Why Does My Mac Sound Like A Fan?

by Jennifer Porterfield | Last Updated: November 1, 2021
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Mac computers are some of the best in the business for great user friendly interfaces and sleek, modern designs.

Why Does My Mac Sound Like A Fan?

However, just like any computer, they can start generating a lot of unwanted noise after a while.

Working on a long project or video calling with friends can be completely distracted by loud fan noises and overheating with older computers.

It can be a nightmare to deal with for long periods of time, so we’ve compiled a list of all the reasons your Mac might be sounding like a fan and come up with some ways to quieten down your machine.

What Causes Unwanted Noise In A Mac Computer?

The main reason your computer’s fan might be working overtime and creating a loud whirring noise is because the machine might be overheating.

The components inside a computer need to stay below a certain temperature to keep them working properly. A computer fan is designed to suck in cool air from outside the machine and expel hot air from inside.

Running games or other programs that require a lot of high intensity computing power will cause the components in your machines to work a lot harder.

This can cause them to overheat, at which point the fan will step in to try and cool the system down again.

The fan will sound a lot louder if your computer gets very hot, so the reason for all that unwanted sound basically comes down to the computer working too hard.

These are some of the things you can do to check if your Mac is overheating and try to reduce the amount of sound your fan generates:

Checking Your CPU Usage

A good way to tell if your computer is working too hard on processing certain activities is to look at CPU usage.

To do this, open the Activity Monitor application on your computer. Here, you can view processor activity run by the system itself, the user and idle programs.

System activity will show you the percentage of the computer’s capability of running the built in operating system. This activity is essential for allowing your computer to work properly, so these programs need to stay untouched.

However, the user activity section is often the key to working out why your device might be overheating. Here, you can see all the programs and applications that you’ve opened yourself.

Some programs will constantly run in the background of your computer, taking up CPU capacity without you even realizing.

If you see any applications in this section that you don’t need to be open, closing them manually can reduce the amount your fan has to work to cool the machine down.

The idle section simply shows you how much of your CPU’s capacity is unused.

Naturally, you’ll want to use as little of its capacity as possible to stop the computer from overheating, so having a high percentage in the idle section is definitely a good thing.

Checking For Blockages On Air Vents

Remember what we said earlier about your computer’s fan circulating air in and out of the machine? Well, it does this through air vents on the sides of the computer.

These vents are essential for allowing proper airflow through your machine, so keeping them free of blockages is just as essential for reducing noise created by the fan.

If you’re using a Mac laptop, it should be pretty easy to see where the air vents are, so make sure that when you’re using the laptop, these vents aren’t covered or blocked by anything around it.

The most common issue people have in this regard is using their laptop on a flat surface like a desk, blocking the air vents or preventing air from flowing properly through the whole system.

For this reason, we recommend using a laptop stand. There are plenty of different options available in electronics stores or all over the internet and pretty much any stand will be compatible with a Mac laptop.

The same is also true of bigger Mac computers, which you might connect to a monitor.

You want to make sure none of the air vents on the computer are covered or blocked and you can also purchase stands online that will allow air to flow properly through the whole machine.

Checking The Temperature Of Your Room

It might seem strange but the temperature in your room might be what causes your computer to make louder fan noise.

If the room with your Mac computer in it is too hot, all the components in the computer will also get hotter than normal while they’re working.

The same is also true of having your computer in certain parts of your room that might be hotter than others. For example, your computer should always be kept in a low part of the room.

This is because heat naturally rises, so the coolest points will be closest to the floor.

Also, it’s very important you keep your computer away from any direct sunlight. Obviously, this will heat up the computer and force your fan to work overtime to cool everything down.

As long as you follow these steps and try to keep your room cool, your fan shouldn’t be making any unnecessary extra fan noise.

Cleaning Your Mac’s Fans

This is one of the trickier methods for reducing noise from your Mac. When dust builds up over time inside your Mac, it can cause the fans to have to work even harder to create airflow, generating even more unwanted noise.

To clean out the dust inside the Mac, you’ll need to take off the panel with a screwdriver. Every Mac computer is slightly different and there are a variety of different ways you’ll have to go about doing this.

That’s why it’s very important to research how to remove the cover, so you don’t end up damaging any components inside.

Once you have the cover off, the best method for clearing out the dust is to use a can of compressed air.

This will blow out any dust and dirt that’s been clogged in your machine without getting it into your lungs or damaging any of the internal components.

Like we said, this is a tricky thing to do, so if you’re not comfortable removing the cover and you’re worried about damaging the internal components of your Mac, you can always take it to an Apple Store, where they will help you clean out the fan.