Kernel Task CPU On Mac

To resolve high kernel task CPU usage on your Mac, update your Mac, close idle processes, reset the SMC, NVRAM, or boot into Safe Mode.

Are you puzzled about the high CPU usage on your Mac, caused by something called ‘kernel_task‘? This system process is key to managing your computer’s temperature and overall performance – a vital part of your Mac’s operation.

In this post, we’ll decipher the purpose of Kernel Task CPU On Mac, identify why it might consume a large portion of your CPU resources and provide practical steps to resolve the issue. Ready? Your guide to mastering kernel_task starts now!

Quick Summary

  • Kernel_task is a system process on Mac that manages CPU temperature and ensures smooth functioning of the system.
  • High CPU usage by kernel_task can be caused by issues regulating internal temperature, outdated software, or hardware problems.
  • Troubleshooting steps to resolve high kernel_task CPU usage include updating your Mac, closing idle processes, resetting SMC and NVRAM, and booting into Safe Mode.
  • Additional tips for managing kernel task CPU usage include charging your MacBook on the right side, moving to a cooler room, clearing cache and cookies, and using a reliable Mac cleaner tool.

Understanding Kernel Task CPU On Mac

Kernel_task is a process on your Mac that plays a crucial role in managing CPU temperature and ensuring the smooth functioning of your system.

What is kernel_task?

In the heart of your Mac’s operating system lies a native process known as kernel_task. This integral part of macOS operates silently in the background, performing key tasks essential to your computer’s functionality and performance.

One of its primary roles is to manage CPU temperature by controlling processor availability for intensive processes.

By doing so, it ensures that the internal temperature of your Mac remains within safe limits, thereby preventing potential heat-related damage to crucial hardware components.

However, under certain circumstances, such as exceedingly high ambient temperatures or faulty applications running amok, this kernel task might consume an exorbitant amount of CPU resources leading to a noticeable dip in system responsiveness and overall performance on Mac systems.

Causes of high CPU usage by kernel_task

One of the common causes of high CPU usage by kernel_task on a Mac is when the system experiences issues with regulating its internal temperature.


When your Mac gets too hot, kernel_task kicks in to reduce the availability of the CPU to intense processes, which can result in higher CPU usage.

This helps prevent overheating and potential damage to your device. Another cause could be related to software issues or outdated macOS versions.

In some cases, certain apps or processes may not be optimized for the latest operating system update, causing increased strain on the CPU and high kernel_task CPU usage.

Keeping your Mac updated with the latest software releases is important to ensure optimal performance and minimize potential compatibility issues with kernel_task.

Additionally, hardware problems such as faulty fans or cooling systems can also contribute to high CPU usage by kernel_task.

If these components are not functioning properly, it becomes difficult for your Mac to regulate its temperature effectively, leading to an increased workload on kernel_task and elevated CPU usage.

Regular maintenance and periodic dust cleaning from fans can help maintain proper cooling functionality.

Troubleshooting Steps for Resolving High Kernel Task CPU Usage

To resolve high kernel_task CPU usage on your Mac, follow these troubleshooting steps: update your Mac, close idle processes, reset the SMC and NVRAM, and boot into Safe Mode.

Updating your Mac

Updating your Mac is an important step in troubleshooting high kernel_task CPU usage.

Here are the steps to update your Mac:

  1. Go to the Apple menu and click on “System Preferences.”
  2. Click on “Software Update.”
  3. If there are any available updates, click the “Update Now” button.
  4. Wait for the updates to download and install.
  5. Restart your Mac once the updates are complete.

Closing idle processes

One effective troubleshooting step is to close idle processes to reduce high Kernel Task CPU usage on your Mac. This helps free up valuable system resources and can improve overall performance.

Closing idle processes

Here are some steps to follow:

  1. Identify idle processes: Open the Activity Monitor on your Mac by searching for it in Spotlight or navigating to Applications > Utilities > Activity Monitor. Click on the “CPU” tab to sort the processes by CPU usage, with the highest usage at the top. Look for any processes with low or near-zero CPU usage for an extended period.
  2. Select and quit idle processes: Once you’ve identified idle processes, select them one by one (hold down the Command key while clicking) and click on the “X” button in the toolbar or choose “Quit Process” from the menu bar. Confirm the action if prompted. Be cautious not to close any active applications or critical system processes.
  3. Verify process closure: After quitting an idle process, monitor your Mac’s CPU usage in real-time on the Activity Monitor’s “CPU” tab. Check if the CPU usage significantly decreases after closing each process.
  4. Monitor and repeat as necessary: Monitor your Mac’s CPU usage regularly, especially during intensive tasks or when experiencing slowdowns. If you notice new idle processes consuming considerable CPU resources, repeat steps 1-3 periodically to ensure optimal system performance.

Resetting the SMC and NVRAM

To resolve high kernel_task CPU usage on your Mac, you can try resetting the SMC (System Management Controller) and NVRAM (Non-Volatile Random Access Memory).

These steps can help in troubleshooting and optimizing your Mac’s performance.

Here’s how to do it:

  1. Resetting the SMC:
  • Shut down your Mac.
  • Press and hold the power button for at least 10 seconds.
  • Release the power button, then wait a few seconds.
  • Turn on your Mac.
  1. Resetting the NVRAM:
  • Press the power button to turn it on, then immediately press and hold the Option + Command + P + R keys simultaneously.
  • Shut down your Mac.
  • Keep holding the keys until you hear the startup sound for the second time or see the Apple logo appear and disappear twice.
  • Release the keys, and your Mac will restart.

