How do I get rid of the clicking sound on my Mac?

Quick Overview

A clicking or ticking noise coming from your Mac can be annoying and concerning. However, in most cases it’s an easy fix. Here are some quick things to try:

– Restart your Mac. A restart can clear up temporary software issues causing the noise.
– Check for anything touching the fans. Something like a cable touching a fan can cause clicking noises.
– Update your software. Updating to the latest macOS and firmware can resolve problems.
– Adjust fan settings. Use an app like Macs Fan Control to adjust fan speeds.
– Run Apple Diagnostics. This can identify hardware issues like a faulty fan or drive.
– Check Activity Monitor. Quit any processes hogging resources that may be overworking your fans.
– Check drive health. A clicking noise may indicate a failing hard drive that needs to be replaced.

If the noise persists after trying these troubleshooting tips, bring your Mac to an Apple Store or authorized service provider for diagnosis and repair. Clicking noises can be a sign of a bigger hardware problem.

What Causes the Clicking or Ticking Noise?

There are a few common culprits for clicking or ticking noises coming from a Mac:

Fans: Fans make a soft clicking noise as part of their normal operation. But fans that spin excessively fast can make louder clicking or buzzing noises due to an issue like dust buildup or a faulty bearing.

Hard Drives: The mechanical parts of traditional hard disk drives can make soft clicking sounds during normal use. But loud clicks or grinding noises may indicate a drive hardware failure.

Optical Drive: If you have a Mac with a built-in optical drive, it can sometimes make clicking or grinding noises from the lens moving or a disc spinning.

Components touching fans: Cables, paperwork, or other items touching or obstructing a fan can cause distracting clicking or rattling noises.

Software and firmware issues: Fan speed and power settings are controlled by firmware and the macOS. Software bugs or outdated firmware may cause fans to act erratically and make noise.

So in summary, the most common sources of clicking or ticking noises in a Mac are fans, drives, optical drives, obstructions in fans, and software/firmware. Let’s look at each of these issues in more depth.


All Macs have internal cooling fans to keep components from overheating. The Mac will speed up these fans when needed to cool things down. Fans can make soft clicking noises as part of normal operation. But excessive fan noise can also indicate:

– Dust or debris buildup
– Obstructions or damage to fan blades
– Worn out or faulty fan bearings
– Fan cables touching blades
– Failed fan sensors

Macs have multiple temperature sensors that signal the computer to speed up fans when needed. If these sensors fail, fans can spin unexpectedly or excessively fast.

Excessive fan noise more prominent when doing system intensive tasks like gaming, video editing or running many apps indicates overworked fans trying to cool overloaded components.

Hard Drives

Traditional hard disk drives (HDDs) rely on spinning platters and a mechanical read/write head to access data. These moving parts make soft clicks and whirring noises during normal operation.

But louder clicking or grinding noises can mean a drive failure is imminent. When an HDD makes loud clicks or beeps and your Mac struggles to access data, it likely means the drive has bad sectors or suffers from mechanical failure.

Macs increasingly use flash storage like solid state drives (SSDs) which have no moving parts and run silently. But models with traditional hard drives can develop noticeable noisy symptoms of failure. Backup your data if your Mac HDD makes loud clicking or crunching noises.

Optical Drives

Older Macs include built-in optical drives for CDs and DVDs. The lens mechanism and spinning discs in these drives can make soft clicking and whirring noises during normal use. But loud grinding or clicking noises may indicate dirt or damage in the drive.

Try cleaning the drive lens with a soft brush or compressed air. But grinding noises usually mean a faulty drive needing repair. With optical media far less common today, you can likely external USB optical drive instead if needed.

Components Touching Fans

Any cable, wire or loose paperwork touching the small but fast spinning blades of a Mac’s internal cooling fans can cause noise. Even a very small obstruction can make an annoying clicking or rattling sound.

Open up your Mac to check for any components making contact with fans. Carefully move anything away from fan blades. Also check that fan cables are not getting pinched or touching parts that can rattle against the fans. Tidy up clutter inside your Mac.

Software and Firmware

The macOS operating system and built-in firmware control the speed of internal cooling fans based on temperature sensors. Bugs or outdated firmware can cause fans to misbehave and run excessively fast.

Update your Mac to the latest macOS version and firmware available. Reset the SMC and NVRAM to help clear any glitches. Switching to a quieter fan profile using Macs Fan Control may also help reduce excessive fan speeds.

A rogue app hogging resources can also overwork fans, so check Activity Monitor for any process using excessive CPU. Ultimately, a software or firmware issue causing fan noises will likely require an update or patch from Apple to fully resolve.

How to Diagnose the Cause of Clicking Noises

Determining the exact source of clicking or ticking noises in your Mac takes some diagnostic sleuthing:

Listen closely: Fan noises have a whirring quality, while clicks from a drive are more metallic sounding. An optical drive makes distinct grinding noise when accessing discs.

