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Displaying Battery Information

After launching the application, the Overview Window of Battery Monitor will appear. It shows all important operational data of your battery and information about your computer. If you have closed the window, you can reopen it again by selecting the menu item Window > Overview or by pressing the key combination ⌘ + 1.

Battery Monitor Main Window
Battery Monitor Main Window

The window contains the following items:

Battery Information

Modern battery units from Apple typically use the Impedance Track™ Battery Gas Gauge Chipset from Texas Instruments as battery processors. These controllers identify with a chip code beginning with “bq20z…”.

Computer Information

Battery Status

Example report for an Apple AC adapter. For power supplies with USB-C technology, the report also indicates the current charging mode as negotiated by the devices.
Example report for an Apple AC adapter. For power supplies with USB-C technology, the report also indicates the current charging mode as negotiated by the devices.

Battery Defects

The battery controller keeps an internal error log that stores abnormal operation events recorded in the past. Such event entries are called “permanent battery failures”. Battery Monitor and macOS can decode 14 different types of failures stored in the battery unit. They constitute the defect list shown when you press the More Info button at Battery defects.

Each recorded failure type appears as a line in the battery defect table. Because the battery unit does not contain its own clock, the records have no associated time information and their order may not reflect the actual sequence in which the events occurred. The different types of defect descriptions should be self-explanatory.

Example report for a battery that has registered abnormal events in the past
Example report for a battery that has registered abnormal events in the past

Note that an entry recorded in this list does not necessarily mean that the battery is still defective at the moment. It just indicates that a failure situation has occurred during the lifetime of the unit in the past. Usually, only the vendor of the battery unit can reset the battery’s failure log, using special software which is not available to the public. If a battery unit has been repaired or refurbished, connecting new battery cells with a used battery controller, but the service technician has forgotten to clear the permanent failure memory, the defect list could be outdated and therefore be incorrect.

Battery Health

This value only represents the official replacement policy of Apple and is only valid for original Apple parts, not for battery units of other vendors. It does not take into account the actual health of the battery.

Current computers use battery cells based on lithium ion technology. Under load, the voltage of a cell will be between 3.3 and 3.8 volts, depending on cell type. The maximum charge voltage of a fully charged cell is approximately 4.2V. Under optimal circumstances, the behavior of all cells of a battery (including their voltages) should be equal, because they have been constructed identically. A worn-out or defective battery can often be detected by a voltage of one cell differing significantly from the voltages of the other cells, because this cell is no longer capable of performing according to its specifications.

The number of battery cells reflected to the outside may not always match the true physical number of cells. For example, a long-life unit with 6 cells might pretend it is actually composed of 3 cells only. For technical reasons, Apple battery units can only report a number between 1 and 4 available cells to the outside.

Display in the Dock

While Battery Monitor is running, the current charge state of the battery can also be seen within the Dock tile of the application. The state is represented by a combination of level indicator in a battery symbol, an arrow, color and icons. The display is similar to the menu-bar icon for the battery state shown by macOS and should be self-explanatory.

As mentioned before, the shown status can either reflect the true physical or the fake user-oriented charge percentage, depending on what display option you have chosen.

In addition to the graphical display, you can open the context menu of the Dock tile to see the charge level and the estimated remaining time as numerical values. Just right-click the icon of Battery Monitor in the Dock.

Preferences

Several aspects of the application can be customized to your personal needs. The settings can be reviewed after selecting the menu item Battery Monitor > Preferences … or by pressing the key combination ⌘ + ,:

Battery Monitor Preferences
Battery Monitor Preferences

Preference settings are divided into two categories. You can use the tabs General and Notifications to switch between them.

General Settings

Most applications at the user level, for example Apple’s battery icon in the menu bar, prefer the percentage value for user presentation to indicate the charge level. Because different applications access the battery at different points in time and also use different rounding policies, there can sometimes be a difference of ±1 percentage point. The indicator in the MagSafe connectors of older Apple AC adapters also use the user-oriented “100%” level to switch from orange to green if used with up-to-date Macs and macOS versions. Most applications at the technical level, e.g. the macOS command-line tools for power management or the System Information application reflect the true percentage value, however.

Settings for the Menu Bar (macOS Sierra or later only)

Older versions of OS X and macOS supported a feature to show the estimated remaining runtime of the battery directly in the menu, accessible via the battery icon in the menu bar. Apple removed this feature from this location with macOS 10.12.2 and later versions of the operating system. If you are using one of the affected OS versions, Battery Monitor can be used as a replacement to restore this lost function. This is explained in a separate chapter.

The tab item Menu Bar won’t be available in the preferences window if you are using an operating system older than macOS 10.12 Sierra.

Settings for Notifications

macOS will already give you an automatic warning when the battery is running on reserve power. So the option When running on reserve of Battery Monitor should only be activated if you have suppressed the original warning of macOS for some reason.

Battery Monitor: Notification Preferences
Battery Monitor: Notification Preferences

Battery Monitor can deliver the aforementioned kinds of notifications either via Notification Center or acoustically by voice (or both). You can control this by the check marks at Notification Center and Speech. Note that no notifications will occur if you disable both options. The types of notifications will be explained in more detail in the next section.

Immediately after your computer has woken up from sleep mode, Battery Monitor won’t send notifications for some seconds. Operating system and monitor hardware need a certain time to recover from sleep mode which can temporarily result in wrong status information. Battery Monitor waits until the system has stabilized.

Notifications via Notification Center

Messages shown by the Notification Center of macOS are collected “at the right hand side behind” the screen and be disclosed by the respective icon in the upper right corner of the menu bar. In addition, banners or alert boxes can be shown on the standard screen during normal operation. You can setup the details as desired by using the pane Notifications in the application System Preferences of macOS. After Battery Monitor has sent at least one notification message, System Preferences will offer you the detail settings for the application.

Battery Monitor automatically removes outdated notifications, so you won’t be flooded by charge records from the past which no longer make sense. The Notification Center automatically suppresses notifications while you are working with Battery Monitor in the foreground.

Notifications via Speech

Battery Monitor can also deliver notifications by spoken language. You can control the type of voice and the speed as follows:

If you are using OS X:

  1. Open the application System Preferences.
  2. Navigate to the preference pane Dictation & Speech.
  3. Select the tab item Text to Speech.
  4. Choose your preferred voice with the pop-up button at System Voice and the speed with the slider Speaking Rate. The button Play can be used to test your current settings.

If you are using macOS:

  1. Open the application System Preferences.
  2. Navigate to the preference pane Accessibility.
  3. Select the item Speech in the section Vision in the overview of accessibility functions.
  4. Choose your preferred voice with the pop-up button at System Voice and the speed with the slider Speaking Rate. The button Play can be used to test your current settings.

It is recommended to use the menu item Customize… of the System Voice pop-up button to select one of the voices for your primary language and to activate high-quality speech mode. High-quality output requires an additional download which is available for free from Apple. Battery Monitor automatically tries to find the “best” voice from your list of available voices which matches the language in which the application is currently running.