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Mac hints and tips

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Improve battery life part 1 (10.4/5)

The battery life of laptop computers is never good enough and we always want more than they deliver. The trouble is that the more features that are packed into a laptop and the more powerful it is, the shorter the battery life becomes. It's hard to produce a laptop that does everything a desktop can do, but which lasts all day on a battery.

Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are two wireless networking technologies and they are very useful on occasions. However, when you are out with your Macbook, they aren't always essential. If you are not actually using Wi-Fi or Bluetooth you should switch them off because they draw power from the battery when they are active. Click the icons in the menu bar and select the option to turn them off.

Improve battery life part 2 (10.4/5)

When the laptop is connected to the power you want it to run at maximum speed all the time, but when you are using it on battery power you can work for longer by reducing the power requirements. This is actually quite easy and is semi-automatic, but it's worth checking the settings to make sure you are getting the best out of your Macbook.

Click the Apple menu at the left-hand side of the menu bar and select System Preferences. Click Energy Saver in the Hardware section and select either Battery or Power Adapter at the top depending on whether you are plugged into the wall socket or running on the battery. Select either Better Performance or Better Battery Life as appropriate. There are occasions where you'll be running on batteries but want maximum performance, such as if you want to give a presentation, but generaly you want maximum power on mains electricity and maximum battery life on batteries.

Click Sleep and there's an option to put the hard disk drive to sleep whenever possible. Click Options and there are options to reduce the brightness of the display when on batteries.

Improve battery life part 3 (10.4/5)

Sound effectsThere are other things you can do that might help to reduce the power requirements of your Macbook and so improve the life of the battery. Turning down the brightness of the screen could help. The backlight must surely use more power when the screen is at maximum brightness than when it is set to half or three quarters. The F1 and F2 keys are used to adjust the brightness and setting it to the minimum level that's acceptable should help.

Does the sound circuitry go to sleep when it's not being used? Certainly playing music draws power, so you should disable system sounds - the beeps and jingles that occur when certain events happen, like new mail or whatever. Click the Apple logo and then select System Preferences. Click Sound in the Hardware section and then click Sound Effects. Clear the ticks against Play user interface sound effects, Play feedback when volume is changed, and Play Front Row sound effects. Unless you are actually listening to music or some other audio, tick the Mute box too.

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