How to cool down your MacBook Pro

6 min read

Wondering how to cool your Macbook Pro? Then, I'm guessing you're here because your Mac’s fans are working overtime. It's common for MacBook Pro and Macbook Air models to get a little warm from time to time, but if your Mac sounds like it's just about to take off, it's time to switch off a couple of things. 

So here are my ideas on how to keep MacBook Pro cool.

Why does your Mac get hot in the first place?

When my fans kick in, I suddenly get a pang of panic that something terrible is happening with my Mac. Of course, any electronic device will generate some heat if it's used rigorously but too hot, and your Mac could encounter serious damage.

Here are some common reasons why MacBooks get hot:

  • Poor ventilation

  • Too many apps open

  • Room temperature

  • Low MacBook memory

How to keep MacBook Pro cool

I'm using a fairly old Mac, and I'm no stranger to whirring, loud fans. Hopefully, some of my tried and tested tricks will help you learn how to cool your Macbook Pro quickly.

How exactly apps affect Mac’s temperature

It’s about the processor or CPU. Running memory-intensive tasks, like many apps at once, increases the electricity supply to the processor, causing it to heat up. Part of the heat is absorbed by thermal paste, and ventilators do the rest of the job.

By how hot is really hot? By design, processors are able to withstand 200 degrees Fahrenheit and even more than that. 

1. Check your air circulation

This has to be the first tip in this article, it's tempting to use your laptop in bed or on the sofa, but blankets, pillows, and well anything soft can block your air vents and cause your MacBook to overheat pretty quickly.

Air circulation on Mac

Move your Macbook to a flat surface and give it a couple of minutes to cool down. I recommend using a laptop stand to keep your Mac elevated and help airflow.

Tip:  To quickly level down your MacBook's fans (when it's overheating), activate Siri, and notice the fans switch off; it works! Give it a try.

2. Minimize active programs and apps 

Sounds simple, but if you're running multiple programs, have lots of apps open in the background, and even too many tabs open on your browser, these are all pulling resources. The more multitasking you do, the heavier the burden on your Mac. Soon the fans will kick in. 

Tip: Try closing Chrome as a first hypothesis. It’s memory-hungry as hell.

Take a moment to check what you have open right now. Close any apps and programs that you're not using, give your Mac a bit of extra room to breath.

Let’s check your processor temperature

To get an exact number, we’ll use the popular Mac maintenance app, CleanMyMac X. It has a free Mac health monitor that shows how hot your Mac’s processor is at any moment.

How to check Mac CPU usage

  1. Download the free version of CleanMyMac X.

  2. Launch the app and click on the mini iMac icon in the top bar.

CleanMyMac menu

You’ll see the pane like in the screenshot above. If your processor temperature approaches 85-90 degrees, you should take action. If you're curious about what is using up your CPU, move on to the next step.

Tip: Mac Fans Control — is another cool app that may help you customize fans’ settings and find the temperature balance.

3. Use Activity Monitor to discover what is draining your CPU

Now we’ll explain how to cool down your Mac by finding out what is using up your system resources; by checking Activity Monitor, you can double-check no runway apps are draining your CPU.
How to check CPU on Mac

How to check your CPU:

  • Open Finder > Applications > Utilities >Activity Monitor.

  • Click on the CPU tab to view all tasks and apps.

  • The largest resource hog will be at the top.

  • Select the culprit and press the X in the top left corner to close it.

4. Reduce memory load

Another reason your fans might be working overtime is your low on memory. If your Mac is being stretched to its limits, it's time to reduce the memory load. 

How to check memory usage on Mac

Use Activity Monitor to check your Memory usage.

Follow the steps above to open Activity Monitor, but this time, select the Memory tab.

At the bottom of your screen the Memory Pressure graph indicates if your computer is using memory efficiently.

Green — Your Mac is using its RAM efficiently;

Yellow — Your Mac might need some more RAM

Red — Your Mac needs more RAM

If your graph shows red, yellow, or has spikes and peaks, you can check if an app uses high memory in the list above and close it, retesting each time.

An easier way to manage your RAM is with CleanMyMac X — the app that was designed to reduce Mac’s memory load. 

Its Maintenance tab has a handy Free up RAM tool that quickly helps to reclaim space by removing all unused fragments clogging up your memory. The applications is also notarized by Apple, so you know it's safe to use. 

How to free up RAM on Mac

How to free up your RAM with CleanMyMac X:

  • Download a free version of the app and launch.

  • Select Maintenance from the left sidebar and click View All Tasks.

  • Select Free Up RAM from the list and press Run.

It's also worth checking for heavy consuming apps, which eat up memory. CleanMyMac X can handle this for you, too; here's how:

How to remove login items on Mac

  1. Select Optimization from the left sidebar and Press View All Tasks.

  2. Select Heavy Consuming Apps and press Perform.

As you can see, I don't have any heavy consuming apps, so the option is not available for me.

5. Reset your SMC

If your fans are getting louder by the second, it might be time to reset your SMC (System Management Controller). This chip runs many of your Macs' physical parts, including the fans. Sometimes a quick reset can solve loud whirring fans and can solve your hot Mac issue.

How to reset your SMC:

  • Shut your Mac down.

  • For 10 seconds press and hold the Shift + Option + Control + Power buttons.

  • Turn your Mac back on.

Now your SMC has been reset.

6. Clean up the excess junk

It's easy to see by now that actually lack of memory and space is a common reason our Macs overheat, so another great way of how to cool your MacBook is to clear excess junk from your system, freeing up precious space for your Mac to use. 

You could spend hours scouring your files, clearing cache, and junk manually, or you could use the app I just mentioned above. CleanMyMac X has a really awesome Smart Scan, which can identify, locate and remove excess junk in a matter of clicks.

How to clear your junk quickly:

  1. Launch the app, select Smart Scan from the left sidebar

  2. Press Scan, wait for the results, and press Run

That's it, you just saved yourself some valuable time and reclaimed some space. 

We hope now you know how to keep MacBook Pro cool and your Mac is doing better. If you find the problem persists, then it could be a hardware malfunction. Take your MacBook to a certified Apple dealer to get it checked.

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