Is the battery on your MacBook Air or MacBook Pro not charging? Don’t be concerned. We’ll walk you through the process of resolving the MacBook not charging issue.
This guide was written by engineers and technicians who have solved hundreds of MacBook battery charging problems every year. This guide covers everything from basic fixes for beginners to more complex repairs for experts. This book provides comprehensive and practical solutions to the MacBook not charging issue, regardless of whether it is caused by corrupted firmware settings.
What is the cause of the MacBook battery not charging?
- In the status menu, you will see the message “Battery not charging”
- The status menu shows the message “No battery availability”.
- The MagSafe connector doesn’t have either a green or orange light.
- Your battery status shows that it is fully charged and normal. The MacBook will automatically turn off if the charger is removed.
Many people are confused about “MacBook battery not charging” versus “MacBook not turning off”. If you have a problem with your MacBook’s battery, it can be switched on by connecting a functioning charger. A “MacBook not turning off” problem is when the MacBook keyboard stops responding to your pressing of the power button. This means that the Mac screen doesn’t respond to your pressing of the power button. There is no sound, light, or chime. The MacBook is dead.
What’s the deal with my MacBook battery not charging?
The MacBook battery charging system is made up of four components: a charger and a battery. A charging circuit also includes an SMC chip. If any of these components fail, the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro will not charge.
- MagSafe charger or USB-C charger. It charges your MacBook’s battery and provides power.
- Battery. It stores power (charging) and gives power (discharging).
- Charging circuit. It charges your battery and converts the charger voltage.
- System Management Control (SMC). This controls the behavior of the charging circuit, including the start and stop of charging.
The majority of MacBook problems are caused by faulty chargers, faulty batteries, and incorrect SMC data. These faults can be fixed easily. We will discuss the difficulty to fix faults in the charging circuit in the final section.
Your MacBook should work fine if the Battery Status menu shows Not Charging and then disappears. There are several reasons why you might see the temporarily not charging message.
- You use a low-power adopter. The power adapter provides only enough power for your MacBook to function, but not enough to charge it. If you connect a Macbook Air 45W charger to a 15-inch MacBook Pro 85W charger, you might get the notification that your battery is not charging. The power adapter will charge the Mac if you shut down the Mac or put the Mac to sleep.
- Safety concern. Your Mac may not charge its battery if it is connected to an airline power adapter. Your Mac can still be used without draining its battery. It is a dangerous task to charge a battery in an airplane.
- High-performance applications. Your Mac may not charge if you are using high-performance apps such as video editing software or video games. Your Mac will use the battery power of the adopter and the power from the MacBook to power the apps that require more power than the Mac can supply. This feature is part of Apple’s design to increase performance on demand. You may need to stop the apps that drain your battery too fast and let the Mac charge the battery. The adapter will charge your Mac faster if you turn off your Mac.
- Extension of battery life. The battery can drain to 90% before it charges again. This design feature extends the life of your MacBook lithium-ion battery. In Energy Saver preferences, you can disable battery management. We do not recommend that you modify the setting unless there is a very special reason.
How does a MacBook’s battery get charged?
To quickly diagnose and repair a Mac battery problem, it is important to understand how the MacBook charges its battery. There are two types of MacBook chargers available: the MagSafe charger or the USB-C charger. Apple has discontinued MagSafe chargers for 2015-16.
A MagSafe charger’s output voltage is fixed. The output voltage of a MagSafe charger for MacBook Air is 14.5V. A MacBook Pro charger can output 16.5V, 18.5V, or 20V depending upon the model.
Connecting a MagSafe charger with your MacBook will allow the SMC to “handshake” the MagSafe connector’s info-chip to identify the type of charger, including voltage output and current output. The connector will turn green if the charger meets these criteria. The green light indicates that the SMC has found a compatible charger for your MacBook.
SMC will also “handshake” with the information chip in the battery to identify its type, including working voltage, manufacturer code, and current temperature. SMC uses the data from the charger to determine whether to charge the battery or not and what current is required.
If ALL of the following conditions are met, SMC will instruct the charging circuit to begin charging the battery.
- MagSafe chargers have enough power to charge your battery and power on your MacBook.
- The battery’s temperature is normal, and it is not fully charged.
- The charging circuit detects NO over-current and over-temperature.
The SMC controls the charging circuit that charges the battery. It also turns on the orange light at the connector. The charger is charging the battery at the moment, as indicated by the orange light.
