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Fix MacBook Air Streaming Video and Overheating Problems

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I’ve been having a lot of trouble streaming video on my MacBook Air recently. No matter which site I’m on, YouTube, Hulu, or Netflix, within a few minutes the video becomes choppy and unwatchable. Fed up with my computer’s inability to complete a task it should be able to handle no problem, I brought her into the Apple (s aapl) store on 14th street in NYC to get repaired…which did not happen.

After I described my problem, and offered up screenshots of the activity monitor showing one of my cores shut down with just Firefox or Safari open, the “genius” looked a my computer for a total of about five minutes before informing me that MacBook Airs were built to be ultraportable and therefore cannot do everything a regular MacBook can, like watch YouTube videos. I was steaming…

After leaving the Apple store, I went home and did some research, where I uncovered the magic pill for the MacBook Air overheating problem, Coolbook. Coolbook is a $10 program that lets you change the frequency and voltage of your processor to reduce heat and fan noise, and increase battery life. Before I found Coolbook I was honestly going to sell my MacBook Air and get a new laptop, but now that I have Coolbook installed and tweaked, my computer is running perfectly.

A Few Notes About Coolbook

  • There is a free version, but it doesn’t let you do anything. Don’t waste your time with it; purchase the full version immediately.
  • The directions are a little confusing, so I’ve outlined some pointers below.
  • There is a whole forum thread about Coolbook here.
  • Although I used it on a MacBook Air to fix my video issues, it should improve the performance of any Mac laptop.
  • I had an email conversation with the developer, so a lot of the information listed is “straight from the horse’s mouth.” Thanks for helping, Magnus!

After you download and purchase Coolbook, go ahead and register it. Once it’s registered you can start to configure it.

Setting a Voltage With Frequency

When you’re configuring frequencies, it’s important to uncheck the “Throttle Active” checkbox.

  1. Select the frequency from the drop-down box
  2. Select the voltage from the drop-down box
  3. Click the set button.

“The lower voltage you can use, the more power you will save. Finding the limits of your CPU requires some experimentation. If you try to step down the voltage one notch at the time, you will eventually reach the limit of your CPU, and you will have a kernel panic (showing the picture of the power button).”

We need to do this process with each frequency for both adapter and battery mode, making sure we save our work each time we find the correct voltage for a frequency.

Throttling Level & Temp Limit

Throttling level controls how easy CoolBook will step up in frequency. A higher value will make the frequency step up quicker, and at a lower CPU load. High is recommended when using temp limit. When the temp limit is reached, CoolBook will step down to a lower frequency in the list. This is done to reduce heat. This feature is not needed for all computer models, but it is recommended on computers that reaches too high temperatures during load.

Throttling Active & Coolbook Active

Finally, it’s time to turn on throttling and Coolbook. Check both boxes and let your system reboot when prompted. When your system is rebooted, it will be running Coolbook in the background. You do not need to launch the application.

Screenshots of My Configuration

Each processor is different, but this is how my system is configured.



56 Responses to “Fix MacBook Air Streaming Video and Overheating Problems”

  1. Thanks for your post!!!
    I bought the program and set up your voltage!!

    This program DOESN’T WORK AT ALL!!!
    Macbook Air (1st generation is really a wasting of money). never more mac in my life!!!!

  2. Bronza Coerta

    Thanks for submitting this, Jenny.

    I “sometimes” have the same problem on my macbook air – particularly, EVERY videochat with skype gets impossible after 3-4 minutes, as the heat is so much (CPU at 73º) that 86% of the CPU is used by the system just to prevent further heating. Obviously audio and video via skype become crappy.

    The reason some people don’t have troubles with it, besides running less CPU-consuming apps is, simply… ambient temperature. I never have problems in winter in Europe, when my room temperature is about 18-20 ºC. I start having problems above 25-28 ºC room temperature, especially if I am using the macbook on a non-conductive desk like, for example, wood, or on my bed. I moved twice to Singapore for some months, and it started having this problem from day 1, guess what, it’s 33 ºC and 85-90% humidity here almost all the time. I even had it serviced but everything looked fine… so I’ll let you know what happens with this app


  3. I have a late 2008 Macbook Pro, spent almost $3000 on it in total, and I’ve had Constant problems with streaming, even stupid little YouTube videos! In fact, I’m on this site because I couldn’t watch a video today!

