How can I cool my MacBook Pro fast?

There are several quick and effective ways to cool down a MacBook Pro that is running hot. The most common reasons a MacBook Pro overheats are because it is being used for an intensive task like gaming, video editing or 3D modeling, or because the fans and vents are blocked, preventing proper airflow. Here are some tips to quickly cool down your MacBook Pro when it gets too hot.

1. Quit CPU-Intensive Apps

If your MacBook Pro is overheating, the first thing to do is quit any apps that are using a lot of processing power. Apps like games, video editors, 3D modelers and virtual machines can make the CPU work overtime and heat up your Mac. Quit these apps and let your MacBook cool down for a few minutes before continuing to use it.

2. Lower the Screen Brightness

The screen brightness directly impacts how hot a MacBook Pro will run. Turn down the brightness to 50% or lower to reduce energy consumption and heat production. This simple fix can make a big difference in lowering your laptop’s temperature.

3. Clean the Fans and Vents

Dirty or clogged fans and vents prevent hot air from properly exhausting from the MacBook Pro’s chassis. Over time, dust accumulates which needs to be cleaned out. Use a can of compressed air to blow out any debris sticking in the vents or fan blades. Be sure to do this in a well-ventilated area. After cleaning, your fans should be able to spin faster and push out hot air better.

4. Elevate the Laptop and Improve Desk Setup

Elevating your MacBook Pro allows for better airflow around the bottom vents so hot air can properly escape. An easy way to do this is place a sturdy book or laptop cooler under the backside of the laptop to prop it up at an angle. Also ensure your work desk setup is not blocking any vents in a way that prevents airflow.

5. Reset the SMC

Reseting the Mac’s System Management Controller (SMC) can help manage thermal conditions. The SMC controls things like fans, power, sleep functions. Resetting it clears any issues that could be causing overheating problems. To reset the SMC, shut down your MacBook. Keep the power cable plugged in. Press and hold the Shift-Control-Option keys on the left side of the keyboard and the power button at the same time. Hold for 10 seconds then release. Power your MacBook back on.

6. Check Activity Monitor for Runaway Apps

Apps that are not responding properly can sometimes get stuck and hog your Mac’s CPU resources. Open up Activity Monitor in your Utilities folder and look at CPU usage. If you see a runaway app using a very high percentage of CPU, select it and force it to quit. This will free up processing power and reduce heat being generated inside your Mac.

7. Update macOS to Latest Version

Keeping your MacBook Pro’s operating system up to date is important for performance, efficiency and stability. Some updates include fixes specifically related to thermal management and overheating issues. Update to the latest macOS version through System Preferences to ensure your Mac can properly regulate temperatures.

8. Turn on Low Power Mode

If your Mac is getting too hot, try turning on Low Power Mode to reduce energy usage. This caps the CPU performance which generates less heat. Open System Preferences > Battery and check the box next to “Low Power Mode” to switch it on. Just remember this limits your computer’s performance until disabled.

9. Avoid Using on Beds, Couches and Soft Surfaces

Using a MacBook Pro on a soft surface can cause it to overheat more quickly because it blocks airflow through the bottom vents. Always place your MacBook on a hard, flat surface to allow proper air circulation. Avoid putting it on pillows, blankets or other soft materials which can trap heat.

10. Replace Thermal Paste on CPU and GPU

For older MacBook Pros, one maintenance item that can improve cooling is replacing the thermal paste on the CPU and GPU chips. Over time the original paste dries out and becomes less effective. Opening up the case and reapplying high-quality thermal paste helps transfer heat from the chips to the heat sink better. This is an advanced procedure but can give older MacBooks an extra cooling boost.

11. Use a Laptop Cooling Pad

External cooling pads are an effective way to improve airflow and lower temperatures for any MacBook Pro. They sit under the laptop and utilize fans to generate additional airflow and provide a cooling effect. Some pads include extra USB ports to prevent overheating from multiple devices plugged into your MacBook.

