Is Your MacBook Pro Overheating? Fix It Now!

macbook pro retina overheating

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Simple Changes to Prevent Your MacBook Pro Retina Overheating

Is your MacBook Pro retina overheating to the point where you can’t even hold it in your lap? The issues go beyond your discomfort—computers operating at higher temperatures won’t last very long. Keeping your computer at a reasonable temperature is good for both your comfort and your pocketbook.

Why Your MacBook Pro Overheating is an Issue

If you notice that your MacBook Pro feels hot to the touch and this happens quickly after you’ve switched it on, this is an indication that your laptop is overheating. Specifically, if you find that it’s reached an untouchable temperature, you shouldn’t ignore this and treat the device with our precautions. In some severe cases, you might even receive a warning stating ‘high disk temperature’. At this point, you’ll probably panic and maybe even power off your laptop in the hope that it’ll automatically cool down without you doing anything. But, this method doesn’t solve the issue in the long-run and is just a temporary fix. If you notice that your laptop is suddenly freezing or slowing down, these could be symptoms that it’s overheating. At this point, your device could suddenly shut down to protect your hardware but can result in data loss. Should this happen to you, we suggest downloading a data recovery tool to recover these files.

Strategies to Stop Your MacBook Pro Overheating

1. Use a Cleaning Software

The very first thing to do when you find your MacBook Pro overheating is to clean up your house (so to speak).  CleanMyMac 3 is a simple Mac cleaning product that does just that: it rids your MacBook Air of useless junk files, thus giving you more storage space.

Though there are many software programs out there, CleanMyMac 3 is the most popular among Mac users. It won reader’s choice awards from CNET.com thanks to its ability to fix issues for hundreds of thousands of Mac users around the world. Best of all, you can try it for free and see what you think.

2. Make a Simple Setting Change

Try out this system tweak to lower your computer’s temperatures:

System Preferences > Energy Saver > Uncheck “Automatic Graphics Switching.”

Believe it or not, that is one of the simplest and most effective ways to keep your computer’s temperature in check.

These simple settings tweak changes how your computer delegates graphics processing. Your computer will only use its graphics hardware to process your on-screen graphics. This will make sure your computer’s components will only do the work they’re optimized to do, instead of switching between multiple components for higher graphics performance.

This tweak isn’t available on all models of the MacBook Pro, only ones with a discrete graphics card. Try this tweak instead if you can’t turn off automatic graphics switching:

System Preferences > Energy Saver > Graphics > Choose “Better Battery Life”

This setting will lower your computer’s performance slightly, thus increasing your battery life and decreasing how hot your computer will become. If this still isn’t enough, there are some other things to try outside of software tweaks:

3. Use Laptop Cooling Fans to Reduce Your MacBook Pro From Heating

Your MacBook Pro has built-in fans that work to keep your computer at stable temperatures. The fans do their best, but the computer will start to suffer if temperatures reach higher than 75 C, something that can happen when using taxing graphics processing software like Final Cut Pro, Adobe Photoshop, or Blender 3D modeling. This is especially true in the case of the MacBook Pro with retina display as the high-resolution display is very taxing on the computer’s hardware.

This is where external fans can be a godsend, keeping your CPU and other critical components at a stable operating temperature. Laptop cooling pads come in many shapes, sizes, and even color options.

TechNet Laptop Cooling Pad for MacBook

macbook pro overheating

This cooling pad is ideal if you like to use your MacBook when you’re on the bed, but don’t want to rest it on your knee or a pillow. TeckNet designed this product to prevent your laptop from heating up while it’s in use. Designed with curves and intake vents, this means you can comfortably use your laptop on hard and soft surfaces without stressing about the device’s supply of air.

Built with a quiet fan, this won’t bother you while you’re working, watching a movie or playing games. It’s also built on a specific angle so you can still use your laptop for typing, as the rubber edges hold your laptop in place to prevent any sliding.

This pad is built with an ergonomic feel so you can use it for hours without your hands and fingers hurting. It’s also powered via USB, so you don’t have to worry about carrying numerous cords around with you. As a result, it’s great for people on the go.

Tree New Bee Cooling Pad

macbook pro overheating

The Tree New Bee pushes air toward a laptop to more actively cool down the overheating MacBook. This particular product has four fans and a heat-drawing metal base. You can adjust the fan speeds. The stand requires power via a USB cord, but it provides extra USB ports to offset the loss. You can nab the Tree New Bee for about $18 (and it’s one of the best rated and best selling on Amazon), and other brands offer similar pricing.

