Windows 10 includes a “Battery Saver” mode that’s designed to extend your laptop or tablet’s battery life. Windows will automatically enable Battery Saver when your PC’s battery runs low, but you can control this–and choose exactly what Battery Saver does.
Battery Saver mode is front-and-center on Windows 10, pushing power plans to the background. Rather than fiddle with power plans, Microsoft would prefer you just use Battery Saver mode and stick to the default Balanced power plan.
What Exactly Does Battery Saver Mode Do?
Battery Saver is similar to Low Power Mode on an iPhone, or Battery Saver on Android. When it activates (or when you activate it), it makes a few changes to Windows’ settings in order to stretch your laptop’s battery life further.
First, it automatically lowers your display’s brightness. This is one big tweak that can save battery life on every single device, as the backlight uses quite a bit of power.
Battery Saver will also prevent “universal apps”–those new types of app from the Windows Store, previously known as Metro apps on Windows 8–from running in the background and receiving push notifications when Battery Saver mode is enabled.
By default, Battery Saver mode automatically activates whenever your laptop or tablet reaches 20% battery life. Plug your PC in to recharge and Windows will deactivate Battery Saver mode.
How to Turn It On
You can turn Battery Saver mode on whenever you like. To do so, just click or tap the battery icon in the notification area on your taskbar. Click or tap the “Battery saver” tile to activate or deactivate it. While Battery Saver mode is enabled, you’ll see a little green leaf superimposed on the battery icon.
This option is one click away from the battery icon, just as the “Power Saver” power plan was on Windows 7 and Windows 8. It’s clear Microsoft would rather you use this instead of messing with those old and confusing power plans.
You’ll also find a “Battery saver” quick settings tile in Windows 10’s Action Center. Swipe in from the right or click the Action Center icon in the system tray to access it.
How to Configure Battery Saver
You can configure what Battery Saver does and when it activates. To do so, open the Start menu and select the “Settings” option to open the Settings app. Navigate to System > Battery saver in the Settings window.
Under “Battery saver,” tap “Battery saver settings” to access the options available.
From here, you can toggle the “Turn battery saver on automatically if my battery falls below” option if you never want Windows to automatically enable Battery Saver mode. You can also adjust the battery level Windows turns Battery Saver mode on at–for example, you could have Windows enable it when your battery falls below 30% instead of 20%.
You can also disable the “Lower screen brightness while in battery saver” option, but this is very useful on all devices, so you should probably leave that one enabled. Unfortunately, there’s no way to configure the screen brightness level Battery Saver will use.
If you want certain apps to run in the background in Battery Saver mode, you can select “Add an app” under Always allowed and allow a specific app to run in the background. You can also toggle the “Allow push notifications from any app while in battery saver” option to continue getting all your push notifications at the cost of a bit of battery life.
How Useful Is Battery Saver Mode, Really?
Battery Saver’s screen brightness alone should save some pretty serious battery life. Of course, if you’re in the habit of manually lowering your screen brightness–something else you can do with a quick click or tap on the battery icon–you may not find this feature all that necessary. How much this will help depends on how bright you normally keep your screen and how power-hungry the backlight is.
What’s more, disabling push notifications for universal apps will only really help if you use those universal apps. If you’re in the habit of using desktop apps on your Windows computer, Battery Saver mode won’t affect them at all.
This isn’t a big surprise–Battery Saver mode came to Windows 10 from Windows Phone, where restricting apps from running in the background is more useful than on the Windows desktop.
If you’re struggling with poor battery life, following our guide to extending your laptop‘s battery life will likely help more than Battery Saver mode will. Still, it’s a nice inclusion, and much easier to use than the Windows 7 and 8’s old “power plans”.
Like many parts of Windows 10, Battery Saver mode looks a bit like a work-in-progress. It could be more aggressive in decreasing your CPU’s speed and performing other tweaks to extend your battery life, and Microsoft may add onto this feature in the future.
But, despite that, Battery Saver mode is still useful enough for most people. Windows can automatically turn on Battery Saver mode and disable it when necessary, saving on tedious micromanagement, so you can keep working.