How to Cool Down a MacBook?

Your MacBook is a fine-tuned machine that can accomplish many different high-level tasks.

Being such a quality computer means that it has many moving parts that all work together to enable the experience and make using a MacBook such a nice way to get things done.

These many moving parts also put in a lot of work from a hardware perspective and because of this, there is the possibility that your MacBook can get hot.

If your Mac gets too hot, it can lead to potential performance problems so it is a good idea to keep an eye on the temperature of your device. There are built-in features on your MacBook Pro to help keep its operating temperature in an ideal range but sometimes due to certain circumstances, the MacBook can still heat up.

In this article, we will take a look at how you can cool your computer down if it ever gets too hot.

Why Does a MacBook Get Hot?

Any electronic device is going to generate some amount of heat when in use.

Your MacBook Pro is made up of a variety of different hardware components that start to build heat when the Mac is turned on. The more you use it, whether it be for demanding computing tasks or for entertainment purposes, the more of a chance there will be for the device to overheat.

There are a wide variety of reasons that can cause your MacBook to get too hot. Some of these are simple and some you wouldn’t expect.

We will look at some of the common reasons for your MacBook to overheat as well as how to cool it down here. It’s important to know when your Mac needs to be cooled down as an overheated computer could cause serious damage that may not be able to be repaired.

There is no exact measurement of when your computer is too hot. You just need to go by feel and instinct. Your computer will always be slightly warm when in operation and fluctuations in temperature are normal.

But if you feel that your Mac is really hot to the touch or hear the fans working overtime, it’s time to cool it down immediately to avoid any critical failures.

How to Cool Down Your MacBook Pro

I’m going to show you some potential reasons that could be causing your MacBook to be heating up alongside the solution to get it cooled down.

These solutions should help to cool your Mac down but it’s good to keep in mind that it could be multiple factors combined that are contributing to excess heat build up.

1. Cause of Heat: External Factors

The first thing to take into consideration with a hot MacBook Pro is any external factors that could be causing this. This basically boils down to two things: the surface you have your computer on and the sun. If your computer is on a soft surface, like a bed or a blanket, it can restrict airflow and cause it to get hot. If you’re using your MacBook in the sun, this also can obviously cause it to heat up rapidly.

Solution: Place It On A Flat Surface

Place your MacBook on a flat, level surface such as a table or desk instead of your bed or blanket. This should increase airflow and cool the computer down. If you are out in the sun, take the computer inside or at least into a shady area out of direct sunlight.

You might need to wait a while for it to cool down enough.

2. Cause of Heat: Runaway Apps

Runaway apps are basically any apps you have installed on your MacBook that uses a lot of CPU and might be doing this without you knowing it or when you are not running the app actively.

High CPU usage can cause the hardware related to this inside your computer to work really hard which leads to excess heat.

Solution: Use Activity Monitor to Locate and Close Runaway Apps

You can use the Activity Monitor to see what apps are currently running on your MacBook, how much CPU and other critical elements they might be using, and close or uninstall any of these apps. The Activity Monitor can be found on your Dock and once open you will see a window that looks like this:

Click on the CPU tab at the top to see what apps are using the most CPU. If you see any that you aren’t currently running or that are demanding high CPU usage, go ahead and close them to cool down your MacBook Air or MacBook Pro.

3. Cause of Heat: Multiple Tabs

The more tabs you have open on your browser, the more resources your MacBook will be using. This will lead to your Mac working hard to keep up with everything and can build up heat.

Solution: Close Unused Tabs

This is a simple solution that can quickly cool your MacBook down. If you have a bunch of different tabs open, close any that you do not need and try to limit the total number of open tabs to only a few. The less you have open, the easier it will be to keep your computer cool.

4. Cause of Heat: Cooling Fan May Be Broken or Dirty

Your MacBook has built in fans that are designed to keep the machine cool. Sometimes these fans can break or get dirty and will result in your Mac overheating.

Solution: Check Fan Status or Clean

You can check the status of your MacBook’s fans by running a diagnostic test on them. To do this, first turn off your computer. Then hold down the D key while you turn the power back on. This will run a diagnostic test on start up and tell you if your fan is broken. If it is, you will need to get it repaired or replaced.

You can also take the back panel of your Mac off and check to see if the fan is dirty. If it is, you can clean the fan off with a clean cloth or used a can of forced air to blow away any dirt or debris.

5. Cause of Heat: Chrome

The Google Chrome browser can cause your MacBook to work excessively, leading to excess heat and its associated issues. Chrome is a CPU-intensive program, and if you are using the app often, chances are your computer will be struggling to stay cool. 

Apple calls these sorts of apps that increase the heat level of your computer “runaway applications.” They cause your computer to work extra hard to handle the resources needed to power the app. Using Chrome can increase heat. 

This doesn’t necessarily mean you should not use Chrome, but just be aware it can cause your MacBook to heat up. 

6. Cause of Heat: Hot Environment 

Cooling down a MacBook doesn’t need to be complicated. If you are using the computer in a hot environment, it will be more challenging to keep it cool. Avoiding direct sunlight or working in a sauna makes sense, obviously. 

But you should also avoid using your computer on softer surfaces such as a blanket or carpet. These can restrict airflow and cause your MacBook to heat up. Even your lap can add heat to an already hot environment. You never want to block the vents, especially when working in an already hot situation. 

Final Thoughts

There are some easy ways to keep your MacBook cool.

Older model MacBooks have a tendency to heat up more often than new ones so just keep that in mind if your MacBook is older than 5 years.

If you have constant overheating problems, you might need to bite the bullet and get a new computer eventually. Otherwise, follow the steps above and your computer should cool back down to normal temperatures.

Does your MacBook ever overheat? Have you ever attempted any of the steps above to cool it down?

3 thoughts on “How to Cool Down a MacBook?”

  1. My Mac book started making a whirring noise tonight while I was using Skype. Very hot night here in Spain so I simply shut down for a while. Problem solved

    Reply
  2. I have ALL my photos, 95,000 DSLR format fine, not raw, in the apple photos library. I like having easy access to all my pics, and have read it “should” be ok. But, then I hear folks saying never store your pics in photos app. Problem is, usually when editing, mackbook pro 2020 laptop gets hot and or has to close library. I now have an external fan plugged in to help with heat. Question? Am I ok with all my photos in photos app??? I can transfer to “pictures” but that isn’t as easy to work with.

    Reply

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