If your MacBook Pro or MacBook Air won’t charge, or the charger isn’t working, getting things working can be a race against time as the battery drains. In this article we’ll look at the possible reasons why your Mac laptop might not be charging, and how you can fix it.
We’ll also look at what to do if your Apple laptop doesn’t hold a charge and if it’s delivering a lot less battery life than Apple advertises.
Why is my MacBook not charging?
There could be a simple reason why your MacBook Air or Pro won’t charge. Start off with these simple checks to establish what the issue is:
- We have to ask… Is the MacBook definitely plugged in? Disconnect the charging cable from the laptop and plug it in again.
- Check the plug socket too. Is the socket turned on? Try using a different wall socket. We know all this sounds a bit basic, but double-check before you go any further.
- Make sure your power adaptor is connected properly. Each Apple laptop adaptor comes in two parts, the square adaptor and its removable plug that connects to the wall, and the charge cable. Pull the two apart and put them back together.
- What does your Apple adaptor look like? Is it in pristine condition or has it got any tears in the cable? Is the adaptor discoloured in any way? Does it look burnt out? If so, try a different adaptor (borrow one from a friend or ask at an Apple Store).
- Make sure you are using the correct power adapter and cable. For example, you may have a Mac that charges via USB-C, but not all USB-C cables are equal. Some cannot be used for charging. There are also various types of MagSafe cables that your Mac might require for charging – there are no less than three versions of MagSafe for Mac. You need to make sure you are using the correct one. See our guide to MagSafe. You should ideally use the charger that came with your Mac, including the included power brick.
- Speaking of the power brick – is it overheating? If your power adapter is getting too hot it may not function. Make sure it isn’t covered by anything.
- Check the power port on your Apple laptop for dust. This can prevent the connector from making a clean connection to the Mac and stop you from charging it up correctly.
The above checks may enable you to fix the problem. But if they don’t work we recommend that you work through the steps below.
Update your software
When Apple issued the macOS Monterey 12.2 update it seems a bug was introduced that caused some Mac batteries to drain really quickly in sleep mode. The issue was found to be related to an issue with Bluetooth and a subsequent macOS 12.2.1 update addressed the battery drain problem.
With examples like the above it is clear that sometimes a software update may fix your Mac charging problems.
Make sure that your Mac is running the most recent version of the macOS software. Go to System Preferences > Software Update to check.
Find out if your Mac’s been recalled
Check to see if your Mac – specifically the battery – has been recalled. We have details of MacBook Recalls and repair programs here.
In the summer of 2019 Apple recalled some MacBook Pros due to concerns about the battery overheating. Click the link for information about the 15in MacBook Pro battery recall for units sold between 2015 and 2017.
There was also a recall of 2016-2017 MacBook Pro (non Touch Bar) models relating to a component failure causing the built-in battery to expand, details here.
Your Mac’s charger might also be part of a recall. Apple has recalled some of its wall plugs over safety concerns, find out if yours is affected.
Having ruled out the above, you can start working through the more advanced fixes.
We have a separate article where we discuss everything you need to know about getting Apple products repaired.
Reset the battery
The method you follow to reset the battery in your MacBook, MacBook Pro or MacBook Air will be determined by the age of your Mac, and whether it has an Intel chip or an Apple chip inside.
If it’s old enough to have a removable battery (unlikely if was bought after 2012) you can actually remove the battery. After doing do, disconnect the power adapter and hold down the power key for 10 seconds before replacing the battery and then plugging the power adapter back in. Restarting the Mac should fix the problem.
But it’s unlikely that your Mac has a removable battery, so how can you reset the battery? In this case you will need to reset the SMC, which stands for the System Management Controller, a chip on your Mac’s logic board that controls the power.
Reset the SMC
Resetting the SMC can help with battery and power related problems, however, the process for resetting SMC is different depending on the age of your Mac.
These are the steps you need to follow if your Mac has an Intel processor.
- Shut down the MacBook.
- Connect the power adapter.