    BTW, I think GAZOOBEE’s response is uncalled for and rude even if many of us didn’t have the problem.

  4. The AIR is a total POS…

    Two broken hinges, stalled video, airport networks that fail to be recognize existing networks, recognized networks that fail to “get online”, and sound issues related to the bad hinges…

    Quality has nose dived since they started making Intel machines.

    My next machine will be a PC netbook, bc really, the operating system is only good thanks to its UNIX core, not all the eye candy shit Apple that slows things up and appeals to the “unsophisticated” user…

  5. Hi all, I for one am grateful for this post. I bought a 1st gen MBA in Aug 2008 and have had no end of problems exactly as described. I had to use Firefox to have any hope of watching a video online without the fans and processors completely maxing out. Things like basic online games caused it to lockup completely. I had also spoken to 3rd line because the machine was getting sooo hot (whilst on a flat surface) that I couldn’t even touch it. I’ve been in tech support for nearly 20 and can’t believe how poor this machine performs – and it cost me 3,500USD so I will give any 10 buck app a go before binning it.

    Thanks all for the info, very helpful…


  6. With the claims Apple makes about its products, this kind of garbage should be unacceptable. Apple computers run hot – too hot. I don’t think this is isolated to Apple only – I’ve used a Dell laptop that got ridiculously hot. But this is why, despite having a Mac Mini and loving it and their OS, my next computer will be a PC. While I respect Mr. Jobs’ creative genius, I think Apple could care less about quality control, which I hope comes to back to bite them. Why? Because if it doesn’t, they won’t get things fixed. But right now, their stock is on a tear, people want the iPad, and it appears the sky is the limit. There is no incentive right now for them to fix their problems. They are complacent and that’s just how it is. Not to worry though, I’ll be on a Lenovo and life will be good.

  7. Hi, my MBA too is overheating and I tried downloading coolbook but the controller is greyed out…I can’t seem to be able to set the temp limit and throttling limit. Is it because am not running leopard? I have Mac OX 10.5.8… And how do I purchase the $10 version? Someone please help.

    • OMG! Taaaala…
      I think I found the solution to this whole heating thing. In addition to all the cooling software I sat my air on a freezing cooling bag and It seems to fix the problem. Try sitting it on a really cool…ice cold surface. It works!!!!!

  8. I think we should set up a representative action for all air book customer as these are a part of the computer’s essential abilities.
    We are not asking for super capabilities here but simply day 2 day use.

  9. MBA’s sleek slim design reduces the airflow and causes it to overheat… I took mine to the so called Apple “Genius” bar where they had replaced every major component (Motherboard, logic board, hard drive, fans) until they finally gave up and told me that I will have to ship my Macbook to their main repair center in texas… couple weeks after shipped it I got a call from apple to inform me that they had lost my Macbook and that they would like to replace it with a newer model… so now I have a new Macbook Air with a faster processor that runs hotter and slower than old one.. I think Apple will do whatever it takes to hide the fact that the Macbook Air is an Epic Failure.

  10. Hey all, I found this on, I tried this, and surprisingly the problem seems to have gotten instantly better. I streamed video for 5 minutes (something I couldn’t accomplish a few minutes ago) and it played well. I will update if for some reason when I try to stream video for longer it won’t work. I don’t have time to do that now. The fan is a bit louder, but that’s a gripe I’m more than willing to deal with.

    There is a free way to do this …
    I’m using a MacBook Pro, which also runs hot and I use a combo of FanControl

    and smcFanControl

    to keep the machine within acceptable range. It works really well.

    But everything is running slowly lately. I’m really not sure why. Your video problems may not be entirely to do with heat.

  11. I’m going to try this and pray it works. Especially, if Apple isn’t repairing/replacing them. I LOVE my air. However, the streaming issues are very real and super annoying. Does anyone know if using Coolbook can cause more harm than good? Especially for a non-techie like ne?

    Thanks in advance!