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  1. #1


    Member Since
    Nov 27, 2011
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    3
    Activity Monitor, Constantly running fan
    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

  2. #2


    Member Since
    Sep 10, 2011
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    1,805
    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/

  3. #3


    Member Since
    Nov 27, 2011
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    Smile Thanks Pendlewitch
    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

  4. #4

    pigoo3's Avatar
    Member Since
    May 20, 2008
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    Specs:
    2011 13" MBP 2.3ghz, 8gig ram, OS 10.8.5
    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).
    - Too many "beachballs", read this: Beachballs
    - Computer seems slower than it used to? Read this for some slow computer tips: Speedup
    - Almost full hard drive? Some solutions. Out of Space
    - Apple Battery Info. Battery

  5. #5


    Member Since
    Sep 10, 2011
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    1,805
    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?

  6. #6

    vansmith's Avatar
    Member Since
    Oct 19, 2008
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    Toronto
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    Specs:
    2012 13" MBP (2.5 i5, 8GB)
    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.
    Important Links: Community Guidelines : Use the reputation system if you've been helped.
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  7. #7

    BrianLachoreVPI's Avatar
    Member Since
    Feb 24, 2011
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    Specs:
    March 2011 15" MBP 2.3GHz i7 Quad Core 8GB Ram | Mid 2011 27" iMac 3.4 GHz i7 16 GB RAM 2 TB HDD
    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.

  8. #8

    vansmith's Avatar
    Member Since
    Oct 19, 2008
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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.
    Important Links: Community Guidelines : Use the reputation system if you've been helped.
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  9. #9


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

  10. #10


    Member Since
    Nov 27, 2011
    Posts
    3
    Screen Shot of AM
    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

  11. #11


    Member Since
    Sep 10, 2011
    Posts
    1,805
    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.

  12. #12

    vansmith's Avatar
    Member Since
    Oct 19, 2008
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    Specs:
    2012 13" MBP (2.5 i5, 8GB)
    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?
    Important Links: Community Guidelines : Use the reputation system if you've been helped.
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  13. #13


    Member Since
    Jan 22, 2010
    Location
    Victoria, BC
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    Specs:
    Mid-2012 MBP (16GB, 1TB HD), Monoprice 24-inch second monitor, iPhone 5s 32GB, iPad Air 2 64GB
    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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