A Quick Fix for “No Batteries Available” & Fans Running Constantly on a MacBook Air

May 7, 2013 - 41 Comments

If you’ve ever had a MacBook Air or MacBook Pro’s battery disappear at random it can be a disconcerting feeling. This is often accompanied with the battery menu having an “X” through it and saying “No Batteries Available”, a very sluggish Mac, and even after a reboot or not the Mac will often have fans running at full speed despite nothing unusual showing up in Activity Monitor. To top it off, the MagSafe charger light typically is not lighting up, and the computer won’t even sleep. Uh oh, something is terribly wrong, right? Well, sort of – but don’t worry, this is all related and it’s a peace of cake to fix.

Before getting into any specifics or the details, let’s cover the solution: an SMC reset.

Get the Battery Back & Fans Normal By Resetting the SMC

This is a technical process but it’s very easy to follow. This will be the same on a MacBook Air & MacBook Pro Retina, technically any Mac with a built-in non-removable battery. You can find instructions for other Macs and older Macs here if needed.

  • Shut down the MacBook and connect the MagSafe power adapter – let the Mac completely power down before proceeding any further
  • Hold Shift+Control+Option+Power concurrently for a few seconds, then release
  • Press the Power button as usual to start the MacBook

Here are the precise key sequences for what an SMC reset looks like on a MacBook Air or a MacBook Pro (Retina) keyboard:

Key sequences to reset the SMC controller on a MacBook Air and MacBook Pro Retina

After the Mac has rebooted normally again, things should be all well and good again. Here’s an example of the “No Batteries Available” menu, then after the fix the battery is shown functioning as normal again:

No batteries available, shown on a MacBook Air

Note the total elapsed time in the clock is 2 minutes. In other words, it took only two minutes fix the entire problem, from adding up all the power-related issues, saving an important file or two, shut down the Mac, reset the SMC with the aforementioned keyboard sequence, then reboot the Mac to normalcy again.

Power Preferences will reset too

It’s important to point out that resetting the SMC will cause you to lose many power-specific options and customizations you may have made to OS X with System Preferences, ranging from screen brightness levels, to settings in Energy Saver for how the Mac handles things like auto-dimming based on lighting and power sources, screen sleep behavior, sleep when idle, etc. Thus you will have to go back and make those minor power customizations again.

Why does this happen?

You won’t always find an exact reason as to why the system management controller goes haywire along with core system and power functions, but the basic idea is that at some point something was corrupted, maybe for a reason or maybe not.

What is an SMC anyway?

For those who don’t know, SMC stands for System Management Controller, and it handles power functions and other core hardware roles on Macs, thus inexplicable issues with power management are almost always resolved by resetting the SMC. This is why for problems or oddities with power management like batteries disappearing, refusal to sleep, a very sluggish Mac combined with system fans blazing loudly, graphics cards acting up, are all very classic symptoms of needing to reset the SMC to get things back on track. Take the time to do it, it works.

Having run into this twice on two different Macs in the past week it’s certainly a worthwhile topic to cover, even if it’s a relatively rare problem to deal with. At the very least, it helps to be informed of these kind of things, so if any of the above happens to you, before calling AppleCare or taking a trip to the Genius Bar, take a moment to reset the SMC yourself, it will almost certainly fix the issue completely.

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Posted by: Paul Horowitz in Tips & Tricks, Troubleshooting

41 Comments

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  1. shell says:

    Thank you so much – didn’t even have time to panic before I found your fix!

  2. Jayann says:

    I was ready to pay someone to fix the machine. I can’t believe it was this simple. Thank you for so much covering this fix.

  3. Zan says:

    Thanks. Worked like a charm.

  4. Greg says:

    Great article! Easy to follow and worked perfectly.

    Thanks

  5. A Rivera says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  6. Chuck says:

    I’ve tried this fix several times and its still not working. I have a MBP which was purchased August 2012

  7. Emily says:

    Thank you so much for writing this!!