Opolar LC06 Laptop Fan

macbook pro overheating

If you don’t want a stand or pad underneath your laptop, consider adding a small side fan to push air your way. The Opolar mounts in two ways to the side of your computer and allows you to manage its 13 (!!) speeds and specific air temperature from a LED display. The Opolar doesn’t require charging or cords and advertises a 5,000 lifespan.

4. Clean and Dust Your Laptop

Not super exciting we know, but dust and dirt built up in your laptop’s fans can make it warmer and result in overheating. MacBook Pro’s need to get rid of any build-up of heat via the vents, but if they’re already filled with dust and debris, the air circulation won’t be ideal.

These fans are located in the hinge area just above your keyboard. Some newer MacBook Pro’s have vents positioned on the underside. Begin by taking a small brush to remove any visible dust and dirt, using gentle strokes to not damage the area. If you’re confident enough or have the experience, you can also open the internal components to give your laptop a thorough clean.

5. Exit Any Demanding Software

If you find that your laptop’s fans have kicked in even when you’re not using the device, this generally means that the laptop is working hard because at least one software is running and exuding its energy. In which case, you should find out what software is currently running by visiting your Activity Monitor.

You can then order the column by descending order to rank which software is taking up the most memory. If you notice that there’s software ranking 90 percent or above, this could be the reason your laptop is crashing, and you should quit these.

Another popular demanding software can be Chrome. This isn’t always compatible with Apple devices, and Safari is a much more reliable Internet search. While you’re searching online, try to limit the number of tabs you have open at one time to prevent your laptop from going into overdrive.

6. Increase Your Fan’s Speed

Think about it, when we get hot, we increase a fan’s speed to cool down, and you can do the same with your MacBook, although you’ll need to download a program. If you’ve followed all the steps above but find that your laptop is still overheating all the time, you can try increasing the fan’s speed. SmcFanControl is a great program to help cool your laptop by altering the minimum fan speed.

When your laptop reaches around 105 degrees Celsius, the hardware will prepare to shut down before your device damages. Thankfully, SmcFanControl can show the speed that your fan is currently operating at, which can sometimes mean the device is much louder when you’re using it, but prevents any permanent damage to your hardware.

7. Only Perform One Task at a Time

We’re always busy which means that most of us are multitasking. But, if you are running numerous applications at the same time, your laptop is working on overdrive which makes it more prone to overheating.

However, if you only stick to one task at a time, you’re less likely to encounter any excessive amounts of heat or programs freezing. Avoid downloading software while using the Mac, but perform this task while you’re away from the laptop. You should always close applications and windows when you’re not using them, rather than minimizing them, as they’re still running in the background.

8. Avoid Placing Your Laptop on Soft Surfaces

It can be tempting to finish a project in bed and place your MacBook Pro on a pillow. But doing so means that your air circulation won’t work properly and the heat will remain inside your laptop’s internal components. Fabric is the worst material for storing your laptop because it absorbs heat which can make your device much hotter.

Change your habits by placing your MacBook Pro on a stable surface, such as a desk. The four tiny rubber feet at the bottom of your laptop provide ample room for the air to circulate so your laptop can operate properly. Alternatively, you can invest in a laptop stand if you’d like to continue working in bed or on the sofa.

Laptop Stand With Cooling Fan

macbook pro overheating

This particular product is great if you tend to use your laptop for long periods of time in one go. Designed with a fan with speeds of 1500rpm, this can generate a cooling effect so your laptop won’t overheat as you work for hours. Simply plug the fan into your USB port to begin cooling and enhance the natural airflow within your laptop.

This stand keeps your laptop sturdy thanks to the bridge-frame design. The clip-on cooling fan only takes a few minutes to assemble, and you only need four screws to have a fully completed stand.

This product also improves your ergonomics by elevating your laptop the appropriate eye level and prevent any neck and shoulder pain. Plus, when this isn’t in use, you can keep your desk tidy by storing your keyboard and mouse under the laptop stand.

Aluminium Ventilated Laptop Stand

macbook pro overheating

If you’re looking for a more portable laptop stand, this device is lightweight, foldable and easy to operate, with no installation required. We believe that prevention is better than cure, so this handy device helps to stop your laptop from overheating in the first place.

