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Is Using Your MacBook Outside Bad? It Depends (Apple Says)

The beauty of MacBooks is their portability. They are so small yet powerful, allowing us to use them everywhere. I’m sure you like using your MacBook outside in the sun; I do too. But doing so could risk permanent damage to your MacBook if you are not careful.

Using a MacBook outside is okay Apple says to keep your MacBook between 50° and 95° F (10° and 35° C) for optimal working conditions. Avoiding direct sunlight will keep it in this range. Keep your MacBook in the shade away from direct sunlight in hot sunny countries.

Even in direct sunlight, if the ambient temperature outside is lower than around  86°/30C, your MacBook will be fine. Depending on your model, it won’t be easy to see the screen in direct sunlight.

Although using a MacBook in direct sunlight brings its unique risks, keep reading the article to know for sure.

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Is It Bad to Use a MacBook in the Sun?

Apple says to keep a MacBook between 50° and 95° F (10° and 35°) for acceptable operating temperatures. Unfortunately, direct sunlight is bad for the MacBook. Even worse are sources of reflection (mirrors/glass) that amplify sunlight onto the MacBook, which can melt plastic keys and burn marks into the MacBooks aluminum shell.

Take a look at the melted keyboard of this MacBook. The outside temperature might not exceed 95° F /35°C, but if anything is reflected on the MacBook, this increases the temperature.

If you accidentally left a MacBook in a closed car on a sunny day, your MacBook will easily exceed Apple recommended storage temperature.

This temperature is hot enough to crack the MacBook’s screen.

If your MacBook is in direct sunlight in a hot environment without ventilation like being on your bed, it can damage your MacBook’s internal components like the GPU or CPU.

I recommend reading my article on using your MacBook safely on a bed to prevent overheating issues.

As a general rule, even if your temperature is within 50° and 95° F (10° and 35°C), avoid using your MacBook in direct sunlight. The risk of a reflection melting the keyboard or cracking the screen is not worth it. Instead, ALWAYS stick to shade to keep your MacBook safe from overheating.

Is Direct Sunlight Bad for a Mac?

Apple says to keep a MacBook between 50° and 95° F (10° and 35°) for acceptable operating temperatures. Unfortunately, direct sunlight is bad for the MacBook. Even worse are sources of reflection (mirrors/glass) that amplify sunlight onto the MacBook, which can melt plastic keys and burn marks in the MacBooks aluminum shell.

Always avoid direct sunlight to your MacBook. Any potential light-reflecting source like a mirror or glass table can reflect light to the MacBook hot enough to melt plastic keys and burn the aluminum shell.

If your MacBook has a case or sleeve, letting your MacBook chill in the sun is EVEN worse! Did you know cases can damage your MacBook? To learn all the juicy details consider reading my detailed guide.

If your Mac notebook gets warm even when it isn’t doing tasks that require intensive calculations, or if it has fans that run for a long time, use Activity Monitor to check CPU activity.

Look for malfunctioning processes that can significantly load the CPU, and check whether Spotlight is indexing your hard drive.

You might also need to reset your MacBook’s System Management Controller (SMC).

Can MacBooks Overheat in the Sun?

Apple says to keep a MacBook between 50° and 95° F (10° and 35°) for acceptable operating temperatures. However, leaving a MacBook in direct sunlight is bad for the device. Even worse are sources of reflection (mirrors/glass) that amplify sunlight onto the MacBook, which can melt plastic keys and burn marks in the MacBooks aluminum shell.

If your temperature is well below 95° F/35°C, then your MacBook likely will not overheat. However, if the temperature is near that level, be wary of direct sunlight as likely. It will put the MacBook’s temperature past the recommended limit set by Apple.

Any potential light-reflecting sources like glass or a mirror will reflect heat to the MacBook. Unfortunately, that temperature is hot enough to melt the MacBook’s keys or aluminum case.

It’s better to urge on the side of caution and stick to the shade if you want to use your MacBook outside safely. If you frequently leave your MacBook unattended in the sun, this risks permanent damage to your machine.

Want to make your Mac’s battery last longer? If so, I recommend you read my post on everything you need to know about MacBook charging.