Check correlation: Does the noise only happen when doing a specific task like starting up or opening large files? This points to a component involved in high demand operations.

Run Apple Diagnostics: This built-in tool listens for drive and fan issues during a diagnostic boot sequence.

Use an app to monitor fans: Apps like Macs Fan Control show fan speeds and can isolate faulty fans.

Check Activity Monitor: Look for any processes using excessive resources that correlate to noises.

Boot to Safe Mode: This minimizes software and drivers to test if clicking persists.

Try an SMC/NVRAM reset: This clears out system management controller and firmware settings related to fans and power.

Eliminate vibration: Place your Mac on a solid surface and remove anything resting on top that could vibrate.

Diagnosing odd noises takes patience but pays off before resorting to repair options. If clicks persist after troubleshooting, seek repair assistance for potential fan or drive failure.

How to Fix Clicking and Ticking Noises

Once you’ve identified the cause of clicking or ticking noises, here are ways to fix some common causes:

Clean Dusty Fans

Use compressed air to blow out any dust from fans and vent openings. Severe dust buildup may require taking your Mac apart to thoroughly clean fans and internal components. Replace any fans with obstructed blades.

Adjust Fan Settings

Apps like Macs Fan Control let you manually control fan speeds. Set fans to a constant slower speed unless temperatures rise. Also reset the SMC to clear any erroneous fan speed settings.

Replace a Faulty Fan

If a fan blade is obstructed or a bearing is worn out, replacement may be required. On MacBooks, you can often replace just the affected fan. With iMacs and Mac Pros, the entire cooling assembly may need replacement.

Update Software

Update to the latest version of macOS and any firmware updates for your model. This can fix bugs causing fan control issues and clicking noises.

Free Up Processing Resources

Check Activity Monitor for any apps hogging CPU resources and quit them. Add RAM to give your Mac more headroom for intensive tasks. Or upgrade to a newer Mac model if yours lacks the resources for your workload.

Replace a Failing Drive

Loud clicking or beeping noises indicate a faulty hard drive. Replace the drive before total failure. For SSDs, updating firmware may help initially before replacement. Back up important data first.

Remove Debris in Optical Drive

For optical drive noises, try cleaning the lens using a brush or soft cloth. Compressed air can clear out any debris inside. But grinding noises indicate unrepairable damage requiring drive replacement.

Reposition Cables and Wires

Carefully re-route any cables touching fans. Tie back wires with twist ties. Double check that power cables are not pinched against rattling components.

Persisting fan noises and clicks even after troubleshooting likely require professional repair. Apple or an authorized service provider can fully diagnose and replace any faulty hardware causing the noises.

Best Apps to Control Fan Speed on a Mac

Manual fan control apps are useful for overriding the automatic fan speeds set by macOS. They allow you to slow fans to reduce noise or ramp them up prevent overheating. Here are some top fan control apps:

App Key Features
Macs Fan Control – Set custom fan speeds for different temperature ranges
– Monitor temperatures and fan speeds
– Control both built-in and external fans
smcFanControl – Adjust system fan speeds manually
– Set fans to ramp up speeds gradually
– Works with both Intel and M1 Macs
FanControl – Customize when and how much fans speed up
– Quiet noisy fans with one click
– Simple and lightweight interface

These apps all require granting permission to adjust system fans speeds lower than defaults. Be cautious not to undercool your Mac and cause damage. But they provide useful fine tuning if stock fan behaviors are too noisy or erratic.

When to Take Your Mac in For Repair

While many clicking and ticking noises are harmless or easily fixed, louder more persistent sounds can mean major repair is needed. Take your Mac to Apple or an authorized service provider if:

– Loud grinding or screeching fan noises continue despite troubleshooting
– You get kernel panics or overheating warnings
– Clicking noises correlate with crashes or severe performance issues
– The clicking is coming from the hard drive area
– You observe damage to fans like bent or obstructed blades
– Resetting NVRAM/SMC, updating software, and using fan control apps don’t resolve noises

Fan or drive issues causing persistent worrying noises likely require professional diagnosis and repair. Leaving problems unchecked can lead to component failures and catastrophic system crashes.

Don’t hesitate to get assistance if loud fan or drive noises emerge along with performance issues or warning messages. Catching problems early saves bothmoney and hassle in the long run over replacing whole failed components later.


The occasional click or whir from your Mac is normal, but loud or repetitive noises need attention. With some diligent troubleshooting to identify the source of noises, you can often resolve minor issues like dust or clutter interfering with fans.

Control apps give useful fine tuning over fan speeds, but serious grinding or screeching noises signal big problems. Get professional repair assistance promptly for hardware faults like failing drives and busted fans making deafening noises. While annoying fans and clicks rarely indicate critical issues, neglecting the warning signs can lead to very costly component failures down the road. Address the problem noises now before it’s too late!