How to stop a macbook from overheating

Everyone knows the feeling of touching your laptop after a long session of work, only to feel closer to an active volcano than a delicate instrument. MacBooks can be especially prone to this problem, but the good news is that there are ways to stop this problem before it starts.

An overheating MacBook can affect performance, make the machine run slower, and even potentially damage the battery and reduce its overall capacity. Don’t wait for your computer to get too hot to touch—take proactive steps to keep your MacBook from overheating.

A MacBook on a desk

How to stop a MacBook from overheating

If your MacBook tends to get hot, make sure you aren’t making these common mistakes.

Allow adequate ventilation

Everyone has seen print images of someone lying in bed using their MacBook. While it sure is relaxing to lay in bed and browse social media, it’s not always the smartest move, especially if fans are stranded.

Bottom of MacBook exposed

The MacBook series of laptops tend to have only one cooling fan without the same ventilation as an equivalent Windows laptop. This results in higher temperatures, but without the right ventilation your laptop can get even hotter. Make sure it’s on a level surface and that nothing is blocking the vents.

Make sure your fans are working properly too. If it seems like a fan isn’t spinning or you don’t feel airflow, a fan may be stuck or the controller may be broken.

Clean your Mac

In the same way that you allow for proper ventilation, you want to keep your Mac as clean as possible. As dust and dirt build up on your laptop, it can sometimes block the airflow inside your MacBook and prevent it from cooling properly.

By using electronic cleaning wipes at least once a week, you can clear anything that may have been blocking the flow through your machine.

Update software

macOS updates are more than annual changes that bring an updated interface. Updating macOS is one of the biggest changes you’ll make to your PC, and it brings with it new features, security patches, and performance optimizations.

Software Update screen

An outdated MacBook may be more prone to overheating. If Apple engineers discover a glitch in the code that could be causing problems, an update will be released to fix it. Without making these updates, you leave your system exposed to threats and vulnerabilities.

To update macOS software, open Settings > Software update. It will automatically check for any available updates and ask you if it is available.

Check Mac activity

Activity Monitor lets you see all the programs that are currently active on your computer, as well as those that are using the most resources. If your CPU is overloaded, closing the busiest programs can free up resources.

Mac Activity Monitor

Guy Command + Space to open Spotlight, then type Activity Monitor and press Log into. This opens Activity Monitor and displays all the programs running both in the foreground and in the background. Click the % PROCESSOR icon at the top to sort by programs using the most CPU power.

If there are programs you don’t recognize, do a bit of research on them to make sure they aren’t a rootkit or malware or some other nasty application. If it is not an application you need or one you are currently using, terminate the process. The less load you put on your CPU, the less likely your machine will overheat.

Close browser tabs

Every browser tab you open takes up a certain amount of system resources, especially Chrome, a notorious offender for using a ridiculous amount of power. If possible, avoid Chrome and stick to more resource-friendly browsers like Safari or Firefox.

Many browser tabs

While it might be a meme for people to open 20 different browser tabs and leave them open, you shouldn’t be doing it. If you have browser tabs open that you no longer need, close them. Not only will your machine run much faster, but it will help keep your MacBook from overheating.

Use official chargers

If you lose your MacBook charger, you might be tempted to invest in a cheap one; after all, the official charger costs more than $80. Resist this temptation. The unofficial chargers on the market are not as reliable as the official ones. Also, they can end up causing damage to your battery.

Chargers for macbooks

Damage to a laptop battery can cause more than just reduced battery life. Overheated batteries can sometimes explode and seriously injure the user. Only use reputable chargers to ensure you don’t cause harm to your MacBook or yourself.

Replace your battery

If your MacBook battery is too old, it may start to heat up during use or while charging. If this is the case, the only real solution is to replace the battery with a newer version. You can find batteries for purchase through eBay or on the official Apple website.

Low battery icon

You can use an older battery for a long time; in fact, MacBooks have a built-in battery analysis tool. While it’s possible to replace the battery at home, we don’t recommend it. It’s often best to have an authorized repair shop handle the fix, especially if your MacBook is under warranty. You can see the prices for replacing a Mac battery from Apple on their website.

Check for malware

Although it’s rare, Mac computers can get infected with viruses and malware from time to time. One of the biggest signs that your system has an unwanted visitor asking for a ride is overheating. If your MacBook is constantly heating up, look for antivirus software for your MacBook.

Malware detected on MacBook

Often the simplest solution is to remove the offending software to restore full system functionality. Avoid clicking on shady links or visiting potentially dangerous websites so that no malware can enter your computer. Find antivirus software you trust for Mac and run regular scans.

There are many reasons why your MacBook may be overheating. The good news is that most of them aren’t dangerous. Just be careful to let your laptop get the proper ventilation it needs and perhaps demand a little less from your CPU.

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