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How to optimize battery life in Windows 10 devices using built-in settings

Nowadays, people are no longer attached to a desktop to do work. They use all kind of devices, and most of them are mobile, such as smartphones, tablet, and laptops. Now, one of the biggest problems that can affect productivity is battery life. While battery technologies have been improving over the years, they are still far from perfect.

The software is a big factor that can negatively impact battery life if not designed properly. If you have been running Windows 10, you probably already know that Microsoft has been doing a great effort to make its operating system more mobile friendly.

Windows 10 brings back many of the familiar features to help users on previous versions to get more productive quickly without a huge learning curve. It's also an operating system that packs a handful of features that makes this version stand out from anything we have seen before.

One of these changes is happening in mobility. As such today, we are going to look at some of the improvements Microsoft is bringing to Windows 10 and tips you can use to improve the battery life in your mobile devices.

Battery saver

One of the new features in Windows 10 is included in the new Settings app. It's called "Battery saver" and as the name implies, it's a feature to help Windows 10 devices to save battery life by limiting background activity and automatically adjusting different system settings. This is in addition to battery usage reports for you to understand what is draining your battery.

To access the new battery settings, open the Settings app, go to System, and navigate to Battery saver.

Note: Windows 10 features that your device can't handle won't be shown as an option. If you're running the operating system on a desktop computer without a battery, the Battery saver option won't be available. The same is true for other features.

When you arrive at the settings, you'll see two sections: Overview shows you the battery level and an indicator when your device is charging or draining.

There is a link to access Battery use. This section is very useful, as it can show you battery usage across all your apps. This information can be very valuable to understand better which apps you probably want to be careful or stay away from when you're not plugged in.

On the list of running apps, you'll notice Windows apps, desktop applications, and other components of Windows 10 that behave like apps, but you can't uninstall. It includes Microsoft Edge, Cortana, Settings, etc. While you cannot disable all of them, you can select an app like Microsoft Edge, click Details to get more information, and limit its background activity when plugged in or running on battery. (Very important to remember that the app has to be designed for Windows 10 in order to enable or disable background activity.)

You can also control which apps are allowed to run in the background to conserve battery life by going to Privacy and accessing Backgrounds apps.

When going back to the main page, you will find the Battery saver section. You'll also notice that if your Windows 10 device is currently plugged in, the main option is grayed out. It's okay because you can only turn the switch "On" or "Off" if your PC is running on battery (Refer to the previous image).

To adjust the settings, click the Battery saver settings link. In Battery saver settings, you can configure four different options:

Turn battery saver on automatically if my battery falls below, with this option users have the ability to set at which percentage Battery saver will kick on. The default setting is 20%.

Then you can also enable or disable: Allow push notifications from any app while in battery saver and Lower screen brightness while in battery saver.

Finally, you have the Always allowed section, where you can add apps that will run in the background and can send and receive push notifications, even when battery saver is enabled.

Also, remember that the Settings app is still a work in progress. Microsoft still hasn't migrated all the Control Panel settings over. If you need to adjust the brightness settings, you need to go to the Power Options in Control Panel, click the Change plan settings from the current power plan to adjust the brightness when running on battery.

On the system tray (or notification area), you can also click the on the battery icon to access quick power settings and charging information. You can click the brightness button to quickly change the screen brightness, and you can manually turn "On" or "Off" Battery saver.

Power & sleep

Like in Windows 8.1, the Settings app in Windows 10 also includes the Power & sleep settings.

On Screen, make sure to have a low number when the display should turn off when running on battery. For example, five minutes can be a good option.

On Sleep, set your computer to go to sleep around 10-15 minutes when running on battery.

Disabling unnecessary wireless communication

In addition to configuring specific battery settings and power options, you can also conserve battery power by quickly turning off all your wireless connections.

You can do this by enabling Airplane mode, which is a feature commonly found on mobile devices. It's useful for disabling all kinds of wireless communications (Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS, NFC, and others) that can help to conserve battery life in your device.

While Airplane mode disables all wireless connections, you can also re-enable specific path communications as necessary.

Accessing Airplane mode in Windows 10 can be done in a number of ways, you can click the wireless network icon in the notification center, and clicking the Airplane mode button. You can also access the same button in Action Center from quick access or you can go to the Settings apps, Network & Internet > Airplane mode and turn on the switch to stop all wireless communication.

If you need to access the internet, you can simply click the airplane icon in the notification center and then the Wi-Fi button.

