Service Battery Warning on Mac – Do You Need to Replace the Battery?

One of the most dreaded alerts a MacBook user can ever see is the one that says ‘Service Battery.’

Service Battery Warning on Mac – Do You Need to Replace the Battery?

As with all laptop computers, the battery is one of the most critical components, and it is also a component that essentially cannot be serviced. When a lithium-ion battery is done, it’s done — you need to replace the battery.

What exactly are your options when your MacBook returns the ‘Service Battery’ warning?

In this article, I will explain how lithium-ion batteries work, how to get the best performance and longest life out of your battery, and I will give you some suggestions on ways to resolve the ‘Service Battery’ alert.

How Lithium-Ion Batteries Work

All chemical batteries work on the same basic principle: a positive electrode (cathode) is separated from a negative electrode (anode) by an electrolyte.

When the battery is connected to an electrical circuit that draws power, electrons flow from the anode to the cathode, creating a current.

If a battery is rechargeable, then this flow can be reversed. When a current is sent into the battery, electrons flow from the positive to the negative electrode, recharging the battery and adding power to it.

There will be a test on this later. The results will go on your permanent record.

You have undoubtedly heard news stories about lithium batteries exploding or catching fire. Those stories are true; this type of battery is subject to overheating and exploding if they are not carefully monitored. As battery technology has developed, this problem has been more or less eliminated by the addition of electronic monitoring circuitry added to a battery. Of course, knowing the dangers of a swollen battery are important to your safety and electronic devices.

The main factor we are looking at today is the charging life cycle of the battery. How many times can the battery be discharged and then recharged before it no longer functions at full capacity?

For lithium-ion batteries, the number of cycles before this varies widely depending on the quality of the battery build and the level of discharge that the battery supports.

MacBook Battery Life

A typical MacBook or MacBook Pro can run for about 10 hours when using the Internet and doing normal computing tasks like word processing or playing music. The battery life will be shorter if you are doing intensive work like video or audio editing.

How long can you expect that level of performance from your battery?

Apple states that its new batteries are designed to support 1,000 full charge-discharge cycles, after which the battery should still have 80% or more of its original capacity.

Note that even after this long life cycle (a complete discharge and recharge every day for three years), your battery will still work — it just won’t have the same ability to hold a charge as it did at its peak. It will continue to degrade slowly over time and eventually stop working altogether, but that can take years.

Note that the macOS is quite intelligent when calculating cycles. Partial charges do not count as a complete cycle; if you discharge your battery a bit and then charge it back up, that will only count as a fraction of a cycle for its internal monitoring.

What Does ‘Service Battery’ on Mac Mean?

Your MacBook monitors the health of its battery. If you mouse over your battery icon on the status bar at the top of your screen, a popup will display the battery status, the amount of power remaining, and a list of apps that are using a lot of power.

There are four battery status messages:

  • Normal: Your battery is operating within normal parameters.
  • Replace Soon: The battery is holding less of a charge than it did when it was new but is still working fine.
  • Replace Now: The battery still works but has degraded significantly. It’s time to start looking for a new battery.
  • Service Battery: There is something wrong with your battery, and it needs to be replaced as soon as possible.

The first thing you should do when you get a ‘Service Battery’ notification is to check the ‘System Report.’ This will tell you the cycle count and overall condition of your MacBook battery.

You can check the health of your Macbook’s battery by using the System Information function. To access the details about your battery, do this:

  1. Click the Apple icon while holding the Option key.
  2. Click System Information
  3. Select Power on the left side and review your battery health.

Another way to view the System Report is by doing this:

  1. Select the About this Mac in the Apple Menu.
  2. Make sure you are on the Overview tab.
  3. Click on the System Report.
  4. In the left-hand menu, click Power.
  5. Under Battery Information on the right-hand side, look for the Cycle Count under Health Information.
  6. Look at the Condition of your battery (indicated directly below Cycle Count), which should be Normal if your battery’s operating properly.

Modern Macs get at least 1,000 cycles before there’s a problem, though if you have a Macbook that’s older than 2010, then you may only have 500 cycles available before your battery’s worn out.

How Do I Change Low Battery Warning on My MacBook?

If you get the Service Battery warning, the cycles are above about 1,000; then your battery’s likely pretty close to worn out.

But if your cycles are relatively low, then there may be other issues at play, and you should use the methods I’m about to describe. I’ll show you how you can attempt to resolve the issue yourself before replacing the battery outright.

Reset SMC

The first thing to try is resetting your System Management Controller (SMC), which is a hardware chip that controls some hardware settings, including the power system.

While very reliable, it can occasionally have issues that require a reset. The process is straightforward, but any customizations to your power plans or hardware settings may also be reset.

Here’s how to reset the SMC:

  1. Shut down your MacBook.
  2. Press Shift+Ctrl+Option+Power at the same time and hold.
  3. Release all keys at the same time.
  4. Turn on the laptop.

SMC controls the computer fans, backlights, and indicator lights, as well as some aspects of the display, ports, and battery, so resetting it will force your MacBook to revert back to its default settings for all these things.

