10 Favorite Tips for Your MacBooks

MacBook, MacBook Air, and MacBook Pro tips

Apple's MacBook Air and MacBook Pro, along with their predecessor, the MacBook, are some of the most popular notebooks in the computing industry. This collection of tips and tricks can keep your Mac running at its highest potential.

Know What Happens When You Put Your Mac to Sleep

OS X Yosemite on MacBook Pro
Apple, Inc.

Putting your Mac in sleep mode is such a common occurrence that few users give it much thought. They assume that sleep conserves the battery and lets users pick up where they left off. Apple supports three versions of sleep—Sleep, Hibernation, and Safe Sleep—each with its own benefits and drawbacks, but few Mac users know which version of sleep their Macs are using. Understanding the ins and outs of putting Macs to sleep can extend the lifetime of your laptop computer.

Change How Your Mac Sleeps

MacBook Pro on table with coffee mug and book
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All MacBook models since 2005 use Safe Sleep as the default mode. 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. After you know about the three sleep modes that Macs support, you might want to change to a different mode.

Use Terminal to change how your Mac sleeps.

Customize the Energy Saver Preference Pane

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

Customize the Energy Saver preference pane to control the energy use of your portable Mac. With its easy-to-use interface, you can manage when your Mac should be put to sleep, when its hard drive should spin down, when the display should turn off, and a wide range of additional power-saving options, depending on your MacBook generation, including Power Nap on newer MacBooks.

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

Calibrate an Older Mac Notebook Battery

Apple Mac Battery Symbols
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Modern MacBook, MacBook Pro, and MacBook Air computers come with built-in lithium polymer batteries, which can only be serviced or replaced by an Apple Authorized Service Provider or a technician at an Apple Store. Most older Mac notebooks come with removable batteries that you can replace.

MacBooks, MacBook Pros, and MacBook Air notebooks released since mid-2009 do not require calibration. However, older laptops can benefit from being calibrated.

On these older MacBooks, the battery processor manages the battery performance and predicts how much time is left on a battery charge. 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.

Calibrate your older MacBook, Macbook Air, or MacBook Pro battery when you first acquire your Mac and when you replace the battery, as well as at regular intervals to keep the information current.

Reset Your Mac's SMC

MacBook Air at Apple Store
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Resetting the System Management Controller (SMC) on your Mac may be the solution to many problems you encounter with your Mac laptop. The SMC 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 have problems with the battery performance of your MacBook, MacBook Pro, or MacBook Air, experience sluggish performance, or encounter sleep issues, the SMC may be able to get things working correctly again.

The process of resetting the SMC should return your portable Mac to tip-top shape. After you reset the SMC on a pre-2009 laptop, recalibrate the Mac's battery.

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

HDD Open with platters and actuator exposed.
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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. The Energy Saver preference pane suggests you "Put hard disks 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?

Putting your Mac's hard drive to sleep takes 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
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Getting the best performance out of your Mac is important. Performance tips that give your Mac a tuneup can keep your Mac running at its best, without undue use of resources that can limit the runtime of your MacBook, MacBook Pro, or MacBook Air.

Mac Battery Tips

2015 MacBook Exploded View
Apple, Inc.

Getting the most runtime out of your MacBook, MacBook Pro, or MacBook Air may be easier than you think. Tested Mac battery tips range from the basic to the obscure and silly, yet all the tips help you eke out a bit more battery time from your Mac portable.

Security Tips for Your MacBook

Padlock on top of keyboard
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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 show you how to encrypt the data on your MacBook so no one but you can view your sensitive data and how to make use of the Mac's built-in firewall, plus two security settings to take advantage of.

Upgrade Your Mac's RAM

A closeup of two sticks of computer RAM under a soft blue light
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Most MacBooks have RAM that is soldered and cannot be upgraded by the user. However, a few MacBook Pro models may have user-upgradeable RAM. Being able to update your MacBook's RAM can turn an aging MacBook from an agonizingly slow computer into a hotshot ready to get your work done.

Check to see if you can update your MacBook's RAM.