How to Adjust Mac Fan Speed Manually with Macs Fan Control

Jul 3, 2019 - 9 Comments

Manually control Mac fans with Mac Fan Control

Advanced Mac users may wish to occasionally manually control their Macs fan speed, along with monitoring the active fan speed and keeping an eye on the various internal temperature gauges of their Mac. This can be helpful for performance reasons, but also for some troubleshooting situations, or even if you want to attempt some drastic intervention to manually cool the temperature of a hot Mac.

The aptly named Macs Fan Control application allows for this. But remember, the Mac will adjust fans on its own depending on temperatures as needed, so intervening on your own is generally not wise nor recommended.

Manually controlling Mac fan speed is not without risk, so if you don’t know what you’re doing and how to not damage your computer, you should not use these type of apps. Failure to adequately cool a Mac can result in performance problems, crashes, and even permanent damage to hardware. Overusing a fan could result in hardware failure as well. This app and others like it are for advanced users who have the sufficient knowledge and experience to understand what they’re doing and why they’re doing it, and to avoid harming their computers.

Use this app entirely at your own risk, as it may damage your Mac. If you are not a very advanced Mac user, do not use this app and do not attempt to adjust fan speeds.

How to Manually Control Mac Fan Speed

Warning: The Mac Fans Control app assumes you are an advanced computer user and comes with the following warning from the developer: “This program is for advanced users who know how to use it without doing harm to their macs. The authors are not liable for data loss, damages, profit loss or any other types of losses connected with the use or misuse of the program.” Take that warning seriously!

  1. Get Macs Fan Control free from the developer here
  2. Launch Macs Fan Control, then click on the “Custom” button to manually adjust the speed of the Mac fans based on either a constant RPM value or a sensor-based temperature value
  3. Adjusting the Mac fan speed to a custom setting

  4. Select “Auto” to return to the default settings
  5. Mac Fan Control temperature and settings

You can see the current temperature and fan speed from the menu bar item once the app is open, even if it’s not the most forefront app.

See Mac Fan speed and Mac temperature from menubar

Similarly, if you are in Macs Fan Control you’ll be able to see temperature readings from the various onboard temperature sensors on the Mac.

View fan speed and temperature readings from sensors with Mac Fan Control

Any custom settings in Macs Fan Control should be reset and cleared before quitting out of the app or uninstalling it (the app should do this itself, but don’t depend on that).

If there are persistent changes to fan behavior then you can reset the SMC on MacBook Air & MacBook Pro (2018 and newer) and reset the SMC on prior Macs to clear the system management controller. Note that resetting SMC will not fix a damaged fan or damaged hardware, so if you broke something by improperly using the app that will be your own problem to deal with.

If you use Macs Fan Control and find it beneficial for some purpose, you can even get a Windows version too. That’s helpful if you run Windows 10 in Boot Camp on a Mac and want to manually control your Mac fans from the Windows side of things too.

It can not be emphasized enough that these sort of applications are intended for very advanced computer users who understand the risks of manually intervening in hardware performance and behavior. The vast majority of Mac users should not ever attempt to use apps to adjust fan behavior or anything similar, as they will likely experience problems they would not otherwise have. If your interest in adjusting fan speed is purely based on temperature, a better solution would be to focus on ways to keep the Mac cool in hot climates.

Note that an overheating Mac will often simply crash or freeze, and unlike the iPhone which displays a temperature warning, the Mac will typically just stop being responsive, often with the cursor failing to move as well, when the machine as overheated. Excessive heat is damaging to electronics, so do your best to avoid putting your hardware into situations where the device is running in a hot environment or is not able to adequately cool down.

The capability to manually adjust fan speeds and control a Macs fan system has been around for quite a while, and longtime readers may recall SMCFanControl from the original Intel MacBook line from back in 2007, and that tool still works on those older Macs, whereas Macs Fan Control functions on modern Macs.

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Posted by: Paul Horowitz in Mac OS X, Tips & Tricks


» Comments RSS Feed

  1. Luke says:

    Been using this app for years. Can’t recommend it highly enough!

  2. LexS says:

    GOOD article !
    Feet on the ground again

  3. Hans says:

    For “iStats Menu” users:
    This functionality is build into this application as well :-)

  4. Garry says:

    Good article. Warnings about risks are important. However, many non-expert users with certain old iMacs are getting SSD upgrades which don’t have temperature sensors. They need a fan control app or will find fans running @ 100%. A review of alternative apps would be nice.

  5. Chip says:

    Since the Mac controls the speed based on temperature, I’m entirely unable to think of any situation where anyone would need to manually control the fan.

    • Robert D says:

      There are plenty of good reasons to control the fan speed, 1) keeping the components in your machine cooler improves performance, making it less likely to thermal throttle the CPU/GPU/SSD, 2), keeping the machine cooler can improve longevity of your computers components, 3) Apple’s fan curve is aimed at silence over performance, so if you use CPU/GPU/SSD intensive apps it can be very annoying to have the fans ramping up and down all the time. Setting a custom fan curve can help reduce that annoyance.

  6. Steven Zucker says:

    Thanks for the article, so I am interested in following the internal temperature of my MAC, which temperature sensor is the best one to follow????? MACS Fan control lets me follow 6 different temperatures, confusing! And at what temperature should I worry?

    • Greg iTon says:

      Don’t worry about any of them, your Mac will handle the fan and temperature on its own. If you just want to keep an eye on them, most people follow CPU temperature.

      The only situations where adjusting fans really is relevant is if you’re overclocking (very advanced) or you’re trying to run a fan at full speed to cool it down when in the sun or something like that.

      99.9999999% of users this does not matter and don’t mess with the fans, it’ll do more harm than good.

      You can also use apps like iStat Menu to keep track of internal temperatures and other stats for the system, those are better for most people since that app is supported by the developer.

  7. arniii says:

    Back when I had a still functional 2102 Macbook Pro, the version with the problematical GPU card, the generally acknowledged way to prolong the life of these GPU cards between replacements was with aggressive fan control. The tool of choice was an app called Temperature Gauge Pro, which automated the process of this fan control aggression. It worked very well for this.

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