How do I save energy on my Mac?

macOS, ProductivityAppdrawn Team | Published 24th January 2023
In this blog post, we touch on a subject that is very topical right now. Energy!

Today is Macintosh Computer Day! Celebrated every year on the 24th January, it commemorates the release of the first MacIntosh computer into the public realm way back in 1984. Being the predecessor of the Apple computers we know and love today, it only seemed befitting for the Mac to be today’s Tech Tip protagonist!

In this blog post, we touch on a subject that is very topical right now. Energy! In light of the current energy crisis, there is a lot of advice out there on how to cut back and save on your bills. Using one’s Mac is non-negotiable; you need it for work as well as other important tasks. But if we cannot reduce our usage, is there a way to use it more efficiently?

Well straight from the Apple’s mouth ‘Your Mac is designed to be energy efficient right out of the box, using features like Compressed Memory and App Nap to stay fast and save power. However, there are several ways you can further optimise energy usage.

Let’s dive right in and unpack!

Wake, Work, Sleep, Repeat

We don’t know about you but your parents may have told you to switch everything off and now the energy companies are telling you to do so. What you may not realise is that computers are designed to run 24/7. If it's a laptop, they don’t actually use any more electricity by doing so. The problem with shutting down your laptop all the time, is that it doesn't have any time to clean up files in the background or install updates. And you were wondering why your laptop was getting so cranky?! Just like us humans, computers need their sleep to function optimally. When transporting your laptop, it is best to put it in sleep mode. This is generally achieved by shutting the lid and leaving it running. Sure, it'll need a reboot every now and again but it is not designed to be started up and shut down with every use. Plus, it can take a long time to get it going … unless you are trying to avoid work… we see what you are doing.

How do you put your Mac in sleep mode?
  • Click the Apple icon on the top left hand corner of your screen then select Sleep. Or if it’s a laptop, just shut the lid.

Optimus Battery

You may not be a crime fighting Cybertronian but you can be the hero of your own energy saving story! As an owner of a Mac, it is possible to transform your energy usage and optimise your battery’s lifespan by implementing any of the following (may not be available on all models):

  • Go to Apple Menu > System Preferences > Battery

And then:

  • Switch on Low Power Mode.
  • Press Info > Turn on Optimised Battery Charging and Manage Battery Longevity.
  • Go to Power Adapter > Tick “Put hard disks to sleep when possible” and “Automatic graphics switching”.

Au-to-mate! Au-to-mate!

(The heading obviously said in a Dalek style ex-ter-mi-nate!) Us software developers, we love a bit of automation! You can tweak your laptop’s settings so that when you have been inactive and forgotten to switch off your display, your mac will automatically turn it off for you.

How do you set your display to turn off automatically after inactivity?
  • Go to the Apple Menu > System Settings > Battery
  • Click and drag the slider under the ‘Turn display off after’ to select the appropriate time frame for your screen to lock after inactivity. The smaller the time frame, the more energy efficient.

Turn down the lights in here…

Contrary to Ye’s (Kanye) well known tune, it is actually better to turn down the lights and dim your display to the lowest level possible that is comfortable to work in. If you work out of multiple spaces, the light conditions may vary and so you can adapt the brightness of your display to fit the space. If you are working in a darker room, for example, the display does not need to be as bright to have the same impact as it would need to be in order to compete with light in a very bright room.

How do you dim your display?
  • You can use your keyboard’s brightness keys to adjust brightness
  • Or
  • Go to Apple Menu > System Settings > Displays and then adjust the brightness slider as required.
How do you automate your display to dim?

Another automation tip for you! You can set it so your laptop display automatically dims when you’re using battery power. 

  • Go to Apple Menu > System Preferences > Battery
  • Tick the ‘Slightly dim the display while on battery power’ option

Digital Declutter

To save energy, disconnect any accessories and quit any apps that you are no longer using. When we say accessories we mean things like external hard drives, USBs, etc. Not only does it save on energy, it also makes your workspace a lot more conducive for work by creating a sense of peace and calm. 

How to disconnect an accessory?
  • Go to Finder > Press Eject Button

The same principle applies for any app. Approach your digital life like you would your physical. Starting new tasks in a space that is already cluttered by previous tasks is going to make the job (for your laptop in this case) a lot harder. Even when not in use, an app can be working in the background and consuming energy like a ravenous Pac-Man.

How to quit an app?
  • Go to Dock > Right Click app icon > Select Quit
Appdrawn Team | Updated 17th August 2023

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