Easily Check the Battery Level of Bluetooth Devices Connected to a Mac

Jan 10, 2013 - 8 Comments

Most Bluetooth accessories don’t have battery indicators located on the device itself, and that includes the Apple Wireless Keyboard, Magic Mouse, and Magic Trackpad. Rather than waiting for the devices connection to weaken, stop registering movements, clicks, or certain behavior, you can periodically check the battery level of most devices connected to a Mac by looking in OS X.

Checking Device Battery Levels with the Bluetooth Menu

This is by far the easiest method, but you will need to have the Bluetooth menu enabled to be able to do it.

  • Pull down the Bluetooth menu bar, locate the accessory under the “Devices” list and open it’s submenu to see the battery level

Bluetooth device battery level as shown in the menu bar item

If you don’t have the Bluetooth menu visible, you need to enable it through checking the box at System Preferences > Bluetooth > “Show Bluetooth status in the menu bar”.

All connected accessories will show a Battery Level here as a percentage, though it won’t provide a time estimate like the standard battery indicator for portable Macs would.

Seeing Device Battery Levels with System Preferences

The battery level of connected Bluetooth devices can also be checked in System Preferences, but there’s a catch: most devices are going to be found in different places. For example, you’ll have to look at “Keyboard” panel to see a Bluetooth keyboards battery level:

Bluetooth keyboard battery level, shown in the System Preference panel

And then if you wanted to find another devices, like a trackpad, you’d need to visit the Trackpad system preference panel. If you use multiple Bluetooth devices this isn’t preferable, and you’ll be better off enabling the Bluetooth menu bar item and using that to check things instead.

Most Bluetooth devices are very power efficient and don’t have many demands, though things like headsets will drain faster than a keyboard. Regardless, it’s a good idea to have a set of good rechargeable batteries handy that work with whatever accessories you use frequently, because it’s never fun to have a device run out on you, and very low battery life can also be a reason why Bluetooth connection strength suffers. If you’re trying to figure out if that is an issue, check the battery life and monitor the signal to see if it improves with new batteries in place, oftentimes it will.

Thanks to Tim for the question and tip idea.

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Posted by: Paul Horowitz in Mac OS X, Tips & Tricks

8 Comments

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  1. chris says:

    If you Option+click the BT menu you will find even more information like signal strength and device hardware address

  2. Jan says:

    Contrary to your writing not all connected accessories will show a Battery Level. My Logitech mouse doesn’t, my Apple keyboard does. Or is that because I’m on Snow Leopard?

    • Steebz says:

      @Jan – Probably limited to devices that are ‘official’ Apple hardware is my guess, sanctioned or otherwise

      Anyone know how do you check this battery life in iOS? Is it even possible?

  3. Scott says:

    This may certainly be true for Apple Bluetooth devices…I use a Microsoft Bluetooth mouse and it most certainly does NOT display the battery charge (I wish it did). I’m just saying…maybe you should qualify your statements before you write them.

  4. Tom says:

    I use the Might Monitor widget, displays levels for keyboard and pad/mouse. Easy

  5. noibs says:

    I’ve got bluetooth headphones, mice, and two different numeric keypads. None are Apple branded. None show a battery level. This article needs to be amended.

  6. Lawson says:

    So this utility works only for Apple branded bluetooth items. Thanks “noibs” for the confirmation.

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