Friday, May 16, 2008

My MacBook fan was roaring. Why?

The MacBook sounded like a jet engine. Fan running full blast.

I figured out what was wrong, but it took longer than it should have. I wonder how regular folk ever keep computers running...

Emily emailed me about the roaring mid-day, though she didn't know it was the fan (why should she?). I figured it was some crummy Adobe Flash code running wild in a child's session. An easy problem to fix when I got home.

That wasn't it. The 1.5 yo MacBook was fine on restart, but as soon as I logged into any user account the fan went wind tunnel.

I'm a bit out of practice, so I forgot the first rule of a berserk fan. Go to Applications:Utility and launch 'Activity Monitor'. Set it to show 'All Processes' and look for one that's out of control. (The default setting shows the Processes for the current user only, so you'll often miss an other user or system process.)

I guess we've just had too much stability for too long. I've gone soft. That never happened in the days I managed multiple PCs at home -- I was always in top debug shape. Never a lack of practice.

So instead of going right to the problem I did a 'safe start' (reboot while hold shift key). That clears up most minor problems, but not this one. The machine was running with a CPU temp of 68 C instead of a more normal 58 C and the fan was racing to cool it down.

Then I did a PRAM refresh -- which never does anything for me on modern Macs. I suspect PRAM zapping is all fake now, like office thermostats that don't connect anywhere.

Still roaring. Finally I ran Activity Monitor. The #!$$! print queue was out of control. I killed it and eventually found a stuck .jpg print job in the #$^@ Canon printer queue. Fan problem solved.

The really annoying thing is that I wrote about the same problem on my G5 iMac years ago. Canon's OS X device drivers for scanner and printer alike are not just bad, they're unspeakably bad. Bad enough that nobody should buy Canon printers or scanners for OS X. It doesn't matter how good the hardware is, the software is barely one step above malware.

Not that Epson is perfect, they just suck less.

Turns out, there's a reason for this.

I really wish Apple would return to the days they branded other people's hardware and wrote their own device drivers. I'd happily pay a premium for an Apple branded version of Canon/Epson hardware with Apple device drivers.

I decided I'd look for a new version of this driver. Maybe there was something better. I found one that's six months old, but it came with some pretty grim warnings. I've bolded one or two ...
Photo Inkjet Printers - Photo Inkjet Printers - PIXMA Pro Professional Inkjet Printers - Photo Printer - PIXMA iP4000 - Canon USA Consumer Products

... Mac OS X v. 10.3 to 10.4 9. Installation of the printer driver may require a little time to complete, and it takes 3 to 4 (possibly as much as 8 to 9) minutes from when the Continue Installation button is clicked until the Restart button is displayed. 10. In wireless connection, after print head alignment, the operation panel does not become active again, and the utility cannot be used in some instances. 11. Multiple numbers of the same printer name are registered to the Printer Setup Utility in some instances. 12. Even when an error is released, the error message remains in some instances. 13. When attempting to print, the printer does not operate in some instances. 14. In the following environment, even after clicking "About ink" in the Ink Level Information menu of the Canon IJ Printer Utility or "Initial Check Items" in the confirmation dialog for nozzle check pattern printing, nothing is displayed: Security Update 2005-005 or Security Update 2005-006 is installed in Mac OS X Ver. 10.3.9 15. In Mac OS X Ver. 10.4 or later, the number of copies cannot be entered in the Print dialog. 16. When the Print dialog is displayed from IllustratorCS2 or InDesignCS2 in Mac with Intel-made processor, the margins are incorrect and so the message "The entered value cannot be applied to margin" is displayed. Therefore, as "Margin" or "Duplex Printing & Margin" option is not displayed, auto duplex printing cannot be performed. 17. When the following procedures are performed, iPhoto6 crashes. Procedures: 1. Display Page Setup while the print dialog is open. 2. Click OK or Cancel to close Page Setup. 3. Click Advanced in the lower middle of the print dialog. 18. When the following procedures are performed, the following items are not displayed in the print dialog menu of iPhoto6: - Quality & Media - Borderless & Printing - Duplex Printing & Margin Procedures: 1. Display Page Setup while the print dialog is open. 2. Click OK or Cancel to close Page Setup. 3. Click Advanced in the lower middle of the print dialog. Mac OS X v. 10.5 19. When the monitor resolution is 1024 x 768 or less, as the “Print” and “Cancel” buttons are displayed behind DOCK, those buttons cannot be clicked.
Really, this is pathetic. I'll stick with the old driver. At least I know that devil.

The Canon iP4000 is old. The next time it runs short of ink it's junk. I'll buy an Epson, and upgrade to merely crummy quality.

One last question to think about. Why won't Canon invest in better drivers?