SMC will stop the current from flowing into the battery when it is fully charged. This prevents overcharging. The SMC changes the light color from red to green. The green light indicates that the charger is done charging. If the MacBook is connected, the charger will only provide enough power to charge your MacBook.
Charger for USB-C
A USB-C charger’s output voltage is and not fixed. The USB-C charger can negotiate with the MacBook to determine the optimal output voltage dynamically. Depending on the situation, a USB-C charger can output 5V-14.5V or 20V. A MacBook Pro USB-C charger can output 20V to charge its battery. The output voltage of the USB-C charger drops to 5V when the battery has fully charged and the MacBook is turned off.
The indicator light at the USB-C connector does not indicate what is happening. The principle of the MacBook battery charger system works the same. However, the communication between the USB-C charger connector and the SMC is much more complex.
Step-by-step instructions on how to fix a MacBook that isn’t charging.
There are many factors that could lead to a MacBook not charging. The solution to the problem varies depending on whether it is MacBook Pro or MacBook Air. The easiest solutions will be discussed first, and then the more difficult ones at the end. Hardware-related problems may require special equipment or spare parts. We will indicate the difficulty of the repair and the equipment (or spare parts) required at the start of each section. You can then estimate your success rate based on your skills. Good luck!
Verify the charger’s output voltage
Your MacBook charger won’t charge your battery if it isn’t working. You need to ensure that the charger works properly.
First, check that the power outlet is working. This is a simple way to check if the power outlet works.
Make sure to inspect the connection of the power cord on the charger. The MagSafe charger is one part of the Apple adapter. The removable power cord is the other. Attach the MagSafe charger’s power cord securely.
Next, examine both the input cable and the output cable carefully. Start at one end and work your ways to the other. You should inspect the cable for fraying or tears. These flaws are likely to be the problem. You can either replace the charger or use another charger. These simple steps can often resolve the problem of the MacBook not charging.
To test your MacBook with a spare charger, you should be aware that there are several MagSafe chargers available for different Mac models. The output voltages for MacBook Airs are 14.5V, 16.5V, and 18.5V respectively, while the MacBook Pro models have 18.5V, 18.5V, and 20V, respectively. The rule of thumb is that the higher voltage charger (and therefore higher power) can be used to replace the lower-voltage charger.
Apple actually uses the same charging IC chip (ISL6259 on the logic board) from 2008 to 2015. This allows it to handle different MagSafe chargers. This IC chip will generate the correct voltage to charge your MacBook’s battery and power it. A higher voltage charger won’t cause damage to your MacBook. You should, however, ensure that you get the exact same charger as your original.
The MagSafe 1 and MagSafe2 chargers cannot be exchanged because of differences in the connectors.
The MagSafe charger for MacBooks works fine as long as the Magsafe connector is able to receive either the orange or green light.
Smarter is the MacBook USB-C charger. The USB-C charger will automatically determine the voltage output of your MacBook. It can choose between 5V, 14.5V, or 20V. As long as the charger can power your MacBook, you don’t need to worry about its type.
To monitor the USB-C charging behavior of your MacBook’s USB-C charger, you may be able to purchase a small USB power delivery tester. It will provide information such as output voltage, output current, and charger temperature. The charger works fine if you get 14.5V from a MacBook Air USBC charger and 20V from the MacBook Pro charger. Below is an image of the USB-C charger that delivers power to the MacBook Pro at 20.3V/ 0.20A.
Examine the charging port and the Magsafe connection.
Check the MagSafe connector and the charging port of the MacBook for any debris or burned marks. Both the connector and the port rely on strong magnet attraction to keep them together. The charging port attracts small metal objects such as staples or paper clips. These foreign objects can prevent the connector’s close contact with the charging port. Because of the loose contact, the connector can become very hot. In extreme cases, you may even be able to see the sparks. You should replace or clean any burn marks on the connector or charging port as soon as possible to prevent further damage.
To remove any debris from the charging port you can use a toothpick or a pair of metal tweezers. The four power pins on the charging port do not have any power voltage. The logic board has a reverse-current protection gate (transistor), which prevents the port’s battery power from being reversed. The circuit will not be damaged if you use a metal tool for cleaning.
Pay particular attention to the charging port’s middle pin. Check that there isn’t any film on the pin. This pin is used by the SMC to communicate with MagSafe. A thin film can block electronic transmission. You won’t see the green or orange light, even though your MagSafe and MacBook are both working. Clean the pins with a sharp knife and then use cotton buds containing 95% alcohol.
Plugs and ports for USB-C are also susceptible to dirt. To clean them, you can use alcohol and cotton. Before cleaning the connectors, make sure you disconnect the charger from its power source.
