Thunderbolt 3 Laptops: Battery Mgmt. (10.15.5+)

Created on: August 10, 2020

In macOS 10.15.5, Apple released a new feature designed to help manage the charging and lifespan of batteries in Thunderbolt 3 Mac laptops. Called Battery Health Management, the feature "is designed to improve your battery's lifespan by reducing the rate at which it chemically ages." One of the expected behaviors is that there may be times when the battery is at less than 100% charge, is properly connected to the Apple charger or to a certified USB-C Power Delivery device such as an OWC Thunderbolt 3 dock or enclosure, or to a USB-C power adapter, but (for a time) will not actually charge. During this period the battery status in the menubar will read "Not Charging." This is part of how Battery Health Management ensures that the laptop is charged at optimal times or charge levels, based on usage patterns and other factors. By design, after a brief period the battery should begin charging again normally back to full capacity, and the status will change to "Charging" or eventually to "Battery is Charged".

It is worth noting that in some scenarios using any Mac laptop, with any macOS version, you may see the "Not Charging" message for reasons unrelated to battery management. The following scenarios can all prevent a Mac laptop from charging:

  • Connected to product with Power Delivery, but which delivers a wattage well below what the Mac requires
  • Connected to an Apple power adapter designed for a different product with lower power requirements
    • For USB-C and Thunderbolt 3 Macs Apple has shipped adapters that charge at: 29W, 30W, 61W, 87W, and 96W
  • Faulty USB-C cable
  • Faulty USB-C connector or device

For more information on the above scenarios including identification of proper adapter and cable types, please see this Apple support article. If you have verified you are using the correct adapter and cable and the laptop still does not charge, please review this article instead.