How To Prevent Your MacBook From Overheating


how to prevent macbook from overheating

WARNING: An overheating MacBook could be the sign of a virus or malware infection. Check out our article on how to clean your computer and keep it safe from viruses and adware by clicking below.

remove virus from macbook

Being very compact and quiet, MacBooks tend to suffer from overheating problems more than their Windows PC counterparts. However it is often difficult to differentiate between a MacBook that is simply running hot, which they are designed to do, and one that is genuinely overheating.

If a MacBook is genuinely overheating, the cause could be a number of things, most of which are easy to fix, but unfortunately are often left untreated. To find out how to diagnose and solve your MacBook's overheating problems, not only ensuring your MacBook a long life but protecting your body from potentially harmful heat radiation, read the rest of this article. This is the ultimate guide to preventing your Mac from overheating!

We've added a comprehensive breakdown of our favorite laptop cooling pads. If you're interested in our reviews and ratings of each one, check out our overview below or click here for the full article.

If you are confident that your MacBook is overheating you can download an application that allows you to see your Mac's internal temperatures. All modern Macs have several internal temperature gauges, however, the ability to see those temperature readings is not built into the OS. To do this download SMC Fan Control or iStat Menus below.

Do note that this article is for the Macbooks modelled before 2016. However, even if you want to stick around for some good reading, carry on!

Download SMC Fan Control

SMC Fan Control is an application that allows you to monitor the temperature of your Mac and adjust the fan speeds accordingly. Once you have downloaded SMC Fan Control, read on for instructions regarding how to use the application.

After installing the app you will be able to see your MacBook's temperature readings - SMC Fan Control displays your Mac's CPU temp in the menu bar. Depending on the processor, MacBooks automatically shut down when the processor reaches 105C (220F) to avoid serious heat damage from occurring.

However, while this prevents heat damage short term if a MacBook is regularly running at an excess of 85-90C (185-195F), the long term life of vital components such as the processor, the graphics card and even the battery can be stunted. If you plan on keeping your MacBook for a more long term period (4-6 years) rather than a shorter-term period (1-3 years) keep reading to find out how to keep your Mac cool.

SMC Fan Control can do more than just display your Mac's internal temperatures, it can actually control the fan speed of your MacBook. This can be rather helpful when you're performing intensive tasks on the computer, as MacBooks don't tend to crank up the fans until the CPU gets up to 90-100C (195-215F), and even then, only barely enough to keep it below 100C (215F). Not cool enough to stop the laptop from becoming permanently damaged or to keep yourself completely safe.

Adjust Fan Speed

To adjust the speed of your Mac's fans click on the SMC Fan Control temperature reading on the menu bar and choose the preferences option from the drop-down menu. From there simply move the slider to the desired fan speed (there may be more than one slider if your Mac has more than one fan) and click the save button. Note that the minimum fan speed that SMC Fan Control allows you to select is the normal, default fan setting. Sliding the slider higher will simply set a higher minimum fan speed.

prevent macbook from overheating

Spinning your MacBook's fans up is desirable when the computer becomes very hot, as speeding up the fans will escalate the rate at which the hot air leaves the computer. Be sure to leave the vents well clear of any obstructions when doing this, as if the vents are obstructed the hot air will hang around the computer and no good will be done.

how to prevent macbook from overheating

iStat Menus

Unfortunately, since SMC Fan Control is a relatively old application it doesn't work properly on many modern Macs, such as the MacBook Airs made in 2013 or later. The application may install successfully, however if your Mac is not compatible the temperature will read as 0 degrees. So what can you do?

Fortunately, there is another application called iStat Menus that will allow you to do the same things as SMC Fan Control and much more. The downside is that iStat Menus costs approximately $15 as opposed to SMC Fan Control which is free. If you would like to give iStat a try, click here to download the application from the developer's website. There is a free trial available before buying, so you can check it out first to see if it's worth buying. Once you have installed the application read on below for instructions if you need them.

prevent macbook from getting hot

Once iStat Pro is installed you will be able to see the temperature of your Mac just like in iStat Pro (see left). By default, the reading in the menu bar is the Core CPU temp, but if you click on it a drop-down will open displaying the temperatures of many different parts of your Mac -- these include the battery, wireless equipment, trackpad, inlet and many more. While these can be interesting however it is the core CPU temp that is the most useful.

