Apple MacBook Pro is without a doubt the laptop of choice for most photographers on the go. However, I've heard of many encountering heat issues when working on it for a prolonged period of time. After recently experiencing this problem myself and having my computer shutting down on its own, I started looking for a solution. It turns out that it's not complicated to control the heat. If you retouch or edit videos quite often on your Apple laptop, you should definitely read the following article.
Raise your Laptop
The unibody looks fantastic, but it seems like the ventilation is far from exceptional. When working on your MacBook Pro for hours at a time, chances are the aluminum chassis will become overly hot and the machine will just slow down. To improve its weak ventilation, place the laptop on something that lets the air flow below the computer. Something as simple as an egg tray can do the trick:
And if you find the solution above to eat up too much space on your desk, or if you don't eat eggs, try bottle caps:
For an improved result, and if you are willing to spend a bit of money, a laptop cooler will do the same but better, due to the added fan(s). You can find some that will set you back less than $15 on Amazon. It's a no brainer if you work mainly on your MacBook.
Get your MacBook Cleaned
I've heard numerous people complain their computer didn't work as fast as it used too or that it was getting boiling when charging, and for many the issue was just dust. Depending on your environment, your computer may accumulate dust much faster than you think. Cleaning it on a regular basis is a good idea. Now, before you leave your screen and open up your laptop, be aware that it will void your warranty! So if you want to keep your warranty intact, ask an Apple authorized reseller to do it for you. Even if your Apple Care plan and warranty are over, if you don't know how to clean it, do not try it… it's a recipe for disaster. Only do it yourself if you know how to manipulate the computer components without frying them with static electricity.
Control the Fans Speed
The software team from Eida has created a brilliant app called smcFanControl. It's totally free and is incredibly easy to set up. Once installed, it will appear in the top bar and indicates the current temperature of your laptop as well as the current speed of your fans.
In the preferences, you can define different profiles so that when your MacBook is charging, the fans run faster to avoid any chance of overheat because of the battery becoming hot. It's especially attractive to those like me who forget to unplug their laptop once it's fully charged. I know, it's a terrible habit, but one I have a difficult time changing.
Reset your SMC
SMC stands for System Management Controller. It may need to be reset once now and then. If all the solutions above haven't worked, or not worked as well as you had hoped, try to reset the SMC. The procedure varies depending on whether the battery can be removed or not.
If the battery is nonremovable:
- Shut down the Mac.
- Plug in the MagSafe or USB-C power adapter to a power source and to your Mac.
- Using the built-in keyboard, press Shift-Control-Option on the left side of the keyboard, then press the power button at the same time.
- Release all keys, then press the power button again to turn on your Mac
If the battery is removable:
- Shut down the Mac.
- Disconnect the MagSafe power adapter from the Mac.
- Remove the battery. (Learn about removing the battery in MacBook and MacBook Pro computers.)
- Press and hold the power button for 5 seconds.
- Reconnect the battery and MagSafe power adapter.
- Press the power button to turn on the Mac.
For more information regarding the SMC and how to reset it on any other Mac, be sure to check Apple's support website.
Compressed Air Duster to Cool it Down
Compressed air duster is a fantastic tool to clean the inside of the computer, but it also pushes out air that is cooler than the environment it's in. Spray fresh air on your laptop for a few instants, and you should notice immediate results – look at the temperature smcFanControl displays. Be careful though, depending on the humidity of your environment, condensation could appear, and water is definitely not something you want to see on your computer! So try it on a surface that can handle water before you go ahead and spray your computer with your compressed air duster. Also, don't spray for too long, the goal isn't to freeze your MacBook Pro…
With these few tips, I hope you won't have to stop working waiting for your expensive MacBook Pro to cool down anymore. Even if that's not your case, keep in mind that a well-ventilated system that stays cool is more likely to last and perform longer (no pun intended...). I would love to hear from you on the subject. Have you guys ever used any of the above tips? Or do you have any other you could share with us?