Problem: If you’re a MacBook Pro user, you may be experiencing issues with your fan constantly running, making loud noises, or not working at all. These issues can be frustrating and may indicate a more significant problem with your computer.
MacBook Pro Fan Always On
A MacBook Pro fan should always be on. However, it should not be excessively noisy or running at a high speed all the time. If it is running at maximum RPM (usually about 6000 on a MacBook Pro), this indicates there is software running on your Mac that is stressing the CPU or GPU.
- Close Apps that require heavy GPU use. Open “Activity Monitor” (In Finder, navigate to Applications > Utilities. In that folder, you’ll find Activity Monitor) to see which apps are using the most CPU. You can also see which apps are using the most energy as well. Apps like Photoshop, Final Cut Pro, and VMware Fusion/Parallels tend to cause the fans to speed up, as the temperature of your CPU/GPU will increase when using those apps.
- Disable Flash in your browser. Flash is now disabled by default in Firefox. In Chrome, you can use Flashcontrol to disable instances of Flash (it still allows you to view Flash on a per-site basis as needed). It’s one of the biggest causes of CPU/GPU stress, and will no doubt increase your MacBook Pro fan speed because Flash is so intensive on hardware.
- Restart your MacBook Pro. If the fan is continually running at a high speed, try a Restart.
- If a restart doesn’t work, try resetting the SMC and PRAM. The SMC reset especially may help. Find out how to Reset the SMC here.
Fixing a Noisy MacBook Pro Fan
If your MacBook Pro fan is loud most of the time, it may indicate it’s running faster than it should be, or there is something triggering it to do this.
1 – Check The Running Apps and Browser
The more apps and browsers you leave running at the same time, the more likely that the device will overheat. In this case, your MacBook’s fan will have to run constantly at a high speed. If overheating persists for a long time, your Mac’s fan may even reach its limits and make some loud noises. Therefore, you should reduce the number of apps that your Mac is running in order to prevent your fan from getting too hot.
To see which apps are taking up the most CPU, open Activity Monitor, click on the CPU tab. Now You will see a list of running apps. If you see any apps that are not essential, you can close them to see if that stops the fans. Click on the process and then click on the X above to stop it.
In practical experience, graphics-heavy apps like Photoshop or iMovie can take up a big load of resources. You should close them if you no longer use them. Chrome usually takes up more RAM than Safari does, so you should try switching to a different web browser. When you want to listen to music on Spotify or Apple Music, you should consider using them on an iPhone instead of a MacBook. These are great ways to reduce system overload on your Mac and prevent overheating.
2 – Free-up Your Mac Storage
Low storage space can also be a reason for the fan noise on your Mac. A nearly full SSD drive will have a much slower write and read speed. Therefore, it will put more pressure on your Mac’s CPU. When the CPU is overloaded, your computer will heat up constantly, thereby causing the fans to spin even harder and make noises.
You can instantly find and delete those large, storage-consuming files on your Mac. Or you can follow this guide to clean all the junk and cache files for more storage on your Mac. You can also buy an external storage drive to reduce the overload for your hard drive.
3 – Make Sure The Air Can Circulate
All the Mac models have some vents on their bodies so air can circulate and keep your device cooler. In some cases, these vents can be blocked due to your Mac placement. For example, some users have the habit of placing their mac on a pillow or a cushion when using it. This is not only dangerous but also prevents the air from circulating around, thereby causing the Mac to heat up rapidly. And again, if it is overheated, your MacBook’s fans will be forced to run at maximum capacity, thus causing noises.
Using a stand for your Mac will be the solution in this case. A stand will raise the Mac off the flat surface and allow the air to circulate underneath it. There are many stands on the market nowadays, but we highly recommend using Apple’s MacBook Stand.
4 – Clean Cooling Vents and Fans
Sometimes the vents can be blocked by dust and dirt. You can clean the building-up dust easily with a hoover. However, if you don’t clean it frequently, the dust builds up inside your Mac and clogs up the fan, which leads to abnormal noises.
In this case, you will need to open up your Mac and clean the fans. By using a tiny Phillips-head screwdriver, you can remove the bottom panel of your MacBook to clean out any dirt and dust that have been there for a while. In addition, you can use a can of compressed air to blow away any debris or use a small piece of lint-free cloth to wipe them away. Make sure that the fans, the vents, and the back of your Mac are cleaned. This will make a clean passage for maximum airflow
If you are not very good with screwdrivers, you can take your MacBook to the nearest Support Center for cleaning services.
Here are some tools you may need:
5 – Reset SMC ( System Management Controller)
If your MacBook’s fans keep spinning and making a loud noise, you can try resetting SMC. The SMC is responsible for controlling low-level functions on your Mac, including the cooling system. Different Mac models will have different SMC resetting methods. You can check out this post for more details.
