A hidden approach to monitor your Mac’s temperature free of charge

Photo: pisa photography (Shutterstock)

Apple’s silicon, including the M1 and new M2 chips,has a reputation to stay Sunny even under heavy workloads. Intel Macs, on the other hand, work just fine it’s hot. They are still powerful computers, but they heat up quickly, which in turn slows them down. If you own an Intel-based Mac, you’ve probably experienced this computing heat wave yourself. But instead of guessing how hot your computer is, there’s a integrated hidden monitor every Intel-based Mac that lets you know exactly what is the internal temperature.

Why Your Mac Overheats (And Why It’s Bad)

I’ve talked about this topic beforewhen I focused mostly on laptops. But whether you have a MacBook or an iMac, the general principle is the same: you don’t want your machine to overheat.

Computers get hot because the internal components, namely the CPU and GPU, generate heat as they work. Depending on your computer, you may not notice this performing light tasks. But as soon as you start pushing the machine, you will feel it as the temperature rises.

This does not mean that this heat will damage or destroy your computer. I mean, it sure could, but the producers assure you it will never happen. A little heat is good; components adesigned to operate normally over a wide temperature range. But when the chips start getting too hot—usually around 90 degrees Fhonoryour computer will slow down processing speed order to cool, a process called “throttling”.

Throttling sucks, because it means you’re not getting the performance you expect from your machine. True, a slow machine is better than a burnt and broken one, but avoiding the overheating problem in the first place can help you prevent throttling before it kicks in, and push your Mac to its maximum potential.

While there are many ways to combat overheating, one of them is to monitor the temperature of your Mac. And if you have an Intel Mac, you already have a monitor built right into macOS.

macOS Hidden Temperature Monitors for Intel Macs

You won’t find these temperature monitors by searching through the installed programs on your Mac. You won’t even find them in Activity Monitor because it’s a useful app. Rather, your Mac’s temperature monitor is located in Terminal. Using Terminal is likely to seem intimidating to many users because it allows you to control your Mac using only text commands. But you don’t really need to memorize any of theme commands to use the terminal; a copy and paste command works just as well.

There are many useful terminal commands that anyone can use (we have discussed many of them in this piece), but we focus this time in temperature monitors. There are two commands you can use here. first lets you View your Mac’s CPU temperature statistics. Copy and paste the following command exactly as it is in a new terminal window (quotes and all):

sudo powermetrics —samplers smc |grep -i “CPU Stamping Temperature”

If done correctly, the terminal will ask for your password. Type it (unfortunately, you won’t be able to see what you’re typing), then hit return. After a moment, you’ll start seeing temperature readings that will update approximately every five seconds. Temperatures are written in Celsius, so you’ll need to convert to Fahrenheit yourself, but after a while you’ll start choosing which temperatures are cool, warm, hot, and also it’s hot

For that matter, neither do you get access to one of macOS’s favorite data points: when things start to get too hot and your Mac decides it needs it cool things down down, you’ll see (fan) written next to the temperatures (if your Mac has a fan, that is). This lets you know that the fans are starting to work harder to remove hot air from your machine. Fans are certainly a good tool for keeping computers cool, but they’re not perfect: if your CPU is still heating up to unsafe levels,usually 98 degrees Fahrenheit my terminal experience –you will begin to see (power) instead of. When this reading appears, it means that macOS is throttling your CPU to keep the temperature from going overboard.

You can also check your GPU temperature using the following command:

sudo powermetrics —samplers smc |grep -i “GPU die temperature”

Note that you won’t be able to see (fan) or (power) appears in this terminal windowtemperature readings only.

Apple silicon options

While Apple’s silicon chipsets don’t have as much of a thermal ramp as Intel-based Macs, they can still overheat and degrade like any other chip. Unfortunately, this built-in terminal command won’t work on M1 and later because thothe chips are designed differently than Intel chips in the way they manage heat.

Apple’s only solid silicon temperature monitor rnow it is TG Prowhich costs It’s usually $20 though at the time of this writingit is for sale $10. If you’re looking for a temporary solution, the app offers a two-week free trial so you can monitor your temperature for free on the M1, M2, or any other Apple silicon variant for 14 days.

Hopefully, as Apple’s silicon is adopted by more of the Mac user base, developers will create more temperature monitoring apps for the platform. Hey, maybe Apple will even make their own — for free.

Leave a Comment