Reset SMC Chip
The MacBook battery charging process is controlled by the System Management Controller (SMC). The charger will not charge your MacBook battery if the SMC has the wrong data about the MagSafe charger.
Apple began using non-removable batteries in all MacBook models starting in 2008. These steps will reset the SMC of a MacBook equipped with a non-removable battery.
- Keep the power button pressed for at least five seconds, until the MacBook turns off.
- Connect the MagSafe charger and hold Shift Control-Option on your left-hand side keyboard, as well as the power button for 10 seconds.
- All keys must be released.
- To turn on your Mac, press the power button. You have now successfully reset your SMC.
It is easy to reset the SMC of MacBooks equipped with removable batteries.
- Keep the power button pressed for at least five seconds, until the MacBook turns off.
- Take out the power adaptor, and the battery.
- To discharge any remaining electricity in the SMC circuit capacitors, hold the power button key down for five seconds. You can also wait for the capacitors to naturally discharge for a few more minutes.
- Install the battery again to your MacBook. You have now successfully reset your SMC.
Resetting the SMC is not enough to fix your MacBook charging problem.
Non-volatile random-access memory (NVRAM) must be reset (NVRAM)
NVRAM stores user-definable data like screen brightness, keyboard backlight, and sound volume settings. Your MacBook will not charge or charge very slowly if this data is corrupted.
These steps will reset your NVRAM
- Keep the power button pressed for at least five seconds, until the MacBook turns off.
- To turn on your MacBook, press the power button.
- When you hear the chime, or see any light on your screen, press Control-Option R-P four keys simultaneously. The MacBook will then restart.
- All four keys must be released.
- You can reset the NVRAM by rebooting.
If the MacBook is still not charging, you can move to the next level: hardware faults troubleshooting.
Examine the battery connections
Pre-2016 MacBooks used nine-pin connectors for connecting the batteries to their logic boards. Pin 6 is used to detect the battery. This pin is used to connect a battery and the logic board. The electric current can freely flow into and out of the battery. This safety design prevents accidental shorting of the battery terminals, causing damage to the battery or fire.
SMC also uses pins 4 and 5 for communication with the battery. All these pins, 5 and 6, carry low-voltage electronic signals. Any loose contact with the battery will result in MacBook not charging.
Make sure the socket and connector are clean. To clean the pins, use cotton buds containing at least 95% alcohol and to reconnect the connector.
The defective battery should be replaced.
To communicate with the battery, the SMC uses a pair SM-bus data lines. SMC uses current-sensing circuits in order to monitor real-time current entering or leaving the battery. Your MacBook displays the battery information in the notifications section based on this data.
There are five types of battery notifications:
- Service Battery
- Soon Replace
- Replacing Now
- There is no battery available
Apple’s document only defines the “Normal”, “Service Battery” messages. This leads to confusion and misleading information about “Replace Soon” or “Replace Now”. These messages will be clarified here.
“Normal” means that your battery is good. Your battery retains greater than 80%.
“Service battery” refers to a battery that has less than half its original capacity. The battery can usually last two to three hours under normal use. It is possible to replace the battery, but this is not an urgent matter. If you keep your MacBook connected to the charger, the battery can last up to a year.
“Replace soon” indicates that you must arrange for a replacement battery as soon as possible. Apple has not yet specified the criteria for this message. According to our test data, this message indicates that your battery has less than half its original capacity. Keep an eye on the battery if you are still using it. Make sure it isn’t swollen. Here is an example of a swollen 13-inch MacBook Pro battery. A swollen battery can cause pressure on the keyboard, case, and logic board.
You may notice cracking or popping in your touchpad, as illustrated in the photo below. This is most likely due to an overcharged battery. To prevent further damage, you must immediately replace the battery.
“Replace now” indicates that the SMC can still communicate with the battery but very little, if any, current can flow into or out of it. The MacBook will automatically shut down if you remove the charger. Finally, the battery reaches its end.
“No Battery available” with the crossmark on the battery icon (see the photo below):
This means that the SMC is unable to communicate with the battery. The problem is either complete dead or the battery is not properly connected to its logic board. Most often, the problem can be solved by replacing the battery. Sometimes, however, even if you have replaced the battery, the message “No Battery Available” will still appear. This is a sign that your logic board may be defective. To fix the MacBook not charging issue, you will need to have your logic board replaced.