Booting into Safe Mode

Booting into Safe Mode is a helpful troubleshooting step to address high kernel_task CPU usage on your Mac.

Here’s how you can do it:

  1. Start by shutting down your Mac completely.
  2. Press the power button to turn on your Mac.
  3. Immediately press and hold the Shift key when you hear the startup chime.
  4. Hold the Shift key until you see the login window or the desktop, indicating that your Mac has successfully booted into Safe Mode.

Additional Tips for Managing Kernel Task CPU Usage

To further manage kernel task CPU usage on your Mac, consider charging your MacBook on the right side, moving to a cooler room, clearing cache and cookies, and using a reliable Mac cleaner tool.

These tips will help optimize your system’s performance.

Charging your MacBook on the right side

To help manage kernel_task CPU usage on your Mac, one important tip is to charge your MacBook on the right side.

Although it may seem like a small detail, charging your device on the correct side can significantly maintain a cooler temperature and reduce overall CPU strain.

Using the right-side port specifically designed for charging allows for better airflow and heat dissipation during the charging process.

This helps prevent excessive heat buildup inside your MacBook, which can lead to higher CPU temperatures and increased kernel_task usage.

In addition to charging on the right side, using an appropriate charger for your MacBook model is essential and avoiding using third-party chargers that may not provide optimal power delivery.

By following these simple steps and taking care of how you charge your MacBook, you can contribute to managing CPU temperature effectively and potentially reduce high kernel_task CPU usage issues.

Moving to a cooler room

To manage the CPU temperature on your Mac and reduce kernel_task high CPU usage, consider moving to a cooler room. Heat can increase CPU usage by making your Mac work harder to cool down.

By relocating to a cooler environment with better airflow or using an external cooling pad, you can help control your Mac’s temperature.

This simple adjustment can significantly reduce kernel_task’s strain on the CPU and improve overall system performance.

Maintaining an optimal internal temperature is crucial for your Mac’s performance and longevity. Moving to a cooler room ensures that your device operates at its best capacity and avoids potential issues caused by excessive heat.

Clearing cache and cookies

Clearing cache and cookies can help optimize your Mac’s performance and potentially reduce kernel_task CPU usage.

Here are the steps to clear cache and cookies on your Mac:

  1. Open Safari or any web browser you frequently use.
  2. In the top menu bar, click “Safari” or the name of your browser.
  3. Select “Preferences” from the drop-down menu.
  4. Go to the “Privacy” tab or section.
  5. Click on “Manage Website Data” or “Manage Cookies and Website Data.”
  6. In the new window that opens, you’ll see a list of websites with stored data.
  7. You can either remove individual websites’ data by selecting them and clicking on “Remove,” or you can click on “Remove All.”
  8. Confirm your selection by clicking “Remove Now” or a similar option.

Using a Mac cleaner tool

Using a Mac cleaner tool can be a helpful way to manage kernel_task CPU usage on your Mac.

Here are some benefits of using a Mac cleaner tool:

  1. Efficiently clears out unnecessary files: A good Mac cleaner tool can quickly identify and remove junk files, temporary files, and unused data that may take up valuable disk space. This can help improve system performance and reduce CPU usage.
  2. Optimizes system resources: A Mac cleaner tool can optimize the allocation of system resources, ensuring that processes run smoothly and efficiently. Freeing up CPU capacity reduces the strain on kernel_task and helps maintain overall system stability.
  3. Cleans up browsing data: Browsing history, cache files, cookies, and other internet-related data can accumulate over time and impact CPU performance. A Mac cleaner tool can effectively clear out this data, boosting your Mac’s CPU.
  4. Removes unnecessary startup items: Some applications may automatically start when you boot your Mac, consuming valuable CPU resources. A Mac cleaner tool allows you to easily manage these startup items, preventing them from unnecessarily burdening kernel_task.
  5. Provides real-time monitoring: Many Mac cleaner tools offer real-time monitoring of system resources, including CPU usage. This allows you to monitor any spikes or unusual activity that might be causing high kernel_task CPU usage.


In conclusion, understanding and managing kernel_task CPU usage on your Mac is crucial for optimal performance. By following the troubleshooting steps outlined in this guide and implementing additional tips for managing CPU temperature, you can effectively resolve high kernel_task CPU usage issues.

Remember to regularly update your Mac and use tools like Activity Monitor to monitor CPU usage and identify any potential causes of slow performance. With these techniques in your arsenal, you can keep your Mac running smoothly and efficiently.


1. What is the Kernel Task CPU on Mac?

The Kernel Task CPU is a background process in macOS that manages system resources and performs essential tasks for the operating system.

2. Why does the Kernel Task CPU use high CPU usage?

High CPU usage by the Kernel Task can occur when your Mac is under heavy load or when there are software conflicts or glitches causing the task to consume more resources than usual.

3. How can I reduce the high CPU usage caused by the Kernel Task?

To reduce high CPU usage caused by the Kernel Task, you can try resetting your Mac’s System Management Controller (SMC), updating your macOS to the latest version, closing unnecessary applications and processes, and removing any third-party plugins or extensions that may be causing conflicts.

4. Is it normal for the Kernel Task to consume a lot of memory?

Yes, it is normal for the Kernel Task to consume a significant amount of memory as it needs sufficient resources to efficiently manage various system operations and maintain stability. However, noticing excessive memory consumption accompanied by performance issues could indicate a problem that requires further investigation.