery in a newer MacBook should provide around 12 hours life depending on what you do with it. A MacBook Pro should get around 8 hours or so. Again, depending on what you’re doing. The more intensive the activity, the shorter the time between charges.

So what should you do if you see the Service Battery Warning on your MacBook?

Service Battery Warning on Mac

The first thing you should do is check the System Report. This will tell you the cycle count and condition of your MacBook battery.

  1. Select the Apple Menu and About this Mac.
  2. Select System Report and then Power.
  3. Check the Cycle Count of the battery.

A recent MacBook or MacBook Pro battery is good for 1000 cycles. Pre 2009 machines are good for around 500 cycles. Some earlier MacBook Pro batteries are only good for 300 cycles or so. This page on the Apple website tells you exactly how many cycles each device is good for.

If your battery is within this theoretical maximum limit, you should not need to replace the battery.

Mac OS is quite intelligent when calculating cycles. If you like to top up regularly after a couple of hours use, this doesn’t count as a single cycle. Mac OS works out an equivalent and will count several smaller charges as a single cycle. That way, you don’t burn through a battery every couple of years if you like to keep the battery full.

Reset the Service Battery Warning on Mac

If you’re seeing the Service Battery Warning on Mac, you can do one of two things, calibrate the battery or reset SMC. Recalibrating the battery takes a few hours so would be best done overnight. I would suggest this method first as resetting SMC also resets some of your settings.

You should have calibrated your battery the first day you unboxed your MacBook, but if you didn’t here’s how to do it.

  1. Fully charge your MacBook to 100% until the MagSafe light ring goes green.
  2. Keep the laptop running while connected to the mains for a couple of hours.
  3. Unplug the MacBook from the mains but leave it running until you see the low battery warning. If you are working on it, save any work you are doing.
  4. Allow the MacBook to run until it shuts down due to lack of power.
  5. Leave the MacBook overnight with no power.
  6. Charge again the next morning until full.

This process calibrates your MacBook battery. It works on MacBook, MacBook Pro and MacBook Air and should not only reset the Service Battery Warning but also synchronize the actual battery power and Mac OS battery indicator.

If that doesn’t work, reset the SMC.

Reset SMC to stop Service Battery Warning on Mac

The System Management Controller, SMC is a hardware chip that controls some hardware settings, including power. While very reliable, it can occasionally have issues which force a reset. The process is straightforward but any customizations to power plans or hardware settings may be reset.

  1. Shut down your laptop.
  2. Press left Shift + Ctrl + Option + the power button all at once and old for a second.
  3. Release all keys at once.
  4. Turn on the laptop.

The process is simple and should reset the Service Battery Warning. As mentioned, it may also reset other settings too. SMC controls the computer fans, backlights and indicator lights, some aspects of the display, ports, battery and no doubt other aspects too. Resetting SMC forces your MacBook to revert back to default settings. If a corruption or issue has occurred with the SMC, this should address it.

Other ways to address the Service Battery Warning on Mac

If your battery is within its theoretical cycle count and you have tried calibrating it and resetting SMC and the Service Battery Warning still appears, you only have one real option. Take it to an Apple service center. If you have an older Mac with a removable battery, you could acquire one yourself and change it. Newer devices have non user removable batteries.

Know of any other ways to get rid of the Service Battery Warning? Had any particular issues with your MacBook or MacBook Pro battery? Tell us about it below if you have.

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