Apple MacBook battery charger. Are fake MacBook chargers safe?

Mac charger not working: tips and tricks to fix the problem

Having spent some years coding applications for macOS, we’ve created a tool that everybody can use. The all-round problem fixer for Mac.

So here’s a tip for you: Download CleanMyMac to quickly solve some of the issues mentioned in this article. But to help you do it all by yourself, we’ve gathered our best ideas and solutions below.

One of the areas where Apple has made great progress in recent years is in batteries for notebook computers like the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro. The result of that progress is that the latest Macs with Apple silicon can last a full day or more on a single charge. However, if you have an older MacBook, you may have discovered that its battery runs down more quickly. That’s frustrating but normal.

On the other hand, if your Mac charger isn’t working, that’s much worse and may mean you can’t use your Mac when it’s not connected to the mains. If you have that problem or ever wondered, “why is my MacBook charger not working?” here’s how to fix it.

Why is my charger not working?

First of all, it’s important to diagnose the specific problem. Is your MacBook not receiving power at all, or is it just that the battery isn’t charging? If it’s the first of those, it could be the power adapter that’s at fault. But if it’s the latter, it’s more likely to be the battery in your Mac.

Basically, there are 3 sets of explanations:

How to fix Apple charger not working

Here are the tips to try first before looking for other solutions.

Cool your Mac down

Computers don’t like getting too hot. They generate enough heat of their own, and when ambient temperature adds to that heat, it can cause problems. Batteries get hot when they are connected to the mains. Once the temperature inside your Mac gets too high, its thermal sensors take action. As well as running fans in those Macs that have them, the sensors throttle processor speed and prevent the battery from charging. So, if you’re in a warm environment and especially if your Mac feels hot to touch, move somewhere cooler if you can. Once your Mac has cooled down, try charging it again.

Reset the SMC

The SMC chip on your MacBook’s motherboard controls power management, and if something goes wrong with it, it may prevent your battery from charging properly.

If you have a Mac with Apple silicon, just restart it.

To reset SMC on a Mac with an Intel chip, do the following based on the model you have. If the battery is non-removable:

  • Shut down your MacBook.
  • Connect the power adapter if it’s not already connected.
  • Press and hold Control-Shift-Option and the power button for around 10 seconds.
  • Release the keys and press the power button to start your Mac again.

The steps above should work for most Macs. However, if your Mac has a removable battery, follow these steps:

  • Shut down your Mac.
  • Remove the battery.
  • Press and hold the power button for a few seconds.
  • Reinstall the battery.
  • Turn on your Mac.

For other Mac models, check out this handy guide.

Mac is getting power but not charging?

There are two possibilities if your Mac is getting power but the battery is not charging. The battery could be faulty or so old that it is no longer capable of charging. Or there could be a software problem preventing it from charging. Either way, we have the fixes for you.

Check your battery health

If your Mac battery is not charging, it is a good idea to check its health. You can do it using built-in tools. Just follow these steps:

  • From the main Apple menu, go to System Settings.
  • Navigate to Battery.
  • Check Battery Health.

It is good for a basic understanding of battery health. However, if you want to have a deeper insight into battery performance, it is better to use a dedicated third-party monitor. We recommend CleanMyMac X and its Menu app. Not only does it indicate the status of battery but it also provides you with information about charge cycles and battery temperature.

  • Download CleanMyMac X for free here and install the app.
  • With CleanMyMac X open, press Command comma to open Settings.
  • Navigate to Menu and select Enable Menu.
  • Now, click a little iMac icon in the menu bar and go to the Battery pane.

First, look at the number of charge cycles. The retirement age for a MacBook battery is around 1000 charge/discharge cycles. So what’s your current number?

Also, check out the readings for Health and Temperature. If there are warning messages, your battery might need a replacement. The best way to do that is to make an appointment at an Apple Store Genius Bar or Apple Authorized Service Center. You can do both of those on Apple’s website by clicking here.