By elevating your MacBook Pro, it has a chance to breathe and a place for the air to transfer. You might need an external keyboard, but make sure you purchase from one Apple as this is compatible and won’t result in any overheating.

Built with anti-slip pads, this ensures that your laptop is stable to avoid any slipping. This pads always protect your desk from any wear and tear and scratching. Another great feature about this laptop stand is the cable management ring that enables you to organize your cables to keep your desk tidy and clear.

Keep Your MacBook Pro Happy

As well as your MacBook Pro overheating, there are some other common misfortunes your device might encounter. Therefore, we suggest keeping on top of maintenance to improve your laptop’s lifespan.

Most of us rarely shut down our MacBook at the end of the day, but instead, resort to sending it to sleep. However, this doesn’t give your device time to reboot ready for the next day.

Instead, get into the habit of completely shutting down your MacBook at least once a week – maybe in preparation for the weekend.

Do you have any other tips to prevent your MacBook Pro overheating, or perhaps some general maintenance advice? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

CleanMyMac 3 free trial download is available here.

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 at ShorewoodStudio.com.
  1. Nata Reply

    Here some steps I always make to reduce or prevent overheating of my Mac:
    1) monitor the state of Mac constantly (special apps can help here)
    2) clean my Mac from all the unnecessary files and apps
    3) move large files to the cloud
    4) don’t open too much apps or tabs in browser at once

    Also I use several apps which help me a lot to overcome overheating problem. But I know almost definitely that I have no troubles with hardware, so if you had ones – I don’t know whether these apps will also help you. Anyway, if someone have overheating problems – I recommend to start from this step (for instance, try iStat Menu and CleanMyMac – here you can try these apps for free https://explore.setapp.com/8) and then see what happens with your Mac (whether cleaning your Mac helped you) and decide what to do next.

  2. You just need to follow some simple and easy steps which will further make suggestions itself
    to undergo all instructions leading that you get
    access to your lost data again. Is there any
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    One with the biggest types of a tablet which utilizes Apple’s i – OS operating system is i – Pad.

  3. Anonymous Reply

    A $4000 macbook pro 2017 should not be overheating or crashing like mine does. I paid way too much money for any of that sort of thing to happen. I’m starting to wonder if macbook pros just aren’t what they used to be and we’re getting ripped off. I’ve cleaned my fans, everything and it crashes in both Windows 10, and OS X High Sierra. It was working ok for the first few months but now whenever I do anything CPU intensive in either OS X or Windows, it crashes, completely reboots with the boot crash screen, closes the game on me, OBS crashes my PC when doing screen casts, Camtasia crashes when rendering vid to mp4, anything that’s CPU intensive this macbook crashes, period…all sorts of weird crap happens.

    Very unhappy. Now I have to go take this piece of sh** in and have them do a 6 hour exhaustive test on it in the apple store and I need this for my job, I’m a programmer. Again $4000 for this pain?

  4. Merlin Reply

    I think there is a point that many have missed with overheating Mac’s that may very well solve your problem. Is your Mac getting air to the CPU, is there anything blocking your air supply. In my case, I tried everything, the problem was eventually tracked down to the fan, constantly high revs followed by CPU spiking. After speaking with many geeks and specialists who told me otherwise, I bought some air spray and sprayed the vents at the side of my Mac Pro Retina Mid 2012 – I saw some dirt coming out immediately, and my Mac started working a lot better. However, when I opened my Mac to see if there was any other dust inside, I was astonished by how much dirt was in there, it compressed and fine like tobacco, perhaps the person who had my Mac before I bought it had a pet. Anyways, not my Mac works like a dream, my Logic Pro eats up all the sound libraries I thought would never work and it’s super fast.
    The moral of the story is clean your Mac inside, if you have fan problems as failure to cool down the CPU caused by air blockage will cause your Mac to do all sorts of weird things.

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  6. Jack the Computer Geek Reply

    When my friend bought a 2014 MacBook Pro, it was always overheating, with the fans constantly blowing full blast. (Refurbished by Apple.)

    My own 2011 MacBook Air had also overheated from the day I bought it. On my Air, I had replaced the thermal paste after learning this is a common problem with Apple computers (as well as every other brand.) Replacing the paste made all the difference on both the Air and the Pro. When I got around to replacing my old Air, I immediately replaced the paste on the new computer. (Air’s are quite easy if you know what you’re doing. Pro’s can be difficult to very difficult, depending on the particular model.)

