Whether you’ve upgraded to Windows 10 on your laptop or bought a brand new machine, you’re going to want to eke out as much battery juice as you can while you’re on the go. Microsoft’s shiny new OS includes a new native battery saver feature — and there are a few other tricks you can pull to make sure your laptop lasts until you can find a power socket.
Let’s start with the obvious one: The new Battery saver tool baked right into Windows 10 itself. From the Settings app choose System and then Battery saver to find it—it’s set to kick in when you’re down to 20 percent of battery life but you can change this level if you want, or turn it on manually at any time.
The same screen gives you an estimate of how long you’ve got left before your laptop or tablet dies (or how much time is left until you’ll reach a full charge). You can also make certain apps exempt from the Battery saver rules and check which apps are the worst offenders when it comes to draining power.
The old reliable battery-saving method for those that know their way around Microsoft’s operating system, the Windows 10 power plan interface is available through Power & sleep under System in Settings. The lower these screen and sleep times are, the more battery life you’re going to save between charges.
Click or tap Additional power settings to get to the Control Panel power plan interface used by previous versions of Windows. Here it’s possible to set up a bunch of additional variables—like when the hard drive and your peripheral devices go to sleep—and configure several individual power plans that you can switch between as required. Screen brightness can be adjusted from here as well.
Most people with a smartphone know you can turn off wifi and Bluetooth to save some juice, and it’s the same in Windows 10 (this is assuming you don’t need the internet or can get it via a plugged-in cable). The easiest way to switch both off at the same time is via the Airplane mode (or Flight mode) pane under Network & internet in Settings.
The screen brightness is another setting that’s familiar to anyone who’s ever tried to get the last drips of battery life out of a device: In Windows 10 you can find it under Display in the System section of Settings. Turn off the auto-adjust option to prevent Windows from overruling your tweaks.
You don’t get much control over Windows updates in the latest version of the OS, but based on our testing the process of downloading and installing them has a significant impact on battery life—try leaving your computer on for a few hours (or overnight) before you head out. The previously managed airplane mode can temporarily pause updates if required.
Updates for your peripherals and internal components are worth mentioning too: Check through the websites of the relevant manufacturers to see if any Windows 10 updates are available, as they’ll often improve efficiency, reduce power drain and increase battery life on your Windows 10 device.
The volume of your laptop (or tablet) has more of an impact on battery life than you might think—pumping out those tunes uses a substantial amount of energy. Try turning down the volume while watching videos and listening to music, or switch to headphones if you can; ideally, mute your device completely.
The master volume control and several of the other settings we’ve mentioned so far can be accessed through the Windows Mobility Center, still present and correct in Windows 10. Just run a search from the taskbar for “mobility center” and click on the first result that appears to bring it up on screen.
Microsoft itself recommends unplugging any peripherals you aren’t using if you want to save battery power, so ditch those external hard drives, inkjet printers, memory sticks and USB-powered mug warmers until you can get to a charging point. Even having a memory card inserted in your laptop can drain a tiny bit of extra power.
If you’re using an external mouse, for example, you could switch to trackpad or touchscreen input to save some battery juice. Even if your Windows 10 experience suffers as a result, you have the consolation of getting more life from your laptop or tablet while you’re away from a power connection.