What would it be like not to be able to use your expensive MacBook because a system process is taking up an enormous amount of CPU? It’s really frustrating. It becomes even more frustrating when your Mac slows down and starts overheating. It is possible that unchecked high CPU usage would damage internal components in your Mac. There’s no need to panic, though; the issue can be fixed. With this article, we’ll show you how to reduce high CPU usage caused by your Mac’s kernel_task process.
Nevertheless, if you notice an app has a lot of CPU use, you may want to get rid of it. Using Mac Optimizer Pro, you can accomplish that in a matter of seconds, without leaving any files or folders behind. This best Mac cleaner and optimization tool simplifies the process of cleaning and optimizing your Mac.
However, let us first discuss the kernel_task, and how it affects CPU usage on a Mac.
Mac kernel_task – what is it?
Kernel_tasks are an integral part of your Mac’s operating system. This is like the hypothalamus in your MacBook (the part of the brain that controls body temperature). Processes connected to the kernel are primarily responsible for controlling the temperature of your Mac’s CPU.
kernel_task is a system process that macOS starts automatically when you turn on your Mac. Typically, it uses a small percentage of your Mac’s CPU while operating in the background. However, the kernel_task CPU usage may increase unreasonably if your CPU becomes overheated due to:
- Background and foreground applications and processes that use too much CPU power
- Using your Mac while charging generates heat
- The cooling fan of your Mac isn’t working
- Hardware-related problems
How to check your Mac’s CPU usage
If you’d like to see how much CPU the kernel_task process and other applications are using, you’ll have to launch Mac Activity Monitor.
- Select Utilities from the sidebar of your Mac’s homepage
- Then double-click the Activity Monitor
- After that, you can look at the CPU tab and the %CPU column to see what processes and apps are actively using your Mac’s CPU
The applications and services are ordered descending based on their CPU usage (i.e. the highest to the lowest). If you cannot find the kernel_task process in Activity Monitor, follow these steps.
- View the Activity Monitor window by clicking the View menu in the menu bar
- In the second section of the View menu, ensure that All Processes is selected
Your Mac should now show you the CPU usage for the kernel_task process.
What are some ways to reduce CPU usage on Mac?
What can you do to reduce the amount of CPU resources your Mac’s system processes and third-party apps consume? The first step is to force-quit apps you are not using. You can also use a Mac optimizer, which can help you reduce the CPU usage of the Mac indirectly. However, let’s get to the main issue:
- When the Activity Monitor is open, select an app and tap the X icon at the upper-left corner of the window.
- Close the application by clicking Force Quit
A high CPU usage on your Mac is also a result of the accumulation of unnecessary browser tabs. Therefore, we recommend closing these tabs, particularly if you are using a CPU-intensive browser like Chrome or Firefox.
Ideally, reducing the CPU use of other apps should have the effect of reducing kernel_task’s CPU usage as well. However, if it doesn’t work, use the troubleshooting suggestions below:
Change the USB charging position
One of the reasons you Mac overheats is using counterfeit or low-quality chargers. Users who were affected by this were able to reduce their CPU temperature (and high kernel_task CPU usage) by charging only with the right-hand ports on their MacBooks.
There are some MacBook units that have a design flaw that causes a surge in CPU temperature when a charger is plugged into the left-side port. So, if your MacBook has charging ports on both sides use only those on the right side and see if that reduces CPU usage by kernel_task.
Start your Mac again
You should restart your MacBook if the kernel_task high CPU usage issue continues. By doing this, you will update your device’s operating system and reduce the CPU usage of malicious programs. If the kernel_task CPU usage remains unreasonably high after restarting your Mac, try resetting your System Management Controller (SMC).
Reset the SMC of your Mac
A MacBook’s System Management Controller (SMC) is responsible for powering its keyboard, fan, battery, and other essential parts. A malfunctioning Mac’s fan could drive up CPU load by running the kernel_task process. If this occurs, you will need to reset the SMC, because with the help of this you will save the function of the CPU.
Start your Mac in safe mode
Start your Mac in Safe Mode to diagnose third-party apps that are consuming a lot of CPU resources for the kernel_task process. After your Mac has completely shutdown, restart it in Safe Mode. Once the power button is clicked, press and hold the Shift key. Once you see the Apple logo, release the Shift key.
Reset your Mac’s NVRAM
NVRAM is a component of your Mac that stores information about its settings and configurations – sound and volume settings, the startup disk selection, and kernel panic information, among others. This method of troubleshooting could help return the kernel_task CPU usage to normal by resetting the NVRAM.
Last but not least, if none of the above solutions work, you may need to use recovery mode to completely reset your Mac. Moreover, if your Mac is still unreliable after those steps, you should consider taking it to a repair shop.
Besides this topic, you can also use the best Mac cleaner and optimizer, Mac Optimizer Pro, for full Mac optimization. The tool allows you to maintain your device and to kill unnecessary programs in the background, which later helps the device to deal with problems like kernel-tasks.