    If you know how and your computer isn’t under warranty, I strongly suggest this even if your computer isn’t currently overheating. If your computer is overheating and it’s still under warranty, ask Apple to do it. The reason I did it myself was to ensure it was done properly, and with the best thermal paste available. (About $10 for high-quality thermal paste.)

    Over the years I’ve repaired quite a few notebook computers by the likes of Dell and HP. Without exception, there was far too much paste used; the paste had hardened (because of low quality paste and/or age); and it was obvious the paste had not been applied properly in the first place.

    Paste should always be of the best quality available regardless of cost, and applied as thinly and sparingly as possible for maximum performance.

  7. James Reply

    Can’t help but wonder how such an advice would be helpful for anyone. Lowering the performance for a computer in order to make it cooler is just stupid. If you don’t need the performance buy a Macbook Pro without discreet graphics and you won’t have any issues with heat and fan noise. For the higher end models Apple really did a bad job this time.

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  9. I have this set up , a Vintage 2010 MBPro 17 inch and a Cinema Display (30) inch for a month and only noticed something was wrong today. I did not think maybe I could do much at source without some knowledge so obviously without much I drilled a small hole at the top of the 30 inch Cinema Display at each end where that was overly hot. The hole was cautious and I may enlarge it later to allow the heat that is there to circulate away. I shut everything down and kept close to the presumed frame alloy. But I needed to check my priority should be the source of the heat without getting super technical.The trick on this page of system preferences simplifying the graphics cards sounds great and I just did it. I also placed the two Apple expensive adaptors where I can see them and on a grill./.not for heat but for cooling as they were hotter than I would like. I have a 20 year old car and when the ABS pump fails due to cold solder joints (caused by hot/cold stresses over 2 decades!.the cost can be more than the value of the well kept car. (And yes I have drilled holes here and there for obscure reasons) So three cheers to this page and those who made something good better. Ta.

  10. Kornel Reply

    Dear Michelle,

    Could you explain me how does the turning off of Automatic Graphics Switching make the computer cooler? As far as i understand the system with this feature off uses the dedicated graphics card all the time, which should provide more heat? Do i understand this wrong?

    Thanks for any feedback.

    Best wishes,
    Kornel

  11. I tried cleaning the dust in MacBook Pro but still am facing heat issues. Is there any fault with HDD or Fan speed?

    Please advise.

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  13. Alexandra Reply

    I just wanna share to you my experience. I have been experiencing some overheatng problem with my macbook as well and aside from these setting configuration, I used this laptop cooler I got from Amazon and it is great! It’s portable and easy to use. It helped me a lot these months! http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00ZA0HFSA

  14. Dirk Reply

    The settings you recommend are no longer listed. Any new idea for a fix? Mine only does it on occasion.

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  16. Andrea Reply

    if you do that you can use only DISCRETE Grafic card and not the integrated!!!!
    but what do you say?

  17. Gary Reply

    Hi Michelle,

    Just a picky editing issue that you might want to use to correct the spelling in your post. A “discreet graphics card” would be “careful and circumspect in its speech or actions,” but perhaps not “individually separate and distinct” (discrete). Feel free to delete or not approve this reply, as it’s really for your eyes only anyway.

  18. John Peachey Reply

    Dear Michelle. You have saved the day. One of our macs suddenly started getting warm since the last couple of weeks when plugging in to an external thunderbolt display, and disabling Automatic Graphics Switching seems to have solved the problem. Thanks very much – this has saved us a lot of time! 🙂 We owe you a latte 😉

  19. Eric Anugraham Reply

    Yes I have Done the Switching. I had a problem When my Mac Pro got hot it affected the LCD Screen very bad all the pictures looked blotchy & real Bad. I Am Pro Photographer shoot Hi Def Images larger files. The Screen had a strange Pattern. Apple says thats no good are willing to Replace the Computer. Its only 2 months old. I also Run a Cooling Fan made for 17″ underneath the Computer.
    After Apple Tech told me to shutdown & restart with power button & immediately hold down the ALT, COMMAND,P&R buttons the comp will sound twice then let go. This Cleared the Problem. Last month in sleep mode it hot very hot couldn’t hold the Computer. I am going to ask them to replace it as it got so hot might have damaged some components. Used to be SONY Technician for a long time. Getting Hot is a BAD Problem. This shouldn’t happen. Not enough ventilation since its very thin. I will try it for a few days since I have unchecked Automatic Graphics Switching. I think this will help.

