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How to Tweak the Low Battery Action On Your Windows 7 Laptop

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If you’ve got a netbook with really great battery life, you’ll probably still have loads of time left even with only 10% of the battery remaining. Here’s how to tweak the settings so it alerts you or goes into sleep mode at a more reasonable time.

Note: obviously if you don’t have a great battery in your laptop, you should probably be careful with these settings or you might lose data. If anything, you’d be better off making the notifications happen sooner in that case.

Tweaking the Battery Notifications / Actions

You’ll want to start by heading into Power Options from the Control Panel, or more easily, by just clicking on the power icon in the tray and going to More Power Options. Once you’re there, you can tweak the current plan by clicking the “Change plan settings” link.

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Next you’ll want to click the “Change advanced power settings” link at the bottom of that dialog.

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Now find the option for Battery at the bottom of the dialog and expand it until you find the various settings for Critical, Low, or Reserve battery levels.

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Here’s how the different levels work:

  • Low Battery is the first notification you’ll get, generally at 10% battery life remaining. At this point you’ll get a notification unless you feel like turning it off. You can change the Low Battery Action to go into sleep mode if you want, though that would defeat our purpose here.
  • Reserve Battery is when the laptop will start taking drastic measures to stop using extra power, usually at 7%.
  • Critical Battery is when your laptop will immediately go into Hibernate mode, usually at 5% remaining. You can change the Critical Battery Action to Sleep instead of Hibernate if you choose.

You can customize any of the levels here, and you can even disable the notification entirely if you want.

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On my MacBook Air running Windows 7, I’ve adjusted the Critical Battery Action to Sleep Mode instead, and changed the low battery notification down a bit. That’s mostly because I’ve got great battery life, and I’ll always plug it in quickly once the battery dies.

Lowell Heddings, better known online as the How-To Geek, spends all his free time bringing you fresh geekery on a daily basis. You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 12/31/10

Comments (10)

  1. Yoshiyah

    Great Read! I do have one issue. My Netbook battery only charges to 81% and then it says “Plugged in, but not charging” Do I need to perhaps replace the battery?

  2. indianacarnie

    Will probably not do this , at least on this particular laptop , but as always…….. it’s nice to know these things! Thank you HTG for adding to all of ours knowledge base.

  3. Peter

    @Yoshiyah – The battery may just need to be recalibrated. Try discharging the battery completely. Wait until the machine hibernates due to low battery and then turn it back on and keep using it until it shuts off from lack of power. Then plug it in and don’t unplug it until it reaches 100%. That should reset the battery so it knows how much is left.

    If it still only goes to 81% then it might be bad, but if it provides you will hours of use, then who cares if it thinks it’s full at 81%?

  4. Chris Walsh

    Hi,
    Thanks for the info, I couldn’t find what reserve battery option meant,,,,,,,, now I know.
    Can you help me with on screen notification? I need something more than the little tick mark on my battery. How about a chime and a dialog box for low battery notification?
    Are those possible,
    Thank you,
    Chris

  5. Doctor

    I hate sleep mode because when ever I try and download somthing on my laptop it goesinto that so I’ve disabled it.

  6. jon

    Actually, fully discharging a battery repeatedly will shorten its life. Thus further reducing the percentages is not a brilliant idea. When possible it is normally better not to discharge to below 40% or so, which seems to be the common level recommended by many tech blogs. Thus running on mains power where available seems to be the best approach. If it is left more or less permanently connected to the mains, some people recommend removing the battery and only using it when needed.

  7. Ja5087

    @Yoshiyah, maybe it’s a program to help lengthen your battery life so it only charges at 81%?

  8. Gouthaman Karunakaran

    @Yoshiyah

    You are probably using a Battery Optimizer like you do. Charging a battery for just 80% will increase it’s lifetime – this is a good practice and I recommend you continue using it.

  9. 3li

    oh gooood

  10. robert

    I work on computers and at times I see batteries that say plugged in not charging and thats is usually the charger. in some cases it is a charger someone borrowed thats not the one that came with the computer or a charger going bad.It is best to get the right charger made for the model laptop u are using.

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