Fixing MacBook fan noise: 6 reasons your Mac fan is so loud

Most of the time, a Mac doesn't make much noise. Then at times, out of nowhere, a Mac fan can become noisy pretty quickly, which can soon get annoying, especially if there’s no obvious reason. So why is MacBook fan so loud all of a sudden?

It isn't a good sign either. It usually means there is something wrong and a solution is needed to get a Mac fan under control. With MacBooks in particular, fan noise when overheating can sound as though your Mac wants to take off. In this article, we look at how to solve this particular problem and how to fix MacBook fan noise. By the way, in case of overheating your Mac usually slows down. If that is the problem, we recommend to try one of the Mac speedup tools in CleanMyMac X so you can optimize Mac memory usage.

Popular solutions to Mac fan noise 

There are a number of solutions for a loud Mac cooling fan, and you should be able to get it under control fairly soon. 

1. Improve air circulation 

Inside a Mac, where there is a lot of processing power — if not moving parts (as there aren't many of them in modern Macs, MacBook Pros and Airs) — and the more you use it, and harder it’s working, the more air is needed to cool it down. 

The fan is designed to keep internal processes and systems cool, so that a Mac keeps working. But like any fan, it needs air and good circulation to make it work. 

So the quickest solution is to prop the Mac up, give the fan more air to work with. Unless you need to keep working — which isn’t advisable as a Mac that overheats too much could switch off, to persevere hardware and data - give the Mac a few minutes to cool down. Not unlike an athlete: It will be working again soon, it just needs time to rest before you can get started again. 

For a more long-term fix, there are countless Mac and laptop holders you can buy; they elevate a Mac off the surface of a desk and improve posture and how a Mac users views a screen with it being elevated, solving several problems at once.

2. Free up memory and processing power 

Another solution, also one that is a useful short and long-term fix, is to find out what is using processing power, then either switch apps off or delete them if they're not needed. 

To find out what is taking up processing power, the first place to look is Activity Monitor. 

  1. Go to Applications; 
  2. Click on Utilities > Activity Monitor; 
  3. Activity Monitor will show what is taking up CPU and GPU; 
  4. Giving you the ability to close anything that is clearly taking up too much battery power.

3. Disable heavy memory consumers

If there are apps you don't need using too much power and therefore making your Mac overheat, the best way to remove them is to use a Mac maintenance tool, CleanMyMac X. This application is notarized by Apple.

Within this, you can switch off or remove for good: Login items, Launch agents and various add-ons. 

Make sure to check the Heavy Consumers feature. It will show you the apps that heavily drain your CPU and thus overburden the fan.

4. Test your cooling fans

If your Mac has been continuously exposed to heat, its cooling devices may become unstable. Macbook pro fan noise happens when you leave your Mac under the sun or inside the locked car for too long. Are your cooling fans damaged already? Probably not, but you can do a quick hardware test.

How to run Apple Diagnostics (Apple Hardware Test)

  • Shut down your computer.
  • Turn on the power button and hold down the D key.
  • Keep holding it down until you see “Choose language”

5. Reset SMC settings

SMC stands for System Management Controller. This is a driver responsible for your Mac's hardware including fans, processor, and motherboard. So one potential solution to a loud fan noise is to reset SMC settings: 

  1. For Mac’s with non-removable batteries (which is the majority in use now): Go to the Apple menu > Shut Down; 
  2. Once it has shut down, press Shift-Control-Option on the left side of the keyboard; 
  3. Now press the power button for at least 10 seconds; 
  4. Release all of the keys and press the power button to switch on again. 

6. Free up space on your Mac

Free hard drive space is a like fuel for your processor. When your drive is cluttered, the processor reaches its peak capacity and begins asking for some fresh air. So, the least-invasive method to fix a roaring fan, is to delete junk on your startup drive.  You'll be surprised how much space you can free up, without deleting any important data.

A free edition of CleanMyMac cleaner could be helpful in this case.

It removes system junk, outdated cache files, broken downloads. In my case, I could find 7.96 GB worth of useless files.

Between giving your Mac some air, and a brief rest, and preventing heavy or unnecessary apps and systems from running when they aren't needed, it should cool down and start operating normally. If those solutions still haven't solved the problem, then it could be a hardware malfunction. It is then worth taking the Mac to a certified Apple repair shop, or Apple Genius Bar. 

As mentioned above, CleanMyMac X is worth downloading. This app is notarized by Apple and is aimed at finding hidden problems on Macs. If you're wondering why is your MacBook's fan so loud all of a sudden, it can isolate a couple of potential culprits, especially when it comes to lack of memory. And we hope you've solved your MacBook fan noise problem by now.

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