Battery Life and Scrivener on (new) Macbook Air

Hello everyone,

I bought one of the new 2013 Macbook Airs a few weeks ago, and I’ve not been able to achieve the promised 9-hour battery life that is advertised for the 11" model without turning off wifi and bluetooth and dimming the screen considerably. I’m getting closer to 8 hours. I generally use the computer for Scrivener, have a couple of tabs open on Safari, copy and paste from Microsoft Word, and occasionally play music in iTunes. Comparing to other usage scenarios in the online reviews, I think that seems like “light usage,” so I am wondering whether it is Scrivener or a problem with the battery itself.

I’ve calibrated the battery twice and have run a diagnostic – all seems fine.

Is Scrivener heavy on the battery? Would decreasing the size of my project make a difference? (I have a few gigabytes of PDFs stored for research, lots of images, etc). Will Mavericks make a difference for Scrivener in particular?

Thanks for any experience you may be able to share.

CoconutBattery is a useful little tool that provides info about a battery’s health. … index.html

You can also check a battery’s cycle count from the system profiler.

I haven’t got an Air so can’t comment on real world performance…though reviews of Airs being used in the wild tend to be very positive. My 2008 MBP has never come close to matching the claimed battery performance—even with a brand new battery in it. Biggest drain on that was Flash running in Safari or Firefox. I no longer use Flash on any OS X hardware.

Thanks, Briar.

I have also seen great reports “in the wild” for Macbook Airs, which has gotten me to wonder. Apparently the i7 has slightly less real-life battery power than the i5, but that’s only in the case of processor-intensive tasks, which doesn’t fit my usage.

I’ve run the diagnostics: the cycle count is good, and Coconut Battery says that my battery’s capacity is even higher than the factory specs. I’m also using “ClickToFlash” to keep Safari from running wild, but still no help. I also turned off Dropbox and SugarSync, having read that cloud syncing is a common culprit.

I’ll see if anyone else has had a similar battery drain experience with Scrivener before taking the computer to the Apple Store to get it checked out.

Sounds as though the battery is in fine fettle, which is reassuring.

Activity Monitor (from the Utilities folder) might be worth a look…should highlight if any apps are crunching away at the CPU.

Hopefully one of the Scrivener mods will be able to tell you more about Scrivener’s power needs. FWIW, I have never noticed a battery issue on my MBP running Scrivener.

Scrivener doesn’t have any severe power needs - the only exception is when you are playing video or audio files inside Scrivener. Other than that, it should be fine. The only hard work Scrivener does is save to disk, but even then, because of Scrivener’s package-based file format, it only ever saves the files you are working on, not the entire project, so it keeps things light. I have a new MacBook Air 11" too, and I get many hours when just running Scrivener. I haven’t tried just using Scrivener all day with it yet, but I did use Scrivener for four or five hours on it and by the end of that period it was still reporting four hours left on the battery. If I use Safari for a while, though, the battery life is reduced significantly, and I only get about six or seven hours.

All the best,

Thanks for your reply – that’s good to know that Scrivener shouldn’t be taxing the battery. I’ll keep monitoring the actual times I’m getting on one cycle and then decide whether the numbers are low or whether I’ve just been expecting more than what’s actually been promised.

In any case, a great little machine to write on, especially with Scrivener in full screen!

Playing music in iTunes and any kind of web use (via wifi, I presume?) would both use far more battery than just editing text in Scrivener. I would guess those are your primary energy “leaks,” and I’d say your usage is probably “moderate” rather than “light.”


Also, I would add that eight hours is a decent figure. I’ve never got the full advertised maximum battery life out of a machine. When Apple says “up to nine hours”, they really mean that as the absolute maximum with really light use: typing in TextEdit and maybe taking a break to check your email and browse online briefly every couple of hours, without wi-fi searching for a connection. So if you’re getting nearly eight hours out of your machine with the screen un-dimmed, the wi-fi on, Safari and Word running and some music playing in iTunes, I’d say eight hours is a great figure. Regarding light usage, I have just used Scrivener on mine for the past four hours, with only Safari, TextEdit and Scapple open in the background, only checking a few pages on Safari here and there. It’s currently reporting that I have 86% left on the battery, or 7 hours 55 minutes - not bad!

Thanks, everyone! I’ll keep an eye on everything and report back here if there’s something notable, but it sounds like 8 hours is reasonable for the way I’ve been using the computer.

Just an update — the computer is fine and Scrivener is not an issue. As you all suggested, iTunes was the biggest drain on battery life, even when using earphones. I had not thought that it would be, since I can play a whole album on the iPhone and barely lose a percentage point, but it seems to be harder on the computer’s battery. The “time remaining” indicator is also wildly inaccurate and fluctuates often. Before when I noticed a drop, I thought it was after working with Scrivener, but now it seems to be unrelated.

When I turn off bluetooth and wifi and set the screen to 40% brightness, I can get up to 10.5 hours working with Scrivener. That’s wonderful.

Thanks again!

Wow, that’s great!

Yay! 10+ hours is a lot of writing!

Since the iPhone is a close cousin to the iPod, it may have some specialized chips specifically for playing music that aren’t present in a general purpose computer like the Air.


Some food for thought… … some-tabs/

Heh - was a surprise to poke my head in here for the first time in ages and the first thread I click on see a link to a piece I wrote. :slight_smile: