Considerations for the long life of your MacBook. Handling and environmental care tips

Version 37
Last Modified: Jun 12, 2014 2:17 PM





Cleaning Your MacBook

Use a very lightly damp, soft (if you can squeeze the cloth very tightly and even a drop comes out, its still too damp), lint-free cloth to clean the computer’s exterior. Avoid getting moisture in any openings and be very careful not to get the damp cloth around the trackpad edges or around the inside edge between the monitor and its bezel. Do not spray any type of liquid directly on the computer. Do not use sprays, solvents, or abrasives; do not attempt to use any solvents on the LCD display either directly (especially!) or indirectly. There is never any call to use any type of lens cleaning solvents on the screen of your LCD display. Again, do not spray any liquid directly on the screen. Never use Kleenex, or paper towels, these are abrasive. Soft cotton cloth only or a microfiber lens cleaning cloth.


No rubbing alcoholic, no glass cleaners of any variety, no acetone, no lens cleaning sprays, no AR coating sprays, no sprays sold as "for your LCD TV", no sprays sold as "for your notebook display".  Water only, and never sprayed on, and never dripping wet even slightly on the cloth.

Use a soft paintbrush, lipstick lens-cleaning brush, or makeup brush for cleaning

One very useful tool for cleaning dust from the LCD screen, the hinge area of your notebook and around the keyboard, is a very soft inexpensive small paintbrush or a makeup brush. The less you wipe your LCD screen with anything like a cloth, the better. This small brush is very handy, quick, and ideal for removing dust from around and on your notebook. Lipstick lens cleaning brushes are sold online, and used in the photography business for camera lenses and are ideal perfect portable cleaning brushes for your macbook.


Small soft makeup brush, lipstick lens cleaning brush, or paintbrush for removing dust from the keyboard, hinge, and LCD display



Don’t use your notebook on the beadspread or pillow

Do not place your MacBook on a pillow or other soft material when it's powered on, as the material can block the airflow vents (in particular, the rear vents) and cause the computer to overheat. Never place anything over your keyboard when operating in closed-lid (clamshell) mode. This can cause your computer to cycle on and off, which might create excessive heat and drain your battery. Use a lapdesk if you want or plan on using your Macbook on your bed or couch, or in your lap.


Use of your notebook on a mattress or pillow blocks your notebook from circulating air as it needs to, and can lead to overheating rapidly



Your MacBook is a notebook, not a laptop

When you’re using your MacBook or charging the battery, it's normal for the bottom of the case to get warm. For prolonged use, place your Macbook on a flat, stable surface. Do not place your Macbook on your lap or other body surface for extended periods of time. Prolonged body contact can cause discomfort and potentially a burn. The bottom of the Macbook case functions as a cooling surface that transfers heat from inside the computer to the cooler air outside. The bottom of the case is raised slightly to allow airflow, which keeps the unit within normal operating temperatures. In addition, warm air is vented from the slots in the back of the case. This is why your Macbook is a notebook and not a laptop, additionally the monitors on Macbook notebooks do not lay flat as in the case of many laptops. Again, use a lapdesk if you want or plan on using your Macbook on your lap.


Lap desk for use with your notebook on the bed, your lap, or couch. Also very useful for removing wrist strain



Dont press on your LCD screen or spray it

Do not attempt to use any solvents on the LCD display either directly (especially!) or indirectly. There is never any call to use any type of lens cleaning solvents on the screen of your LCD display. Do not spray liquid directly on the screen. Avoid any touching or pressure upon your LCD screen.


Carry cases aren't just for traveling with your notebook. Its a good idea to keep your Macbook in a case around your own house also


Why your Macbook deserves a carry case everywhere

While we all understand if you are traveling anywhere that having a good padded carry case is very important for transporting your Macbook, it is also important to have one as a general rule all the time for storing your notebook in your house, and also carrying around the house and very short distances. As is the fact that most personal accidents happen where we feel the most safe, inside our own homes, the same can be said of your Macbook and its safety. Since your Macbook has no carry handle, in casually transporting your notebook around the house, having your carry bag for your Macbook is very handy to prevent accidental drops. Also constantly keeping your notebook in such a case when not in use prevents greatly against changes in temperature and humidity inside your own house; additionally protection from both pests, dust and possible smoke. Typically it is the situation that bad accidental drops, spills, and debris occurs to a someone's Macbook inside the house, and keeping your notebook in such a case when not in use is a good idea.


Dont 'backpack' your Macbook Pro without having special consideration

Many college students or people in general are fond of using non-idealized backpacks (without a padded laptop compartment) along with their books. Sandwiching books around your notebook etc. is an extremely bad idea and can lead to your LCD screen being destroyed when heavy textbooks are pressing against same, or when dropping your backpack, these books slam into your Macbook causing great potential for damage.



