Can I Keep My MacBook Pro/Air Plugged in All The Time?

Jun 6, 2024 - 4 Comments

Can you leave a MacBook plugged in all the time or is that bad

Many MacBook Pro and MacBook Air owners use their laptops in dual use scenarios, functioning as a laptop computer when on the go, and a desktop computer when not. This leads some to wonder if it’s bad for the MacBook battery to leave the computer charging or plugged in, even if it’s not in use.

If your MacBook Pro or MacBook Air is at a desk, or mostly at a desk, is it bad to leave it plugged in all the time? Should you keep your MacBook Air or Pro plugged in and charging all the time? Is that safe to do, or is it bad for the battery and longevity of the laptop? Let’s dive in and explore these important questions!

Is it safe to leave a MacBook Air or MacBook Pro plugged in all the time?

Generally speaking, yes it is safe to leave a MacBook Pro or MacBook Air plugged in to a charger all the time.

A huge number of MacBook usage are in scenarios where a MacBook Air or Pro is sitting on a desk, connected to a charger, and often to an external display, keyboard, and mouse too. These “use a laptop as a desktop” situations are incredibly common in the workplace and school with Apple laptops, and for many home users as well.

When a MacBook Pro or MacBook Air is plugged in and charging, it will typically perform at it’s best, since there is no need to engage in energy conservation or battery life extension. It’s not totally unusual for some MacBook users to have discovered their laptop feels like it’s running slower than usual when running on battery particularly when battery life is relatively low, and in fact it often is running slower because of the Low Power Mode feature, which directly throttles performance to extend battery life.

While there’s nothing wrong with keeping a MacBook Pro or MacBook Air plugged in all the time, and you’ll often have the best CPU performance by doing so, there are a few things to keep in mind that may contribute to the broader battery health and battery longevity of your MacBook Pro or MacBook Air, so it’s important to keep those in mind.

Important Considerations for Keeping MacBook Air/Pro Plugged In

Most modern laptop and gadget batteries are lithium-ion based, including those that are found in MacBook Air and MacBook Pro, which means they degrade over time and with usage. The battery in a MacBook is designed to be used, that’s why it’s a laptop, right?

Keeping a lithium-ion battery at 100% charge constantly may reduce the overall lifespan of a battery, but modern Macs include battery maintenance features that help to prevent this. Nonetheless, it’s still good practice to use your Mac laptop as a laptop from time to time, and let the battery discharge to 20%-30% or so, and then charge it again. You don’t really need to overthink this, just use your MacBook as you normally would.

Apple explains the various factors that can contribute to Mac battery health and battery lifespan as follows:

“All rechargeable batteries are consumable components that become less effective as they get older—and their age isn’t determined only by time. A battery’s lifespan depends on its chemical age, which is affected by factors such as its temperature history and charging pattern. As your notebook’s battery ages chemically, its charging capacity gets smaller.”

Let’s pay particular attention to the ‘temperature history’ and ‘charging pattern’ mentions as we discuss further, because those are both often directly controllable by MacBook users.

1: Use Battery Optimization feature in MacOS

Modern versions of MacOS have built-in battery optimization features that aim to extend the lifespan of the devices battery.

One of the primary means of doing this is by learning your laptop usage and charging habits, and then delaying the amount of time the MacBook Pro/Air spends fully charged. For example, let’s say you get to your desk every day at 8am, plug in your MacBook Pro, and then leave your desk every day and disconnect the MacBook Pro at 4pm – MacOS battery optimization will observe and learn this schedule, and then hold your laptop battery at an 80% charge level until the end of the day, when it will then charge the battery to 100%.

Apple Silicon Mac laptop batteries will use fast charging tech to get to 80% capacity, and then they automatically switch over to a slower charging style referred to as ‘trickle charging’, where the remaining 20% will charge much slower, at a defined time, or sometimes not at all.

Battery Optimization is enabled by default on every modern Mac, but you can confirm it is enabled on your particular Mac laptop by going to  Apple menu > System Settings > Battery > Battery Health > clicking the tiny (i) button next to Battery Health > make sure “Optimized Battery Charging” is enabled ON.

Battery Optimization should be enabled on Mac laptops for best performance and longevity

2: Avoid Extreme Heat

Extended exposure to high heat or extreme heat can negatively impact battery health and battery life, and it’s also not great for any tech in general. Heat can directly damage lithium-ion batteries.

Keep the MacBook Air or MacBook Pro out of direct sunlight, and away from heat sources. Do not smother the laptop, which can prevent heat from dissipating as designed.