  8. JC says:

    Hi, I have a mid 2010 13inch Macbook Pro. My fan is on full blast all the time. The Macbook doesn’t appear to be warm, let alone hot. I also have no battery. tried changing it but still.. no battery.

    Tried the SMC but no luck unfortunately. I’m thinking a sledge hammer might do the trick?

  9. Alex says:

    Thank you SO MUCH for this fix information.

  10. Jeremy says:

    A huge thanks for this fix. It worked. Saturday night when my MacBook Pro just died and after turning it back on, non-stop fan, non-stop panic and “no batteries available.”

    Now everything is working again… :)

  11. Alan Hudson says:

    Good fix. Worked perfectly. Thanks

  12. lewis says:

    can’t thank you more!

  13. LG says:

    No worky!! I get the battery, but is never charges, just stays at (0%).

  14. Stacey says:

    Amazing! Thank you so much for this useful tip!

  15. Will P says:

    Thank you so much for this!

    Saved me for sure

  16. Nicky van Zanen says:

    Wow super thanks man! Worked perfectly and just in a few seconds my MacBook was back to normal =)

  17. Kgabo says:

    My Macbook doesn’t switch on anymore after following these steps. Any solutions?

  18. Finn says:

    WOW, it worked! Thank you very much! :)

  19. Sara says:

    Thank you so much! :D :D

  20. Patrick McCaffrey says:

    Thank you sooooooooo much. I can relax now!

  21. Patrick McCaffrey says:

    Thabk you sooooooo much. I can relax now!

  22. Brandon says:

    Some guy at the apple store told me that I spilt water on it and that it was going to cost 600-700 dollars to fix. I brought it home looked it up and literally pressed 4 keys and it’s fixed. THANK YOU!!!

  23. Aiza says:

    Thank you so so much. You’re a lifesaver.

  24. Scott says:

    I have the “no batteries available” error after replacing a battery with a new one. The SMC reset does not help.
    What can I do?

    Thanks.

  25. Amina says:

    Worked like a charm! Thanks so much!!!!

  26. ashley says:

    thank you so much. I was having a sh!t day, and then my beloved MacBook Air fan kept raging and my battery disappeared. your fix, fixed it in less than a minute. thank you thank you

  27. Kawtar says:

    Thank you!!!
    I felt like a pc engineer hahahahah when it came back on with no fan or “No batterie available”

    – Thanks again!!

  28. Jamese says:

    It worked exactly as you said it would. Thanx a million!

  29. sajidd says:

    its making a beep sound when i pressed these four keys,,
    and its still same as it was before..
    what to do now?
    please help me

    • Annabel D says:

      im not sure if your computer is working right if it was beeping.
      how many times did you try it?i tried it twice and it worked the second time.

      Annabel

  30. Jai M says:

    AWESOME!!! Worked like a charm. Thanks so much for posting this.

  31. Annabel D says:

    AWSOME! i thought my computer would never work again!

    Thanks

  32. C. Freire says:

    OMG!!!! THANK YOU!!! I like to think of myself as a tech-savvy mac junkie, but when my MBP Retina started to go haywire for no reason, stopped recognizing the battery, and even the power connector wouldn’t light up, I was as helpless as my great-grandma would’ve been if asked to troubleshoot an iPad! This was a life saver, so simple, yet so effective! The article’s being saved to my Evernote, and I’ll have to do some soul-searching: maybe accept I’m not as “tech-savvy” as I used to believe… :-) THANKS AGAIN!!!

  33. Amaraa says:

    Thank you Paul. It worked great.

  34. Gepenk says:

    I lov u, my problem solve…

  35. thiru says:

    Thnk u very much sir. Almost freaked out.:)

  36. Edefe says:

    THANK YOU VERY MUCH!!! I tried this and it worked!

  37. Siobhan says:

    Thanks soo much. This was exactly the right fix!!

  38. Ethan says:

    I just did this and now it won’t turn on at all… help.

  39. beth says:

    Thank you so much. Worked like a charm.

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