10 Efficient Ways to Stop MacBook Overheating
MacBook Pro and MacBook Air models overheat for all sorts of reasons. Surprisingly, age is not the main one. Even relatively new 2020 MacBooks can be running hot whenever we juggle between resource-hungry apps, work on them when sitting on a couch holding them on our lap, or going wild with dozens of tabs in the Chrome browser. Here, we’ll try to figure out why MacBooks get so hot and why it should not be ignored.
Let’s stop your MacBook from overheating and try these 10 effective ways covered in this article:
- Check Activity Monitor
- Close needless browser tabs
- Manage graphics settings
- Reset the SMC
- Keep your MacBook updated at all times
- Avoid low-quality Mac chargers
- Test your fans
- Never block the air vents
- Clean your Mac
- Get rid of malware
1. Check Activity Monitor
Sometimes, certain apps stop responding or start working incorrectly. Other apps are just too resource-consuming. These factors burden your Mac’s processor (CPU), which starts to use more energy and generates heat resulting in your MacBook running hot.
Luckily, you can easily spot resource-draining apps. All you need to do is:
1. Go to Finder → Applications → Utilities
2. Open Activity Monitor, then switch to the CPU tab
3. Next, quit or uninstall the apps with the highest percentage in the % CPU column
That’s it! Just these three steps will reduce your Mac’s CPU usage, which will eventually prevent your MacBook from heating up.
2. Close needless browser tabs
Do you ever notice your MacBook overheating whenever you intensively research online and have many tabs open? A mess of them in your browser affects your productivity. More so, it significantly slows down your Mac and makes its fans work harder. That’s why you always need to keep the number of open tabs to a reasonable minimum.
Many Mac users prefer third-party browsers like Firefox, Opera, and Google Chrome. But these browsers, especially the latter one, consume way more system resources, so why not switch to Safari? It’s more resource-friendly, it’s baked into your Mac, and it’s less likely to make your MacBook Pro or Air so hot. Yes, Safari also has a private (incognito) browsing mode. If you wish to learn more, check this article on private browsing in Safari.
3. Manage graphics settings
Most MacBook Pros have two graphic cards: a more powerful card and a less powerful one. Naturally, the more powerful needs more resources and may cause MacBook Pro overheating and battery draining.
To prevent that, Apple implemented a way to switch between graphics modes. You can set up automatic graphics switching in a few easy steps. However, note that this option is not available on some Apple computers.
Here is how to do it:
- Open the Apple menu by clicking on the Apple logo in the upper left corner of your screen
- Go to System Preferences
- Select Energy Saver
- Check the box next to Automatic graphics switching
Voila! Now your Mac will automatically choose the less energy-draining graphic card.
4. Reset the SMC
SMC or System Management Controller is a chip responsible for controlling your MacBooks many physical parts, including the cooling fans.
Sometimes, resetting the SMC can solve your MacBook Air or Pro running hot problem. And don't worry, it's completely safe.
Here's how to reset the SMC:
- Shut down your Mac
- Press and hold Shift + Option + Control + Power buttons for 10 seconds
- Turn on your Mac
That's it. Your SMC chip has been successfully reset.
5. Keep your MacBook updated at all times
How is keeping your MacBook updated related to it overheating? The thing is that updates enhance your Mac's performance and security. Updating to the newest macOS fixes operating system bugs, software-related issues, and helps apps run properly. To do this:
- Open System Preferences—go to the Software Updates tab—check for available updates
- Click Update Now
Update your MacBook to compare if it stopped overheating less frequently than before.
6. Avoid low-quality Mac chargers
One of the most common problems that can cause your MacBook to overheat is counterfeit chargers. Low-quality chargers are not made correctly and won't work well with your Mac, which will cause it to run hot.
So, stick to the original charger that came with your MacBook, and if you need a new one, make sure to get it from an authorized Apple store.
Check out this video to learn how to spot fake chargers:
7. Test your fans
If fans on your Mac are still going crazy, you may test them by running a hardware diagnostics. Malfunctioning of the fan itself is likely to be the main reason for overheating.
Depending on how old your MacBook is, the built-in checkup tool is called Apple Diagnostics or Apple Hardware Test.
Here's how to run Apple Diagnostics:
- Restart your Mac and hold down the D key to start a hardware scan
- Once the test is complete, you'll see the results on your screen
- Next, check for the error codes beginning with "PPF," which indicate the cooling fan issues
- If you find any PPF error codes, take your Mac to a local authorized service and get your fans fixed
For more information, check this article on how to use Apple Diagnostics to fix your Mac's hardware.
Note that some third-party software allows you to manually control your fans' RPM (a number of rotations per minute). However, manually controlling your fans' speed can do more harm than good as it can damage your Mac's parts. Therefore, we don't recommend using any fan control software unless you are a tech guru and know what you are doing.
8. Never block the air vents
No matter how tempting, it’s a bad idea to use a MacBook in bed or put it on your laps or stomach. This way, you cover the air vents and block fans from cooling down the processor.
So the easiest way to prevent overheating is also the most obvious—use your MacBook on a flat surface. A desk or a table will do better than your lap.
9. Clean your Mac
Grime and dirt can build up on your Mac's internal parts such as the motherboard, fans, etc. This dirt blocks the airflow resulting in cooling deficiency, which causes your Mac to overheat.
If your MacBook is still under warranty, take it to the authorized store to remove the dirt and dust. Alternatively, you can clean your Mac yourself. All you need to do is:
- Get a screwdriver and remove the bottom of your MacBook
- Use a blower or a can of compressed air to blow off the accumulated dust on your internal parts, including the fan's blades and vents
- Use a dry piece of cloth (preferably cotton) and gently wipe your Mac's parts along with the back edge
10. Get rid of malware
ِAlthough Macs have excellent integrated security protection, they still can get malware, especially if your macOS isn't up to date.
Viruses and other malware are everywhere, and they can be hiding in many different places such as scam software, shared files, torrents, browser extensions, and many more.
Viruses might hijack your Mac's resources and use them for crypto mining, attacking other computers, and other operations that will significantly exhaust your Mac and cause it to overheat.
Unfortunately, it can be tough to scan every app and file stored in your Mac manually. It is more efficient to use a specialized security app such as MacKeeper that can quickly eliminate all malware for you.
1. Can a MacBook break from overheating?
Yes, overheating can damage sensitive internal parts of your MacBook. However, many built-in safeguards will tune down or shut your Mac off when it overheats.
2. Can a MacBook overheat in the sun?
Yes, exposing your MacBook to direct sunlight will raise its temperature and cause it to overheat.
3. Is it normal for Macs to get hot?
Most Macs are likely to warm up or even get hot during specific resource-consuming processes. However, it's completely fine as the temperature usually gets back to normal in time. To reduce overheating, follow the tips above.
4. What happens when MacBook Air overheats?
MacBook Air has a built-in safety feature that turns the CPU off if its heat goes above 100 degrees.
These are some basic things you can do when your Mac overheats, which we've discussed above. Remember to treat your Mac well so it can quickly cool down and run smoothly for years.
Besides, regular checkups can prevent any number of problems with your Mac, so take care of your device. If it’s hard for you to handle this on your own—install MacKeeper and ask our team for help. Our 24/7 experts are on hand to help solve any of your tech issues.