Fixing MacBook fan noise: 7 reasons your Mac fan is so loud
We all love our Macs, and one of the reasons for this affection is that they don’t make much noise. Well, most of the time. In some cases, out of nowhere, they start sounding like a jet engine. If you’re asking yourself, “Why is my Mac fan so loud?” you’re in the right place. In this article, we’ll explain why Mac fan is running loud and cover some easy fixes for the issue.
Why is your Mac fan so loud?
Your Mac fan may kickstart when you’re running intensive tasks or resource-heavy apps that make your Mac overheat. With MacBooks in particular, fan noise can sound as though your Mac wants to take off. By the way, in case of overheating, your Mac usually slows down.
If your fan has been louder than usual, there are some safe ways to reduce fan noise and cool down your Mac, which we’ll cover in this article.
Popular solutions to Mac fan noise
There are several solutions for a loud Mac cooling fan, and you should be able to get it under control fairly soon.
1. Improve air circulation
Sometimes, we’re all tempted to use our Macs in bed. But it’s important to remember that duvets and soft pillows can affect your Mac fan behavior. Any soft surface you put your Mac on can cover the air vents on your machine, making the fan run faster and louder.
So, the quickest solution is to place your Mac on a flat surface and 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 preserve hardware and data — give the Mac a few minutes to cool down.
For a more long-term fix, there are countless Mac holders and laptop stands for a bed you can buy. They elevate a Mac off the surface and provide a better view angle, which helps improve your posture, solving several problems at once.
2. Make sure you’re using an official adapter
Apple recommends using official accessories, and an adapter is no exception. If you’ve noticed the Mac fan noise issue after changing it, make sure it’s an official one. Another tip: plug the adapter into your Mac first and only then connect it to the mains.
3. Wipe the dust off your Mac
Mac fans may go wild if you haven’t cleaned them for a while. Just like they need proper air circulation, they may become noisy if dust builds up. In this case, the solution is pretty straightforward — use a hoover to remove dust. Be sure, though, to keep the nozzle at a distance to avoid any damage. Alternatively, you can use compressed air to clean dust. If you’re not sure you can cope with it by yourself, it is generally a good idea to have your Mac cleaned by professionals. Usually, it is available at repair shops.
4. Free up memory and processing power
Another solution — also a useful short and long-term fix — is finding out what uses so much processing power. It can be an app or process that runs in the background and drains your CPU.
To find out what is taking up processing power, the first place to look is Activity Monitor.
- Open Activity Monitor (Applications > Utilities).
- In the CPU tab, you will see the list of all active tasks and apps. The most resource-heavy will be at the top.
- Click the task and hit the “X” sign in the top left corner to quit the process.
Disable heavy memory consumers
There’s a quicker and easier way to identify heavy-consuming apps and processes and quit them. CleanMyMac X has a handy Menu app that monitors those intensive tasks as you use your Mac and allows you to shut them down. The app is notarized by Apple and has a free version to try out.
- Download CleanMyMac X for free here.
- Open the app.
- Go to your menu bar and click the CleanMyMac X icon.
- Here, click CPU. Your CPU monitor will appear.
CleanMyMac X identifies the apps that heavily drain your CPU and thus overburden the fan. You’ll see those apps listed in the Top Consumers section. Click Quit next to the app you want to close. That’s all!
5. Test your cooling fans
If your Mac has been continuously exposed to heat, its cooling devices may become unstable. Overheating may damage not only the fan but your whole computer: your Mac may shut down unexpectedly when the thermals fail to cool the laptop.
If your Mac has been overheating, and you’re worried whether the fan is not damaged, one thing you could do is run Apple Diagnostics.
How to run Apple Diagnostics (Apple Hardware Test)
To run Apple Diagnostics on your Mac, open this instruction on any other device and get started. First, disconnect all external devices except the keyboard, speakers, mouse, and display. Now, follow the steps below based on the Mac model you have.
For a Mac with Apple silicon:
- Start up your Mac.
- Continue to press and hold the power button as your Mac turns on.
- Release the power button when the startup options window appears.
- Press Command-D to run the Diagnostics.
- Apple Diagnostics will run automatically. When it is complete, it will present a list of the problems encountered.
For an Intel-based Mac:
- Start up your Mac and press and hold the D key while it turns on.
- Release the key when the progress bar appears or when you’re asked to select a language.
When it’s finished, you will see the list of problems it has diagnosed.
6. 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 loud fan noise is to reset SMC settings.
For Macs with non-removable batteries (which is the majority in use now):
- Unplug the power cord.
- Go to the Apple menu > Shut Down.
- Once it has shut down, press Shift-Control-Option on the left side of the keyboard.
- Now press the power button and keep all four buttons pressed for 10 seconds.
- Release all of the keys and press the power button to switch it on again.
For Macs with removable batteries:
- Turn off your Mac.
- Remove the battery.
- Press the power button and hold it for a few seconds.
- Reinstall the battery.
- Press the power button to turn on your Mac.
For newer Macs with an Apple T2 Security Chip (2018 and later Macs), the process is slightly different:
- Shut down your computer.
- Press and hold Control-Option-Shift for 7 seconds.
- Then press the power button and hold all four keys for another 7 seconds. The Mac may turn on and off during the process.
- Release the keys, wait a few seconds, and turn on your Mac.
For a Mac with Apple silicon, go to the Apple menu > Restart.
7. Free up space on your Mac
Free hard drive space is like fuel for your processor. When your drive is cluttered, the processor reaches its peak capacity and begins asking for some fresh air. 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.
CleanMyMac cleaner could be helpful in this case.
It removes system junk, outdated cache files, and broken downloads. In our case, we could find 16.69 GB worth of useless files.
After giving your Mac some brief rest and preventing heavy or unnecessary apps from running when they aren’t needed, your computer 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.