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How to check a MacBook's temperature

Is it getting too hot in there?

MacBook Pro 13-inch
(Image: © Future)

Much is happening inside of your MacBook, and every process and app causes the internal temperature to rise. This is perfectly normal — as long as the temperature remains within an acceptable range. There's much you can do to keep your computer running at acceptable operating temperatures and ways to check the temperature when necessary. 

MacBook Air thermal efficiency

(Image credit: Apple)

Keep it cool 

Your MacBook's ambient temperature should between 10° and 35°C (50° and 95°F). Each notebook includes a series of sensors for temperature detection. The MacBook Pro and older MacBook Air models include a built-in fan that turns on automatically to cool critical components. MacBooks with Apple silicon use thermal efficiency for active cooling; the MacBook Air (M1, 2020) does so without a fan. 

Apple offers tips to keep temperatures cool on your notebook. These include:

  • Staying on top of software and firmware updates
  • Avoid keeping and using your computer in a parked car
  • Keep the MacBook on a flat surface in a room with ventilation
  • Don't put anything over your keyboard
  • Keep ventilation openings clear of debris
  • Using only Apple-authorized power adapters

iStatistica Pro on Mac

iStatistica Pro (Image credit: Future)

Checking the temperature

Through the macOS 'Activity Monitor' you can get an idea of which processes are impacting your notebook's CPU, GPU, energy, disk, memory, and network usage. You can find this tool by clicking on 'Finder' in the Mac dock, then choosing 'Go' > 'Utilities', then choosing 'Activity Monitor'. However, there's no way to find the actual current temperature using the tool. 

There are third-party temperature monitors on the market that do tell you the actual internal temperature. One of the oldest tools on the market, the free CoconutBattery, is also one of the most basic that gets the job done. With an iOS/iPadOS device connected to your Mac, the app will also give you a battery analysis of your mobile device. A premium CoconutBattery version is also available, which adds more diagnostics for a small fee.

For a more advanced tool, consider iStat Menus. The app puts a broad range of information on the menu bar, including a CPU monitor, GPU, memory, network usage, disk gauge, and more. TG Pro and iStatistica are also worth considering.

With regular use, your MacBook should maintain optimal temperatures. If it doesn't, check your surroundings and follow Apple's tips. When in doubt, contact Apple support. 

Bryan M Wolfe

Bryan M. Wolfe is a staff writer at TechRadar, iMore, and wherever Future can use him. Though his passion is Apple-based products, he doesn't have a problem using Windows and Android. Bryan's a single father of a 14-year-old daughter and a puppy, Isabelle. Thanks for reading!