Laptop Battery Status

Monitor the status of your laptop’s battery to make sure the battery doesn’t run out in the middle of something important. You can monitor the battery by viewing the tiny battery icon on the system tray. The icon graphically shows how much power is left; the icon’s color “drains” out as you use the laptop. Often, that display is too tiny, so what you can do is point the mouse at the icon to see a pop-up bubble explain how much juice you have left, similar to what’s shown in the following figure.

Check to see how much charge is left in your battery.
Check to see how much charge is left in your battery.

In this figure, Windows Vista shows that 21 minutes remain for battery life, and the battery has about 10 percent of its power remaining. The display for Windows XP is just as informative, though visually different. Here are some additional tips regarding battery life:

Finally, your laptop may feature a battery light on its case. The light may change color as the laptop drains. Or the battery light may be a fancy display that accurately tracks battery power. And, as usual, custom programs may monitor your battery’s status. For example, my laptop has a battery icon on the 3 key. Pressing Fn+3 on my laptop displays the battery status on the screen.

  • Oops! Almost forgot: You can also monitor battery use from the Control Panel's Windows Mobility Center. Type Win+X on the keyboard to quickly summon that window.

  • If you’re using the Windows Sidebar, you can get a battery monitor widget to display the battery life. Refer to a good Windows Vista reference for information on obtaining Sidebar gadgets.

  • A different icon may appear in the notification area when the laptop is AC powered. For example, a power plug or other icon may show up in its place.

  • Smart-battery technology is responsible for the ability of Windows to determine how much power is left in the battery. Be aware, however, that such a thing is an estimate. Different things can affect battery life, so don't bet real money on how much longer your laptop can survive on the battery.

AC powered means being powered by electricity from a wall socket.

DC powered means being powered by the battery.

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