6 – Test Your Fan
There is a chance that the fan noise on your Mac is happening due to some issues with the cooling fan itself. Luckily, all MacBook models now have a hardware diagnostics tool.
All you need to do is Plug in the MacBook charger, remove all peripherals, restart the device, and hold the D key to open the hardware diagnostic program.
Follow the on-screen instructions to run the test. A standard test normally takes a few minutes and will report any hardware issues. You can also go for an extended test, which may last for hours.
If there are any issues with your hardware, the tool will let you know in the form of reference codes. You can check out this Apple Support page to know more about the codes. There are three codes, which start with “PFF”, related to your Mac’s fan. If you get one of these codes in your test result, there may be a problem with your cooling fan. In this case, you should contact Apple Support or visit the nearest Apple Center.
7 – Free up memory and processing power.
Another solution for noisy Mac fan issues is finding out what uses so much processing power on your machine. Here is how to do it:
- Open Activity Monitor (Applications > Utilities).
- In the CPU tab, there is a list of all active tasks and apps. Locate the most resource-heavy one which usually will be at the top.
- Click on that task and press the “X” sign in the top left corner to close it.
- You may need to replace the fans. If these solutions still haven’t solved your problem, then it could be a hardware malfunction. Old fans are typically louder than new ones. If your fans are always noisy, even when not running very fast, this would indicate that the fans have simply worn out.
Controlling MacBook Pro Fan Speed
By default, the firmware in a MacBook Pro controls the speed of the fans. Apple pre-determines when the fans should kick in at high speed if the CPU/GPU is hot. Apple doesn’t provide any friendly interfaces to control the fan behavior manually, so you have to install third-party utilities to do this.
Smcfancontrol gives you the control to decide what speeds your fans should be running at. You can set favorite settings for the left/right fans in your MacBook Pro. By default, on ordinary load, the fans in a MacBook Pro run at 2000 RPM. I’ve always run mine at 3000 RPM, to keep the CPU/GPU temperatures extra low. If you are running Flash, a game, or something else that’s CPU/GPU intensive (video encoding, compressing files, decompression, image manipulation, etc), then you can choose to select your Higher RPM favorite setting, e.g. 5000 RPM. Although this will make the fans louder, it will keep your Mac a lot cooler.
The iStats program, which you can run in the Terminal, gives a useful overview of the current CPU temperature, Battery Health, and Fan Speeds.
Install iStats and learn how to use it >
Install Macs Fan Control
Start by downloading the Macs Fan Control app and moving it to the Applications folder. Now, when you open the app, you’ll see a list of options to set custom controls for your Mac fan. While choosing “Auto” keeps the default setting, the “Custom” option allows you to set a specific RPM value and target temperature.
There is also a sensor-based value option that mimics the automatic behavior but it also lets you select the maximum temperature higher if you want more performance, or lower if you’d like your fans to be quieter. Plus, this app also lets you monitor the temperature sensors in your system.
Note: Manually slowing down your Mac fan will make the system run a lot hotter, and could lead to system instability if you let it go too far. So, you should monitor the temperatures of your CPU and other components to make sure you’re not causing any damage to the system.
11 thoughts on “MacBook Pro Fan Always On, Loud Or Not Working”
Thanks for this great post
Was hoping to see something on the last topic, since my fan isn’t working at all. Too bad there is nothing about this in the article, making it bad for me. Hope to see an update.
The fan starts running with a grinding noise at startup. I did an smc reset – didn’t seem to reset. Didn’t work. I did a PRAM reset. Didn’t work. The temp is not even high according to smcfancontrol. I will have no app open and nothing opening on startup. The fan runs with a grindy noise all the time. Should I probably replace it?
Try rebooting your device and turn it back on. If nothing works, make sure you bring your laptop to a local Apple Store to get support
Since there is a grinding noise, then there are two possibilities.
1. There something obstructing the fan blades or
2. The ball bearing for the fan axle is failing due to dirt getting into the casing or the lubrication drying or seeping out.
For 1. Try blowing out any dust or particles using compressed air from a can.
For 2. If the ball bearing is failing or dirty, then you’ll need to replace the fan.
Thanks for this great post. It helped me.
“A MacBook Pro fan should always be on”
This is simply not true, dear Mac Experts.
The 2015 and newer Mac Book Pros turn the fans off when not under load. The 2015 and newer MacBook Pros are semi-passive cooled.
I had same problem before with my mac, it was running at high speed eve. tried resetting the SMC and PRAM and didn’t work. But when i opened it to replace the feet pad of the cover, i noticed the battery is already bulging. Replaced the battery and also solved the issue of always running at high speed.
I tried Resetting everything – The Laptop / SMC / PRAM but all to no avail.
Brand new MacBook Pro- only running Internet- one month old and fans going crazy. Bad sign
unfortunately this seems to be a common problem for MacBook Pro users. Hopefully it’ll be fixed in future models