To adjust the fan speed of your Mac simply open the iStat Menus application, select the "Sensors" option on the left-hand menu, then click the "Edit Fan Rules" button. In the window that comes up you will be able to set the fan speed in much the same way as SMC Fan Control (see below).

stop macbook from getting hot

The only vents on your MacBook (with the exception of the Retina MacBook Pro) are located in the hinge.  ir both enters and exits your MacBook through the vents on the hinge, so it is very important not to cover them up. Using your MacBook on the floor, on a cushion, pillow, in bed or even on your lap can obstruct the vents, causing overheating. Not to mention it can clog your MacBook with lint and dust.

prevent macbook from getting too hot

To maximize airflow you should use your MacBook on hard surfaces, such as books, tables or laptop cooling pads (for more information about the latter see the laptop cooling pad section of this page below).

Causes Of A Hot Mac

Flash

Watching YouTube videos is something that almost everyone does on their computers these days, and is, unfortunately, the cause of the bulk of overheating problems MacBooks face. While processing videos is a fairly intensive task for any computer, playing low a quality (480P) YouTube video on a Mac is actually more processor-intensive than playing a higher quality (720P) MP4 video using QuickTime. What's more, Windows-based computers don't experience anywhere near the stress from playing YouTube videos as Macs do.

overheating_macbook

Turns out that Adobe Flash is the culprit. Adobe Flash has never run well on Macintosh computers, with improvement over the years minimal at best. What's more, you'd be surprised by the amount of Flash content there is on the internet - many online videos, almost all online games and many interactive features found on websites are displayed in Flash.

It seems that the ideal solution would be to simply stop using flash, and it is. However, most people want/need the content that is displayed using Flash. Fortunately, some of the most popular Flash content can be displayed in other formats that are friendlier towards Macs, with only a little effort on the user's part. YouTube's HTML5 format, for example.

HTML5 is a modern, versatile version of HTML that can largely replace Flash when it comes to online videos. You and your MacBook can take advantage of HTML5 as long as you are using the latest version of either Safari or Google Chrome to browse the web. Unlike Flash, HTML5 runs productively and efficiently on Mac computers, using significantly less system resources and therefore keeping your MacBook cooler and extending its battery life.

Flash content is not just present in online videos and games, but also online advertisements. Many of the moving, interactive banner ads you see on the internet are powered by Flash and just like Flash video, Flash advertisements will use up significant system resources and therefore cause your Mac to heat up. To combat this various Flash-blocking browser plugins have been created, and if you want to keep your MacBook running as cool as possible it is recommended that you install one.

Such plugins can be found for SafariChrome and Firefox.  Note that Flash blocking plugins do not straight up block you from being able to view Flash content, but allow you to choose what Flash content you want to load by displaying a white box where theFlash content was and allowing you to simply click it once to load it up.

overheating macbook

Spotlight Indexing

Have a look at the upper right-hand corner of your screen, does the magnifying glass icon (spotlight) have a small dot pulsating in it? If so, spotlight is indexing, which will probably cause your MacBook to get up to around 80C (176F). Spotlight indexing basically organizes the content of your hard drive so it is easier to find via the spotlight feature. However the task is quite intensive, so you will probably find that your MacBook will heat up. Indexing will happen once in a while, especially after lots of new data is added to the hard disk. It should last for no longer than a few hours, although it depends on how much data is on your hard disk.

prevent overheating on macbook laptop

If your MacBook is getting excessively hot as a result of spotlight indexing the best course of action may be to set the computer down on a table/desk, plug it in and leave it turned on for several hours to finish the indexing.  And note that there are currently no ways to stop spotlight from indexing.