Showing the right colors on your display can improve battery life too

Another factor that can negatively affect battery life is the colors. Having a poor choice of colors showing up on the screen (e.g., red, white, yellow, etc.) can increase the power usage on the display, which will translate shorter battery life.

One thing you can do to optimize battery life in your device is to use a solid color (black recommended) instead of an image, in the Background settings.

And on the Colors settings, turn on "Automatically pick an accent color from my background" and turn off "Show color on Start, taskbar, and action center" and "Make Start, taskbar, and action center transparent".

Only run the necessary programs

Finally, make sure to close any program you don't need to get the work done. Limit the time you use to play games and watch videos. You can always do these things when you're plugged in.

Wrapping things up

As you can see, there are many things you can do to improve battery life and today you learned Windows 10 can help with many built-in features.

Do you have any other battery saver tip for Windows 10? Let us know in the comments below.

Mauro Huculak is technical writer for WindowsCentral.com. His primary focus is to write comprehensive how-tos to help users get the most out of Windows 10 and its many related technologies. He has an IT background with professional certifications from Microsoft, Cisco, and CompTIA, and he's a recognized member of the Microsoft MVP community.

44 Comments
  • Thank you for this very informative article.
  • nice, since getting preview builds on my sp3, battery has been terrible. 
  • Part of that is also active standby, which I've noticed has massively improved in the last couple of builds.
  • I was going to ask if they've got all the surface pro3 stuff working yet (connected standby etc)  - sounds like they haven't - cutting it a bit fine then .. we're just a few weeks away
  • The Windows Dev team is so massive you'd be amazed how quickly they can get through the tidy-up phase.
  • How does the colors shown affect battery life on LCD screens? I would have thought it would only affect OLED?
  • It doesn't.
  • @Nik Rolls, I had the same reaction to that suggestion. Is the article wrong or are LCD panels smart enough to use less backlighting for black or dark backgrounds? I wouldn't think so -- never heard of that. I thought this is only an issue for OLED screens (including AMOLED) where darker means less power for the LED's. I can see why transparency would affect battery life, because that uses some cycles on the GPU to calculate, but not color (unless the backlighting really does change for a darker screen).
  • I question that the color choice would make any sort of measurable difference in battery life on an LCD screen. OLED, sure. LCD, not so much. Can you please provide a source on that difference?
  • That Wallpaper please :))
  • There should be a "mobile data consuption" article too, as W10 goes into 3g-4g equipped tablets.
  • Better tell me how to optimize battery on WP. It's sucking it dry in no time..
  • this is old news...http://www.windowscentral.com/17-tips-extend-battery-life-windows-phone Also: - kill unnecessary background apps in battery saver - disable unnecessary alerts in action centar - if you use data internet, in standby switch to 2G - use minimal numbers of live tiles on start screens... less tiles refresh, more battery life... - set mail checks to manual or increase time for auto checking
  • I've actually found that every time my laptop wakes up from hibernation (I think?) it starts to wake up and then powers off instead.
  • I would actually love to kind of love to de-optimize battery life, with animated lock screens.
    Microsoft should implement this, because on desktop battery life is not an issue and on mobile they should allow the user to decide if they prefer to "waste" a few percents of battery life to be able to personalize their device even more.
  • Sorry but we all just got caught by eco terrorists.. No room for wasted energy ;)
  • thnx for information. please give us this wallpaper::)  
  • My trick is: Make the UI as ugly and boring as possible, also disable the programs that automatically start with Windows if they aren't necessary. To speed up a little bit Windows disable some services that also starts automatically with Windows, if you don't print disable spool for example, and the service for smartcards ( most of home users don't need all those features ).
  • So CPU/performance throttling is more of a firmware/device specific thing? Would be a shame if that wasn't accessible anymore. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • If you have an AMD APU you can limit CPU clock speed on battery to save energy there. It works well. Intels don't have this feature exposed.
  • these settings are very useful and i use them on windows phone 8 & 10, I've just got a new laptop with an AMD A10 & dual graphics cards as part of the catalyst control centre it let's U throttle down the cpu, mine runs at 2.5ghz and turbo to 3.5ghz, although when I'm running on the battery in power saver mode ive turned it down to 1.4ghz, which still runs very well and it saves a huge amount on the battery, not sure if the intels have the option of doing it but it really does help!!
