How can I get my Mac to cool down?

If your Mac is running hot or overheating, there are several things you can try to help cool it down. Here are some quick answers to common questions about cooling down a Mac:

Why is my Mac getting so hot?

There are a few common reasons why Macs tend to run hot:

  • Processor-intensive tasks like gaming, video editing, or running multiple resource-heavy apps at once
  • Insufficient cooling/airflow due to dust buildup or operating in a hot environment
  • Running newer macOS versions on older hardware
  • Malware/viruses running in the background

How can I monitor the temperature of my Mac?

Here are some ways to check your Mac’s temperature:

  • Use the Activity Monitor app to view CPU usage and temperature
  • Use a hardware monitoring app like iStat Menus to see real-time CPU/GPU temperatures
  • Check the fans – higher speeds usually indicate higher temps

As a rule of thumb, your Mac’s CPU temperature should stay around 50-60°C under a light workload and up to 90-100°C is normal under heavy loads. If your CPU is consistently over 90°C, it’s time to take action to cool it down.

How can I prevent my Mac from overheating?

Here are some tips to proactively keep your Mac cool and prevent overheating:

  • Clean dust buildup – Use compressed air to blow out vents and fans
  • Keep it elevated – Use a stand to increase airflow underneath
  • Avoid resource-intensive tasks – Limit gaming, video editing, etc
  • Close unused apps – Keep only active apps running
  • Adjust Energy Saver settings – Set the computer to sleep sooner
  • Use a cooling pad – Place a pad underneath to increase airflow

It also helps to keep your Mac in a cool room away from direct sunlight. Avoid placing it on soft surfaces like beds or sofas which can block ventilation.

How can I tell if my Mac is thermal throttling?

Thermal throttling is when your Mac deliberately slows down tasks and processor speeds to prevent overheating. Here’s what to look for:

  • Fans are constantly running at high speeds
  • Apps take longer to open or respond
  • Computer feels sluggish during intensive tasks
  • High CPU temperatures over 90°C

You can use an app like Intel Power Gadget to view real-time CPU clock speeds. If speeds are capped below the base frequency, thermal throttling is likely occurring.

How can I stop thermal throttling on my Mac?

To reduce thermal throttling, try these troubleshooting tips:

  • Clean dust and debris from fans/vents – Use compressed air
  • Reapply high-quality thermal paste between CPU and heatsink
  • Use a laptop cooling pad or stand to increase airflow
  • Lower CPU intensive settings in apps like Slack, Chrome, Zoom
  • Close any resource-heavy background apps or processes
  • If problem persists, consider upgrading to a new Mac with better cooling system

Disabling Turbo Boost or undervolting the CPU can also help, but may impact performance. Thermal throttling protects hardware from damage, so it’s best to address the root cause of overheating.

What’s causing the fans on my Mac to run constantly?

There are several possible causes for constant fan activity on a Mac:

  • Overheating – Check CPU and GPU temperatures using Activity Monitor or a hardware monitor
  • Dust buildup – Excess dust restricts airflow and cooling
  • Background processes – Apps, updates or malware eating up resources
  • Hardware failure – Issue with fan sensors or controller
  • Older hardware – Fans work harder to cool newer macOS versions

Try rebooting your Mac and closing all apps to isolate the issue. Use compressed air to clean dust from vents. Monitor Activity Monitor to identify problematic background processes. If fans still run constantly, seek professional hardware diagnostics/repairs.

How can I get my fans to quiet down?

To reduce fan noise on a Mac try these troubleshooting tips:

  • Pause resource-heavy tasks like video streaming or gaming
  • Close any unused browser tabs and background apps
  • Clean dust buildup from vents using compressed air
  • Adjust Energy Saver settings to reduce CPU workload
  • Use a laptop cooling stand to improve airflow
  • Restart your Mac to end stuck processes
  • Upgrade to macOS Ventura or Monterey for optimized thermal management

If the fans still run loud, consider replacing old thermal paste between the CPU and heatsink, or seeking professional repairs for any hardware issues.

How can I control my MacBook fan speed manually?