If your Mac is not charging or is not holding its charge, it may well be a software problem. CleanMyMac X’s Maintenance tool can fix many of those problems, some of which may cause your Mac to use lots of CPU cycles and, therefore, battery power. Among the tools in Maintenance is the tool called Run Maintenance Scripts. It will not affect the battery directly but will generally smoothen out the performance.

To solve software issues that may interfere with battery charging, just open CleanMyMac X and click on Maintenance Run Maintenance scripts.

Your Mac could be having display issues which means your battery is working while your screen is not. Try restarting your computer and make sure it produces the startup chime — this way, you’ll know your Mac is actually turned on.

Clear the port and the charger connector from dirt

By following the steps above, you should have identified whether the problem lies with your charger or your Mac. If it’s your Mac, there might still be a fairly simple fix. It could be that the connection between the charger and the Mac is compromised because of dust or dirt in the socket. This is more likely if it’s a MagSafe connector. Try cleaning the socket with a cotton bud or something else soft. Be careful not to damage it and never put anything metal in there.

Check whether your Mac or charger has been recalled by Apple

Apple has issued recalls a few times over the years for MacBooks with faulty batteries and for wall chargers. Before you try and diagnose and then fix the problem with yours, you should find out whether it’s eligible for recall programs. Before you start, you’ll need your Mac’s serial number.

  • Click on the Apple menu.
  • Select About this Mac.
  • Copy the serial number from there.

Once you have the serial number of your Mac, follow the relevant link below:

You can find a full list of Apple recall programs here.

No power getting to your Mac at all?

This is the more serious of the two possibilities described above because it means that when the battery runs out, you won’t even be able to use your Mac while it’s connected to mains power. To check where the fault lies, do the following, one step at a time.

Check the plug

The very first thing to do is to make sure that everything is properly connected. Also, make sure that there are no power outages. Specifically, check the plug is securely in the mains power socket and that the socket is switched on. If this works, breathe a sigh of relief and be glad it was such an easy fix.

Change the socket

Another common issue is the problem with sockets, although it may be rare. All you have to do is try plugging into a different mains socket. If this works, it means there is a problem with the main socket you tried first. If not, check the following solutions.

Try a different charger

If you have access to a different charger that’s compatible with your Mac, try using that with your Mac. If this works, it could mean the adapter is faulty or the cable with the plug on it is faulty. Try the adapter with a different cable. If that doesn’t work, it means there is a problem with your Mac’s charger, and the easiest solution is to buy a replacement. If your Mac is less than a year old, however, you should contact Apple first and ask for a replacement under warranty.

Try a different Mac

If you have access to another Mac that uses the same charger, try connecting your charger to that. If this works, it means the charger is fine and the problem lies with your Mac. If you do not have another Mac but have an iPad, you can also try this fix to see if the charger is working. No need to mention that it would work for type-C cords and ports only.

Most MacBooks are designed to have 1000 charge cycles. You can check the actual number of battery cycles in the main Apple menu (hold Option pressed) System Information Power.

What is Lithium-ion Battery Technology?

Let’s start with discussing the battery on your MacBook and the technology behind it. Traditionally, MacBooks use lithium-ion (shortened to Li-ion) batteries.

Yes, some of the newer MacBooks use a lithium-polymer, or li-poly battery, but for the purpose of this video the difference between them is minimal.

A lithium-ion battery consists of

1) the anode and the cathode;

2) a separator between the two electrodes; and

3) an electrolyte that fills the remaining space of the battery.

The anode and cathode are capable of storing lithium ions. Energy is stored and released as lithium ions travel between these electrodes through the electrolyte.

The way these batteries discharge is by lithium ions moving from the anode to the cathode through the electrolyte, or vice versa to charge.

In an ideal world, a li-ion battery likes to stay at 50% charge. This results in an even distribution of lithium ions between the anode and cathode.