If a transient issue in the SMC was causing the Service Battery warning, this should address it.

Recalibrate Your MacBook Battery

The next thing to try is recalibrating the battery. Recalibrating the battery basically means discharging it completely and then recharging it completely.

Battery recalibration takes a day or so, so if possible, do it over a weekend when you don’t have to have your MacBook for work.

Here’s how to recalibrate your MacBook’s battery:

  1. Fully charge your MacBook to 100%.
    Show battery percentage on Macbook
  2. Keep the laptop running while connected to the power supply for a couple of hours.
  3. Unplug the MacBook from the power supply and let the battery drain completely.
  4. Leave your MacBook overnight without the power cord connected.
  5. The next morning, plug your Macbook in and charge it to 100% power again.

Your MacBook should now be able to more accurately gauge the battery status. If this clears up whatever the problem was, your ‘Service Battery’ warning should go away.

If none of the above work, it’s time to take your Mac into an Apple store for service. If it’s been less than a year since you bought your MacBook, you should still be under the warranty. However, after that point, a battery replacement will cost $129 or more.

How to Extend Your Mac’s Battery Life

If you plan to keep your MacBook in service for a long time, then keeping your battery in top condition ought to be a priority.

Here are some suggestions for keeping your battery healthy.

Keep Your MacBook Plugged In

When you have access to an AC outlet available at home or elsewhere, use it. When using your Macbook while not plugged into a power outlet, try not to let your battery get below 50% before plugging it in again.

This reduces the number of times your MacBook will have to charge and extends its life. By not letting your Macbook get low on power before plugging it in again, you’re essentially reducing strain on your battery.

Avoid Exposing Your Mac to Extreme Temperatures

MacBooks work in a wide range of outside temperatures, but 62° F to 72° F (16.5° C to 22° C) is the ideal temperature range. Your machine will work just fine in cold temperatures, but it won’t last as long.

However, charging your battery in sub-freezing temperatures is very dangerous — never charge a lithium battery in the cold.

Heat is another story. Temperatures higher than 95° F/35° C can permanently damage the battery and reduce its capacity. Charging in high temperatures will cause additional damage.

Your MacBook’s software should prevent charging in these extreme environmental conditions, but it’s still a good idea for Mac owners to be aware of the temperature parameters.

Store Your MacBook at 50% Charge

In storage, your MacBook battery will discharge, but very slowly. If you’re planning to keep your MacBook stored over a long period of time (more than a month), charge it to about 50% of capacity before doing so.

Leaving it stored at full charge can cause it to lose capacity, while leaving it stored with no charge can cause it to lose the ability to charge at all.

Replacement Batteries

Apple has incredibly strict policies on third-party modifications. If your Macbook is still under warranty and the battery is done, contact Apple Support for replacement options. You can always start by running Apple Diagnostics from home. Assuming you’re overusing a battery that is ‘Normal,’ you can always optimize your battery life.

The company does not authorize many shops to work on their products; taking your Macbook to a third-party repair shop means you’re getting a battery that isn’t original to your device.

Having someone work on your Macbook without Apple parts or the right certifications means that Apple will no longer uphold your warranty, nor will they ever work on your device again.

If you’re having battery issues that aren’t resolved by the SMC reset, contact Apple before doing anything else. The cost of a repair through the manufacturer may be equivalent to the cost of a third-party shop, or even free.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are the answers to more questions you may have about your MacBook battery.

How do I find out if my Macbook is still covered by warranty?

If you’re unsure how old your MacBook is, you can check the warranty by visiting this site. Input your MacBook’s serial number and the security code. Then, click Continue.

You can now see if your MacBook still has a warranty.

Note: You can find your MacBook’s serial number in the About This Mac menu.

What is the cycle count on a MacBook?

The MacBook cycle count defines how many times you run your battery to 0% and charge it back to 100%. If you plug your phone in at 50% today, charge it to 100%, then run it back down to 50% tomorrow, that is one cycle count.

Newer MacBooks typically have 1,000 cycle counts. But older models may have 300-400. After exceeding the cycle count, you may need to prepare for a new battery because your existing battery may charge only to 80% or less of its capacity.

24 thoughts on “Service Battery Warning on Mac – Do You Need to Replace the Battery?”

Niffer says:
My son’s 2017 Macbook Pro was showing the Service Battery warning. Since he uses it for school and it’s a 4 year old mac, I decided easiest thing would be to buy a new one and then either sell the old one for parts, or replace the battery. The diagnostic at Genius Bar said the battery was bad. Took it home, erased the harddrive in prep to sell, reset PRAM, and now the battery status is “normal.” Battery cycle count 559. Didn’t try resetting the SMC. I’m going to take it back to the Genius Bar to see what the diagnostics say now. P*ssed that Apple didn’t suggest trying any of these tactics mentioned.
Pinco says:
Given that the battery is a consumable, Apple should make it easily replaceable.
Appalling Apple behaviour and worse of all is people who still buy Apple products.
a Martin says:
You sound like Apple is alone in doing this…
Kristoffer says:
I only have 183 cycles on a 2 year old MacBook Pro 15″. Got the warning the day after my 2 year warranty (Danish law) ran out. Tried resetting SMC and recalibrating battery. Worked for a few days, now the warning is back.
Scott says:
Just noticed this warning on a 2017 MacBook 12″–one month out of Applecare+! 251 discharge cycles!
Tried resetting the SMC (I wish there was some definitive indicator that it was done properly), no help. Did the battery recalibration, no help.
Norma says:
Hi! I found everything very helpful, thanks! But my problem is that I just changed the battery, so this one is new (from a trustable seller) and the cycle count is 2! is this possible??? I noticed it was lasting no longer than 4 hours just the first day after changing it and then I did all the diagnosis. Haven’t done the SMC procedure yet.
Main problem is the quarantine… I hope you can give me some feedback. Thanks in advance!
Nour Naim says:
I have the same problem. I changed it recently and i only used 4 cycles! Did u did u find a solution?
Abram says:
Resetting the SMC worked—thank you!
Justin says:
Reset SMC a few times, and the ‘service battery’ notification is still around. Tried to calibrate the battery but I could not do so because the MacBook would just shut off when the battery reached about 60% of its capacity. The battery cycle of the MacBook is only at 27.
Do you think that resetting my MacBook will help with this service battery situation?


J says:
Had the “Service your battery!” warning even though my cycles were under 700 on a newish Macbook. Resetting the System Management Controller did it for me. Thanks!

Also great to read more background into why things are the way they are rather than just getting a “try this” step-by-step like other sites might provide.

Chloe says:
Had the service battery warning come up and found this article while trying to work out what that meant. The cycles were only at 681 and its only a few years old and other wise runs perfectly. Tried the reset SMC and it worked perfectly, battery is back to normal and has saved me an expensive apple trip!
Mary says:
The problem with my MacBook Air is that I cannot get the battery to discharge. I used to discharge it on a regular basis but when PGE started the power outages, I stopped discharging it regularly. Now it will discharge to about 88% then shut itself off. The Cycle Count is 299 but Condition: Service Battery Any advice would be most welcome.
Niki says:
I’m experiencing this same issue! SOS!
kaci butler says:
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Sometimes users are unable to update their delivery information but due to some technical glitches, they have to face some sorts of trouble in doing the same. To get the optimum solution, you should use Amazon Number which would help to fetch the right troubleshooting aid from the experts.
Gary says:
So easy to replace your own battery. Just did my wife MacBook Air…..$35 for the battery (Amazon or E-bay)…make sure you get the exact model number of your Mac before purchasing. The only issue are the extremely SMALL screws in the back of your laptop, and at least in the MacAir the screws that hold the battery in place. Make sure to make a note of where the LONG screws go back….AND place the loosened screws in a small paper cup or on a piece of paper as they are as small as a pinhead and easy to misplace. Go you YouTube for instructions. Very easy.
Diane Warburton says:
If the battery gets permanently damaged above 95°F (35°C) as the article says, then all Mac laptops destroy their own batteries… Intensive tasks, even something common as watching a Youtube video will see the processor temps in the Mac soar to double those figures or higher. Battery temps are lower but higher than 95°F (35°C)
Pedro says:
My MBP 13” (Early 2015) it’s 4 years old but I only have 180 cycles as It’s plugged-in all day to AC. I have the ‘service battery’ warning and I did both: SMC reset and battery recalibration but I still have the warning.

Here in Granada, Spain it’s common to reach temperatures of 104F in summer.. so that might have something to do with the warning…

Goods new are that the battery replacement out-of-warranty it’s “only” $129. Should I have it replaced?

Da’vonte Jordan says:
Thanks so much G, u a real one
Elle says:
Recalibrating my battery solved the issue. You saved me from the hassle of replacing. Thank you!
Talha Gull says:
How??? Please share the process.
fiteri says:
mine “service battery” appear but at the same time cannot charge the macbook…what should i do?
H says:
If it is close to the 1000 cycles, what’s the risk of waiting until it’s done for good before replacing it? I have everything backed up, might as well get all the life I can out of the battery, right?
Kath says:
How hard is it to do yourself?
I just got a price of $400 for a battery replacement on my 13″ macbook pro later 2015.
What is the best link for youtube directions?
Jim K says:
just changed the battery on my Mid 2014 MacBook pro, trying to rest the service battery and recognize the new battery. so far it is not. I have reset the NVRAM twice and reset the SMC twice, no luck. I am now charging it fully and then trying the suggestion above. i will drain it fully leave it overnight and then charge it fully
Jim K says:
charging fully then draining completely then charging fully for a second time worked. laptop works like new!
Bryant says:
Hi I’m looking to buy a used MacBook Pro from a friend and they say the only thing wrong is the service Battery Warning. How it expensive to replace the battery? Just want to know if I was getting a good deal.
JW says:
Depends on the model, as long as t can be opened and swapped it can be changed for $50-$100 or less if you buy a battery from online and can do it yourself which is fairly simple with youtube.
Jim K says:
Just did mine for $99.00 took about 30 min

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