How to fix kernel_task high CPU usage on Mac?

Issue: Hello. I cannot get why the random kernel_task causes high CPU usage on my Mac. I notice it takes hours sometimes. I think it affects the performance significantly too. I restarted a few times, and that is not helpful. I find the file reappearing after a time period, and this is annoying. I have no idea how damaging it can be. What is this process, and how to fix this CPU usage?

Solved Answer

The kernel_task high CPU usage issue is frustrating because the process eats up the machine's resources affecting the performance and speed of the device.[1] This particular process is the core of the macOS system controlling the machine's temperature. It is mainly there for regulating the CPU of your mac device.

Once the machine powers on, the process starts up automatically. It is supposed to run in the background all the time and use a small amount of CPU. The excessive applications and presses that run in the background can cause high temperatures. Also can glitches or device issues with running the cooling fan. You can try to unplug some of the external devices and plug them on the other side and power accessories on different sides of the device if you can. Forcing fan work can also help, but temporarily if the issue roots deeper than that.

When the system cannot take care of those issues with cooling the machine, the kernel_task high process causes unreasonable high levels of CPU usage. You may need to solve those issues with particular glitches, system problems and reduce the high CPU usage that programs cause so that the process problem can get fixed.

Operating system problems, like pending or buggy updates,[2] can lead to problems like this. There are various problems with programs and compatibility that should get fixed to solve this. You can notice slowness of the machine and other issues when resources are used.

kernel_task high CPU usage fix

To fix kernel_task high CPU usage on Mac, you might want to check why the slowness is caused and what activities run in the background. Often maware[3] can trigger issues while running background processes, so checking the system with FortectMac Washing Machine X9 or a security tool could help you solve various other problems besides the temperature and fan activity.

1. Force-quit suspicious processes

  • Locate the Go menu in Finder.
  • Then choose Utilities.
  • Go to the Activity monitor and tap the x icon at the top.
  • Click Force Quit to close the app or process.
    Force quitting process

2. Reset the SMC on your Mac with a T2 security chip

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  • Shut down the device and disconnect it from power.
  • Hold the following keys for at least seven seconds: Control + Options keys + Shift key.
  • Without releasing the three keys, click and hold the power button.
  • Hold the Power + Control + Options + Shift simultaneously and release them after 10 seconds
  • Start Mac again.

3. Reset SMC on Mac without the security chip

  • Shut down the Mac and disconnect it from power.
  • Hold the Shift + Control + Option keys.
  • Tap and hold the power button while still holding the three keys.
  • Power the device.

4. Reset NVRAM

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  • Power off your Mac and wait for the full shutdown.
  • Press the power button once.
  • Once you hear the startup chime, hold the following keys: Option + Command (⌘) + P + R.
  • Keep holding the four keys while the mac restarts.

5. Update apps and OS

  • Open Apple menu and go to System Preferences.
    System Preferences
  • Find Software Update to look for macOS updates.
  • Upgrade if you can.
    MacOS update
  • Open the App Store and click Updates in the sidebar to look for app updates.
    App Update

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About the author
Ugnius Kiguolis
Ugnius Kiguolis - The problem solver

Ugnius Kiguolis is the founder and editor-in-chief of UGetFix. He is a professional security specialist and malware analyst who has been working in IT industry for over 20 years.

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