You can have the battery repaired by a service provider, or you can replace it yourself if the battery is defective. To ensure that you get the correct battery for your MacBook, you should quote the model number of the battery when you place an order online. Example: 15-inch A1398 MacBook Pro 2012 uses the battery model A1417.
To replace your MacBook’s battery, you can use your fingernail to pull the connector from the logic board. Use a screwdriver made of metal. You could short-circuit the battery, or worse, cause damage to the SMC.
Pre-2013 MacBook Pro or Pre-2018 MacBook Air, the battery is secured to the MacBook case using screws. Simply remove the screws from the MacBook case and disconnect the logic board’s battery connector. Most replacement batteries that you buy online come with a handy screwdriver.
Apple glues the batteries to the MacBook Air case from 2018 and MacBook Pros 2013. It is not easy to remove the glued battery from your MacBook case. Attention to the logic board. It is important not to remove any chips from the logic board or cause damage.
Newer MacBooks that have USB-C charging ports are different from older models. The data communication and power lines are not connected to the same connector. To provide better contacts, instead of the power lines (“+” and the “-” terminals), they are connected to the logic board secured by a T-5 screws. The data lines are connected via a flexible cable to the logic board.
It is important to follow the correct procedure for removing this type of battery. First, remove the flexible cable from the logic board. Next, use a T-5 screwdriver for removing the screw and to disconnect the power terminals. After you have removed the data flex cable from the smart battery, it will turn off the safety switch inside and no power will be available to the power terminals.
If your data flex cable stops working because of liquid damage or loose contact, you will receive the “No Battery available” message.
Examine the circuit for the battery indicator.
Pre-2013 MacBook Pros come with a battery status indicator. To see the percentage of battery power remaining, push the button. The indicator uses the same circuit as the SMC to communicate with it. The indicator can’t talk to the battery if it is damaged, particularly after being exposed to water.
This problem can be fixed easily. If you don’t want to use the indicator function anymore, you can either replace it or unplug the cable.
Examine the defective DC-in Board.
A failed DC-IN board on the Pre 2013 Mac could cause the MacBook Pro’s battery not to charge. To communicate with the MagSafe charger, the SMC uses pin 3 (the middle pin) to connect to it. To protect the SMC circuit, there is a diode attached to the DC-IN board. It connects pin 3 to ground.
In the event of an accidental voltage increase to pin 3, such as a power surge or pin 2, (16.5V-18.5V), the diode will reduce this voltage to ground, to protect the dedicated SMC.
The MagSafe charger cannot communicate with the SMC if the diode is damaged. You won’t be able to get the green signal. Your MacBook will not charge the battery because there is no power from the charger.
It is simple to fix the problem. A DC board can be purchased online for as little as a few dollars. You may have to take out the logic board depending on your MacBook model to disconnect the DC board cable.
The fan connector is what you will need to pull off the logic board. It is easy to remove the fan connector. The fan connector can be repaired by micro-soldering skills, which will add extra cost to your repair bill.
The diode can be removed and the DC board will function again. However, in the event of a power surge, there is no protection for your SMC circuit.
Replace the cable on the I/O board that is defective.
The cable connects the logic board to I/O board. To talk to the MagSafe charger, the SMC uses the “one wired” circuit. This signal must pass through the cable to reach the I/O board, and then finally to the charger.
If the cable is not tightened, the “one-wired signal” will not pass to charger. Your MacBook will not charge the battery and you won’t see the green light from the charger connector.
Take the cable out and clean it with 95% alcohol. Make sure you know the cable’s direction. You could damage your MacBook if you don’t connect the reserved cable.
Liquid damage is possible with the cable. You can get the MacBook Air not charging problem if you accidentally spill water on it.
The I/O board cable can be purchased online for as little as a few dollars. You can also get the I/O board cable for as low as fifty dollars if it is damaged.
Repair the reverse-protection circuit that isn’t working
Connecting an Apple MagSafe charger to your MacBook will not show any orange or green light. If you connect a third-party charger, the MacBook will show the orange or green light. This means that your MacBook is charging perfectly. This is a sign that your logic board’s reverse protection circuit is defective.
The reverse-current protection circuit prevents internal battery power from “reversing” to the charger. The original MagSafe charger will shut off the output if the reverse-current circuit suffers from current leakage (even a few milliamps).
The third-party charger does not have a leakage detection function, so it will continue to work as normal.
You have two choices. As long as the leakage doesn’t affect your MacBook’s performance, you can continue to use the third-party charger. You can also replace the MOSFET with reverse-current protection. To complete the task, you will need a hot-air gun rework station.