A non-charging MacBook can be extremely frustrating. After all, one of the chief benefits of a laptop is that you can unplug it from the mains and use it anywhere. That only makes sense if it holds a charge.

In this feature we're going to look at what to do if your Apple laptop won't charge up or doesn't hold a charge. Also see: How to fix a Mac.

Apple has recalled some of its wall plugs over safety concerns, find out if yours is affected.

Check the basics

Mac won't charge: check the battery service

Before you go any further you should check a few basics. Here are some things to look out for:

  1. Is the MacBook plugged in? Is the MagSafe connection plugged in to your laptop?
  2. Is the Apple adaptor connected together properly? Each Apple laptop adaptor comes in two parts, the square adaptor and a removable plug (or lead) that connects to the wall. Pull the two apart and put them back together.
  3. Are you plugged into a wall socket? Is the socket turned on? Have you tried using a different wall socket? We know all this sounds a bit basic, but double-check before you go any further.
  4. What does the Apple adaptor look like? Is it in pristine condition or has it got any tears in the cable? Is the adaptor discoloured in any way? Does it look burnt out? If so, try a different adaptor (borrow one from a friend or ask at an Apple Store).
  5. Check the MagSafe connection on your Apple laptop for dust. This can prevent the MagSafe connector from making a clean connection to the Mac and stop you from charging it up correctly.
  6. Click the battery icon in the Menu bar. If it says Service Battery you may need to get your battery replaced. In this case your MacBook should still work, but the battery has started to age and will no longer hold the charge that it once did.

Check the settings

If your MacBook keeps losing its charge, you should check that the settings aren't draining the battery.

Open up System Preferences and choosing Settings > Energy Saver. Check that the Computer Sleep and Display Sleep sliders are not all the way to the right (set to Never). If they are, click the Default button to reset them.

Apple's solutions

Mac won't charge: check the adaptor

Apple has three recommendations if you have a battery that won't charge. First you should try these solutions:

  • Reset the battery. If you have an older Apple laptop with a removable battery you should remove it and re-insert it to make sure it's properly installed.
  • Reset the SMC. Resetting the SMC (System Management Controller) can help with battery and power related problems.
  • Get the Mac serviced (or replace the battery). If resetting the SMC doesn't work, Apple recommends you take the Mac to your local Apple Store or contact AppleCare. If your Mac isn't covered by Apple's warranty, you might want to consider replacing the battery.

How to reset the SMC

If you want to reset the SMC, these are the steps you need to follow on a new MacBook (with a non-removable battery):

  1. Shut down the MacBook (Apple > Shut Down).
  2. Connect the MagSafe power adapter.
  3. Hold down Control + Shift+ Option and the Power button for about four seconds. Then release all four together.
  4. Press the Power button start up the Mac.

If you'd like to find out more, Apple's support page on resetting the SMC has more detailed information. If this doesn't help then you should take the MacBook to Apple for servicing (or consider having the battery replaced).