Update 5/17/08: nice review of laptop overheating in Mac Fixit.
Update 6/3/08: I just installed 10.5.3 on the MacBook, and had to resinstall printer drivers. With this OS printer installation is very well done; I was offered a driver (CUPS I suspect) from the OS. It's working in limited use, and I haven't had to install Canon's awful drivers.
Update 10/2/08: Came to look at this due to a thank you note (a lot of people find this article). I have since installed 10.5.4 on all my machines, and now they all use Apple provided drivers. No Canon malware. It's not repeated often enough, but whether you use OS X or XP you should strongly resist using drivers provided by hardware vendors. Strive only to use what the OS bundles. If hardware needs more than the OS provides, try not to buy it.

60 comments:

d.w. said...

Hmm.. I wonder if there might be a better driver available through gimp-print. Occasionally I've had to go looking for community-written drivers when a device vendor has really dropped the ball on a driver.

Daniel Egan said...

Thank You SO MUCH!!! I went to go print a document out of my businesses Cannon IP4200. The document printed, but then my MAC, like you explained, sounded as if it were going to take off. The fan winded up just as a plane would before take off and about five seconds later it was at full throttle. It sounded like a bulky desktop replacement PC laptop. I was terrified! My poor little MacBook sounded like a jet engine. I searched for firmware updates for hours, until I fell upon your blog. I went to the activity monitor like you said and sure enough, the print manager and some other print___, were running out of control. I force quit both of them, went to system preferences>printer and deleted documents in the printer queue. I've never had this problem with any other printer until I used this Canon IP4200. I vow to never use that printer again, it almost sent my MAC off the desk at full throttle and into the sky. Luckily I wasn't the only one to have this problem and thanks to you and your blog I was able to fix it. Again, thank you very much!

Anonymous said...

Hi there - I just wanted to thank you so much for this blog! The EXACT same issue just occurred with my Macbook and I couldn't get the darn fan to stop - but I found your blog and found the answer: the culprit - my new Canon MP140. Sigh.

Does anyone know of an alternative driver that I could try to get my MP working properly?

Anonymous said...

I've been having the same problem, but with a new HP printer. Stopping the print job stops the fan.

Saraha said...

You rock. Problem solved in less than a minute. Literally.

Anonymous said...

I want to thank you for your professional yet entertaining write up! I was experiencing dramatic battery life loss ever since I noticed that..go figure...my fiance's CANNON printer was defaulted on my macbook rather than my HP that came with it. On top of that, I was beginning to wonder if my macbook was suddenly turbocharged they way the fan was running. To make a long story short I followed your guidance and, even being 1 month mac user, was able to correct the boosting fan instantly. The battery life is to be determined but I am confident...well, hopeful that that problem is fixed as well!!!

Thank You

John Gordon said...

You're welcome.

Since I wrote this post I've upgraded my iMac to 10.5.5.

I did an 'archive' upgrade, and OS X installed its own Canon device drivers.

So far they haven't shown the problems Canon's products have.

BigC said...

Excellent post on fixing the roaring fan on a MacBook. I have had this problem for weeks and it drove me crazy. It turned out to be a Radar In Motion map on my Dashboard. It was hung up and would never turn on to show the map location. Just stayed black. I went to the activity monitor and found that it was running out of control. I had to go back to my dashboard and delete that map. Then went and did a force quit on the activity monitor. Problem solved for now and the fan quit almost immediately. Thanks

rory said...

Thanks so much! I've been pulling my hair out, who would think a doc in a print queue could cause so much havoc!

Doug Ramage said...

Thanks to your blog, my macbook's fan is silent again! I had looked in Activity Monitor - but only "My Processes", not "All Processes. Culprit was the print manager.

Also, noted your comments on Canon's drivers - I am using an IP4200. :(

Anonymous said...

fuck yeah! thank you so much!

blognewb said...

thanks a ton this was my problem

Anonymous said...

I was about to throw my MacBook out of the window. Thank you for averting this disaster.

Anonymous said...

OMG! Thanks a whole bunch. My macbook is now silent!!! Thanks again!!!!

Anonymous said...

Add my name to the list of the grateful. After initial disappointment not seeing anything suspect in Activity Monitor, I too, then chose "All Processes" and found a print manager hogging 99% of the CPU causing the fan to run incessantly. I quit the print app and the fan is back to its old silent self. Have a great Holiday.

Ruby said...

Thank you for your post...my fan was also roaring, and suspiciously, I had tried to print and cancel a graphics document on a Canon i80 a couple of days ago. As soon as I checked the document queue - and deleted a cancelled job - the fan shut off. I also have a nice Epson which I will rely on now for good!

Anonymous said...

Thank you very much!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I had the exact same problem!

