Today’s laptops are insanely powerful compared to those of the past. While our mobile computers are capable of running the gamut of Adobe’s Creative Suite, 3D gaming and everything in between, battery life is always a concern. It’s true that advances in both hardware and software technologies have improved battery life significantly over the years, but we’re willing to bet that virtually everyone has had their laptop battery die on them at some point.
It’s a frustrating problem, as the thought of tethering your laptop to a charger completely defeats the purpose of a laptop. Fortunately, Windows includes tools designed to help you squeeze more juice from a waning laptop battery. These tools came in the form of power plans, pre-configured parameters that would give preferential treatment to either power consumption or performance depending on the users’ needs. With Windows 10, Microsoft introduced a new way to extend the battery life of your laptop or tablet called “Battery Saver.” Designed to be more user-friendly than the old power plans, Battery Saver does exactly that: save precious battery power.
How Does It Work?
The Battery Saver function in Windows 10 is similar to the one present in Android devices or low power mode in iOS. When activated, Battery Saver will tweak how Windows behaves in order to stretch the life of your battery as long as possible. Battery Saver augments a number of Windows settings, but there are two things that most users will notice straight away.
First, we all know that the backlighting of our screens is a huge culprit when it comes to power consumption. When Battery Saver is active, it lowers the brightness of your screen. Secondly, Battery Saver disables the number of apps that are running in the background, nipping away at your battery without you even noticing. By default, Battery Saver will automatically activate when your laptop or tablet’s battery falls to 20%.
Turning Battery Saver On
The easiest way to access the Battery Saver feature is to click on the battery icon on the Windows 10 taskbar. By tapping or clicking on the tile labeled “Battery Saver,” you’ll activate it immediately. When Battery Saver is on, you should notice a little leaf icon superimposed over the battery icon. If you want to turn it off manually, all you need to do is tap or click on the Battery Saver tile again.
Alternatively, Battery Saver will automatically shut itself off once you connect your laptop to a power source. With Battery Saver Microsoft has a user-friendly “set it and forget it” mentality. Battery Saver is designed to be a simple and fast way to manage your laptop’s power consumption.
Would you like to have a bit more control and change how Battery Saver behaves? Fortunately you can, but there’s one thing you should do first.
Identify Power Hungry Apps
Before we tweak the Battery Saver settings, it’s best to see which apps leech your battery and stop them. Doing so will increase the longevity of your battery regardless of whether battery saver is on or not. Open the Settings app by clicking the Start button and clicking the cog icon. From there select “System.” You should see “Battery” in the column on the left. Go ahead and click or tap on that.
Here you will see two headings labeled “Overview” and “Battery Saver.” Underneath the Overview heading you will see general information about your battery. This includes a percentage of how much battery life remains and an estimate of how much real-world time that equates to. Below this information you will see a link labeled “Battery usage by app.” Clicking on that will give you a detailed breakdown of which programs are consuming your battery.
The apps listed here “receive info, send notifications, and stay up to date, even when you’re not using them.” This means that the apps listed are consuming precious battery life. If you see an app on the list you can live without, go ahead and shut it off. You can do this by clicking on an individual app and clicking “Never allowed in background.” Once that’s done, hit the back arrow in the top left corner of the window to go back to the Battery settings.
Configuring Battery Saver
Battery Saver turns on automatically once your battery hits 20%. If you want to increase or decrease that threshold, simply move the slider back and forth. If you want to disable Battery Saver completely, simply uncheck the box that reads “Turn battery saver on automatically if my battery falls below.” You can also disable the “Lower screen brightness” option; however, since your screen chews up lots of power, it’s probably best to leave this one on.
Compared to the old power plans, battery saver is a much simpler and easy way to squeeze an extra bit of life out of your battery. If you prefer using the old power plans, they’re still there. In Windows Settings click or tap on System. In the column on the left click or tap on “Power & Sleep.” Scroll down until you see a link labeled “Additional power settings” and click on that.
This will open the Power Option section of the Control Panel, which will look very familiar to users of previous versions of Windows. For the uninitiated, here you can choose between pre-configured power plans. You can tweak the behavior of each one of those power plans by clicking “Change plan settings” next to each plan. In addition you can create your own power plan by clicking “Create a power plan” in the column on the left.