Battery Life Draining with MacOS Sierra? Some Tips to Help
Some Mac users may have discovered after updating to MacOS Sierra their Mac seems to have reduced battery life. While faster battery drain on a MacBook Air, MacBook, or MacBook Pro can be alarming, it’s not always a sign of any particular issue, and there’s often a reason why battery life seems to be draining faster than usual after installing a system software update.
We’ll review a few reasons why MacBook battery may be draining faster than usual with Sierra, and also cover some tips on how to improve battery life on any MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, or MacBook running MacOS Sierra.
Wait! Did you just update to Sierra and now your battery life is worse?
If you have noticed your battery life is terrible but you just completed the update to MacOS Sierra, whatever the version be it 10.12, 10.12.1, 10.12.2, you should just wait a while. I know this can sound like obnoxious advice to some users, but any recently updated Mac runs various tasks in the background which can temporarily lead to battery drain and reduced performance.
In fact, the same normal processes that can make a Mac feel slow after updating to MacOS Sierra are often the same tasks that are leading to reduced battery life, including the re-indexing of the drive with Spotlight, Photos indexing and scanning, cleanup duties, iCloud Drive syncing, iCloud Photo Library (if applicable), iCloud Desktop & Documents, and other behind-the-scenes processes.
Just let these run and complete themselves. Sometimes it’s best to let the Mac machine sit overnight for a day or two while powered on (and the screen off or with a screen saver) to allow the indexing and system tasks time to complete. And yes, they can take a while!
Look for CPU Hogging Processes
- Open “Activity Monitor” from the “Utilities” folder within the “Applications” folder
- Pull down the “View” menu and choose “All Processes”
- Now click on the “CPU” tab and sort by CPU to check for apps or tasks that are using a lot of CPU – this may or may not be actionable, for example if you have a third party app running in the background at 100% CPU, you might want to kill the app and then figure out what’s going on with it
If you see processes like photoanalysisd, mds, mds_store, mdworker, secd (more on that one in a moment), Photos Agent, cloudd, these are typically the aforementioned system level processes that must complete on their own before things return to normal.
Check for iCloud Keychain Processes
Some users have noticed that after they’ve updated to MacOS Sierra, a process called “secd” and/or “CloudKeychainProxy” are pegging CPU and using a lot of energy. This is often accompanied by a notification alert about setting up iCloud Keychain. If this is the issue, you can enable iCloud Keychain (or disable it) and those processes should settle down and battery life improve.
- From the Apple menu, open System Preferences and go to “iCloud”
- Setup iCloud Keychain (or disable it completely)
The issue seems to be iCloud Keychain being stuck in a limbo of some sorts and the process can’t calm itself down. Fortunately either enabling or disabling the service, depending on if you use it or not, seems to remedy the issue, as discussed here.
Check for Energy Hogs
The Mac offers a way to find apps using battery rather easily through the battery menu, this can be immediately actionable, plus you can go a step further and look at overall Energy use.
- Pull down the battery menu and wait a moment for data to load, then look under the “Apps Using Significant Energy” section for obvious energy hogging culprits and take action as appropriate
- Next, open Activity Monitor again from /Applications/Utilities/
- Click on the “Energy” tab to see what if any apps are using significant energy, this list can vary per computer but take action as appropriate
Again, you’ll want to be mindful of system level tasks and processes that have not completed running, particularly on a machine that has either just updated to MacOS or which has not had sufficient time to run background tasks (for example, if you shut down or sleep the Mac immediately after using it, it may not have had time to run background processes that are required to complete).
Disable Transparency & Motion Effects
The fancy transparency effects throughout MacOS and the various motion animations and movements look beautiful, but they also require some system resources to render. Disabling these features can lead to better performance, and can potentially help battery last long.
- From the Apple menu go to “System Preferences” and choose “Accessibility”, then choose the “Display” settings
- Toggle the boxes for “Reduce Motion” and “Reduce Transparency” so they are checked and enabled
Other MacOS Sierra Battery Life Tips
Some broader battery life tip:
- Reduce screen brightness
- Reduce the number of apps open at once
- Rarely, you may need to reset the Mac SMC to resolve unusual battery issues after updating system software
- Review some of the other tips to speed up a perceived slow MacOS Sierra machine here which can also improve battery
- Disable unneeded Location Services from System Preferences > “Security & Privacy” > “Privacy” > Location Services
- Read some general battery life tips for MacBooks
Is your battery life better or worse with Sierra? No different at all? Do you have any tips for improving battery life with MacOS Sierra? Let us know your thoughts and experiences in the comments.