Apple’s silicon – including the new M1 and M2 chips –it has a reputation for staying cool even under heavy workloads. On the other hand, Intel Macs run very well warm. They’re still capable computers, but they heat up quickly, which slows things down. If you have an Intel-based Mac, you’ve probably experienced this computational heat wave yourself. Rather than measuring how hot your computer is getting, however, there is a built-in hidden monitoring all Intel-based Macs let you know just what is the internal temperature.
Why your Mac overheats (and why it’s bad)
I have talked about this topic beforeWhen I mostly focused on laptops. Whether you have a MacBook or an iMac, however, the general principle is the same: You don’t want your machine to overheat.
Computers heat up because the internal components, namely the CPU and GPU, generate heat as they work. Depending on your computer, you may not notice it while performing light tasks. When you start pushing the machine, however, you will feel it the temperature ramping up.
This heat will not damage or break your computer. I mean, it totally could, but manufacturers make sure that never happens. A little heat is fine; the parts are designed to operate normally within a wide range of temperatures. However, when the chips start to get too hot –usually around 90 degrees Fhonor—Your computer will slow down processing speed in order to cool things down, 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, it’s one of the tabs to keep your Mac warm. And if you have an Intel Mac, you already have a monitor built right into macOS.
macOS hidden temperature monitors for Intel Mac
You won’t find these temperature monitors by searching through the apps installed on your Mac. You won’t even find them in Activity Monitor, a utility as useful as it is. Instead, a temperature monitor for your Mac can be found in Terminal. Using The terminal seems intimidating to many users, because it allows you to control your Mac using only text-based commands. But you don’t need to memorize any of thate orders to use a Terminal; a copy and paste command works just as well.
There are plenty of useful Terminal commands that everyone can use (We covered many of them in this piece) but we are focusing on the temperature monitors this time. There are two commands you can use here. The first lets you see your Mac’s CPU temperature stats. Copy and paste the following command just like in a new Terminal window (quotes and all):
sudo powermetrics —smc samplers | grep -i “CPU die temperature”
If done correctly, Terminal will ask for your password. Enter it (you won’t be able to see what you’re typing, unfortunately), then press the return key. After a minute, you’ll start seeing temperature readings, updating about every five seconds. The temperatures are written in Celsius, so you will have to convert to Fahrenheit yourself, but, after a while, you start to pick up which temperature is cool, hot, hot, and too warm
Speaking of which, you will too access one of my favorite data points in macOS: When things start to get too hot and your Son determines his needs to cool things down down, you’ll see (wait) written next to the temperatures (if your Mac has a fan, that is). That tells you that the fan is starting to work harder to move hot air out of your machine. Fans are obviously a good tool for cooling computers, but they’re not perfect: If your CPU is still heating up to unsafe levels –usually 98 degrees Fahrenheit, going at my experience in the Terminal –you will start to see (power) instead. When this reading is seen, it means that macOS is pushing your CPU to keep the temperature from going overboard.
You can also check your GPU temperature with the following command:
sudo powermetrics —smc samplers |grep -i “GPU die temperature”
Note that you will not see (wait) or (power) appear on this Terminal windowtemperature readings only.
Options for Apple silicon
Although Apple’s series of silicon chips don’t face as many heat ramps as Intel-based Macs, they can still overheat and throttle like any other chip. Unfortunately, this built-in Terminal command will not work on M1 and newer, sincese chips are designed differently than Intel chips in how they handle heat.
The only solid temperature monitor for Apple silicon available ryes now TG Prothat comes at a cost. It is usual $20, but at the time of this writingit is for sale to $10. If you’re looking for a temporary solution, the app offers a free two-week trial, so you can monitor your temperature on an M1, M2, or any other Apple silicon variant for 14 days free free
Hopefully, as Apple’s silicon is adopted by more and more of the Mac user base, developers will write more temperature monitoring apps for the platform. Hey, maybe Apple will even make their own – for free.