Cooling Stands for MacBook Laptops

Is your MacBook connected up to an external display? If so you can expect it to be a bit warmer, as running a large external display is quite intensive for a laptop's GPU (graphics processing unit). It is therefore important that the MacBook is kept cool, by elevating it off the desk (to promote airflow) with a hard object such as a book.

However, for more permanent solutions, a stand (like the one seen in the photo below) would be more ideal, as they look more appealing and, more importantly, are more effective. Below are a couple of stands from Amazon that we recommend if you want to improve the airflow in and around your MacBook.

AmazonBasics Ventilated Adjustable Laptop Computer Holder Desk Stand
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AmazonBasics Ventilated Adjustable Laptop Computer Holder Desk Stand
  • Ventilated laptop stand helps keep laptops running cooler to help reduce crashes
  • Metal-mesh platform draws heat away from laptop
  • Adjustable height for increased airflow and comfortable reading and typing; adjustable from 12 to 35 degrees
  • Cord organizer with 6 slots promotes a tidier desktop
  • Measures approximately 13 by 11 by 7.2 inches (LxWxH) at max height
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Macally Aluminum Laptop Stand for Desk - Works with all Macbook /Pro/Air & Laptops between 10” to 17.3” - Sleek and Sturdy Laptop Riser - (ASTAND), Silver
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Macally Aluminum Laptop Stand for Desk - Works with all Macbook /Pro/Air & Laptops between 10” to 17.3” - Sleek and Sturdy Laptop Riser - (ASTAND), Silver
  • STYLISH ALUMINUM DESIGN: Laptop stand will fit any laptop between 10"-17. 3" wide and satin finish aluminum is designed to match and fit all 12-inch MacBook's, 13-inch/11-inch MacBook Airs,...
  • SECURE AND STURDY: Raised front edges hold the laptop in place while in a tilted position and rubberized non-slip pads support your laptop in place to prevent unwanted scratches to your laptop.
  • BETTER ERGONOMICS: This laptop riser elevates your laptop by 6 inches to the perfect eye level and prevents you from hunching over your screen, preventing neck/shoulder strain
  • NATURAL AIR COOLING AND RECLAIMED DESK SPACE: Open aluminum design allows for natural air ventilation to keep your laptop cool. Also, stay organized by stashing your items such as your keyboard and...
  • LOVE IT OR YOUR MONEY BACK! : We are confident that you will love our laptop stand mount therefore you will receive LIFETIME . If you are not completely satisfied with the stand, just drop us an email...
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Steklo Laptop Stand Adjustable Aluminum Computer Riser, Ergonomic Foldable Portable Notebook Holder for Desk, Compatible 12 13 15 16 17 inch Mac MacBook Pro Air, Dell, HP, Lenovo PC Laptops X-Stand
1,264 Reviews
Steklo Laptop Stand Adjustable Aluminum Computer Riser, Ergonomic Foldable Portable Notebook Holder for Desk, Compatible 12 13 15 16 17 inch Mac MacBook Pro Air, Dell, HP, Lenovo PC Laptops X-Stand
  • ✅ BEST LAPTOP STAND - Are You Looking for Foldable Stand that keeps your Laptop Cool and at the Perfect Height? You Found it! Works great with Laptop and MacBook screen size 12, 13, 15, 16, 17 inch....
  • ✅ MACBOOK PRO STAND - Keep your laptop from sliding off and Easy to assemble. Ergonomic Laptop Stand can be Fold into One piece with Weight 5.8 oz -- Size 6.3 inch when folded. Fully Compact Size...
  • ✅ KEEPS YOUR LAPTOP COOL - Ventilated Laptop Stand increases Air flow to help keep your Notebook cooler and prevent from overheating and crashes. High quality Aluminum MacBook Pro Stand provides...
  • ✅ PERFECT HEIGHT AND ANGLE - Easy Adjustable for your Laptop size. Sand-blasted and metallic silver anodized finish matches Apple MacBook Pro and Air. Compatible with all laptops up to 17 inch,...
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If you want, you can check out our review of the best MacBook cooling options right here.

