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For those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, summer is fast approaching and that can often mean extreme heat, exceeding the temperature limits to what a computer is intended for. In fact, for most Macs, Apple specifies ambient temperatures between 50 ° C and 95 ° Fahrenheit, meaning anything above 95 ° is beyond the conditions the Mac was specified to operate indoors.
Does that mean that you cannot use your computer in intense heat? Probably not, it just means finding ways to keep it cool. With that in mind, here are a few tips To keep a portable Mac cool in high temperatures, they must be applicable to any MacBook, MacBook Pro or MacBook Air. Some of these solutions come through OSXDaily reader Niladri Haldar, who regularly uses his MacBook Pro in summer temperatures above 100 ° without incident.
How to Prevent a Mac from overheating in hot weather
Are you using a Mac in the heat? Here are a few tips to keep your Mac cool and usable in environments with unusually warm temperatures:
- Do not use a Mac on a bed or fabric surface – Anything soft does not dissipate enough heat and can even block air ventilation on many portable Macs, always try to use a Mac on a hard surface made of wood, metal or glass
- Use a Laptop Stand – anything that lifts a Mac off a base surface allows heat to radiate and air to circulate around it, cooling the hardware. I am using a Griffin Elevator stand and on hot summer days, it can mean the difference between blowing the fans or not having them on at all
- Flip up the back of a MacBook – No. laptop stand? Do what you have and try to elevate the back of the Mac with a hardcover book or something similar. It’s not as effective as one laptop stand, but this will aid airflow and can make a significant difference in keeping hardware cool.
- Place a Mac at the edge of a table or desk – No standard and no book to bring up the computer? Try floating the back of a MacBook over the edge of a desk or surface to increase the airflow where Macs release their heat
- Use a fan – Yes, a standard room fan. This may sound strange, but if you’re in an environment without air conditioning and the mercury is rising, aiming a fan at a Mac will blow cool air onto it and help disperse the heat. If you’re using a Mac in temperatures above 90 °, this is one of the best things you can do to keep not just yourself cool, but your computer too.
- Stay away from the sun – Again, this may seem like common sense, but using a computer in direct sunlight puts unnecessary strain on the fans. Even on fairly mild sunny days the sun can cause fans to go into overdrive, it is best to avoid direct sunlight completely.
- Stay in the shade – If you’re outside and in the heat, or even in a sunny window with hot sun and a warm ambient temperature, try to keep your Mac in the shade. The goal is not to add additional heat to the computer.
- Frozen Peas to the Rescue – This may sound crazy, but last summer, during a heat wave, I took a bag of frozen peas from the freezer and placed my then-roasted MacBook Pro on it so that I could play Starcraft 2 despite the ambient temperature of 100 °. The result was practically no fan use. However, you will have to be very careful to avoid condensation from the frozen bag, so it is a good idea to put a thin layer of hard plastic or something similar between the frozen vegetables and Mac.
- Consider a cooling pad – A third party laptop Stands have built-in fans that blow directly onto the bottom of a computer, which can be very effective
Another trick what some users use is to manually force the Mac fans to run at higher speeds using fan control software. This can be useful for cooling a Mac, but adjusting the fan behavior is not recommended nor supported by Apple, and could theoretically lead to hardware issues, so it’s really not a good idea for most users to try this.
Finally, a quick piece of advice: if you’re in extreme heat and you don’t have a method to cool your Mac, do yourself a favor and don’t use it at all until you’re out of the crazy weather. Heat is one of the most damaging forces for anything electronic, and overheating can directly lead to reduced hardware life, reduced battery capacity, and other problems. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.
It’s also worth noting that some Macs are better at cooling than others, and thermal efficiency varies by hardware as well as fan usage and design. For example, I have a 2020 MacBook Air that constantly overheats on hot days and when used in direct sun even on moderate days, while the same environments are better tolerated with a 2020 MacBook Pro.
Do you have something special tips do you use to keep a Mac cool during intense heat? Let us know in the comments.
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