Anonymous said...

oh my god thank you!!!
my dad has a computer science degree and couldn't figure out why my fan was freaking out!
i tried to print something on one of my CANON printers last week and ever since the fan has been going crazy..i just went to Activity Monitor and force quit a printing job...it stopped immediately! I thought I was gonna have to send it away to get fixed!!
THANK YOU!!

trkkazulu said...

Utterly amazing! Thank you so much for this. I've been researching my problem - our problem - on other forums and blogs and you're the only one who had the real answer. Incredible. There are people out there taking their out of warranty Macbooks to Apple Care centers and spending a fortune for what is just a errant job in the print queue. Outstanding!

John Gordon said...

You're all very welcome.

Thank you.

Glad to be of help!

Anonymous said...

THANK YOU!!! This is the only time I've every found ANYTHING which helped my computer online. I had no idea!

Anonymous said...

Thanks a bunch, I had the exact same problem and this allowed me to fix it.

Anonymous said...

Just wanted to say thanks & echo previous comments - sorted out a very worrying problem instantly.

Malu said...

Thank you soooooo much, i was going crazy! Sitting in the library with such a terrible havok coming from my macbook, i was getting hateful looks all around... The fan was out of control due to a non-responding Powerpoint-for-mac... But force-quit saved my day! :D

Never would have guessed.... thank you bunches!

marcus bulstrode said...

Thank you!!
I have a new battery and thought it might be the charging of a good battery that was making my fan run all the time. So I disconnected the power cable, but the fan kept going. After a quick search I found your blog, saw I had a print Queue problem and a cpu at 99. Once the item was deleted, no more heat and fan.

I wonder how many people are getting around with fans stuck on ??

A. B. said...

YYEESS!!! Thank you!!!

Anonymous said...

Thanks a ton buddy! I was trying to find the reason for my roaring fan. Read your instructions, "killed" the so called "scanning..." activity (not printing as many users have reported!) and within 35 seconds, the fan speed came down to 1800 RPM from roaring 3500 RPM!!!! Thanks a lot! And yes PRAM seems to be fake!

trkkazulu said...

I love hearing from folks who've found this useful! Awesome!

Anonymous said...

My mac has been whirring for two full days! I can't believe this. Thank you for your tip! And, I am never using a Canon printer again.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much! Canon driver causing my Macbook to self combust. Superb tip

John Gordon said...

This has to be my most popular post by an order of magnitude. I did a quick search on "Fan always on", "fan roaring", etc and there are huge numbers of these posts -> usually with the correct answer.

If Apple doesn't fix the hung driver problem with 10.6 they deserve to be roundly roasted. (Which is not to excuse Canon of course!)

Gary said...

Had this fan always on problem just recently with my Macbook. As others have found, a file that failed to print and remained in the queue was the problem. Too bad the activity monitor isn't set to all processes by default. Would have saved me some time. Thanks for your help here.

Anonymous said...

Sometimes my fan goes out of control because of my headphones. My headphone jack is not very stable anymore on my MCP ... sometimes when the jack is not sitting right in the socket, it causes my fans to go out of control until I pull it out.

the_woddler said...

you're a genius! God knows how long my MacBook Pro has had the fan on full blast... I ditched my old Pixma 4000 ages ago but the print queue was still going strong.

My machine is literally running at double the speed it was five minutes ago!

Thank again. Legend.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much! Yours was the first article I read and it solved my problem straight away. Cheers!

Steve M said...

THANK YOU!!! This is exactly what was wrong with my computer. The Apple store wanted to replace my fan, but that wouldn't have helped at all and would have cost me $120 bucks to boot. You, sir, are a life saver.

Anonymous said...

Many thanks...I too had the Macbook jet-engine running for weeks...looked at the activity Monitor and found that Remote Desktop was at 96% CPU!

Tristan L. Sullivan said...

Hey, just wanted to thank you for this fantastic blog post. I've been suffering with a screaming MacBook all week, and about to bring it into my techs when i did a little research and found your post. I followed what you did exactly, and found the exact same Canon script in Activity Monitor. Could this actually be the one?, I wondered. No way I have the same problem as this guy, and deleting one thing will solve it. But, voila.

Now, peace! For the first time in a week. Thanks again,


Tristan L. Sullivan

Irie said...

I only have Firefox open on my MacBook running OS10.4.11 and the fan is roaring away. I've got the activity monitor open but then what? I don't know how to interpret the information...and I need clear step by step info. thanks.
Thanks for any suggestions!

It's April, time for change said...

Wow. I am a believer. Mine was not a printer queue issue it was a google desktop that I tried to install. It's gone and so is the roaring fan. @ Irie when you look at the list in the activity monitor, whatever process is at 99 or more is the one that is holding up your CPU and causing the fan to run.

BigC said...

There are numerous things that can hang up the computer and cause the fan to roar out of control. I have seen the ivirus on a computer hang up everyday.

