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Recently I was traveling to a city on the other side of the island to attend a family wedding. I don’t know exactly how far it is, but we were on the bus for 28 hours just to get there (and multiply that by two because there’s the return trip home). Going on a plane is out of the question because of the limited budget (there were more than 15 people who went along), and most of the elders on the group are afraid of flying.

Being on the road for so long made me realize how dependent we are on electricity – my MacBook was out of juice even before we reached a quarter of the distance; and how precious rechargeable batteries are.

So, as soon as we’re out of the mountains and forests (really!) and back to the civilization – with electric plug points, internet connection, and everything; I quickly searched for MacBook battery monitor tools to keep an eye on my MacBook’s battery. There are plenty of them, but these are two that I picked up and used.

Know your battery’s health

The first one is Battery Health Monitor. It is a MacBook battery monitor that does only one thing, which is – as the name suggested – monitor your battery’s health, but it does it well.

If you look at the display, there are several information that we can get:

  • Capacity Remaining: the amount of juice that the battery still can contain compared to the original capacity when it was still new.
  • Charge Remaining: the amount of energy that still left in the current charge.
  • Battery Life Remaining: the estimation of the battery’s remaining lifetime until it goes flat.

The rule of thumb is, the fuller the bars are the better.

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macbook battery monitor

Monitor the current charge

The MacBook battery monitor is Slim Battery Monitor (SBM) to constantly monitor and display your battery’s current charge. So when you are unplugged, you know how much time left to the next recharge.

But why using another application? Mac OS X comes with its own battery monitor, available through the System Preferences > Energy Saver > Battery. If you’d like to use Mac’s native battery meter, all you have to do is check the “Show battery status in the menu bar

macbook battery monitor tool

The first reason is SBM takes up less menu bar space than Mac OS X’s own battery monitor. You can even make SBM disappear whenever the battery is fully charged. If your menu bar is cluttered with applications 11 Tiny and Useful Free Menubar Applications for Mac 11 Tiny and Useful Free Menubar Applications for Mac Read More , you’ll appreciate any extra space that you can get – however small it is.

02d SlimBatteryMonitor vs Mac_s own.jpg

The second reason is that SBM is fully customizable. You can change almost every aspect of its appearance, from the icon, color and what kind of information you want to display.

Click on SBM’s menu bar icon to open its Preferences.

02e SBM Preferences Menu.jpg

There are two tabs: “What to Show” and “Shapes and colors”. The first one is the place where you set what information should be displayed on the menu bar.

02f SBM Preferences - What to show.jpg

You can choose whether to show nothing, icon only, icon and time, icon and percentage, time only or percentage only.

The second is where you choose which icon to display and what color to use.

02g SBM Preferences - Shapes and Colours.jpg

To change the color, click on the color box and choose your preference. As for the icon, there are several options, but my favorite is “Thin Rectangular” as it takes the least space.

And one last thing, to make SBM always ready and able, you have to add it to the startup menu. The option is available from the drop down list at the bottom of Preferences window.

Take care of your battery

Using a MacBook battery monitor is only one of the ways to keep it healthy. There are other methods to take care of it, such as maximizing its unplugged life with BashFlash How To Maximize Battery Life when Browsing on Mac with BashFlash How To Maximize Battery Life when Browsing on Mac with BashFlash Read More and tinkering with the sleep mode Make Your Mac Sleep More Efficiently with SafeSleep Make Your Mac Sleep More Efficiently with SafeSleep Read More . We also have articles on 20 Ways To Increase Laptop’s Battery Life 20 Ways To Increase Laptop's Battery Life 20 Ways To Increase Laptop's Battery Life Read More and Guide to Rechargeable Battery.

Do you have thoughts, opinion or your own tips on laptop’s battery? Do you know other alternatives to monitor the battery life? Share using the comment below.

Image credit: moria

  1. John White
    February 10, 2010 at 6:20 pm

    iStat Pro is a great widget from islayer.com that tracks cycles and battery health, along with a whole host of interesting things.

  2. fellowweb
    January 5, 2010 at 12:38 am

    I would love to have a tool which gives me a short Growl notification (or something similar) when the battery is fully charged. I often forget about it and I once read that it's not good to keep loading a notebook battery once it's fully charged.

    Are you aware of such a tool?

  3. Psc
    December 31, 2009 at 9:43 am

    How about the simple coconutbattery?

    • Simon Slangen
      January 1, 2010 at 8:04 am

      Second :-)

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