Lint And Dust

If none of these solutions appears to be working very well, your MacBook might be backed up with and dust. Skip this section if the computer's less than about a year old, as there shouldn't have been time for anything to build up inside it. But if your machine has been around for a few years and you use it on surfaces that contain lots of lint (such as carpet, cushions, blankets and your lap) it might be worthwhile opening your MacBook up and cleaning it out.

Note that you can only do this if you own a Classic MacBook Pro, as the Retina MacBook Pro and MacBook Air cannot be easily opened up. If you *do* own a Classic MacBook Pro and you wish to clean it out, follow this video tutorial.

how to stop macbook from getting so hot

Cooling Pads for Your MacBook

Intensive tasks, such as gaming, video editing and consuming Flash content will always generate intense heat in your MacBook. One can go so far by following the advice above, but if you need to preform intensive tasks and there is no way around it - the CPU and GPU will get taxed, which will cause heat.

The reason desktop computers don't have so many overheating problems as laptops is that they disperse the heat better by being larger, having better cooling systems and having more ventilation.  And believe-it-or-not, you can equip your MacBook with a better cooling system!

Laptop cooling pads are devices that one places either in-between their laptop and their lap or their laptop and a desk. Modern laptop cooling pads use advanced airflow-controlling techniques and extra fans to effectively cool down laptops. They protect you from the heat of your computer while also cooling it down to ensure a long life.

Laptop cooling pads can be very cost-effective, starting at literally a few dollars, with the more high-end models still very affordable at about around USD$30. Below is a link to our comprehensive cooling pad review where we recommend our favorite and most affordable cooling pad for all types of MacBooks.

best-macbook-cooling-pads

Mike Roberts

Hi, my name is Mike and I made this site to document all the helpful tips and tricks that I've discovered using various Apple Macs and other Apple products over the years, as well as to provide more general guides in relation to using the internet. I've been obsessed with Apple products ever since I could afford my first iPod, and am somewhat of a fanboy (you might have guessed). For me, the simply work without any fuss, issues or errors. I can rely on their products. The build quality is excellent and I even have several, several-year-old Macbooks in my wardrobe that are still humming along fine (just a bit slower). You can contact me personally using the form on this page.

35 Comments

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  1. Hi.. I have the opposite problem on my Macbook pro. The fans spin all the time, usually regardless of the processor load. For instance right now my processor is 68 celcius, and the highest temp on the enclosure is 32 celcius. When I boot up my macbook pro, the fans usually start spinning after about 10 mins of mild internet use (no flash) and then stay spinning. When I plug in my firewire soundcard the fans start up with 2 mins, regardless of use. When I do music production (which I use my macbook for 90% of the time) the fans are spinning at max. Is it safe to use a fan control program like Macs Fan control to run off a sensor based value? When I do that, the fans return to normal but I'm worried about the long term implications. That said, I know that my fans are abnormal (though a friend also with the same era macbook pro as me has the exact same problem)

  2. Thank you for the Great article. I downloaded smc Fan Control, increased fan speed a bit, elevated my MacBook and literally within minutes the temperature dropped to 156°F. I just replaced a 22" external monitor to a 26" and believe that was the cause of the overheating. Again many thanks.

  3. Great article, in a post below I read something about replacing fans, so I couldn't help but wonder: are there any other parts that could be replaced to have the macbook working as it was in day 1?

    1. Hi there Chris,

      Are you meaning parts that could be replaced to have the MacBook as fast as it was when it was new, or as cool as it was when it was new?

  4. I have downloaded SMC Fan Control and it's up in the bar. But when I go to preferences and adjusting the speed and other things, it does NOT show temperature nor my Mac's fans is running faster ? What's the problem ?

  5. Really great article so thank you. I have a Macbook pro 15" Retina display. I've had this brand new Mac for a little more than 2 months. I have noticed that low quality videos really heat up my Mac, now I have better understanding the why. I have installed a few applications including smc Fan control to assist and prevent my Mac overheat. Thanks again.