- Hold down Control + Shift+ Option/Alt and the Power button for about four seconds. Then release all four together.
- Press the Power button to start up the Mac again.
If you have an Apple silicon Mac – with an M1, M1 Max or M1 Pro inside you won’t be able to reset the SMC because there is no system management controller – all functions that were previously handled by the chip are now embedded in the M1 processor. This doesn’t mean you are stuck and can’t ‘reset’ things: all you need to do is turn your Mac off and on again, according to Apple.
If you’d like to find out more, read out full tutorial on resetting the SMC. Also see: How to fix a Mac.
Check if your battery is faulty
As we explain in How to test a MacBook battery it’s actually quite simple to check your MacBook battery to see if it needs replacing. This could be the trouble if your MacBook battery is not charging or if it is draining too fast.
Click the battery icon in the Menu bar. If it says ‘Service Battery’ you probably need to get your battery replaced. The battery has aged and will no longer hold the charge that it once did.
Get the Mac serviced
If the above advice doesn’t help then you should take your MacBook to Apple (or an Apple reseller that is an Apple Authorised Service Provider) for servicing and maybe even consider having the battery replaced.
You’ll need to find out whether your Mac qualifies to be serviced by Apple. It depends on whether the Mac is still under warranty or if you have AppleCare. Here’s how to check if you are covered:
- Click here to go to Apple’s Service and Support website.
- Enter your serial number (you can find it by clicking on the Apple menu > About This Mac).
- Prove you aren’t a robot.
You will be taken to a page that explains what cover you have. In our case it indicates that Consumer Law May Apply and suggests we talk to an advisor.
If you have Apple Cover, or your Mac is still within warranty then it is easy to set up a repair. Just go through the options here. We suggest Startup or Power > Charging tips or troubleshooting. You’ll see options to Talk to Apple support, schedule a call, start a chat session, or bring in for repair.
We have this article about getting a Mac repaired. We also look at Mac DIY repair guide and how long Apple repairs take and how much they cost.
Other Mac battery troubleshooting tips
Hopefully the above will have helped you solve your MacBook battery charging problems. There are a number of ways you can preserve the life of your battery in order to avoid such problems in the future, as well as settings you may need to change if you are finding that your battery still isn’t charging.
Preserve your battery with energy saving settings
If you go to System Preferences on your Mac laptop and click Energy Saver (on older versions of macOS) or Battery, you will see options that can help you get the best out of your MacBook battery. Alternatively right-click on the battery icon and choose Battery Preferences.
In macOS Monterey this includes a lot of information and tools that can help you preserve your battery including Optimised battery charging, which is a preset that will reduce your battery ageing by avoiding charging beyond 80% based on your usual behaviour.
Of course this behaviour could lead you to wonder why your Mac isn’t charging! It may well be the case that your Mac isn’t charging because it is already at 80% and Apple has decided that you don’t need to fully charge your Mac. Of course if this is an issue you can easily turn off Optimised battery charging. Just deselect the box next to that option.
Battery running out too quickly
If your MacBook battery keeps losing its charge, of just doesn’t hold its charge as long as it used to, you should check a few things.
The first port of call is to make sure that your settings aren’t draining the battery (as detailed below), we also suggest that you check that the MacBook isn’t part of a recall (as mentioned above).
- Open up System Preferences and choosing Battery (or on older versions of macOS Energy Saver.)
- In Battery settings click Battery and check that the Turn display off after: option is not set to Never. This is similar in Energy Saver settings, here you need to make sure the Sleep and Display Sleep sliders are not all the way to the right (set to Never).
- Make sure the sliders are as far to the left as is feasible.
Don’t leave your Mac plugged in all the time
These battery saver settings are intended to address the problem of batteries being charged to capacity too often. But if you have an older Mac or aren’t using a new version of the macOS the best advice is not to leave your Mac plugged in all the time. Make sure that you use the Mac via battery power from time to time.
It’s good practice to let your battery completely discharge and then recharge once in a while.
We have the following advice about improving battery life.