Imagine you’re finalizing an important PowerPoint presentation: it’s the last thing you need to do before heading out for the weekend. Suddenly, before you can press save, your laptop runs out of battery power and shuts down. So much for starting the weekend early.

Although the default settings for power use will probably work fine for most people, knowing how to conserve your battery can come in handy. Read on to learn how to find your power icon, learn tips and tricks for saving your battery life, troubleshoot common scenarios, and stay in control of your power options.

Locate your power icon

Your power icon can be found on the right side of the taskbar. You can discover a lot about your battery just by hovering over it, such as the percentage of battery remaining and whether battery saver is on (we’ll talk more about battery saver further down).

battery icon

Because your battery icon can tell you so much, it’s important to keep it in sight. If you don’t see your Battery icon on the right side of the taskbar, type Taskbar in the search box. You can change settings related to your taskbar, including visibility and placement.

Open Taskbar settings and select Select which icons appear on the taskbar.

battery notification

Make sure the Power option is turned on. This allows the battery icon to display on the taskbar.

power on

Sound an alarm when your battery is low

In our opening PowerPoint scenario, an audio reminder that the battery was low could have saved the day. Want a reminder that your battery is critically low? Set an alarm.

Type Themes and related settings into the search box, open it and select Sounds.

sounds

Select the Critical Battery Alarm then select the alarm sound you want from the Sounds drop down menu. Select Test to hear your selected alarm sound. Select Apply and OK to save your changes.

critical battery alarm

Set the power mode for your PC

An even better option might be to gain a better understanding about how your battery is being used and what kinds of actions might result in a loss of power much sooner than expected. Select the power icon to view more specific details about your battery. Not only will you be able to view the current amount of power remaining, but you can also control how it’s being used.

battery life

Move the slider between Best battery life and Best performance. This setting helps you quickly adjust to fine-tune the performance of your system. Move the slider toward Best battery life and things like screen brightness will be reduced. Move it toward Best performance and your device will favor performance over better battery life.

If you’re using a device that has two batteries (for example, Surface Book 2), both will appear.

Battery settings

You can get a better understanding about how your PC is using your battery by going to your Battery settings. Select the battery icon then Battery settings.

Battery settings

The speed at which the percentage of your battery changes depends on the kinds of demands being placed on it. The apps running on your PC affect this. For example, having a shorter sleep timeout will conserve your battery.

You can find more information about how your battery is being used by clicking See which apps are affecting your battery life.

battery usage

Select individual apps to see what percentage is running in the background. They’ll be listed by how much battery each is using: those using the most battery will appear at the top of the list. You can choose which apps to allow by selecting an app from the list and clearing the Let Windows decide when this app can run in the background check box (some apps might not be able to be changed).

battery usage

Battery notifications will alert you to any settings that are affecting your battery life. For example, having your screen brightness set to 100%.

battery notifications

Battery saver allows you to extend the life of your battery by limiting background activity and notifications when your device is low on battery. You can select the check box to turn battery saver on automatically below a certain percentage, show how much battery you have left before you’ll need to re-charge, and automatically lower screen brightness when battery saver is turned on.

battery saver

You might not think about your battery until the situation you’re in requires it. That’s normally a little too late. Understanding how your device consumes power and taking steps to monitor and manage it gives you greater control over your computer. Ultimately, by controlling how and when you use your computer’s battery, you’ll stay both charged and in charge of your device, instead of the other way around.