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Question from Wil: My MacBook Pro (OS10.6.6) runs fine and the battery has not been a problem, however, the drop down window states “service battery”  I did a Apple battery configuration procedure and it seems fine.  Has this issue been corrected for Snow Leopard. Forums tell me this has been a problem after upgrading to Snow Leopard.

Jason Answers: Some of the symptoms we encounter with bad or depleted batteries are:

  • Battery only lasts for “minutes” or not at all. You unplug from AC power and the computer shuts down.
  • Battery says it has charge left, but it just shuts down. For example, your battery indicator shows 53% and then it shuts off.
  • Battery icon has an “X” in it.
  • Battery is bulging.

If it runs on battery fine, then the “service battery” message means that something else is being detected. It could mean that your battery could hold more charge if you calibrate it correctly. Snow Leopard includes more sophisticated battery management to deal with the built-in batteries that come with the new unibody laptops. If you have an older laptop with a removable battery or a third party battery, you could be getting false readings. I don’t know the details of what you did for the Apple battery configuration procedure, so here are some steps to recalibrate your battery:

1. Unplug the computer from AC power.

2. Use the computer until the battery is at 0% and the the computer goes to sleep. Make sure you are saving your work. Your sleep light on the front of the computer should still be on and cycling from bright to dim. Wait until that light is off, you want to drain the battery completely.

3. Reset the SMC. If your computer can have the battery removed, then remove the battery, make sure it is unplugged and press the power button for 10 seconds. Put the battery back in and plug it back in to AC power and power it on. If your battery cannot be removed, then plug in the computer, press the (left side) Shift-Control-Option keys and the power button at the same time. Release all the keys and the power button at the same time. Press the power button to turn on the computer. For more details on the SMC, click here.

4. Make sure you keep the computer plugged into AC until the light on your AC adapter turns green or the battery indicator shows 100% or charged.

5. You may need to do this whole cycle again if you keep getting the “service battery” indicator.

I would suggest downloading Coconut Battery. It is a free application that gives you power details on your battery. You can launch it before you run the calibration and after to see the change. If you continue getting the “service battery” notice. We have a battery test provided by Apple to see what is going on.

– Jason

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