  20. Aaron Gray Reply

    @Jordan Glad to hear that fixed your problems. FYI, “When your computer is connected to an external display, high-performance graphics will remain on until you disconnect the display.”

    See here – support.apple.com/kb/ht4110

  21. Jordan Reply

    Thanks Michelle,

    I tried it and it worked! I also read on another thread that leaving your laptop on a soft “cushion like” surface tends to prevent the fan for letting the air flow out properly, thus causing the laptop to over heat quicker. I had been resting my Macbook on top of my foamy laptop cover as a way to prevent it from scratching the bottom – maybe that was part of it too….

    Regardless of what did it, I’ve had the monitor plugged in all day and my laptop hasn’t experienced any lagging yet. Thanks again for the help!

    • Mach Machines Reply

      We are really glad we were able to help! And yes, using your MacBook on a couch or bed or cushion like material is a definite no-no! 🙂 Michelle

  22. Jordan Reply

    Hi there,

    I’ve got a late 2011 Macbook Pro 17″. Im trying to use an external monitor (HP), connected with a HDMI-Thunderbolt cable. After the monitor has been connected to the MBP for about 45mins, my MBP suddenly starts to lag, and and slows down to a crawl. When I disconnect the monitor from the MBP, the laptops performance gradually goes back to normal . When I check the activity monitor (which is tough because everything at this point is painfully slow), nothing seems to be taking any significant amount of CPU. I should also mention that while the monitor is connected, the MBP gets progressively hotter and the fans start to work harder.

    Anyone ever encounter this issue or know how to fix this? Seems to me that an external monitor should not be putting so much stress on the MBP…..

    Thanks,

    Jordan

    • Michelle Smith Reply

      Hi Jordan

      That is a very unusual problem indeed! I have never heard of such a thing. Can you try SMC and PRAM resets. Just search for those terms in our search box and you will find instructions. I think that might help you fix these weird problems. If that doesn’t work, try changing the connecting cable. I think the resets should work though.

      Michelle

  23. jay Reply

    As asked above, what about mavericks users? I also don’t ahve either one of the mentioned options in Energy Saver preferences. Fix would be appreciated. Thanks

    • Michelle Smith Reply

      Hi Jay

      For Macs with Mavericks on them, you can try doing an SMC reset. Simply search for SMC reset in our search bar and you will find a few posts that talk about it. I can’t say for sure if an SMC reset will fix your heat problems but it is definitely worth a try. An SMC reset can also potentially give your Mac a performance boost as well.

    • Kim Reply

      does your macbook have a discrete graphics card? if no, then that option would not have been available to you since you only have one graphics option.

  24. Stoposto Reply

    Got my first ever Mac yesterday, the top of the line 2014(mid)rMBP and I could not for the life of me figure out why it was so hot when only using a small amount of resources running Safari and the likes.

    Thanks so much for the tip, turning Automatic Graphics Switching off did the trick! 50 C cooler while idle now! I am so happy I got the one with Nvidia graphics instead of onboard only 😀

    Gotta be said, I usually plug it into my UHD 4k monitor so the CPU graphics are realy being fried with that setup.

    Just wanted to say Thanks and share my experience 🙂

    • Mach Machines Reply

      We at MachMachines are so glad that we could be of help! Will notify Michelle of your comment. I am sure she will love to read it too! 🙂

  25. Magnar Reply

    I´ve understood over the night that this tip mentioned above with disabling Automatic Graphics Switching is not valid for 13″ Macbook Pro, they purely uses the Intel HD 4000 Graphics-chip.

    I think this is the main reason for my ever annoying fan problems.

  26. Magnar Reply

    I couldn´t either find System Preferences -> Energy Saver -> Graphics -> Choose “Better Battery Life” or System Preferences -> Energy Saver -> Uncheck Automatic Graphics Switching.

    Where can I find this in OSX Mavericks ? And how can I manually deactivate this if not ? 🙂

  27. Rebecca Reynolds Reply

    My MBP did not have the automatic switching setting although the other energy saving setting change did help bring the temperatures down. I am not able to resume using it on my lap.

    Have to look into a cooling pad as well….

  28. Jose Gonzalez Reply

    The graphic card setting change fixed my problem. Incredible! Thanks a lot for the tips. I haven’t even tried the other tips but this worked like a charm.

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