Is It Bad to Leave a MacBook Plugged in All the Time?

As with any other laptop, your MacBook needs to be plugged in for optimal performance when using it. I tend to keep my MacBook Pro plugged in most of the time. 

However, if you’re like me, you’re probably asking yourself, is it bad to leave a MacBook plugged in all the time? In short, no. But the answer is more complicated than that.

I’ve been a happy MacBook user for more than ten years. I’ve experimented with this device throughout the years and know the ins and outs.

In this short guide, I’ll go over everything you need to know on the topic. Through a series of insider tips, you’ll understand why I made the above statement.

Ok, let’s do this!

What Happens if You Leave Your MacBook Plugged in All the Time?

One of the biggest fears MacBook users have is damaging this precious device. MacBooks are excellent for work, which is why we tend to leave them on our desks plugged in.

And if you’re like me, you’re probably wondering what happens if you leave your MacBook Pro plugged in all the time.

Throughout the years, I’ve come across many theories on what happens to laptops, in general, when you leave them plugged in all the time. One of the most common theories is that the battery gets damaged

The reason why people say this is because that’s something our smartphones are known to do. The more you charge your smartphone and the more time passes, the battery loses effectiveness. But a laptop battery and a smartphone battery are two different things.

Apple makes its batteries from lithium polymer. They design the batteries so they don’t overcharge once the battery reaches 100% capacity. But is leaving it plugged in harming the battery in any way? 

I’ve found out that the best battery range is between 30% and 80% full. I’ve also found out that it’s a good idea to let the MacBook use the battery once in a while. The thing is, when the battery reaches 100% capacity, the MacBook doesn’t actually use it. 

So when you leave your MacBook plugged in all the time, the battery will depreciate naturally, as the MacBook will overheat quicker and suffer wear from being charged to full. Every time you charge your MacBook, you add more power and in turn, generate more heat (source). 

This is especially the case when you’re running higher-demand programs. Your goal should be to preserve the battery life as much as you can. Here is how to do that.

Ways to Preserve Your MacBook’s Battery

MacBook batteries have come a long way throughout the years. Leaving it fully charged and still charging isn’t as bad as it used to be. But that doesn’t mean you should keep the laptop plugged in at all times. 

Below are the best practices I use to make sure my MacBook Pro battery lasts longer.

Make Sure Your MacBook Doesn’t Overheat

I’ve found out that the most common reason a MacBook battery goes bust is due to overheating. Bear in mind that to overheat the battery, it needs to go higher than 95° F or 35° C. There are a few ways for the battery to overheat and if you’ve been following this article closely, one of those ways is to keep it plugged in. 

With that said, here is what you should be doing to make sure your battery doesn’t overheat.

  • Don’t charge while using high-demand programs.

Some applications running on the MacBook can cause it to overheat. As I’ve said previously, high CPU-demanding apps such as video and image editing software that use more cores and threads from the CPU will cause it to generate more heat.

So, if you’re running those apps, make sure to remove the charger if you’ve got enough battery capacity.

  • Avoid High Room Temperatures.

Even though Apple designs the newest MacBook Air and Pro to be comfortable with various temperature limits, using it in extreme heat will cause the temperature to go even higher. The image below lays out the MacBook’s comfort zone. 

Apple recommends using it at room temperatures between 50°and 95°F (10°and 35°C). Using it at extreme room temperatures can cause permanent damage to the battery.

Update the OS

Another way to preserve the battery life on your MacBook is to do something I always do – update to the latest version. Apple loves adding these tiny but very effective improvements to their devices. 

They come in the form of OS updates and can make a lot of difference. For example, one OS update might relate to the issue we’re discussing right now. The update could be a new form of energy-saving improvement that improves the battery cycle even more.

One way to check if your MacBook needs updating is to head over to “System Preferences” > “Software Update.”

Mingle With the Battery Settings

One reason why I love the MacBook is that Apple makes it easy for you to optimize any setting. In this tip, I will show you how to optimize the battery settings to make the battery more efficient.

The first thing to do is to go to “System Preferences” > “Battery.” Here you’ll find all kinds of settings to mingle with. The one you’re looking for is the “Optimized Battery Charging.” By having it ticked on, you make sure the OS effectively manages the battery life.

Another setting to have on is the “Manage Battery Longevity.” To get to this setting, click the “Battery Health” button.

Here, you can also know if the battery is functioning properly. On this screen, you’ll see two options – “Normal “and “Service Recommended.”

If the latter is showing, it means your MacBook is telling you that you need to replace the battery with a new one.

Conclusion

To answer the question of whether it is bad to leave the MacBook plugged in all the time, the simple answer is no. But if you’ve been reading this article, you’ll know that leaving it on all the time can harm the battery. 

Since some of us have no option but to do that, since we use our MacBooks for work, we should use best practices to make sure the battery doesn’t go bust too soon, too fast. 

To summarize what you should be doing, don’t overheat the Macbook, update the OS, and play around with the battery settings. I hope you found this article helpful, and I would love it if you would leave your feedback in a comment below.

About Eric
Eric currently uses a 15-inch MacBook Pro for both work and personal errands. He did all the research and testing to make sure all the fixes and optimization tips shared on the blog are relevant to Apple’s latest macOS updates as well as fact-checking.

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