  6. I downloaded smc Fan Control for my 13" MB Air and I'm happy with it. Keeps my macbook at reasonable temperatures and under control, even while its on my lap or neoprene carrying case. I appreciate the info.

  7. Thankyou for this article.i have planned to get a macbook air bt I m confused as I have read the heating problems of mac laptop. I use my laptop mostly fr editing and downloding and I dont prefer gaming on laptop . I have douts regrading mac will appreciate if any body helps me out? 🙂
    And here are my douts
    1) which 1 is a better option top of the line 11 in mack book air or 13in macbook air or base 13in macbook pro (without retina )?
    2) can macbook air laptop handle long hours of continuous work

  8. This is a great article. I'm definitely going to use some the advice offered here. My Macbook pro massively overheats whenever I use the Candy Crush gaming app in Facebook. After only one or two rounds, the laptop is so hot I have to shut it down immediately. And yep, that goes to the whole Adobe Flash issue you write of. Needless to say, I can no longer Candy Crush on my macbook.

  9. My early 2011 15" Macbook Pro died on me, but luckily I was still under Applecare so I didn't have to pay for the logic board replacement. After that happened I did a lot of research and found out about these issues. I took some precautions to make sure this won't happen again:

    1. Installed a freeware program called gfxcardstatus. This allows you to set integrated (intel) graphics card as the card to use all the time. Do NOT use the AMD 6750 card as it is the one causing problems in overheating. In fact, a lot of other Macbook Pro models' overheating is due to the secondary graphics card, regardless if its AMD or nVidia.

    2. Installed a freeware program called SmcFanControl. This allows you to increase the default fan speed rate. I now have my fans running at 3000 rpm all the time. I'd rather pay $15 to replace the fans if they die out then $600 for a new logic board.

    3. Replaced the internal stock HD with an OWC Mercury Extreme Pro SSD. SSD's run cooler than spinning HD's.

    4. Use a laptop stand with a cooling fan underneath.

  10. Ok so does that means that when i play video games and I hear the fans turn on and feel the mba getting hot, its just running hot like its designed to do and not overheating?

  11. Thanks for the useful piece of info. Just downloaded smc fan contol. It works nicely, and lets me check temperature and adjust rmp manually when needed. Thanks again.

  12. Well that's really interesting! I had downloaded SMC FanControl awhile back after my first 17" MBPro died. The motherboard simply said goodbye and I was done. I bought an NOS 17" off eBay for a good price and reinstalled my 1Tb HDD. That was a year ago. I'm about to blow out the lint and SMC is just this week telling me my temps are 80º-90ºF. It usually runs at 35º-45ºF but after awhile on my lap it starts to escalate. I think I'll buy that "Cooling Pad", perhaps off Amazon US because even with the exchange rate, I am not going to pay $54 CDN, be sure of that! Why more than double the price Amazon???

  13. Thanks for all the good pieces of advice. I was hesitating in opening my MBP 13 for cleaning "the cat" inside . I was wondering which is the normal range (for less demanding tasks as word processing) of temperatures for a MBP late 2011, i7, 8GB RAM? Thanks for the reply. Cheers.

  14. Hello my macbook pro 13inch late 2012 model the charge gets discharged very very fast
    Even i shut my laptop down or i use it 100% drains out in less than an hour i can't understand why? 🙁
    Any help would be appreciated please

  15. My early 2012 (July) MacBook Pro Retina started crashing (black screen, auto rebooting) only when I hooked it to my 34" LG 34UM95 wide monitor; it will do this repeatedly, until disconnecting the monitor, and it happens after a few minutes even without running ANYTHING on it. I had the monitor for several months (since July 2014), and it never crashed then under Mavericks. But it seems since changing to Yosemite, it now crashes but only when hooked to that LG monitor..... Well I just DL'd SMC Fan Control, and bumped up the fan (to 4000-5000 rpm) and I also noted that the computer ran hotter with the external monitor. However, at the same time I put the computer on top of a large, sealed ice pack..... With that config, the MacBook runs at about 75 degrees F (not C) without the external monitor, and at about 90-93 degrees F hooked to the 34 inch monitor.... Note that I have also an HP 27 inch IPS 2560 x 1600 monitor, and the MacBook did not seem to crash with that..... I've been running this way for a couple hours at a time (only 2 sessions so far) and it is not crashing (yet?)..... I think that these temperatures, with the ice pack and the fans at 5k rpm, are probably quite cool, correct (much cooler than any temperature that would be of an issue)? Have you heard of problems running MacBook Pro Retina with the LG 34UM95 monitor?

