Show Remaining Battery Life in the Mac OS X Menu Bar

Mar 14, 2011 - 10 Comments

MacBook battery

If you’ve ever wondered how much battery life is remaining on a MacBook, MacBook Pro, or MacBook Air, you should set the battery icon in the OS X status bar to display some additional details, like the percentage remaining. This gives you an immediate idea of how much longer you can use a Mac.

Here’s how to enable the battery indicator on a portable Mac, you can do this from just about anywhere in OS X as long as you can see the menu bar:

  1. Click on the Battery icon in the upper right corner of the Mac menu bar
  2. Pull down and choose “Show Percentage” so that it’s checked – note that older versions of OS X will have two options to ‘Show’ and select ‘Time’ or ‘Percentage’

Show battery remaining of MacBook in OS X

This provides you with a continuous update on battery life and works on any of the Mac notebook lineups. I find time remaining to be most informative, but the percentage is ok too.

In new versions of OS X that only show the Macs battery percentage remaining, you can click on the battery icon to reveal the additional details like the actual time remaining. Additionally, modern versions of OS X can also tell you what apps are using battery and energy by giving a quick look at this same menu bar item, a really great feature for laptop users.

Older versions of OS X have the options look like this:


In either new or older Macs, the battery indicator is always visible in the menu bar, either showing percentage or the time remaining.


You can also use the time remaining gauge as an indicator of a runaway process that could drain your battery life, like Flash in an inactive browser tab. I’ve been trying to achieve the 7 hour battery life but so far the highest I can hit on this MacBook Air is about 5 hours with light use.

I recently got a MacBook Air 11.6″ and while showing it to a friend they complained that they can’t see the remaining battery life with the press of a button like you can on the MacBook Pro. This is true, but what you can do is set the Mac OS X menu bar to show remaining battery life as either a time or percentage.

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Posted by: AJ in Mac OS X, Tips & Tricks


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  1. Bjoern says:

    Since I wasn’t very happy with the on-board battery indicator, I looked around a bit and found the great “SlimBatteryMonitor” that even indicates remaining charging-time:

  2. Seriously says:

    i am really surprised if there any mac user who would benefit from this article. isn’t battery life the most basic thing that any mac user would have to know in the first place.

  3. SZ says:

    I use iStat Menus, that way I can show both time remaining and percentage.

  4. Alberto says:

    ……… And with iStat you can put the icon of the battery vertically, so it uses less space in your menu bar ;)

  5. 27min says:

    I use iStats as well, since the icon is smaller (acutally customizable). I have it set to display remaining time if not plugged in (which is pretty accurate!), and the percentage if plugged in. I find this the most usefull setting. I’ve tried SlimBatteryMonitor as well, didn’t like the design.

  6. […] was just last week that I took a screenshot of battery life in this menubar tip. This is the same MacBook Air, same brightness settings, same apps open, the only difference is Mac […]

  7. […] you just want to see how much battery life you have left on your current charge, you can show that in the battery menubar. stLight.options({ publisher:'fe5e0a84-1fac-40de-8014-9f89fc1cbe6a' […]

  8. […] X Mountain Lion changed the battery indicator for mobile Mac users, removing the option to show the remaining battery life time and instead displaying only a percentage, like iOS. For those of us […]

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