There is no built-in way to manually control fan speeds on modern MacBooks. However, third-party apps like Macs Fan Control allow you to monitor temperatures and adjust fan speeds:

  • Download and install Macs Fan Control
  • Configure custom fan speed and temperature settings
  • Set more aggressive fan curves to keep Mac cooler
  • Create separate profiles for different usage scenarios
  • Set fans to max speed or ramp up sooner when needed

Keep in mind manually increasing fan speeds will make more noise. Let the Mac determine speeds unless temperatures are critically high. Monitor temperatures closely if making manual adjustments.

Can replacing the thermal paste help cool my Mac?

Replacing old, dried-out thermal paste between the CPU and heat sink can significantly improve cooling on a Mac. Here’s how it helps:

  • Restores proper heat transfer between CPU and heat sink
  • Allows CPU to run cooler under load
  • Reduces need for fans to run at high speeds
  • Prevents overheating and thermal throttling
  • Can lower temps by 10-20°C in some cases

Using a high-quality, non-conductive thermal paste like Arctic Silver or Noctua NT-H1 is best. Application requires dismantling the MacBook or iMac, so seek professional assistance if unfamiliar.

Should I undervolt my Mac to reduce heat?

Undervolting involves reducing the CPU and GPU voltage to decrease power consumption and heat output. Potential benefits include:

  • Runs cooler with less need for cooling
  • Prevents thermal throttling in some cases
  • Extends battery life on MacBooks
  • Reduces fan noise
  • Fewer power supply issues

However, undervolting is considered an advanced technique with risks like system crashes or freezes. Carefully test any voltage changes in small increments only. Most Mac users should not need to undervolt stock systems.

Can I upgrade my cooling system on an older Mac?

It is possible to upgrade the cooling in older Macs to provide better performance and lower temperatures:

  • Replace thermal paste between CPU and heatsink
  • Install higher CFM case fans for increased airflow
  • Add secondary fans to blow air over components
  • Attach heat sinks to hot spots like RAM or chipsets
  • Remove dust buildup from heatsinks, vents and fans

More extensive mods involve replacing the heat sink or water cooling components. This requires complex disassembly and is not recommended for most users. Seek professional assistance when attempting any cooling system upgrades.

What temperature should my Mac CPU be at?

The optimal CPU temperature range for a Mac is:

  • Idle/low use: 40°C – 60°C
  • Moderate use: 60°C – 80°C
  • High use: 80°C – 100°C

Temperatures under load can briefly spike over 100°C. However, consistent heavy load temps over 90°C can indicate cooling issues. Download a hardware monitor to check your Mac’s current CPU, GPU, and hard drive temperatures.

Can temperature monitoring apps harm my Mac?

Reputable apps like iStat Menus that simply monitor and display Mac temperatures do not pose any harm or risks. However, apps that manually control fan speeds or hardware should be used with caution:

  • Avoid unsupported mods that apply voltage or frequency changes
  • Do not disable internal thermal safety features
  • Carefully stress test any undervolting or overclocking
  • Monitor temps closely when making manual fan speed changes
  • Allow Mac to resume default fan curves when not needed

The Mac’s built-in thermal management works well in most situations. Only use conservative manual adjustments when dealing with overheating issues.

Is it safe to run my MacBook with the bottom case off?

Removing the bottom case can significantly improve temperatures by increasing airflow, but comes with risks:

  • Exposes sensitive components to dust and debris
  • Lose benefits of case cooling design
  • Difficult to move or transport Mac safely
  • Void any warranty coverage
  • Components like battery can shift and disconnect

Instead, use authorized methods to improve cooling like a stand, external fans or undervolting. Close apps, clean dust from vents, replace thermal paste or seek professional repairs if overheating. Do not operate your MacBook with the bottom case removed.


Keeping your Mac cool is important to maximize performance and extend the computer’s lifespan. Monitor activity and hardware temperatures regularly. Close unused apps, clean dust from fans and vents, elevate for airflow, and avoid resource-heavy tasks when possible. More advanced options like new thermal paste, undervolting and upgraded cooling can also help in stubborn overheating cases. With proper care and maintenance, your Mac can run efficiently for years before a true upgrade is needed.