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Keeping a battery at 100% charge all the time puts stress on the cathode. Think of it like a see-saw. You want it to stay relatively balanced, and not tip either side too much.

What Are Charge Cycles?

Now, every time these lithium ions move back and forth, the battery loses a very tiny percentage of it’s total capacity. There’s something called a charge cycle, which helps explain this process.

You complete one charge cycle when you’ve used (or discharged) an amount that equals 100% of your battery’s capacity. A charge cycle can take several days to complete.

For example, you might use 50% of your battery’s capacity one day, then recharge it fully overnight. If you do the same thing the next day, you will have discharged a total of 100%, or 1 full charge cycle.

If you have one of the new M1 MacBooks, you would know that the battery life on them is incredible. For me personally with about 6-8 hours of use each day, I can get over 2 days of run time from a single charge, or 1 full charge cycle every 2 to 3 days.

It’s common knowledge that lithium ion batteries are consumable products. That is, they will be consumed slowly with day to day use and degrade over the years.

How do Charge Cycles Affect Your MacBook Battery?

MacBook lithium ion batteries are rated at 1000 charge cycles. According to Apple, at some point soon after 1000 cycles the battery will only charge to 80% of capacity.

This doesn’t mean it will magically fail, or burst into flames, just that instead of 16 hours on average for the M1 MacBooks, you’ll get somewhere around 13 hours instead.

If I continued to use my M1 MacBook Air like I do now, or 1 full charge cycle every 2 days, I’d be looking at potentially 2000 days until I reached that 1000 charge cycle rating. 2000 days is 5 and a half years of using my MacBook for 6-8 hours every day.

Now, there are other things that contribute to battery longevity such as temperature and aging, but charge cycles are typically the main factor.

By the way, you can check how many charge cycles your MacBook has by clicking on the Apple logo in the top left corner, clicking about this Mac, system report, and selecting the power option.

How Hot Environments Affect Your MacBook Battery

Now that we know some of the science behind lithium ion batteries and that they are consumable products, what are some ways you can keep your battery healthy?

One of the biggest contributors to poor battery health is heat. You want your battery to be in a relatively cool environment wherever possible.

This means you should avoid using your MacBook in hot environments like outside in direct sunlight for extended periods of time. This includes keeping your MacBook in a hot car, or letting your MacBook Pro render while sitting on your bed and not getting proper ventilation, for example.

Remember that liquid electrolyte inside the battery? High temperatures will cause those electrolytes to break down, causing accelerated degradation regardless of how many charge cycles the battery is at.

If you live in a naturally hot environment like Australia or India, there’s not much you can do, but unless inside ambient temperatures are insanely hot, like 35-40 degrees Celsius, you’ll probably be fine.

You can use a stand if you like to introduce a bit of airflow around the base of the MacBook. Here’s one we recommend.

Also, don’t be afraid to do rendering or similar activities that cause the CPU or GPU to heat up. As I’ve demonstrated previously, most of the heat dissipates into the top center half of the chassis, and doesn’t heat up the battery too much.

How To Identify the MacBook model

Before purchasing any parts, you need to know the specifications of your computer.

To identify MacBook year and model follow these steps:

  • Click on Apple logo in the top left corner of the screen
  • In the dropdown menu click on the first item “About This Mac”
  • Under Overview tab locate the information about the MacBook type, size, and year.
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For instance, in the screenshot above, I have MacBook Pro (Retina, 13-inch, early 2015).

Now I can locate my laptop in the MacBook Pro 13-inch model table and see that I need 60W MagSafe 2 power adapter.

The table also has an Amazon link which I can use to order the charger I need.

But before you proceed with the purchase, let me answer some commonly asked questions about MacBook chargers.

Using MacBook Air charger for MacBook Pro

According to Apple, it is acceptable to use power adapters with different wattages with MacBooks with a caveat. When using a charger from MacBook Air with a more powerful MacBook Pro expect a longer charging time.

