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How to fix the “kernel_task” high CPU usage bug in your Mac

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It can be frustrating when your computer is slowing down. But it’s worse when it doesn’t know why. If your Mac is still feeling slow even after shutting down all other programs, this could indicate that the kernel_task is causing excessive CPU usage.

Your Mac’s kernel_task name refers to a range of low-level functions which allow the rest to work. This makes it difficult to find the cause.

We have all seen it before, so here are some tips to get rid of it.

 

How to Diagnose Slow Mac

If your Mac seems to be slowing down, producing a lot heat or sounding about to take flight due to high fan speeds then you should open activity monitor to discover why. This is macOS’s equivalent of the Windows Task Manager.

Spotlight will open Activity Monitor. Just hit Cmd + Space, then enter “activity” to bring up Activity Monitor. You can also find it under Apps > Utilities. For faster access when you have major issues, you may want to pin the Activity Monitor to your Dock.

Your slow computer’s problem should be obvious from the tab. To arrange running processes by processor use, simply click the % CPU column head. You will see anything that uses a large amount of processing power at the top. They will then move around while your computer performs different tasks.

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High CPU usage is not usually a problem if you don’t expect it. You can expect your computer to consume resources when you are playing a game, viewing a web video or editing a film. If more than one Safari tab, or Mac process is using resources, it’s usually an indication that something’s wrong.

Why is kernel_task the Culprit

To kill any process, click on it and then click on the X in top-left corner. You can’t do that for Kernel_task. This is because kernel_task is an integral part of macOS.

You see, the kernel_task is actually a collection of processes. While you work, macOS will do many other tasks in the background. These include data transfer over the network and writing and reading data to disk.

 

While this process may use some of your RAM on the memory tab, it is not an overwhelming task. As needed, RAM usage will change. High CPU usage can lead to system crashes and even a complete shutdown.

So how can you stop the kernel_task affecting your Mac’s performance?

1. Simple Solutions for Kernel-task Problems

Most cases will resolve the issue with a simple restart. However, this is not a long-term fix if the problem has been there for a while. It is temporary and should result in immediate relief.

Reset the SMC

It is possible that the problem that caused the spike in CPU usage has returned. You might also want to reset your system management control (SMC), if you are experiencing repeat instances. This is a simple process that can fix many macOS issues.

 

The steps to reset the SMC will vary depending on your Mac’s model. It can resolve many problems so we offer a complete guide on how to reset your Mac’s SMC. You can also reset your PRAM, which is another component of a Mac that can lead to multiple issues.

Stop Idle Processes

Another easy hack is to eliminate all idle processes that are consuming your memory resources. Head to Activity Monitor and select the Memory tab. Next, click on Quit. The process will then be stopped. Continue by clicking Quit.

2. Other solutions for fixing high CPU usage

Perhaps the easiest solution to any OS-related problem is to update macOS to the latest version. Just launch System Preferences, then click Software Update. You can also run any unfinished Apple software updates.

 

Adobe Flash is another reason why the kernel_task process can use a lot of CPU. Flash may not be as essential for browsing the web anymore, but it is still necessary to access certain web apps or websites.

A browser such as Google Chrome can replace Flash. However, Flash is optionally available. You don’t likely need Flash so you can remove it. Adobe Flash is no longer supported since 31 December 2020. This means that you won’t receive security updates.

It’s important to remove Flash Player Install Manager, at minimum for security reasons. Flash Player can be uninstalled by downloading the Adobe Flash Player Manager.

  1. Looking a little deeper into Mac’s CPU usage at High kernel_task

Some people have succeeded in removing kernel extension, which is a module of code that performs low-level tasks. The vast majority of these extensions, also called “kexts,” are installed by Apple as part of the core macOS environment. Software may install third-party extensions to support hardware control or drivers.

To check if there is a third party kext causing your kernel_task issues, reboot your computer into Safe Mode. You can do this by restarting your computer and holding the Shift key while it boots. Safe Mode loads only the kernel extensions required by the environment. If this doesn’t happen, the issue could be with a third party kext.

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