Proper understanding of a battery charge cycle


A charge cycle means using all of the battery’s power, whether that is at once, or over several shorter battery discharges and recharges.


Two examples for clarification:

As a first example, where one fully charged battery is discharged down to 10%, then fully recharged, then using 10% of that full charge, this counts as 1 cycle since the total of both discharges is 100% of a full charge of use.


In the second example, where one fully charged battery is discharged down to 40%, then fully recharged, then using 40% of that full charge, this also counts as 1 cycle since the total of both discharges is 100% of a full charge of use.


While both examples are that of a single charge cycle, the first example is more aggressive against the lithium battery chemistry than is the second example. In short, collective overall gentle shallow or mid-range draining of your lithium battery is a better use condition than is the first example of deep-draining of the battery.  While both are quantitatively identical as a single charging cycle, they are wholly different qualitatively on the battery chemistry, which is directly related to its ultimate longevity and health.


In short, it is the near and mid-term life of the battery as relates to its proper care (or lack thereof) that is to be looked after.


Priorities in order of decreasing importance for battery care are:

1. Avoiding deep discharges of the battery.

2. Avoiding having your battery constantly on charge or on charge and in sleep mode.

3. When playing graphics intense games, use your notebook plugged in when possible.

4. Reduction of battery cycles by plugging into power when on the go, or when accessible.


A person who has, for example, 300 charge cycles on their battery and is recharging at say 40% remaining of a 100% charge has a better battery condition state than, say, another person who has 300 charge cycles on their battery and is recharging at say 10-15% remaining on a 100% charge. DoD (depth of discharge) is vitally important on the wear and tear on your Macbook’s battery, much more so than is the counting of charge cycles. There is no set “mile” or wear from a charge cycle in specific. Frequent high depth of discharge rates (draining the battery very low) on a Lithium battery will greatly hasten the lowering of maximum battery capacity.


Understand that a charge cycle is a general parameter of use, but is not directly related to the short-term or mid-term abuse of the battery, which can rapidly hasten a shorter lifespan, regardless of what the actual cycle count on the battery indicates.

Proper considerations for near-term care of the battery is of utmost importance. Abuse of the battery is entirely avoidable, long-term eventual old age deterioration of the battery is entirely unavoidable.

Apple’s adaptive charging system mitigates much potential for accidental battery misuse or abuse; however it is still readily possible to abuse the battery and thereby affect battery health.


General consideration of your MacBook battery


Contrary to popular myths about notebook batteries, there is protection circuitry in your Macbook and therefore you cannot ‘overcharge’ your notebook when plugged in and already fully charged.

However if you do not plan on using your notebook for several hours, turn it off (plugged in or otherwise), since you do not want your Macbook ‘both always plugged in and in sleep mode’.


Do not perform “battery calibration” on your current Macbook. There is no calibration of current Apple portable Macbooks with built-in batteries.

A lot of battery experts call the use of Lithium-Ion cells the "80% Rule", meaning use 80% of the full charge or so, then recharge them for longer overall life. The main quantified damage done in the use of Lithium Ion batteries are instances where the internal notebook battery is “often drained very low”, this is bad general use of your notebook battery.

All batteries in any device are a consumable meant to be replaced eventually after much time, even under perfect use conditions.


If the massive amount of data that exists on lithium batteries were to be condensed into a simplex, helpful, and memorable bit of information it would be:


1. While realistically a bit impractical during normal everyday use, a lithium battery's longevity and its chemistry's health is most happy swinging back and forth between 20% and 85% charge roughly.


2. Do not purposefully drain your battery very low (10% and less), and do not keep them charged often or always high (100%).


3. Lithium batteries do not like the following:

A: Deep discharges, as meaning roughly 10% or less. Avoid this in all instances if you can. This is hard on your battery.

B: Rapid discharges as referring to energy intensive gaming on battery on a frequent basis (in which case while gaming, if possible, do same on power rather than battery).

C: Constant inflation, as meaning always or most often on charge, and certainly not both in sleep mode and on charge always or often.


From Apple on batteries:

"Apple does not recommend leaving your portable plugged in all the time."



Careful with your charger and its cable

Do not make any hard bends or folds in your charging cable, or wind it tightly, always make either circles or loose loops when winding your cord up for storage. Also do not, as many people have seen, unroll your charger block from the magsafe end by letting the charger drop and unroll itself like a yo-yo, this is both hard on the charger and its connection points at both ends.



Throwing open your notebook monitor

It has been observed in the past that some repair issues are related to those who, due to strength, or short term anger will ‘throw open’ their notebook monitors, which stresses the friction hinges, and flexes the LCD display, and can cause a fault in the monitor cable which runs thru the hinge. Carefully open your monitor, and do not flip it open, or snap it open with a ‘throw’ or grab the chassis bottom and tilt your notebook backwards in order to open the monitor.