  • The AMD CPU is the culprit of battery draining. Underclocking seems to defeat the A10 purpose. Unless it was done occasionally.
  • Nope.  The Underclocking works well and it saves battery.  Anyone can monitor the CPU cores and see that. Yes, AMD APUs drain more power than Intel CPUs, however, keep in mind that Apple was able to get 9-11 hours of battery life on their MBAs and 7+ on their Pros years ago using older Intel CPUs in 2011/12 which should be comparable to the power requirements of a 2012/14 AMD A10 APU.
  • I own one. In battery saver mode where the CPU is capped, 1080p streaming stutters. I use battery saver mode or OverDrive underclocking only if the power supply is hard to find for a long period. I think continuously underclocking A10 isn't really beneficial. Better go with A8 or something else.
  • You're being dumb.  I'm not sure if it's on purpose or not. If an A-10 has a 2.1GHz Clock Speed with up to 2.9GHz Turbo, you can set Catalyst Control Center to allow the CPU to Underclock itself down to about 1.3Ghz - WITHOUT capping the top speed.  This means there is nothing but benefits from using the toggle.  You can also set it to only do it when the device is on battery, so that it always runs at max clock speed when it's plugged in.  It just makes sense to use this toggle - and it should be enabled by default (IIRC).  AMD Calls this PowerNOW technology, IIRC, and it's pretty old tech.  I'm pretty sure they've ironed out the pretty obvious (user created, in your case, most likely) kinks that you're pointing out. AGAIN:  You can do this, without capping the top speed anywhere and you will still save battery life because the CPU will underclock itself when it's idle and when you're running applications that don't need the power - like Notepad, or when you're just reading a page or writing a comment in a web browser.  Every second that the CPU spends in a lower power state, saves power. Then you can load World of Warcraft and the CPU will run, pretty much continuously, at or near max clock speed because it needs to run at or near max clock speed for that application (it'll likely be running in Turbo for WoW).  I'm monitored A-10 CPUs. That's the way to do it. What you did, was stupid.  You most likely capped the clock speed down probably near the minimum allowed in Control Center, instead of giving it a 100% range across min and max, and then you complain that 1080p video stutters. Also, if your A-10 is older than 2 years, it isn't going to stream 1080p all that well, anyways, and 60FPS 1080p is likely to cause a ton of frame drops and stutters (it won't be watchable).  Hell, even playing that from the HDD on those generation CPUs is likely to perform just as bad.
  • I just put Win10 on my Surface Pro3 and I have to say. It is quite incredible.
  • How come every time I see a tablet on W10 it's in desktop mode. I'm really worried. Is tablet mode *that* bad? It really makes me want to keep my SP3 on W8.1. (Which is godly on the SP3)
  • How do you know these screenshots are from a tablet?
  • I hope windows 10 is touch friendly and is not like windows 8.1
  • Well, depending on what you mean by that, you may be disappointed. It's somewhat like 8.1, but they removed most of the touch-friendliness.
  • Showing the right colours ... This depends on the type of display technology you are using. Black only helps saving battery power at oled panels. Normal ips panels are better using white. But the energy you are saving is minimal, the backlight uses the most of the display
  • Honestly, Windows is 90% of the Issue.  A MBA gets like 11-13 hours of battery life.  Put Windows on it and its battery life drops down like 30-40% instantly.  Even if you give 10% of that back for "margin of error," that's still a huge disparity.  The 2011 MBP gets a solid 7 hours of battery life.  Windows running on hardware of that era will probably get you 4...  probably, maybe. Frankly I'm at the point where I will only buy Windows if: 1.  It's a Desktop - which isn't an All-In-One (I'd buy an iMac instead), and 2.  I need it for gaming - cause anything else can be accomplished on a Mac short of needing a specialized Pro App (like Dartfish or something) I'm not touching it again on Laptops. I'm well aware that you can get over the issue by speccing out of the problem (as they did with the Surface Tablets.. the battery gaines came predominantly from hardware advances, even though the underlying OS barely changed) and OEMs have gotten good at that - using low voltage processors coupled with decent sized batteries in ultrabooks to eek towards apple in the battery life department. But that leaves too much volatility in the battery life department - where some days the battery life seems fine and other days you almost think you forgot to plug your notebook in overnight.  That's the experience I have with my notebook.  Consistency is needed, and that's one area where Apple seems to have nailed things. I think they need to put together a team whose only job is to test teh power management and efficiency of the OS and point out areas where the developers can improve.  I feel like Windows is a 200lb gorilla of legacy code that needs to be tamed.  That is a very hard job, but it's something that absolutely needs to be done. I'd buy a cheaper/refurbished/second hand macbook before I bought any Windows Notebook under $1,000 because changes are anything under that price range will struggle to get 6 hours of usage in real life, while a 3 year old macbook air will fly past that, Lol.
