Retina MacBook Pro battery life sucks? Here's how to fix it!

You buy yourself a shiny new MacBook Pro Retina, and it comes with a pretty healthy claim on battery life. Especially, taking into account all those pixels that are being pushed around on that gorgeous display. You may also, like me, have noticed over time a pretty sizeable deterioration in your actual battery life. For example; this morning my 13-inch MacBook Pro Retina was showing 2 hours 43 minutes remaining on an 80% charge, and I've been struggling to get much over 3.5 hours total usage before needing a wall outlet. But, a bit of searching around and I found a couple of solutions that should see your battery life return to normal.

The first of these, is to clear the PRAM and NVRAM settings. This seems to be a favorite of Apple support staff, as I recall being told to try this on a couple of pre-MacBook era machines for various things. To do it is really simple:

  • First, power off your MacBook Pro
  • Then, when you power up, hold down the cmd+option+P+R keys all at the same time
  • When you see it cycle round and you hear the startup sound again, let go and let your MacBook Pro boot up as normal.

This on its own may resolve the problem. The other method that runs in conjunction with this involves a little terminal:

  • Open up Terminal on your MacBook Pro
  • Type in cd ~/Library/Preferences/ then press enter
  • Then type rm com.apple.desktop.plist and press enter
  • Finally, type killall Dock and hit enter again

This command will delete the settings file listed in the second line, and restart your dock so you're not running with any faulty preferences anymore. It also seems to set your wallpaper back to the stock, Mountain Lion wallpaper, so that may be a good sign that you did everything right.

After all this, you should be seeing a noticeable improvement in your reported battery remaining time. My 2:43 at 80% charge almost doubled to just over 5 hours immediately after carrying out these steps, and so far at least the battery isn't running down nearly as fast as it was before.

Hopefully, this helps any of you guys out there that may have been getting extremely frustrated by a similar issue. If you have, shout out in the comments below, and do please let us know if these steps help to fix the problem for you. Likewise, if you've found any other tricks that work, let us know!

Richard Devine

Senior Editor at iMore, part time racing driver, full time British guy

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Reader comments

Retina MacBook Pro battery life sucks? Here's how to fix it!

32 Comments

The absolute best thing that helped me with my battery life was to install gfxCardStatus. Sometimes you just don't have a clue when the discrete GPU has kicked in. If it does and you aren't aware of it, you've only got a couple of hours of battery life at best.

Sadly (weird way to say that!), so many apps use Core Animation these days that it just bumps to the GPU almost all the time.

I have to say my battery life hasn't been a problem so far, I get 6 hours even with loads of Chrome tabs open the whole time. The only notebook that seems like a close match is the Macbook Air, I've created a list of pros and cons at http://www.squidoo.com/apple-macbook-pro. Based on this you'll see that the features outweigh any glitches with the battery.

Richard Devine power up trick worked for me. But I also check gfxCardStatus based on Tigrao's tip I noticed that when using Chrome and websites that uses MS Silverlight the Nvidia always kicks. So it is good I idea to disable Nvidia if you are use some websites that requires MS Silverlight, I like in my country one of the TV station's web service does.

Have to give it a whirl. I sold my Air so I don't have one to try it on, and battery life isn't an issue on my Mac Mini ;-)

Sent from the iMore App

I have to admit, while I've only had my MBPR since April, I can watch two or three movies before the battery even gets below 30%. But, I'll save this post for the day when my battery is worn out.

The Terminal instructions work! My MBP just kept indicating that file did not exist but I tried writing the instructions anyway. Again I have my battery levels where they should be now it correctly displays time remaining as before it always was in calculating mode. Now if I had a MBPR.... Soon, soon...

Curiously Appleish that a machine so expensive needs such fiddling about to get soemthing so basic working. As a Linux user, I am bit perplexed, to say the least. I guess my iP5 is not the only premium-priced Apple product that needs babying.

Didn't really work for me. Went from about 2:59 to 3:17 on a full charge! I guess I'll be taking it into the Apple Store.

Hey Richard this sounds really helpful and i would like to ask you something..
since this is a 3 month's old post..and since I am experiencing some problems with my battery life (really shorter) after having installed mavericks, I'd like you to tell me if you believe i should follow your instructions? is there any possibility to work for me in the case that i described right above? I 've never performed anything by my own on my macbook pro so a pro's advice would be helpful..

thanks a lot !

I am so grateful that I cant help register a new account to thank you!
THANK YOU! bought a new rMBP 13' but the battery life had always been under 6 hours after a full charge.
Now its 7:56 at 88%! Thank you so much!

Thank you!! I just got my new MBP 13 late 2013 today and noticed that its showing 5hrs after full charging, after i restart my MBP and used the first trick, now its showing 12:40 mins!!!! and slowly dropped to 12 hrs and then 11:30 with 95%...

Thanks for the tip and will monitor today how it gona behave....