Why is my Mac overheating and how to fix it

Apple’s line of MacBook laptops are known for their longevity. You can expect top build quality, a huge and precise trackpad, top-notch speakers, and a great display from the MacBook. While the MacBook Air / Pro is known for its excellent hardware, battery life and heat management are sore points for a MacBook. The problem is even more evident with the latest MacBook Air line featuring a fanless design.

Why is my Mac overheating and how to fix it

Overheating MacBook can cause several issues on your laptop. The behavior decreases battery life, slows down your Mac, and makes you uncomfortable using MacBook on your lap. Ultimately, this impacts your workflow and hurts your productivity.

There can be various factors behind the Mac overheating issues. Troubleshooting solutions are based on the age, model, and usage pattern of your MacBook.

In this article, we will talk about the reasons that cause Mac overheating issues and the top eight steps to take to fix the issue. Let’s start.

1. Force quit unnecessary applications

All Windows users who have recently switched to using MacBook should try this solution first. In Windows, you can press the Close button in any application and the system will exit the application from memory. The behavior is slightly different on macOS. When you press the “x” mark in the macOS, it only closes the application window. Applications continue to run in the background. Notice this point under the app icon on the Dock? Well, that indicates that the app is still running.

Exit applications

Why is my Mac overheating and how to fix it

When you run dozens of apps on a MacBook (the ones with 4GB RAM) it can slow down your system and lead to overheating issues. You should force quit unnecessary apps that you are not using. Tap the app icon with a two-finger click on a trackpad and select the Exit option from the floating menu. This will quit the application and free up system memory.

2. Use the activity monitor

macOS lets you install apps from the App Store and other sources. Occasionally, an incompatible application may use an unusual amount of resources and battery. In such a situation, you need to identify and force quit these apps from the built-in activity monitor in macOS.

Activity monitor

Why is my Mac overheating and how to fix it

Use Command + Space keys to launch the projector and locate the activity monitor and press Enter. The menu will display the open applications and their energy impact on the system. If you witness an unusual spike in usage, select the app and tap the “x” mark in the upper left corner to force quit the app.

3. Keep an eye on charge cycles

All MacBook batteries are lithium-ion type. These batteries have a limited lifespan and degrade over time. Most MacBook Pro and Air models come with 1000 charge cycles (check your model’s battery charge cycles on the official Apple website). After 4 to 5 years of use, you should check the number of charge cycles your MacBook has.

Use the Command + Space keys to open Spotlight Search and enter System Information to open the menu. Go to Hardware> Food, and here you’ll see the number of cycles in the Health Info menu.

Number of cycles

Why is my Mac overheating and how to fix it

If the number is abnormally different from your usage, it may cause overheating issues. It’s time to replace the MacBook battery with a new one.

4. Use battery status management

Battery Health Management is designed to intelligently improve its battery life, which ultimately helps prevent overheating issues on Mac. The Battery Health Management option limits the charge cycles on your MacBook. It learns how to use your MacBook and limits the device’s charge to 100% if needed.

The company recently introduced the feature with the macOS 10.15.5 update. The feature can only be enabled on MacBook models with Thunderbolt 3 USB Type-C ports.

Battery health management

Why is my Mac overheating and how to fix it

Open System Preferences> Power Saver> Battery Status> enable the “Battery Status Management” option.

5. Keep track of temperature and battery condition

The main reason for the MacBook overheating problem is the battery temperature which gets unnecessarily high. Apple doesn’t offer any official way to display battery temperature and status. Enter a third-party app called coconutBattery 3.

Coconut Battery 3

Why is my Mac overheating and how to fix it

You can use the app to view detailed information like battery temperature, status, available capacity, full capacity, date of manufacture, etc.

6. Use Safari instead of Google Chrome

Google Chrome is the world’s most popular browser. At the same time, the browser is infamous for the aggressive use of RAM and battery. You should ditch Chrome and go for the built-in Safari browser as it’s battery-friendly and gets the job done. If you can’t live without Chrome extensions, go for the Chromium-based Microsoft Edge browser, which supports all Chrome extensions.

In my testing I saw battery improvements when using the Microsoft Edge browser compared to Google Chrome.

7. Disable CPU Turbo Boost

All MacBooks feature Intel’s Turbo Boost technology which automatically increases the processor clock speed above the base clock for better performance. While this helps to get complete tasks done in a short period of time, it takes a toll on your MacBook’s battery life. The behavior can cause overheating issues on your Mac.

Unfortunately, there is no direct way to turn off Turbo Boost on your MacBook. Enter a third-party app called Turbo Boost which you can use to turn off the Turbo Boost feature.

The app claims to reduce CPU usage by 60%, which translates to 30-50% longer battery life on older models. The application offers real-time CPU load, fan speed and battery temperature from the menu bar.

8. Update the MacBook with the latest software

The MacBook battery issue might be caused by a buggy version of macOS on your device. Apple usually releases operating system updates quickly to keep macOS running smoothly and without issue. At the same time, Apple is also adding some battery-related features (see macOS 10.15.5) to increase the battery life of the MacBook.

Mac OS Update

Why is my Mac overheating and how to fix it

It is always advisable to keep your macOS up to date. Open System Preferences> Software Update> download and install the latest operating system and make sure your MacBook is running the latest version of macOS.

Fix Mac Overheating Issue

MacBook overheating issues can be irritating. The high temperature of your MacBook decreases the screen time and the battery life of your laptop. Go through the list above and fix Mac overheating issues ASAP.


Looking to optimize your Mac? Read the article below to find the seven best macOS apps to optimize your Mac.

Last updated on August 4, 2020

The above article may contain affiliate links that help support Guiding Tech. However, this does not affect our editorial integrity. The content remains impartial and authentic.

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