Anonymous said...

Add me to the list! A stupid document hung up in the print queue caused my fan to roar as well. As soon as I deleted the print job, the fan settled right down and now my MBP is as quiet as usual.

Just an addendum though: my Activity Monitor wasn't showing anything unusual. It wasn't until I read your blog that it reminded me about a document that I sent to the printer that wasn't attached (accidentally), and never printed. So to all who come after, even if your Activity Monitor isn't showing anything strange -- or if you don't know how to read it, just go check your printer's print queue.

John Gordon said...

The default for Activity Monitor shows only the processes for the current user. So you miss system processes or other user processes. That might be why you didn't see the hung print job.

I mentioned changing the view to All Processes in the original post, but it was easy to miss. I've made it bold and added an explanation.

Anonymous said...

Bless your friggin' heart. Fixed it. I was doing PRAM resets to no avail. Radar in Motion widget eating all my CPU power. I'll just stick to The Weather Channel, thanks!

mimi_li_88 said...

THANK YOU!!!!!
I searched everywhere trying to figure out what was wrong (applecare expired, so i couldn't turn to them anymore). I went to my Canon Pixma mp170 print queue found the little sucker, deleted it and presto! my fan is at peace.

THANKS AGAIN!!!!!

Cate Nortier said...

Yup, same issue as you mentioned and now it is fixed, glad your post came up high on the list on google search, as problem solved quickly. Thanks heaps! Little macbook can now get some rest and I can stop worrying!!

gdbaby said...

Thank you! I went to apps and saw that my Sync server was going crazy. I killed it and the fan was off in 15 seconds.

CH said...

Thanks dude, this just fixed my fianceƩ's computer. I like you would have gone directly to the Activity Monitor in my old PC days, funny how quickly you let your guard down on a Mac isn't it?

David H Cape Town said...

Thank you, Apple store couldn't fix the problem, they just sold me another battery, the new battery power was 50% of what it should be-the roaring fan being all consuming! Once I deleted the Canon printer and a dozen jobs stuck in the queue the fan stopped immediately after blowing for 6 months!

trkkazulu said...

Beautiful! These testimonials really warm the heart. Keep 'em coming!

John Gordon said...

Thanks David. I wonder how machine lifetime is impacted by that many months of excess heat output.

I wonder if things are any better with 10.6 -- if the OS has any better management of ill behaved drivers.

I don't use Canon products any longer, so I can't test with their stuff.

Anonymous said...

The steps definitely worked but my problem was not a print job. It was iAntivirus running at 99%! So I quit it and relished in the sound of the slowing fans. :) Thank you so much. :)

Anonymous said...

Thank you thank you thank you!!!

Gail said...

Thank you so much! My fan has been going almost non-stop for weeks. After fiddling for an hour or so with other online suggestions, I read here about the print queue problem and decided to look at the activity monitor again. (I had some trouble interpreting it, not having a clue about techno stuff) Then I saw it. 99.5% of my CPU was involved in a print queue jam!! Even I was able to resolve that issue easily. Thank you so much for saving me a heap of time and money1

Anonymous said...

thanks heaps buddy! save my life from the one of the most irritating sounds there is - a computer fan full on!

much appreciated!

haaks

jimsmith said...

Thanks also - just solved the same problem with your blog.

Nanixh said...

I am SO glad I found your article. I was stressing out, restarting, shutting down, resetting SMC, yelling at the machine in two different languages.....and after a bit of googling I found your article which solved my problems! Damn print que. I am 100% sane now though. I thought oh shit, here goes my macbook, and another charge on a credit card. Phew! Thank you so much. Oh, and Lexmark is to blame for my issue.

Areo said...

Same exact problem. The weird part was two weeks ago my fan was making more noise than it ever has, I checked activity monitor and nothing was out of the ordinary. My temps weren't too high either but I could hear my fan in a quiet room. I downloaded SMC fan control, to see if the noise changed when I altered the fan speed. You could just tell the fan was a little off. I called apple and they replaced my fan. Two days later, my fan is roaring, but in a different way. Checked the activity monitor, and it was my lexmark printer driver freaking out my computer, it was using somehow over 100% of my cpu. At this point, I know think this is an lexmark/cannon issue. Furthermore, multiple searches online for an answer have left me with nothing. I assuming this must be an apple issue.

Trizzy said...

Just as the last 3 have mentioned, Lexmark was also the culprit for me. I think we're on to something...

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for this info! My Macbook fan has been hyperactive for weeks and searching for answers I found your blog. It seems to have been a print que problem for me too! I deleted the held document in my (disconnected and unused) Epson Stylus printer and the fan has been quiet as a mouse ever since! I thought I had a major memory or other mysterious problem but it seems solved now. Thanks again!