For example, a MacBook Pro 13-inch 2012-2015 requires 60W MagSafe 2 charger.

However, it is possible to use a 45W MagSafe 2 charger (the one that comes with MacBook Air) without any issues. The difference is that the 45W power adapter has less power, and it may not charge fast enough while MacBook Pro is under heavy load.

I have both 45W and 60W chargers at home and found that 60W charger indeed works faster than the less powerful one.

At the same time, I was able to charge with a 45W adapter while watching YouTube videos. So yes, you can use a lower wattage charger with your MacBook.

Using a MacBook Pro charger for MacBook Air

It is perfectly safe to use a MacBook Pro power adapter on lower-wattage models, such as MacBook Air as long as the charging ports are compatible. However, a more powerful charger can wear out the MacBook battery prematurely.

For example, a MacBook Air 2012-2017 model requires 45W MagSafe 2 charger. But it is ok to use a 60W charger of a MacBook Pro with it.

A power adapter with more watts will charge MacBook Air faster.

On the other hand, the faster the battery is charging, the more heat it generates. Eventually, the extra heat may degrade the MacBook Air battery faster.

I have both MacBook Air 13-inch 2014 and MacBook Pro 13-inch 2015 models.

I use their chargers interchangeably, and I never had any issues in 4 years with either one. And I didn’t notice any abnormal battery degradation personally.

Where to buy Apple power adapters

Once you know which Mac charger you need, you might be wondering where to buy one. The most no-brainer option is, of course, visiting your local Apple store or ordering from But if you want to save a few dollars or get a special deal, you can also check some other places in the process.

Note: There’s a lot of no-name (or even counterfeit) Apple-like products on the market, which might not work as advertised or, in some cases, damage your Mac. That’s why it’s only recommended to buy Apple power adapters only from large, trusted retailers.

Just a quick look at the 30W USB-C Power Adapter for MacBook Air gives us the following breakdown:

  • Apple’s official website simply lists the Apple MacBook Air charger for 49
  • Amazon lists the same charger with a discount at 43
  • BestBuy matches the 49 standard price but also offers four months of Apple Music for free if you’ve never subscribed before
  • Walmart drops the price to 43 to match Amazon

Right away you can see that Amazon and Walmart offer a better deal, whereas BestBuy would be great for those who haven’t tried Apple Music yet. So make sure to check those retailers (at least) when you’re shopping for your new Apple power adapter.

When to replace your MacBook charger

How do you know when to buy a new charger? Obviously you need one when the old charger fails. But sometimes your adapter might simply start working slower than usual, which is quite difficult to pin down, unless you use robust monitoring software.

iStat Menus is an all-in-one system monitor that not only tracks your battery life, as well as charging cycles and speed, but also your CPU and RAM usage, internal temperature, and network quality. With no scans to perform, you can simply look at your iStat Menus charts in your Mac’s menu bar to have a clear overview of your machine’s performance at any time.

How to extend your battery life

At one point or another, every Mac owner has wondered how great it would be to make their Mac’s battery last longer. What would be even better is to have a comprehensive ongoing solution in place.

Endurance is a lightweight utility that manages all aspects of your Mac that could result in extended battery life. By slowing down your Turbo Boost, dimming your screen, and hiding background apps, Endurance can give you up to 20% more unplugged time with your MacBook. Seems like a dream come true.

In the end, when you’re about to go shopping for a charger, consult the list above and then check at all the official Apple distributors. And don’t forget to use some nifty utilities to know what exactly is going on with your Mac.

Best of all, iStat Menus and Endurance are available to you at absolutely no cost via Setapp, a platform with more than 170 top-of-the-game utilities and apps designed to make your work and life a breeze, from keeping an inventory of your home (check out Home Inventory) to making the most out of your MacBook speakers (Boom 3D). Try Setapp today and get unlimited access to the best apps in the world! Why not?

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