What To Do When Google Chrome Helper Eats Your Mac’s Battery Life

A few days ago, I noticed that my MacBook Air fully charged battery life had suddenly gone from around seven hours to under two hours and the fan was going full speed.

This has happened in the past and I couldn’t remember what I did to fix it. I blew it off for a few days until I got tired of having to plug my computer in every few hours. A quick look at Mac Activity Monitor showed me that Google Chrome Helper was eating up all my CPU (often at 100%) and subsequently crushing the battery life.

A search on Google didn’t turn up anything terribly satisfying. I found lots of complaints, a few suggestions to turn of automatic plug-in loading, and lots of “hey Google, fix this” dating back to 2011. Buried somewhere in one of the threads was a note to try clearing my browser cache.

Clear Google Browser Cache

Of course, there is no “clear browser cache” option any more, but there is now a “hamburger menu: More Tools: Clear Browsing Data” option.

That solved it. I saw over seven hours of battery life today. No fan. Simple, but buried.

Some day all this shit will just work. Well – maybe not.

  • TedHoward

    Facebook’s mantra is ‘move fast and break things’. Google’s mantra seems to be ‘hey, it’s free so don’t expect much okay?’

    • TedHoward

      Oh, except it’s no longer free is it? My business pays for Google Apps and receives quality as if we paid nothing.

  • Found a quick URL shortcut to navigate to the data clearance page by using the URL chrome://chrome/settings/clearBrowserData

    source (I have no affiliation w/ them): http://www.guidingtech.com/17711/quick-ways-access-chrome-settings-faster/

  • campbellmacdonald

    It’s also on the main Chrome drop down menu.

  • Helpful!

    Here’s another helpful tool – The Great Suspender. If you’re like me, you have 85 Chrome tabs open, and it suspends tabs that haven’t been viewed for a while so you save system resources. Check it out: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/the-great-suspender/klbibkeccnjlkjkiokjodocebajanakg?hl=en

    • That’s a good one! On it …

    • +1 on this. I love it 🙂 I continue to feed the bad habit that is infinite tabs without paying the price. Who says you can’t have your cake and eat it too :-p

  • Brad, I am sure you also saw this option to automatically clean up upon exit.

    Chrome Menu > Settings > Show Advanced Settings > Content Settings > Under Cookies and select Keep local data only until you quit your browser.

    The only annoyance I have with this is – I use Google Authenticator to do 2-step authentication for a bunch of sites and I have to do it all over again for each site. 🙁

    • I hadn’t noticed that. I’ll explore.

  • felixc

    It’s kind of scary that such a popular, perhaps even integral, part of the web experience has gotten to this point.

  • rick gregory

    And this is why I moved to Safari which gets far better battery life on my Air than Chrome. I use Chrome when I need to use Flash since it’s bundled… and that reminds me, if you have to or prefer to use Chrome, install a Flash blocker so that some idling Flash animation on a tab that you’re not even watching doesn’t drain your battery.

    • Good suggestion on the Flash Blocker. I like the Chrome plugin / ecosystem so much better than Safari so it’s hard to switch.

      • rick gregory

        I understand about the plugins… but if you’re at all open to switching I’d recommend a quick look at what you have installed and see 1) if you actually use/benefit from them still (I install a lot of things that sound cool but aren’t really of high value after a while) and 2) check the Safari extensions site. I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how many things are there recently that I thought would only be on Chrome.

        Obviously if it’s the syncing between versions of Chrome or the general ecosystem that’s of value, it’s harder to switch. Me, I’m all Apple so my iOS Safari and desktop Safari give me syncing and I don’t use a ton of extensions, so it was easier for me and the savings in battery life and in not having to manage my browser to do the right thing were worth it.

        The really annoying bit about Chrome is that it’s apparently not an issue on Windows… only OS X.

        • Victor Muthoka

          Me too. Even on iOS chrome eats up a lot of the battery power.