Why is my Mac overheating?

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Identify Possible Causes for MacBook and MacBook Pro Overheating

I mentioned in my post on how to speed up your Mac, that my current MacBook is four years old. Practically ancient! In recent weeks I noticed my Mac overheating and found myself wondering what causes Mac overheating.

Signs of Mac Overheating

Here are a few tell-tale ways you know your Mac is overheating:

  • It feels really hot! That seems obvious, yet your computer generally feels warm and you may not notice slight variations. But, if it starts to feel uncomfortable to the touch, that’s not good.
  • The internal fan is running often and loud. You’ll hear it sound almost like a hairdryer.
  • You often get Mac’s spinning rainbow wheel.
  • Your computer shuts down or reboots by itself.

Identify Possible Causes of Mac Overheating

Once you know you’ve got an issue with your Mac overheating, take a couple of steps to isolate issues.

  1. Review your Activity Monitor 
  2. Run Apple Diagnostics
  3. Scan your drives with CleanMyMac3 
  4. Confirm which programs run at startup (go to System Preferences > Users & Groups > Login Items).

Take Action When Your Mac is Overheating

I found that simply cleaning up my Mac with CleanMyMac3 made a significant difference in how hot my MacBook ran. I also identified that my photo editing software, such as Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop, were large draws on my CPU. Now I try to run only one mega program at a time when possible. Finally, I’ve become particular about which programs run at startup and in the background. Many programs automatically install with settings that don’t match my usage.

Other Tips and Tricks for Overheating Macs

We’ve written quite a bit about slow MacBooks and overheating issues and I recommend checking out some of our popular posts as you diagnose and work through the problem:

 

What other resources do you find useful when your MacBook or MacBook Pro overheat?

mac overheating

About the Author
Kylie Larson is a content wrangler, helping both small businesses and large organizations get their message up and out. When she's not writing and organizing online, you'll find her walking the dog, with a camera in hand, riding the Chicago blue line, and in the midst of a home renovation project that never ends. Connect with her on Twitter @kylieslarson.

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