10 Favorite Tips for Your MacBooks

MacBook, MacBook Air, and MacBook Pro tips

Line up of Macbooks with people's hands above


Stephanie Keith / Getty Images

Apple's portable lineup, including the MacBook, MacBook Pro, and MacBook Air, includes some of the most popular notebooks in the computing industry. This comes as no surprise to all of us here at Lifewire, but we also know there are many tips and tricks that make using a portable Mac even better.

To help you get the most out of your MacBook, MacBook Pro, or MacBook Air, we have compiled this list of tips, which is a work in progress. Check back often for more tips.

What Really Happens When You Put Your Mac to Sleep?

OS X Yosemite on MacBook Pro

Apple, Inc.

Putting a portable Mac to sleep is such a common occurrence that few of us ever give it much thought. We just assume that sleep will help conserve the battery and let us pick up right where we left off. But is that really what happens? You may be surprised.

Apple supports three different versions of sleep; each has its benefits and drawbacks, but few Mac users know which version of sleep their Macs are using. If you want to know the ins and outs of Macs and sleep, this is the place to start.

Change How Your Mac Sleeps

MacBook Pro on table with coffee mug and book

Westend61 / Getty Images

Now that you know about the three sleep modes that Macs support, how do you find out which one your Mac uses, and perhaps more importantly, how do you change to a different mode?

This guide will show you how to use Terminal to change the sleep mode your Mac is using. You may find that "Safe Sleep" is just what the doctor ordered. On the other hand, if you want to conserve the most battery life over long periods of sleep, another option might be better.

Using the Energy Saver Preference Pane

OS X Yosemite System Preferences showing the Energy Saving preference pane.

The Energy Saver preference pane is the heart of controlling the energy use of your MacBook, MacBook Pro, or MacBook Air. With its easy-to-use interface, you can manage when your Mac should be put to sleep when its hard drives should spin down when the display should be turned off when you're not actively using your Mac and a wide range of additional power-saving options.

You can also use the Energy Saver preference pane to schedule when to start, sleep, shut down, or restart your Mac.

How to Calibrate Your MacBook, MacBook Pro, or MacBook Air Battery

Apple Mac Battery Symbols

Ivcandy / Getty Images

Did you know that the battery in a MacBook, MacBook Pro, or MacBook Air has an internal processor? That's not a dumb battery inside of your smart Mac. The internal battery processor has many functions, but its chief job is to manage your battery's performance and predict how much time is left on a battery charge. In order to perform its prediction magic, the processor needs to know how well the battery is performing and how long it is taking to deplete from fully charged to nothing left in the tank.

This process is known as battery calibration and should be performed when you first purchase your Mac and when you replace the battery, as well as at regular intervals to keep the information current.

How and Why to Reset Your Mac's SMC

MacBook Air at Apple Store

Spencer Platt / Getty Images

Your Mac's SMC (System Management Controller) is a small piece of hardware that takes care of a group of basic housekeeping functions to keep your Mac's performance up to par. If you've been having problems with the battery performance of your MacBook, MacBook Pro, or MacBook Air, or if it's been having sleep issues, the SMC may be able to get things working correctly again.

This guide will take you through the process of resetting the SMC, after which your portable Mac should be back in top shape again. Once you reset the SMC, you should use the guide above this one to re-calibrate the Mac's battery.

Spin Down Your Drive's Platters to Save Your Mac's Battery

HDD Open with platters and actuator exposed.

egortupkov / Getty Images

The Energy Saver preference pane is an easy way to manage your Mac portable's battery performance, but one place where being easy to use is a drawback is when it comes to controlling when your hard drives should spin down. Or as the Energy Saver preference pane puts it, "Put the hard disk(s) to sleep when possible."

What is lacking is any control over when the hard drives should be tucked into bed. Should they be put to sleep when the display is turned off? When there is no activity for a set amount of time? And if so, what's the right amount of time to wait before the drives are put to sleep?

This guide will take you through the process of setting the inactivity wait time before the drives say "goodnight."

Mac Performance Tips to Give Your Mac a Tuneup

Laptop with a cable shaped as a Rocket coming out of it


Atomic Imagery / Getty Images

Getting the best performance out of your Mac is important; it may be even more important when you're using a portable Mac on a battery. This list of tips will keep your Mac running at its best, without undue use of resources that can limit the run-time of your MacBook, MacBook Pro, or MacBook Air.

Mac Battery Tips

2015 MacBook Exploded View

Apple, Inc.

Getting the most run-time out of your MacBook, MacBook Pro, or MacBook Air may be easier than you think. This collection of tips ranges from the basic to the obscure, and even the silly, yet all of the tips will help you eke out a bit more battery time from your Mac portable.

Security Tips for Your MacBook

Padlock on top of keyboard
Epoxydude / Getty Images

It may not be as satisfying as tuning up your Mac for the best performance, but tuning up your Mac for added security is an important project as well.

These security tips will show you how to encrypt the data on your MacBook so no one but you can view your sensitive data, How to track your Mac should it become misplaced or stolen. Make use of the Mac's built-in firewall, plus two additional security settings to take advantage of.

Upgrade Your Mac's RAM

A closeup of two sticks of computer RAM under a soft blue light
nazarethman / Getty Images

The MacBook Pro depending on the model and the year it was made, may have user-upgradeable RAM. Being able to add additional RAM can turn an aging MacBook from an agonizingly slow computer into a hotshot ready to get your work done.

Find out if your MacBook can be easily upgraded.