Cooling Pad Key Features
Opolar LC06 Six quiet fans, USB hub
Havit HV-F2056 Three quiet fans, slim design
Tree New Bee Four ultra-quiet fans, alternative tilt angles

12. Use a Laptop Stand

A laptop stand is useful for improving airflow as it props up the back of the MacBook Pro. This positions the vents in a way where rising hot air can better escape out the backside. Stands are also ideal for creating an ergonomic setup with an external keyboard and monitor. Some popular stands include the Rain Design mStand and Griffin Elevator Desktop Stand.

13. Take a MacBook Break

If you’ve been using CPU-intensive applications for an extended time, give your MacBook Pro a break to cool itself down. Close all apps and stop using the laptop for at least 15-30 minutes. The computer will use this time to regulate temperatures back to normal levels. Taking a MacBook break helps prevent the system from overheating again quickly after.

14. Lower Ambient Temperatures

If the room or environment your MacBook Pro is in is very warm, this causes the laptop to have to work harder to stay cool. Try lowering the thermostat if you are indoors, or moving to a cooler room. This gives your MacBook more room to dissipate heat so its internal components can stay cooler.

15. Use a Vacuum Dusting Tool

Using a vacuum cleaner with a soft dusting brush attachment can help remove dust buildup from vents and exhaust areas. Gently run the vacuum tool around the MacBook Pro’s perimeter vents to suck up accumulated dust. Keep the vacuum on a low setting and avoid touching the nozzle directly to the computer.

16. Disable Turbo Boost

Turbo Boost allows your MacBook Pro’s CPU to run faster than its base clock speed by dynamically overclocking. This generates more heat. If overheating, Turbo Boost can be temporarily disabled to reduce power consumption. Use an app like Turbo Boost Switcher to quickly toggle Turbo Boost on or off. Just remember to re-enable it later for full performance.

17. Try SMCFanControl App

The free app SMCFanControl lets you manually adjust the speed of your CPU and GPU fans. Override the automatic fan curve to keep fans spinning at higher speeds to blow out hot air. Keep an eye on component temperatures as you may need to increase fan speeds to keep the laptop adequately cooled.

18. Close Unnecessary Apps

Reduce CPU and energy usage by closing out any apps you aren’t actively using. Things like web browsers, Adobe apps, Microsoft Office programs and even background utilities use up RAM and processing power. Force quit apps you aren’t currently needing to help minimize heat output.

19. Turn Off Notification Widgets

Productivity and social widgets on macOS like Mail, Calendar, News and more can update in the background and tax system resources. Disable desktop widgets you aren’t regularly using to free up RAM usage. Open System Preferences > Notifications & Focus > Turn off individual widgets.

20. Repaste the CPU and GPU

After a few years, replacing the thermal paste on your MacBook Pro’s CPU and GPU can significantly lower temperatures. As paste ages it becomes less effective at transferring heat. New paste like Thermal Grizzly Kryonaut improves heat transfer between chips and the heatsink. This is an advanced procedure but very effective for old MacBooks prone to overheating.

Warning Signs of Overheating

Watch for these warning signs that your MacBook Pro is getting excessively hot so you can take action before it overheats or throttles performance:

  • Fans are running at high speeds constantly
  • Laptop casing feels hot to the touch
  • Display brightness seems dimmer than normal
  • Apps are lagging or glitching
  • Battery is draining faster than usual

Causes of Overheating

Here are the most common culprits of a MacBook Pro overheating:

  • Blocked air vents and fans by dust buildup
  • Using laptop on beds, couches, carpets
  • Running intensive tasks like 3D rendering or video editing
  • Having too many browser tabs and apps open
  • High ambient temperatures and poor laptop ventilation
  • Old thermal paste needs replacing
  • Software crashes hogging CPU resources


Keeping your MacBook Pro cool is important to prevent throttling and overheating. By actively monitoring your laptop’s temperature and taking steps like cleaning the fans, elevating for airflow, closing CPU-hogging apps and using a cooling pad, you can add years to your MacBook’s life. Implement some of these quick fixes as soon as your MacBook Pro starts running excessively hot to keep performance high and avoid damage from overheating components.

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