Beware of keyboard covers and using same

Beware of using thick keyboard covers on your Macbook, some pretty ones sold online are rather thick and upon closing your monitor, touch the screen and transfer more finger/hand oil to the LCD but at worst press excessively on the LCD display, especially in the case of the Air and newest Macbook Pro Retina. There is ultimately very little purposeful use of these keyboard covers if you keep your hands clean, additionally they do not protect against spills as many people presume they do; directly yes, but at the edges no. They also making typing a more challenging experience and run a fine line between 'serves no purpose' and 'possibly damaging'.


Apple additionally now recommends against using these keyboard covers on current Macbooks:

"Leaving any material on the top case  could result in damage to the display when you close it. This includes palm rest or keyboard covers, as well as any adhesive-backed keycap additions."


Often seen, often trouble. Drinks and notebooks

Invariably every hour of every day someone has accidentally, inadvertently or otherwise spilled something on and into their notebook. Drinks and notebooks just don't mix. While we see someone on using their notebook and drinking a drink, coffee etc. everywhere we go today its a very bad habit to get into. The creeping nature of liquid damage varies, especially based upon volume and acidity, however unlike a simplex failure, spills roll around and can cause near instant widespread havoc inside of any notebook of any manufacture. Likewise lingering damage is long lived and very irritating in that wet spots missed in examination in tight places can develop into corrosion and cause long term lingering and irksome troubles. Avoid the bad habit of placing a drink in close proximity to your notebook. Either use a fully spillproof container or consider storing the drink on another table far from your notebook. Both are at the very minimum, good options as a starting point to avoid such damage.


Careful with tight USB connectors

Never force a connector into a port. If the connector and port dont join with reasonable ease, they probably don’t match. Make sure that the connector matches the port and that you have positioned the connector correctly in relation to the port. Some USB thumb drives are extremely tight fitting and these should be avoided since they can damage or break one of the internal contact fingers inside the USB port of your Macbook.


Never lift or carry your notebook by its monitor, not even the MacBook Air

You should never lift, move, or carry your notebook, even the lightweight Macbook Air from its monitor, at any point, even in the middle near the hinge! This can damage the hinges if done roughly and can also damage the LCD screen from excess flex.


Open your monitor hinge from its center-point

While this is of very minor consideration, the larger the monitor the more adamant you should be about opening and closing the monitor from its center most position. In closing or opening your monitor from the edge, especially quickly, you torque both the LCD screen, the hinges, and unduly flex the monitor bezel, none of which is good for your notebook, even if damage never occurs from same.


The most important part of your MacBook

The most important part of your Macbook is not part of your Macbook at all; rather the data you are saving or creating on it. Keep vigilant prudence ever-present to not only backup said vital data you “don't dare lose” but also to have archived redundant copies of it. The most important part of any vault is not the vault at all, rather its contents. Data redundancy is one of the extremely few aspects of life where it can be accurately said that paranoia is both prudent and advocated by professionals.

     See: Methodology to protect your data. Backups vs. Archives. Long-term data protection


Don’t yank out your magsafe connector when done charging

When your are done charging your Macbook, do not, especially at a sharp angle, just yank out the neodymium magnetic connector on your magsafe connection to your notebook, doing so is both tough on the cord, and puts excess stress on its neck where it enters the T-connector block of the connector head. Grab the T-connector head itself and gently tilt it up or down a bit and then out, or directly out.



Liquid spills, why your MacBook chassis is a one-way valve for spills

After a substantial spill many people will turn their notebook upside down and shake it, not only does this not work, but it spreads liquid havoc throughout your machine and makes things often as bad as possible. The keyboard itself acts like a one way valve in the case of a substantial liquid spill. While liquid pours into the bottom chassis easy, it does not come out easily at all, and in the case of any spill, most of it will not come out by turning it upside down. Disconnect all power and contact Apple for diagnostics and repair.



Do not attempt to, after a spill, ‘dry out your notebook’ and test it

After a spill most people invariably try to “dry out” their notebook by various methods, including hair dryers and otherwise. This both does not work, and after a substantial spill of any magnitude, even if the liquid was water, residue is left behind. There are additionally many very tight places inside your notebook where liquids will linger for a very long time, and cause corrosion or worse. Immediately unplug your notebook and contact Apple for in shop diagnostics and parts replacement. In the case of very minor spills people will “dry out” their notebook and feel success that their notebook is working ok, however invariably in nearly all instances after 4-14 days an error / fault pops up and is usually followed by more.


