Freeware Files: 5 Apps For Tweaking Your Laptop Battery!


Ahh, batteries. The bane of any laptop user. It always feels like you just never have enough juice to finish whatever it is you're trying to do on your portable PC. And as the minutes count down on you notebook's battery estimation, you do everything you can to squeeze working time out of your laptop. You crank down the brightness to a near-dusk level. You disable the Wi-Fi in the hope that the Web pages you've physically downloaded will be enough to allow you to finish your work. You even quit out of as many applications and extra processes as you can think of to terminate--maybe a more idle CPU will make for an extra minute or three.

While doing the "Battery Dance" is an unavoidable part of portable computing, you don't always have to be caught off-guard by the ol' low battery warning. Not only are there a handful of applications that give you more details about your remaining battery life than Windows' default notifications, but there are also a bunch of utilities that you can use to squeak as much time out of your laptop battery as possible. Even better, a few of these utilities even automate this process in the background--you won't have to click a single button to reap the benefits of their tweaks.


This handy little utility allows you to turn off Windows Aero graphics and manage other Windows options, like sound muting, the Windows sidebar, and your power plans, whenever you yank the power cord out of your laptop. How easy is it to use? Well, set your options... and that's it. The program will take over and automatically enable/disable Windows features, according to your configuration, as you plug your laptop in and out. You'll get some extra battery life in the process without having to manually mess with your configurations--a one-two punch for those on the go!

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For whatever reason, Windows is pretty good about giving you a lot of options for tweaking your system's power profiles. You can stick to the default setups of High Performance, Balanced, Power-Saving, et cetera, or you can customize your own power profiles based on your own preferences for hibernation time, hard drive spin-down time, and a ton of other options. What you can't customize, however, is when said profiles will kick into gear--that's always something you have to select when using your system.

SetPower is a fun little utility that lets you assign a time to your power profiles. You can specify the hours when you'll want your laptop to automatically default to high-performance mode or power-saving mode, for example. SetPower gives you a quick way to get the maximum performance from your laptop when you need it and default to more conservative battery use when you don't.

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Sure, you can hover your mouse over the little battery icon in the corner of your Windows taskbar to get a quick estimation of how much percentage and time of your battery is left. But that's not nearly as comprehensive as the statics that BatteryBar can dish out. And, just like Windows, BatteryBar is represented by a small icon in the corner of your taskbar--only this time, the icon itself will change to reflect exactly how much battery life you have left. Hover your mouse over the icon to get a detailed readout of your battery, including its actual capacity in mWh, its approximate wear, and an estimation of your charging and discharging time based on a historical analysis of your laptop use. Neat, huh?

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BattCursor offers a number of different options similar to BatteryBar, in that you can add all sorts of icons and visual displays to better inform you of your remaining battery life. As the name implies, however, BattCursor's biggest feature is its ability to actually change the color of your mouse cursor to reflect the time remaining before your laptop goes poof. It's a unique little trick that isn't replicated in other battery monitors and, more importantly, it doesn't actually look that bad when going about your normal Windows routines on a laptop. Nothing says "time to plug in" like a bright-red mouse cursor.

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AMP WinOff

For the ultimate in battery preservation, AMP WinOff is a great utility for specifying exactly what your laptop should do after a set period of time or CPU inactivity. You can set specific time or timer that will shut down, hibernate, or lock your laptop (amongst other choices), or you can tell the program to perform said actions after a measured amount of CPU use has elapsed. Although Windows does offer similar choices via its power profiles, AMP WinOff simply offers more . And if you happen to also have a desktop system in addition to your laptop, this is a great tool for turning off your PC after it's finished a lengthy operation--if you're copying a huge batch of files in the wee hours of the morning, why let your computer run all night for no reason?

Download it here !

David Murphy (@ Acererak) is a technology journalist and former Maximum PC editor. He writes weekly columns about the wide world of open-source as well as weekly roundups of awesome, freebie software. Befriend him on Twitter, especially if you have an awesome app or game you're dying to recommend!

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