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 specifies 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.
How to Keep a Mac From Overheating in Hot Weather
Using a Mac in the heat? Here are some tips to help keep the Mac cool and usable in abnormally warm temperature environments:
- 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.
- Stay in the shade – If you’re outdoors and in the heat, or even in a sunny window with hot sun and a warm ambient room temperature, try to keep the Mac in the shade. The goal is to not add any additional heat to the computer.
- 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
Another trick that some users use is to manually force the Mac fans to run at higher speeds using fan control software. This can be helpful to cool down a Mac, but modifying fan behavior is not recommended nor is it supported by Apple, and could theoretically lead to hardware issues, thus it’s really not a good idea for most users to attempt this.
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.
It’s also worth mentioning that some Macs are better at cooling than others, and thermal efficiency varies per hardware, as well as fan use and design. For example, I have a 2018 MacBook Air that overheats constantly on warm days, and when used in the direct sun on even moderate days, whereas the same environments are tolerated better with a 2015 MacBook Pro.
Do you have any special tips you use to keep a Mac cool during intense heat? Let us know in the comments.
I’ve been using Macs Fan Control for a few years now… I would normally leave such things up to Apple to control but my Mid 2012 Macbook Pro gets so VERY HOT that it Literally Burns your skin to touch the left or middle rear of the case.. And the Bottom gets even hotter.. Burning Hot, and CPU says 200-220° Fahrenheit. Especially when Streaming Videos or Rendering Videos to File. This cannot be good for the hardware.. so it is why I resorted to instituting MFC. I’d rather use this and take a chance than to watch the Motherboard Melt under Apple’s control. I also elevate my Macbook Pro 1 inch using some felt Pads I got at a local hardware store.
What abt an usb fan pad ? Will it save my 12 years old mbp from this 40 indian heat wave ? I must use it for work few hours every day…
Put your mac on a hotplate, one with lots of holes in it.
It cooled it down in a few minutes (it’s about 40° celsius here).
1. Drill holes into the case. Google it.
2. Use CPUsetter and/or Turbo Boost switcher.
3. & 4
Hello, I written an open source service for OSX that monitors the temperarture of the Mac and adjusts the fan(s) speed in order to make it run cooler.
It supports different algorithms to calculate the speed of the fans and you can find it here: https://github.com/marcolinuz/keep-cool/blob/master/README.md
I hope it will be helpful. :)
I’m sorry if I’m pointing the obvious but the word “Mac” in every part of this article can and, indeed should, be replaced by “Laptop”
Take a mousepad and stick it in the freezer.
[…] help to improve the longterm battery life of the iPad. Remember, intense heat = bad, whether its a Mac, iPad, iPhone, or anything else with a battery for that […]
I have always used a stable table with all my laptops I have used. They are the exact size for a 15″. Also, I didn’t have to buy one as there was one lying around from when we were kids.
I use three of those Ice Bricks that I get in the mail with medications. If you lay three of them in a row they are the size of the MBP 15″. I wrap them in a towel so I don’t have to worry about condensation and then place my MBP on top of them. If it feels like it’s getting two cold I’ll tip it up onto them so that only the back edge is on the ice blocks, this keeps the hottest part of the MPB cool while not freezing it. It also allows ventilation around the casing.
I have to add that Apple was pretty stupid to not put decent vents in the MBP!
How about a ChillBed laptop cooling stand made from solid aluminum?
A great way to keep your MacBook cool without fans. No wasted battery life. Engineering tests have shown up to %40 cooling with these Canadian made stands.
Available at Simply.ca in Vancouvet or on line.
Back in the day when I was called to desktop pcs that were not working due to overheating I’d often find a load of nasty grey material had settled on the circuits so stopping heat from getting away.. Maybe blowing compressed air throughout the laptop might also be something to consider?
Another advice is not to put it on white surfices, because
white color reflects the heat back to the mac, and it heats up!!
Two small door stops always are with me to raise the back of my MacBookPro, cheap, easy, works!
Alternative for #2, I’m using a cooling rack (for cookies).
My Mabook Air survived the past brazilian summer (40º C), even pushing it to the limits, playing WoW for hours.
What I did is put a fan direct pointed to it at max exaust.
9. Consider for once not to use your laptop on a hot sunny day and go to the beach instead ;-)
This may be the best advice yet!
I wish I lived near the beach, I’d have done what you say everyday :(
STFU. Worst advice ever! C=
If you have any granite around, try working with the Macbook on the granite. Whenever I take mine into the kitchen and set it down on the island (which is granite) the fan turns off in less than a minute. It’s amazing how much heat the granite absorbs.
I have a knee ice pack witch is the perfect size for my 15″ MBP, I take it out of the freezer when i have to encode video or any other intense application. WORKS PERFEKT
SMC Fan Control is AWESOME!! I’ve been using it for a while and it didn’t let me down.Without it my mac’s temperature went unto 60 degrees and when i am using it… it doesn’t rise above 48 degrees….
i burned out my right fan using this, it may be common sense to most users but to cool down your computer, do not put it to max every time it starts heating up
So another article that can be summed up in one line – use common sense.
I use a heat/cold pack underneath to raise the macbook for better typing angle and also the cold pack takes away part of the heat by redistributing it.
might be a bit of a risk though I though of trying to put the macbook on a water ‘beanbag’
Thanks Paul for posting my tips,
These tips can not only be used with a Macbook but with any laptop, but since Macs are so aluminium-ized they tend to get hotter than other laptops/desktops when the room temp is hot.
Air Conditioning works best but it cant be the ‘Tip to keep a Mac cool’… thats just lame. So much power utilization just for doing this.
Heat also ruins iPods and iPhones.
I set my MacBook on top of an air conditioning vent. Keeps my wrists and laptop icey cold even when gaming or photoshopping.
I find it help a lot to preemptively set the fans to max RPM BEFORE using a intensive app.
What about the MacBook Air? Everything here works for this one too as well?
If you are at home or any place where no air conditioning is available but you can open the windows; place your desk in front of one table with the macbook on it, and open the window then open another window in the opposite direction (maybe in another room of the building) and create a current. It will cool down the ambient temperature and the mac a couple of degrees.
When my MBP gets too hot and the fans are locked into overdrive I pop it in the refrigerator for 10-15 mins.
This should really be called “8 Ways to Keep a MACBOOK Cool in Hot Weather”
Or maybe “1 way to use FROZEN PEAS with a Mac”
Frozen peas. Frozen. Peas. Yessssssssssssssssssssss.
Yah. Good idea telling people to balance their $2000.00+ computers on the edge of a desk.
Agree and amazed to find this topic here. Apple deletes all the posts regarding heat problems from everyware. I stopped using MBP for more then main and browsing for a long time same as my iMac who has protective screen melted from heat….
Air Conditioning is your friend. Use it.
Air conditioning is one hell of a power consumer. It should be forbidden.
There are third party utilities that allow you to tweak the fan speed of most Macs. I use one called SMC Fan Control in the summer with my MacBookPro to avoid sweating and discomfort, here it is if you are interested in this as a possibility, it is a free solution.
Good, let’s give it a try.