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Switcher Hangout The place for switchers to discuss their new machines, and how to work with OS X. General support can be had here for newbie stuff, like "How do I restart my new iMac?" :)

Activity Monitor, Constantly running fan


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jglennox

 
Member Since: Nov 27, 2011
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This is not really a "beginner" question, except that it is the first time I have faced this particular set of problems. I've been a Mac user since the mid-80s of the last century. I'm currently using a MacBook, and for two years it has run flawlessly. Recently, for no obvious reason, it has acted as if it is "running hot", the fan cycling on and off constantly, and often staying on at high speed for long periods. I am not running any highly demanding software or applications--in fact not doing anything different than previously, when this didn't happen. When checking out web chatter about this, a number of people mentioned looking into one's Activity Monitor in the Utilities folder, because it helped them to identify applications that were running without the user being aware of it. For the first time in my life I opened up Activity Monitor, and I have no idea what I am looking at. I mean I see that there are various graphic representations of CPU use, Memory availability, etc. But there are endless things I don't get--thread and process id #s, a host of users who are not me, process names that are meaningless to me [kextd, kdcmond, etc.]. Is there somewhere I can go to get all this explained to me? And suppose I understood it, how would it help me to identify some stealth application that was running without my knowing it.
Thanks for any help.
JGL
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pendlewitch

 
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Hi,

The iStat Pro app simplified things for me because Activity Monitor boggles my mind too.
You'll certainly be able to tell which fan is overachieving. You need OSX 10.4 or higher for the latest free version.

iStat Pro, a Dashboard Widget by iSlayer

There is also this:

http://mac.appstorm.net/how-to/os-x/...ivity-monitor/

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jglennox

 
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Your reply was very helpful. I haven't tried the app you recommended yet, but will in the next day or so, and I will post my results.
JGL
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pigoo3

 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jglennox View Post
I've been a Mac user since the mid-80s of the last century.
What other century would it have been?

- Nick

p.s. The fan running constantly can be due to a couple reasons:

1. Running high demand graphics applications (including games).
2. Computer is dirty (fuzz).

- Computer slow, too many "beachballs", read this: Beachballs
- Computer seems slower than it used to? Read this for some speedup tips: Speedup
- Almost full hard drive? Some solutions. Out of Space
- Apple Battery Info. Battery
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pendlewitch

 
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Ha Ha..I never noticed that...Apple in the 19th Century indeed !

Anyways..thank you for your comment jglennox..just a question..do you have any pending print jobs outstanding to printers that you aren't connected to at the moment, as I believe this can also be an issue?

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vansmith

 
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Activity Monitor, once you learn how to read it (which is pretty easy), can be extremely helpful. Here's an annotated capture of Activity Monitor highlighting the only three parts you'll ever likely need to understand:



Once you sort them (by clicking the column title), you'll find that AM is a quick and easy way to access info about running apps. That's not to say that other apps are bad but rather to point out that you already have a powerful monitor installed.

If you'd like, you can post a screenshot of AM for us and we can read it for you. Please sort it by CPU usage first.

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BrianLachoreVPI

 
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Just to add to Van's excellent post - if you visit this link - Mac OS X: Reading system memory usage in Activity Monitor - that should fill in the remaining gap in understanding what Activity Monitor is telling you.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BrianLachoreVPI View Post
Just to add to Van's excellent post - if you visit this link - Mac OS X: Reading system memory usage in Activity Monitor - that should fill in the remaining gap in understanding what Activity Monitor is telling you.
Good point. That's one part of reading memory usage that generally throws people off. In essence, "free" and "inactive" are available but "inactive" counts as used. As such, you can count free and inactive memory as available.

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pendlewitch

 
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Cheers guys...I'll be giving AM a second look.

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jglennox

 
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Hi all,
I'm not sure this is what you had in mind, but if not, you can say so. I took two shots, since not all of "processes" could be displayed at once on the screen of my MacBook. I wasn't sure how to go about displaying them within this post, so they are attached as png files.

Thanks again,

Jgl

Picture 1.png

Picture 2.png
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pendlewitch

 
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Hi jglennox,

I'm no expert but I think you've got too much information there for the boys.
Try a different view, for example click the drop down box where it says "All processes hierarchically" and choose "My Processes" or "All Processes" and that will give an overview.

I might be wrong..but just interested to see how it develops.

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vansmith

 
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According to the screen captures you attached (thanks for that), nothing is using a lot of your CPU. In fact, the process using up the most is "kernel_task" which is the operating system kernel (think of it as analogous to the brain). That task has to be running or you don't have an operational operating system .

If the fans are running high with that kind of CPU usage, it's not the CPU causing it. Have you installed any fan control software by any chance?

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I think Vansmith probably nailed it. Though I do notice the dreaded malware "Norton" in there, what do you want to be that uninstalling that will "mysteriously" fix the issue?
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