So, you recently encountered kernel_task Mac in the Activity Monitor and wished to know what it is. You have come to the right place.
kernel_task is nothing nefarious but your operating system. It sits between the memory, CPU and other software and hardware run by your computer. When you switch on your Mac, the kernel is the first thing that starts, and everything you do on your system flows through the kernel. All the varied activities are put under one Activity Monitor, and it’s called kernel_task.
If your computer is not running slow, do not worry about this process taking up a lot of memory or using up CPU cycles. This is normal. Since unused memory is wasted, kernel_task puts it to work for different things, such as caching files. Also, running a modern OS sometimes means using some more CPU power. However, you may have a problem if kernel_task is using most of your system’s resources and your Mac is lagging. You might want to restart your computer so that your kernel is restarted. Sometimes, a simple restart may solve the problem. Unfortunately, if the behavior persists, you must resort to other solutions.
Reasons Why kernel_task Causes High CPU Usage
There can be several reasons why your Mac is heating up. For instance, your system may heat up when performing a resource-intensive activity like editing or exporting videos at super-high resolutions. Rendering CPU-heavy web elements or using inefficient plugins in Safari or Chrome may warm things up.
When this happens, kernel_task will kick into action and stop the processing from using additional processing power and getting heated up. It stimulates the empty CPU cycles to solve this problem.
While high kernel_task activity is usually nothing to worry about, it might become a problem if you consistently notice this task using the CPU power for no reason. For instance, obsolete apps, unoptimized apps, buggy kernel extensions and system caches can heat your Mac without any proportionate increase in activity. It would be best if you thought of ways to reduce the high CPU usage on your Mac to cool things.
How to Reduce kernel_task High CPU Usage?
- Reboot Your System
Restarting your Mac is one of the simplest ways to fix this problem. It will quickly eliminate any rogue process contributing to the kernel_task issue.
- Use your System in a Cooler Environment
Are you using your system outside? Is the weather too hot? The external temperature can sometimes cause your system to warm up and kick the kernel_task activity into high gear. You must move your system to a cooler area.
- Force Quit Applications
You need to identify the processes and apps other than kernel_task that consume a lot of CPU. You can find these processes in Mac’s Activity Monitor. You must choose the CPU tab to sort the different processes by activity.
If you can see a lot of CPU-intensive processes you don’t need, you can force quit the process by clicking on the Stop button. If you need those processes, you can wait for them to finish.
- Update macOS
If the macOS version you use is buggy, it may lead to overheating issues and memory leaks. You must update the software and see the difference it makes. You can update macOS by going to the Apple menu > clicking on System Preferences > Software Update > selecting Update Now. You can also turn on automatic updates.
- Update Applications
You must also update the applications on your Mac. Focusing on the programs and apps that increase your system’s CPU load would be best. Go to Mac’s App Store and look underneath the Updates tab for any pending app updates.
If you have programs that you have gotten outside of the Mac App Store, go to the Check for Updates option within the applications. If there are any pending updates, click to update them.
- Clear Cache
Corrupt or outdated temporary files can cause performance issues on your Mac system. You need to fix this issue by clearing the system and application cache.
- Reset PRAM or NVRAM
Do you use an Intel Mac? If so, you can reset the NVRAM/PRAM. It is a tiny portion of volatile memory. It holds system-critical settings like timezone, date, startup disk preference, display resolution, etc. If the NVRAM is corrupt, it may give rise to different kinds of problems. You need to reset it to fix kernel issues.
You can reset NVRAM/PRAM by turning off your system and turning it back on while pressing and holding Command + Option + P + R. Once you hear the startup chime for the second time, you can release all the keys. You can release the keys after twenty seconds using a Mac with a T2 Security Chip.
The next time you look at the kernel_task activity, you won’t be wondering what it is. Also, if the CPU usage is too high, you know how to bring it down, so it doesn’t impact your productivity.