  • Windows does have poorer battery life than Macs, but for cost-conscious consumers, they can buy an $800 XPS 13 and get a more powerful OS and better battery life, versus a larger, much more expensive MacBook Air. Obviously, if battery life or trendiness are your main concerns, and you don't mind spending significantly more, Macs are the way to go for notebooks. Personally, I appreciate the Windows ecosystem, and that I can customize it to a greater degree than a Mac. That said right now price is the only thing keeping me from getting a Mac as a secondary device, I just can't justify spending that much that could go to something I would enjoy more.
  • another simple solution  to battery woes is to make bigger batteries, i hope the next flagship WP would have at least 3500mAh
  • That doesn't solve the issue.  That's like an OEM just putting a faster software in thier phone because it's not all that optimized and runs slowly otherwise.  You cannot really sold fundamental issues with software.  You can only put it off for a while with that (pretty terrible) method.
  • There are devices with large batteries, and small ones. The reasons a manufacturer/user might choose one over the other are many. The answer is not to pack bigger, heavier batteries into all devices, although of course there will be a demand for that in some devices. Software can be improved across the board to get the same amount done while using less power, that will improve life for small, thin, cheap devices as well as devices built for longer battery life.
  • Although I still have 8.1 on my tablet, I need it for around the home/travel type use. So, no beta software on it. I do plan on yanking it off the domain, taking the 10 update and putting it back. Right now with WIndows 8, I will be lucky if I get 2 hours out of the battery, I'll try these tweaks when RTM hits to see if it gets any better.
  • One of the most useful tips I've found is to reduce the maximum CPU performance while on battery power. My SP has gone from getting 2-3 hours of battery life to 4-5 depending on how I use it. To change the setting, you have to dig a bit in W10. Click battery, then click power and sleep settings. Then under related, click "additional power settings"
    That will launch the old control panel (I'm using build 10162 fwiw) and then you need to click "change plan settings" followed up by "advanced plan settings" Then you'll get a window titled "Advanced Settings" where you'll see a menu tree. Click on "Processor Power Management" and then "Maximum Processor State". I have mine set to 30% on battery power, and 100% plugged in, but you might need to increase/decrease that numbers based on your needs and uses. On the SP1 you can also change your cooling policy from "passive" to "active" and visa-versa. I have my system set for "passive" on battery, and "active" on plugged in. Also reducing the display brightness to 20-30% on battery will greatly increase battery life. Using the power keyboard in conjunction with the aforementioned settings gave me 9 hours of battery life this morning on my SP1 while streaming videos from couriers.org, using OneNote, and having 2-3 other windows open at the same time. Not that bad from a tablet that suffered from poor battery life. Now if I could just overcome the storage space and the misreporting of used space by Onedrive.
  • Thank you for this suggestion. My Windows 10 laptop was 100% Battery/100% Plugged In but I'm going to give the 30%/100% split a try. I'm curious to see how much extra time this will give. 
  • Can we get this Amazing Wallpaper plz ?  
  • Is it just me or does Edge seem like a huge power hog?  I barely use it, but it was the top app on my list under Battery Use at 59.4%.  It causes my SP1 to get hot and run the fan.  The old Metro brower was much, much better.
  • Hai, 
    I am getting problem on my dell laptop if you got any resolution procedure please send me. It was a new laptop, just three months back i purchased it . with other OS its working fine but i am getting problem with the windows 10. I charged my laptop to 100% in the night and when I woke up in the morning the laptop was showing red light indicating the low battery. I wonder how the battery drained so quickly overnight while the laptop is shut down?! And this is not the first time its happening, I am facing this problem after I upgraded to Windows 10. Is there any solution to this. It is not my battery fault it is only problem i am getting windows 10. i do in cammand prompt also, and device manager->System Devices-> Intel Management Interface->Properties->Power Management and uncheck Allow the computer to turn of this device to save power and i tried but this is also not work. please solve my problem
  • Hi there, Before I upgraded my laptop to Windows 10, I used Windows 7, and with that, I used to have the option to NOT charge up my battery when I was plugged in. I liked that option, as it allowed me to not necessarily recharge all the time, now everytime I plug in, my battery charges up, and I feel it contributes to reduce my battery life. Where can  Ifind that option in Windows 10. Thank you, Franck Laurin.
  • Helpful article!