AMITIAE - Saturday 4 January 2014

Cassandra: 13" MacBook Pro with Retina Display - Recurring Battery Problem

apple and chopsticks


By Graham K. Rogers


I am a little perplexed by the battery in the new MacBook Pro. I reported a few days ago that a warning appeared in the battery icon menu, that read, "Service Battery" and that there were other reports: System Preferences > Energy Saver and the system report from System Information in the Utilities folder.

Battery In that last item I wrote, I wondered if this was going to be a wide-spread problem, limited to a few of the new machines, or just something that was affecting my Mac. The warning disappeared for a while, but has now reappeared.

Over the last couple of days I have been debating what to do next, while at the same time trying some steps to make it disappear. In the meantime, I wrote to the developer of Battery Health in case there were a conflict with this new Mac. The other Mac this is installed on shows no problem.

It is persistent. The last thing I want to do, from a practical point, is to make a visit to the service agent as that may mean a loss of use as it is taken away for "checking" for a number of days or more.


While I was in Central Pinklao, I wandered into the iStudio there and looked at the same model MacBook Pro that was on display. The battery icon menu indicated no problem. The serial number of the Mac was in the same series, and it was also running OS X, 10.9.1.

I had already stopped running the Battery Health App, but that made no difference; so when I went home, I deleted the app. I have no evidence to suggest the app has caused a problem, other than coincidence. I also reset the PRAM (parameter random access memory) in case there were something there that might make a change. All in vain.

I recharged the battery and left it on charge for a couple of hours, before disconnecting the power supply; but there was no change. The charge shows 100% until there is a drop to a real 70%, and the warning triangle remains: Service Battery.

The keystrokes for resetting PRAM are Option + Command + R + P. It is best to locate these keys before restarting the computer. As a note, there are several other keystrokes that are useful when testing or carrying out maintenance:

  • Command + R starts the computer in the rescue partition, allowing access to several tools for repairs;
  • Command + S starts in Single-user mode (the Unix beneath OS X)
  • Command + V starts in "Verbose" mode - a user can see the unix commands before the computer starts OS X, which may help identifying a problem
  • The T key used at startup enters Target disk mode, when the computer can be used as a "slave". A Master computer can then be used for repair.

There are some more which were in some articles I put online when I last wrote about key commands in December 2011:

Earlier today a link from Jim Dalrymple's The Loop, to Dan Rodney on MacCentral, revealed an extensive collection of keystrokes: much faster than the mouse or trackpad. There are more for specific apps, such as Aperture.

Graham K. Rogers teaches at the Faculty of Engineering, Mahidol University in Thailand where he is also Assistant Dean. He wrote in the Bangkok Post, Database supplement on IT subjects. For the last seven years of Database he wrote a column on Apple and Macs.



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