How to check a MacBook's temperature

Your notebook will get warm. Here's how to check a MacBook's temperature to make sure it's not overheating, plus our top tips on ways to keep it cool

MacBook Pro 13-inch
(Image: © Future)

Wondering how to check a MacBook's temperature? If so, you're not alone! A lot of us have experienced that dreaded moment where the fan on our Mac seems to be going at full throttle and the whole machine feels hot to the touch. The good news is, there's a way to both check the temperature and things you can do to help keep your MacBook cool. In this piece, we walk you through both.

If you're like us and are a huge fan of the best MacBooks and Macs, it's likely you can't imagine your life without one. But, even though Apple products are known for being outstanding, just like the best Windows laptops, MacBooks are prone to overheating from time to time. 

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 - but unlike the best iPad and the best iPhone, both of which will warn you when they detect the heat rising, MacBook's simply shut down. 

The good news is, there's much you can do to keep your computer running at acceptable operating temperatures and there are also ways to check the temperature when necessary. To help you do just that, we've rounded up everything you need to know to help you check a MacBook's temperature - let's take a look. 

MacBook Air thermal efficiency

(Image credit: Apple)

Keep it cool 

Before you learn how to check a MacBook's temperature, it's important to first understand what an appropriate temperature range actually is. 

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

When it comes to learning how to check a MacBook's temperature, the process is actually fairly simple. 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 (opens in new tab). 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 (opens in new tab) 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. And there you have it, you now know how to check a MacBook's temperature - pretty easy, huh?

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 15-year-old daughter and a puppy, Isabelle. Thanks for reading!