Thursday, August 17, 2006


MacBook Battery Problem

The Problem

Well, my initial happiness with my MacBook was short-lived. There was some sort of problem with the battery or power circuitry. Here were the symptoms:

Resetting the PMU didn't help.

Apple recommends that you periodically recalibrate a laptop's battery by running it all the way down and then charge it back up. So I tried that. After it ran down and turned off, I plugged the power adapter back in and restarted. The menu bar icon showed the battery was charging. A few hours later, the LED on the MagSafe connector turned green. So everything looked good for a few minutes. But after a few minutes of running plugged in, I got the "X" and the amber LED again.

So I made an appointment at the local Apple Store Genius Bar. The Genius reset the NVRAM, and the laptop seemed to work. We rebooted it, unplugged, several times, and there were no problems. The battery icon never turned into an "X". The Genius and I watched it for a while, then I decided I'd take it home, and return if the problem recurred.

I took the MacBook home, and the problems recurred.

I did figure one thing out: the MacBook started having problems after I changed the brightness of the display. At maximum brightness, everything worked fine. Once I changed the brightness, the problems returned. This sorta makes sense—the brightness is one of the things that gets reset when one resets the NVRAM.

I wasn't willing to live with a MacBook permanently at maximum brightness. As a last resort, I decided to reinstall OS X. After reinstalling the OS, there were no problems for a few hours, but then they returned.

I read several threads in the Power and Batteries on a MacBook discussion forum hosted by Apple. Problems such as mine seem to be fairly common, but nobody knows how to fix them.

The Solution

At this point, I could take it back to the Genius Bar for another repair attempt, but the easier approach is to just return this unit to Apple for a refund, and pick up a new one at the local Apple Store.

I'm sure some would argue that a better solution would be to stop buying Apple products. I considered that, but I do really like the MacBook.

Dump it anyway.

Just exchange it.

You don't know if it's a software bug or an intermittent hardware glitch.

What you do know is it happened again after the Genius 'fixed' it.

If there's no penalty in exchanging it for another unit, let some other guy deal with the unit.
I am having a similiar problem , my battery always states that power level is 100% so it never charges ... , if you press the batteries test the test will say the same so in my case it is not the macbooks fault , went to the local store to exchange the battery ... should arrive next week .
Did you try resetting the PMU? I had this issue today with 2 student machines I work on and the 2nd one came back after resetting the PMU. ~Lynda
Same problem, more or less, but my macbook is very random about whether it will see the battery at all, see it without charging it, see it but see it at an incorrect charge, and very very rarely it works fine. I've also done a complete reinstall of OSX, as per the instructions of the genius bar yesterday. The tech and I have the same suspicions, that it's definitely a firmware issue–not software, not hardware. I'm going in again today.
Hi Kris,
I purchased my black Macbook back in July. Initially had no trouble, but after about two months was getting the spontaneous shut down problem. Took it to the Apple store (Fashion Square Sherman Oaks, Ca.) and they repaired in store in about 4 hours. The computer has had no trouble until last week when now I am getting the exact same battery problem you are having. This is really maddening. I am an Apple user way back to my college days and have always been a Mac person, but never have I had these kind of problems. I'm not interested in switching, but am really surprised these kinds of troubles that I never had with my LC2, Powerbook 150, imac green, ti powerbook - this really sucks. Anyway, thank you for the tips, I'm going to try the NVRAM and PMU reset then off to the Apple store.
Does resetting the PMU and NVRAM erase any important file information? I am pretty much computer illiterate, and I don't want to take things into my own hands until I know!

Resetting PMU and NVRAM shouldn't affect anything important; they only change things like the sound volume, monitor brightness, the clock, etc.

