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There is an occasional click sound coming from my Macbook Pro (17", 2.2 Ghz Core 2 Duo) I upgraded to Snow Leopard recently, but the computer was also in for service about week before that, so I can't be certain the OS upgrade is related.

The sound has no set interval and frequency varies from rare to every few seconds.

I can alleviate the sound by turning up the fan speed with smcFanControl. Turning the right fan up about half way seems to be sufficient. Unfortunately, turning up the left fan also causes the right to turn on, because the sound seems to be slightly more to the left. The cause seems to be either a fan or heat-related.

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Check S.M.A.R.T. status using Disk Utility, and ensure your backup is up to date! –  Steve Folly Sep 20 '09 at 18:02
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SMART status is Verified. –  Justin Love Sep 20 '09 at 19:04
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This happens to my 2010 MBP 17" i5 as well. –  ShaChris23 Sep 24 '10 at 19:29
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You'll want to get a backup right away just in case this happens to be a hard drive issue. –  Wuffers Mar 14 '11 at 2:40

5 Answers 5

up vote 2 down vote accepted

Some people have apparently had trouble with fans causing noise. The smcFanControl application will allow you to set the minimum fan speed.

In this case it often seems to alleviate the clicking, at the cost of some steady fan noise.

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Open System Preferences > Energy Saver

If "Put the hard disk(s) to sleep when possible" is ticked, the noise you are hearing is just your hard drive going to 'sleep'. This happens when there has been no activity, i.e. no read or writes being done.

The noise is coming when the HD parks its reading heads after usage. This is perfectly normal and happens because of aggressive power saving mode.

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Double check that you are currently up to date on your Apple Software Updates (Apple Menu --> Software Update). There are several firmware updates that just recently came out.

1 - http://support.apple.com/kb/DL893 Hard Drive Firmware Update 2.0 which supposedly addresses this (or something similar)

2 - http://support.apple.com/kb/DL853 Macbook Pro EFI Firmware Update 1.7

3 - http://support.apple.com/kb/DL832 MacBook Pro SMC Firmware Update 1.3

The first one, may solve your issue, the others might help alleviate the symptoms, especially the SMC update....

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Judging from the dates I ought to have those three, but it's probably been a week since the last update. Perhaps I should to turn up the update frequency during the early days of 10.6 –  Justin Love Sep 21 '09 at 19:49
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I have Software updates turned up to daily here, Apple doesn't release software often enough that it should be a pain.... It's rare for them to have multiday releases, although recently they did have a Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday release.. Drove me crazy because I had to rebuild the clone 3 times.... –  Benjamin Schollnick Sep 22 '09 at 11:59

If the laptop has been with you for some time now and
you have just started to hear these clicking noises,
it is likely to be a disk failure indicator.

But, some disks make a clicking sound once in a while normally,
its like a 'gulping' kind of click.
This is not supposed to be a problem (except for the annoyance)

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Not sure what you mean by gulping. I've always been able to hear disk activity if I'm listening for it, but this new sound is noticeably louder. –  Justin Love Sep 20 '09 at 17:31
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I believe the gulping you're referring to is the drive resetting itself after an error, so not OK or something to ignore. Now, some drives are noisier than others, and will park heads when idle and make noise when starting up again, so don't assume the worst. This "gulping" is quite recognisable, so if you don't know if gulping is what you're hearing, it's probably not. –  Lee B Sep 20 '09 at 20:05

hdapm allows you to manually send power management commands to the hard drive.

However, I had no luck with it for this problem.

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