Additionally, if you run the MacBook Pro/Air in clamshell mode (meaning closed, but still on and connected to an external display), you will want to make sure it is well ventilated around it, particularly with the modern Air since it does not include a cooling fan. The fan-less design of the Apple Silicon MacBook Air series makes it a very power efficient and silent computer, but it is known to throttle performance when overheating or in clamshell mode and under heavy usage.

Aside from potential battery issues, high heat will often cause CPU performance to reduce and throttle. If you’ve ever used a MacBook outside in the sun on a warm day, felt the computer get very hot to the touch, and then suddenly become almost unusably slow with beachballs, it’s likely because the Mac is overheating and the system is reducing performance and other activity to try and cool things down.

There are a variety of helpful ways to keep a MacBook cool in hot weather and high temperatures if you want more specifics, but a little common sense goes a long way.

3: Keep MacOS Updated

It’s important to keep up to date with MacOS software updates and install those updates when they are available. Not only do MacOS system software updates routinely fix bugs and security issues, they may also address any known issues with energy usage, battery optimization and usage, or other power management related circumstances.

You can update MacOS by going to  Apple menu > System Settings > General > Software Update.

As you can see, MacOS has technology in place to prolong and extend battery life and battery health on MacBook Pro and MacBook Air computers, including holding charging at 80% with the Optimization feature, until you need the full 100% charge. And you can engage in some reasonable tasks as a user to preserve the battery health of your Mac too, like avoiding extreme heat, and updating your system software. Keeping a battery at 100% all the time can negatively effect the battery health however, so it’s a good idea to use the MacBook Pro or MacBook Air as intended, as a laptop or on the go when not plugged in, and let it run from battery power. Ultimately, you don’t need to overthink it, MacOS is doing the hard work for you behind the scenes, so whether you leave your MacBook Pro or Air plugged in basically all the time and let Optimize Battery Health hold the charge at 80% until needed, or use it as a laptop on the go all the time with constant charge and drain cycles, the computer will perform well. If you’re putting tons of battery cycles on a laptop, the battery health may reduce over time, but that’s expected behavior of any lithium-ion battery, and is certainly not limited to a MacBook Air or MacBook Pro.

How do you use your MacBook Pro or MacBook Air? Do you keep it connected to a charger all of the time, most of the time, or rarely? For my personal use case, I keep my MacBook plugged in and charging anytime it is not on the go with me, whether that’s overnight, or sitting at a desk for weeks on end. But I also use my MacBook as a laptop quite often from coffee shops and parks, where relying on battery is essential, and using it this way has never been detrimental to the health of my laptop battery.

Let us know your own experiences or thoughts in the comments.


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Posted by: Ali Khan in Mac OS, Troubleshooting


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  1. david watts says:

    “You don’t really need to overthink this, just use your MacBook as you normally would.”

    I use my laptop as I usually would: as my computer. I never planned to have it as a portable machine, and I wish Apple had thought of “me” when they designed it. I wish the battery could have been removeable so I could only install it IF I were ever to want or need to operate it on battery power.

  2. Beatrix Willius says:

    I keep my laptop always plugged in. Except when my cat sits on my normal chair. I never ever use the battery management of Apple.

    How is supposed to keep any Mac up-to-date important? The release notes are thin and Apple makes more new bugs than it fixes old ones.

    And yes, I want changing batteries back to being back to easy. It’s just money gouging on Apple’s side.

  3. Blaine says:

    I’ve always kept mine plugged in all the time when it’s at my desk, been doing this with every laptop I have ever owned.

    In my experience all laptop batteries tend to do pretty well for about 1-2 years where they meet the expectations of battery life, and then each year after that they degrade quite a bit.

    I have a 2015 MacBook Pro where the battery lasts about 20 minutes. I have a 2012 MacBook Air which lasts about an hour. My 2020 MacBook Pro lasts a few hours with use. My 2023 MacBook Air lasts about 6-7 hours of use.

    Unfortunately Apple has made it almost impossible to change batteries in every laptop for a long time now, you usually need to replace a huge portion of the laptop and it’s not just a quick swap like it used to be. I wish we could swap out batteries easily and on the fly like we used to be able to. And this applies to iPhone too. It’s a design decision, it doesn’t have to be this way.

  4. Expo Bill says:

    this is a popular and confusing topic that shouldn’t be, since 2010 my MacBooks have always been kept plugged without any damage or battery failure expect for when I don’t use them adage, sadly as the case for the 2010 MBA which ceased to work in May of 2024.

    and keeping the MacBook up-to-date is an urban legged and wrong as Monterey OS has a better longer battery life than Sonoma by several hours I discovered last month too.

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