The invisible threat to your Macbook

Accidents, spills, loss, and theft of your valuable Macbook. While your Macbook may be recovered thru discovery by the police, you must make contingent preparations that it may not not be. Your warranty likewise is outside the scope of serious user accidents involving spills, damaging falls, and of course theft of your Macbook. Contact your insurance agency about either coverage under your home owners policy or getting a type of insurance for portable items such as notebook computers to cover spills, loss and theft. Such insurances are typically relatively inexpensive and important to have for those on the go who may suffer unexpected loss or theft.


Clean hands, clean MacBook

This is a two part issue. 1. fingertip oils and acids   2. food particles and general dirt

1. On your Macbook when closed, the circumference of the keys on the keyboard make a very gentle contact with the display screen.While the keys themselves do not make marks on the screen, the natural oils and acids of human skin in typing, can transfer to the keys, and when the display is closed then transfer from the keys to the screen making oily and or acidic key shaped marks on a black screen (while off). This would be rather noticeable if someone were to type often after a workout without cleaning their fingertips and hands off, in which case much more natural oils and acids would transfer to the keys. This is purely a cosmetic issue in almost all instances, however if much finger acid is transferred to the screen over prolonged periods, this can potentially mar the display surface finish. While this would not be noticeable during turned on normal use, it would however be noticeable while the screen is off, is black. Clean hands eliminates this issue entirely.

2. While most everyone knows not to use drinks near or around their notebook, also important and often not heeded is the eating of chips, and snacks in general around your notebook, less of concern from these particles falling into the keyboard but more so a concern of them transferring from your fingers very easily onto your notebook and under the keys themselves which could cause an issue or frustration due to an unresponsive key.

Why your MacBook needs a warm coat too

While you should never store your notebook in a cold car for any significant time (couple hours or more), in cases where a notebook is being carried thru cold weather in a case, having a padded and zippered (not just a sleeve!) case is very important not just to protect your Macbook from a shock from being bumped or accidentally dropped, but for thermal protection. In coming in from a cold walk or environment, an unprotected and cold notebook is subject to condensation forming not only on the alloy casing but more importantly on internal parts and the logic board which is to be avoided at all costs. Namely when turned on and the fan kicks on and blows warm air around the cold logic board condensation can form and in worst cases either eventually produce a fault or lead to compounded problems where corrosion forms inside your Macbook.


For transporting in the cold, your notebook needs more than a sleeve, rather a padded / insulated carry case to prevent temperature fluctuation from causing condensation.



Extreme climate conditions that call for more than a simple notebook carry bag

For exotic travel, college campuses where distances between buildings in very rainy climates must be made, or in which one may have to travel any distances thru harsh snow, ice, or heavy rains, most all conventional carry bags designed for laptops are very inadequate. Such zippered or snapped bags both do not keep out very high humidity and do not protect much from a deep soaking in what is most often a cloth notebook bag.


Skyward facing zippers on most notebook bags are poor protection from water. Consider one of several options, that being a waterproof hard-plastic case designed for notebooks, or a waterproof rugged bag or case specifically designed to keep out harsh humidity and water. In the case of very thin watertight weather bags, these can often be used inside your existing notebook carry bag.


Watertight pouches, sealing weather bags, and plastic hard-cases to keep out extreme elements, rain, and humidity from reaching your notebook



Keep Spot and Fluffy away from your open notebook

Small dogs and cats and ferrets as pets love to park themselves on top of warm things, and an open notebook is one of those things, this is an unseen hazard to keep in mind if your small pet parks itself on top or your notebook and inadvertently relieves itself into your notebook.


Beware of small pets that like to park themselves on top of your warm notebook


Storing your MacBook

If you are going to store your MacBook away for an extended period of time, keep it in a cool location (room temperature roughly 22° C or about 72° F). Make certain you have at least a 50% charge on the internal battery of your Macbook if you plan on storing it away for a few months; recharge your battery to 50% or so every six months roughly if being stored away. If you live in a humid environment, keep your Macbook stored in its zippered case to prevent infiltration of humidity on the internals of your Macbook which could lead to corrosion.


Dust and fuzz residue caked onto the internal fan



Dust bunnies and Fluffy’s fur

Your Macbook’s cooling system, including fan and rear vents pull cool air in from the back and (in the case of the Macbook pro) also from the left ports bringing this air around the processor, GPU, and heat sync and blow it out the back, as such your Macbook acts like a little vacuum cleaner of the air around you. If you use your notebook in a dusty area or around a lot of pet fur, this can quickly, even under seemingly ideal clean rooms, accumulate inside your notebook especially on the fan blades reducing its capacity for cooling and in a worse case scenario seize your fan due to caked on dust on the fan blades. Avoid very dusty areas or places where, over the long term you know fuzz, fur, or even smoke can enter into your Macbook.


Airflow around and thru a standard MacBook Pro



Thank You & Peace