  16. Hey! Great article!
    ...have a quick couple of Q's.
    I use my MBA 13" (bought 12/2012)(updated to Yosemite) as my 'notebook' when I'm on the run and as my 'harddisc' (masterbrain, if you will) when I'm home. Which means, I lay it on my elevated 'laptop cooling board' (but don't turn on the (USB driven) fan unless necessary). I leave the MBA cover closed and plug in 'everything' i.e. a USB hub which generates speakers, printer, ext. keyboard, internet connection, etc., thunderbolt used as my VGA adapter to a 26" screen.
    And all has been fine until recently, ... but now my machine is running 'hot and my fan turns on frequently ...and stays on. (this is when I plug in my USB cooler fan!") ...My form of work, the workload on the machine, etc. has not changed as opposed to before (Where the fan didn't turn on all the time!) Actually, I didn't even know I HAD a fan until it turned on about a month ago!

    SO my Q's are;

    1) Would it be better to open the cover and let some heat escape that way...or does it not make a difference??? (I'd like to keep it closed, if it doesn't make a differnce)

    2) Could it just be 'dust' after a couple of years of use??? (and I need to get it cleaned!?!)

    3) Should I reset the SMC and/or install the fan controller app?? and if so, is there an 'order' or does it not make a difference?

    Appreciate your help! ...again a great article!

  17. All commentaries are ok! sure this is going to help to some users that have the same issue.
    When I Work Im using the default speed of fans, 2000 Rpm but if I play something or using something that require graphics acceleration I use Macs Fan Control 1.2.1 Works on OS X Yosemite.
    running the fans in 6200 Rpm is the only way to do it, and its works!
    i think for any reason the automatic fan speed is not good handle by the O.S, you have to setup manually.

  18. I have late 2010 MacBook Air that started overheating and having poor battery life after about 2 years. Initial symptoms came after I bought a new Toshiba TV with bad HDMI port which I found with MacBook Air. After 1 year of fan going into turbo mode while watching YouTube on Air display or via TV/HDMI and battery lasting less than 1 hour, I decided to replace the battery. Battery I bought on Amazon didn't quite fit, so I put the old battery back in and ordered another one. Interesting, the overheating and poor battery life problems stopped after removing and reinstalling the same battery. It's been about 1 year, and the problem is back so I'm going to buy some torq screw drivers (battery purchase included these but I returned them) so I can remove and replace the battery again to see if that fixes it. Resetting SMC had no impact. Thoughts?

  19. I have a question.. my macbook pro 13 inch late 2011 model is 2nd hand they only had it for 2 years or so the question i have is how do i take care of my macbook battery i have looked online but cant seem to find a definitive answer please help!!! 🙂

  20. It's very helpful article. I appreciate for this particle author. Thank you boss.

    I have some questions.
    1. Can I active this SMCfancontrol all time in my macbook pro 15" retina (mid 2014 model) ?
    2. How much Fan speed is good. I set 2200 for both side fan.
    3. How much degree Celsius is normal and highest heating score ?
    4. If I use extra laptop cooler is it good ?

    1. 1. You can run the fans at a high speed all the time if you want, yes.
      2. You ca set the fan speed as high as you need to in order to keep the computer as cool as you would want it.
      3. It would depend on the workload.
      4. Using a laptop cooling pad can help to keep your MacBook cooler.

  21. I downloaded smc Fan Control but it doesn't let me adjust the fan speed. It's just a blank white box when I got into it. Is there something I need to do to change that?
    Thanks for the advice!