8 Ways to Keep a Mac Cool in Hot Weather
For those of us in the northern hemisphere, summer is fast approaching and that can often mean extreme heat which pushes the temperature limits beyond what any computer is intended to operate in. In fact, Apple species ambient operating temperatures for most Macs as between 50° and 95° fahrenheit, this means that anything above 95° goes beyond the conditions the Mac was specified to function within.
Does that mean you can’t use your computer in intense heat? Most likely not, it just means you have to find ways to help keep it cool. With that in mind, here are some tips to keep a portable Mac cool when faced with blazing temperatures, they should be applicable to any MacBook, MacBook Pro, or MacBook Air. Some of these solutions come by way of OSXDaily reader Niladri Haldar, who regularly uses his MacBook Pro in summer temperatures over 100° without incident.
- Avoid using a Mac on a bed or fabric surface – Anything soft doesn’t allow for sufficient heat dispersion and can even block the air ventilation on many portable Macs, try to always use a Mac on a hard surface of wood, metal, or glass
- Use a Laptop Stand – anything that raises a Mac away from a base surface allows for heat to radiate out and for air to flow around it, cooling the hardware. I use a Griffin Elevator Stand and on hot summer days it can mean the difference between having the fans blasting or not having them on at all
- Raise the Rear of a MacBook – No laptop stand? Make do with what you have, and try placing the rear of the Mac elevated by a hardcover book or something similar. It’s not as effective as a laptop stand, but this promotes airflow and can make a significant difference in keeping hardware cool.
- Place a Mac at the edge of a table or desk – No stand and no book to raise the computer with? Try hovering the rear end of a MacBook over the edge of a desk or surface to increase air flow where Macs blow out their heat
- Use a Fan – Yes, a standard room fan. This may sound silly but if you’re in an environment without Air Conditioning and the mercury is rising, pointing a fan onto a Mac will blow cool air onto it and help disperse heat. If you’re using a Mac in temperatures over 90°, this is one of the best things you can do to not only keep yourself cool but also your computer.
- Keep Away from the Sun – Again this may seem like common sense, but using a computer in direct sunlight places an unnecessary burden on the fans. Even on reasonably mild sunny days the sun can cause fans to go into overdrive, it’s best to avoid direct sunlight completely.
- Frozen Peas to the Rescue – This might sound crazily stupid, but during a heatwave last summer I pulled a bag of frozen peas out of the freezer and placed my then toasty MacBook Pro on top of it so I could play Starcraft 2 despite the 100° ambient temperature. The result was practically no fan usage. You’ll want to be very cautious to avoid condensation from the frozen bag though, so setting a thin layer of hard plastic or something similar between the frozen veges and Mac is a good idea
- Consider a Cooling Pad – Some third party laptop stands have built-in fans that blow directly onto the underside of a computer, these can be very effective
Finally, a quick word of advice: if you’re in extreme heat and you don’t have any method to cool down your Mac, do yourself a favor and don’t use it at all until you get out of the crazy weather. Heat is one of the most detrimental forces to anything electronic and overheating can lead directly to reduced lifespan of hardware, diminished battery capacity, and other problems. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.
Do you have any special tips you use to keep a Mac cool during intense heat? Let us know in the comments.