For more details, see
Did replacing the battery solve your problem?
Replacing the MacBook fixed the problem.
I have a the same problem, at the Apple Genius bar a different battery did not work, so they sent my computer in to the subcontractors in Memphis. They kept it less than 10 hours and sent it back with a new battery. The new battery worked for about one month. The funny thing is I am not getting an x on my battery icon anymore. A third party battery utility says it is a good battery and is fully charged. I calibrated the battery the first thing when I got the unit back. The system profiler says the battery is present and charged, if the battery should go down just from sitting still, the power adapter will recharge the battery. But, the computer will not run on the battery. If the power adapter is unplugged, which happens about 50 times a day because of the magnetic attachment, the machine turns off. I developed the problem only after downloading the firmware update that Apple said I needed. It is clear from the posts on Apple's site that there is a problem between the motherboard and the battery, and maybe a problem with the battery's calibration software. Judging from the varied responses users have gotten from Apple, and the complete silence about the problem on the Apple support site, it is also clear that Apple either doesn't know what the problem is and therefore can't fix it, or Apple is trying to turn a blind eye to the problem hoping it will go away. These posts have been viewed over 100,000 times, this is not a small problem! I have owned every Mac since the Classic, I am very loyal, I love MACOS, I also know Windows faily well, so I'm an informed user. This is a problem that Apple needs to own up to and fix!
hi yes i just got hit with the same problem a couple of weeks ago... bought my black Macbook in July '06 and there were the random shutdowns towards the end of the year - then a month ago (March) it just started showing the X battery sign. After a few days it wouldn't recognise the battery at all... resetting the PMU did nothing so i've ordered a new battery. I'm in a slightly worse situation than most of you folks since France has no genius bar. Bummer to say the least. I'm pretty disappointed with the way Apple is handling this. What good are frequent software / firmware updates when they ignore huge hardware problems like this???
Same problem here, perhaps worse. I bought an original MacBook around August 06. I experienced the sudden shutdown first and sent it back to Apple (I live in Central America). When it came back (both ways at my expense, since Apple had no authorized representatives in my country), the superdrive failed. At that time, there was a new authorized technician here, so it was exchanged at no cost. Then the battery failed, the exchange failed too, then the magsafe failed and, as if not enough, the lcd began to flicker. At that point, Apple finally decided to give me a new computer (it was a month ago). And, yes, the battery is now showing a black X. I already received a new battery which shows the same issue.
I've used Macs for the past 17 years. Never had a problem with 6 different computers.
How is it possible that now, when the company is making a huge financial success, it's forgetting that quality and service are the keys to maintain their customers?
At this point, I still believe this is a great machine, an incredible achievement in its software, and am not planning on going to "the other side". But I expect top quality and performance for my hard earned $1,500 (black MacBook).
By the way, if I completely drain the battery, the Magsafe does charge and recognize the battery up to its minimal functioning capacity, then ceasing to recognize it.
the battery will run great every third day, but on the other two i get the X saying no battery present... i take my computer around town a lot... gets bumped around in my satchel... seems to get the battery working again. hmmm my warranty has expired... i was going to buy a new battery, but you guys are making me think it's not the battery. can it be that the power chord isn't getting sufficient juice to the battery???
hope this is helpful, I was experiencing similar problems, and after the battery update installation did nothing for me, I called apple, and they covered the battery, and they shipped me the new one.. which came in about 22 hours. I was extremely impressed with how apple handled the problem. new battery, works great.
try calling apple.
As of today, my MacBook and I have been together for 40 days. Yesterday, while I was happily surfing (on battery), it powered down with no warning. Okay, these things happen. I plugged it in, restarted, and all seemed to be fine. Battery was about 70%. I did other things on my other machines and when it was about 90%, unplugged it and everything was good. This morning after using it unplugged for 1.5 hours it did the same thing, but decided to only work with the power adapter, not on battery alone. When trying to boot without AC, it would try to spin the CD and then fall back into off. When on AC, if I pulled the adapter, it would last two seconds and go blank. I made an appt. with the Apple store (Fashion Show Mall, Las Vegas) for 3:20pm. I got there right at 3:20pm and the monitors showed I was 5th in line. Store was fairly packed, at least one patron at every display item. Monitors also said the next MacGenius appt. was "approx. 8:30pm." Glad I made an appt! I was served about 15 min. later, during which time the monitors had changed to "No more MacGenius appts. available today, please try tomorrow." However, one guy came by without an appt. and was told he would be put on standby and to come back in 30 min.

Once I explained my issue with my MacBook battery, my Genius tried one of his batteries. "I just want to make sure it's your battery and not your motherboard." My machine worked fine, so he said "No problem, I'll have you out of here in 10 minutes." He got me a brand new battery, tested it, and put my old one in a box on the rear counter with four others. He pulled the serial number from the "About this Mac" area, didn't need my receipt for purchase date or anything. I had even printed this page: to use as ammunition, but didn't need it. He did approve highly of my dashboard widget "iStat pro", available here:

So the battery issue is a very common problem, and one that Apple has tried to deal with as painlessly as possible for the consumer. My Genius did ask if the battery showed an "X" in the icon bar, and I said no. Just wouldn't run on battery. On the way out of the store, one of the 3 MacBooks, in fact the one closest to the door, had an "X" on the battery icon. When I unplugged the power, it shut down immediately! The moral of the story is to contact Apple immediately with problems and give them a chance to fix them. Hope this helps others.
I do not know if this helps. I found that the Firewire would not work, and confirmed the problem by phone with a Mac Authorized dealer. Under warranty, they replaced the logic board and sent the machine back. Upon return, the computer would not start when the battery was the power source, but did start when the main power was turned on. It was the black X problem discussed on this forum. I got a new battery (replacement) from Mac, and this did not help. After contacting the Mac Authorized service center, I noticed that the inside connector where the battery mates had some play on it. I noticed that the battery would work (no X) for a few minutes after re-seating, but then the X would appear. The problem appears to be solved: I moved the connector and then just minimally (with fingernail) bent (I think I did anyway) the pins in the direction AWAY from the near wall in the battery well. Now the battery is charging and discharging normally!!!
I guess misery loves company, but I really don't wish this nonsense on anyone. I just opened up a brand new Mac Book, and the battery will not charge. The unit will only run on the power adapter.
I have been a mac consumer for about 6 months, and am totally fed up.
This happened to me a few months ago with a Mac Pro.That computer was replaced twice.
I am tired of dealing with the "Genius" at the Mac Bar, and am fed up with the attitude that they will make an "exception" and replace it this time."

I wish I could charge Apple my hourly rate for the time I've spent on this obvious lack of quality control, or research.

Buyer beware. This is just plain wrong!
Back in April 07 I put together a little site to collect all the details about 'the' macbook battery problem in one place.
Check out the blog too, there are links to threads where some people were getting Apple to replace the battery even out of warranty. But I think that depends on how many cycles the battery has been through.
Mac and Sony should team up for being the under dogs in the industry.. They are too over rated to remain on the top of the game, with all these difficulties and wrong doings that they have committed from not allowing generic batteries and charging $370 per new battery.. WRONG!
How about to get a replacement macbook battery and dump the old one??
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