Your MacBook’s battery is likely the first component you’ll need to replace. Apple makes reliable machines, but battery technology means most cells only last a few years before their capacity seriously diminishes.
A battery replacement is a great way to breathe new life into an old MacBook. Here are your options when it comes to replacing it, and how you know it’s time to do so.
Check Your MacBook Battery Status
The easiest way to check the current status of your battery is to hold the Option key and click on your battery percentage icon in the menu bar at the top of the screen.
You’ll see one of these four notes on the battery’s condition:
- Normal: Your battery doesn’t need replacement.
- Replace Soon: The battery holds less charge than it did when new.
- Replace Now: Your battery hold significantly less charge than it did when new.
- Service Battery: The system has detected a fault with your battery.
That should give you some indication of how necessary a battery replacement is. But you can also view the exact number of charge and discharge cycles. To do this:
- Click on the Apple logo in the top-left corner of the screen.
- Select About This Mac, then System Report.
- Click Power and scroll down to Cycle Count.
The number of cycles should give you a good idea of how long your battery has left before requiring replacement. Different MacBooks have ratings for different cycle counts, so you’ll need to cross-reference your result with the ratings on Apple’s Support website.
Finally, if you’ve noticed your battery life has become significantly worse of late, you may decide that it’s time for a service anyway. Use your own judgement to weigh up if the cost is worth it to you.
Option 1: Replace With Your Apple Warranty
If your MacBook is still under warranty, Apple will replace a faulty or degraded battery free of charge. In the US, Apple provides a limited one-year warranty. For those in the EU and Australia, consumer law extends this coverage to two years.
If you purchase AppleCare for your MacBook, this coverage extends to three years. Speaking from experience, Apple replaced my MacBook battery at no cost two weeks before my AppleCare coverage expired, so it’s worth a shot.
You can check your warranty status on Apple’s Service and Support Coverage website using your machine’s serial number. Find your serial number by clicking the Apple icon at the top of the screen and selecting About This Mac.
If you don’t have warranty coverage for a battery replacement, let’s look at your other options.
Option 2: Replace at an Apple Service Center
Apple recommends you use first-party or third-party authorized service centers to replace your battery. This is generally the most expensive option, but it’s also the safest. The procedure is less likely to go wrong, and Apple provides a 90-day guarantee for any work performed.
Assuming the service isn’t covered by warranty or consumer law, the cost of the repairs will vary from $129 for a MacBook Air to $199 for a MacBook Pro with Retina Display. If your MacBook is especially old, you may be better off putting that money toward a replacement instead.
Head to Apple’s Mac Service and Repair website and click Start a service request to begin. If there are no Apple stores nearby, the website will suggest authorized third parties who can perform the work instead. These technicians undergo the same training as Apple’s, and provide the same guarantees.
Benefits: Your MacBook is guaranteed against defects resulting from the work, your replacement will be a genuine first party product, and the work shouldn’t take more than a day or so.
Option 3: Replace at a Computer Repair Shop
If you want to save some money, you could always pay a third party to replace your battery for you. Many computer repair shops will source and replace your battery, though the exact cost will vary based on who you approach.
Going this route forgoes Apple’s guarantees, and you may find that they use third-party parts in an attempt to save money. These parts aren’t necessarily inferior, but it’s a risk you take. Check out computer repair repair shops in your area for quotes, then compare them to what Apple offers.
Depending on the model, your local repair shop may refuse service if your battery is glued in place.
Benefits: You’ll probably save some money at the cost of not having an Apple-certified technician perform the repairs. Third parties may also use cheaper parts to reduce cost, meaning they’re more likely to break early.
Option 4: Replace It Yourself
The cheapest option by far, ordering your own battery and replacing it yourself means you’ll only pay the cost of the parts. You’ll need a set of tools to open up your Mac, an anti-static wrist band, and the replacement battery itself.
Much of the time, you can buy kits that provide everything you need. These come at roughly half the price Apple will charge you for the service. One such retailer is iFixit, which also provides guides to everything from simple fixes to complex teardowns.
Buying the battery alone should cost even less than this, with cheap third-party options available for a fraction of the price. We’d recommend only buying from a company you trust, with a strong reputation for providing quality parts.
If you’re not sure what you’re doing, the risks of something going wrong are much higher. If you’re happy to take the risk and follow how-to guides to the letter, you’ll learn a lot about the inner workings of your computer. You might even enjoy the process!
Unfortunately, some MacBook models have glued-in batteries, making them incredibly difficult to repair yourself. iFixit now has a MacBook Pro with Retina Display battery kit, but warns that it’s for experienced users and comes with some serious work.
Benefits: By taking matters into your own hands, you’ll save a lot of money at the cost of your own time and the risk of something going wrong.
Don’t Forget to Recycle Responsibly
If you do go for this option, make sure you recycle the spent battery responsibly.
Lithium batteries need to be recycled properly to prevent harm to yourself, others, and the environment. Check with your local waste management authorities how best to recycle your old laptop battery—don’t just throw it in the trash or with your regular recycling.
Most local governments will have dropoff points or collection schemes that emphasize safety and sustainability. If you choose to let Apple service your laptop, it will take care of the battery and recycle it for you (but unfortunately doesn’t offer a drop-off service).
Not Sure How to Replace Your MacBook Battery?
If your laptop is old and you’re not sure whether or not it’s worth replacing the internal battery, you could always consider external power solutions. Battery packs that can power your MacBook are now a reality, and you can use them again to power your new MacBook when it’s time for a replacement.