Recently, my MacBook Air began making ticking sounds at regular intervals once powered on, akin to the sound of a woodpecker. The sounds occur at regular intervals, beginning every 5.2(ish) seconds and lasting about .8 seconds. I cannot identify where the sound is coming from. What could this be caused by? Is it something to take to my local genius bar urgently or is it simply an annoyance?
You don't specify the exact model of MacBook Air, but if it's one of the first models, or one of the Late 2008 or mid 2009 models, then it's possible you have a HDD for storage instead of a SSD.
A hard drive starting to have problems could certainly explain the ticking sound (although you seem to provide very precise and regular intervals). Otherwise it could be a fan.
Regardless, I would strongly recommend you testing your hardware. How you do this will depend on your model, so choose the appropriate option below.
Run Apple Hardware Test for all MacBook Airs up to and including the Mid-2012 models
Your model uses Apple Hardware Test. To use this, follow these steps:
- Shut down your MacBook Pro
- Restart your MacBook Pro
- Press and hold the D key before the gray startup screen appears.
- After a while, Apple Hardware Test (AHT) will start.
- When prompted, select your language and click the right arrow.
- When the AHT console appears, you can choose to run Basic tests by clicking the Test button. However, I suggest you select the "Perform extended testing" checkbox before you click the Test button.
- Your test results will appear in the window in the bottom-right of the console.
Note 1: that the extended test will take some time. Take a note of the results and report back.
Note 2: If pressing and holding the D key at Step 3 doesn't work, start again at Step 1 and, at Step 3 press and hold both the OptionD keys instead. This will try and run diagnostics from the internet instead, so you will need to allow more time for it to complete.
Run Apple Diagnostics for all MacBook Airs from Mid-2013 onwards
Your model uses Apple Diagnostics. To use this, follow these steps:
- Fully shut down your Mac
- Restart your Mac
- Immediately press the D key and keep it down until you see the Diagnostics screen appear
- Wait for Diagnostics to finish (this typically only takes a few minutes)
- Once complete, one of two things will appear on the screen:
- a No issues found message
- a brief description of any errors found plus further instructions
- If the diagnostics test does find errors, take a note of what they are
Note: If pressing and holding the D key at Step 3 doesn't work, start again at Step 1 and, at Step 3 press and hold both the OptionD keys instead. This will try and run diagnostics from the internet instead, so you will need to allow more time for it to complete.
Regardless, take a note of what happens and let me know how you went.
I had the exact same symptom just now on booting an MacBook Air (2014 I think). Regular 5 rapid ticks repeating every ~3 seconds were there. Seemed to be coming from the MagSafe port.
After reading on this thread that it could be a fan issue, I gave the machine a couple of firm taps underneath the port. The fan immediately spooled up to full speed for ~1 second, then turned off. Clicks gone. Appears to be an issue with the fan failing to spool - hopefully just dust or debris that's now cleared.
It's indeed difficult to know, but if you don't have the 1st gen. with a spinning hard drive, I had a similar ticking on my 2011 MacBook Air 13". Very regular with approx. the interval you indicate. I have heard of one other instance with the same too, which indicates there are probably many of them. Mine started after a fall, which didn't leave any visible marks. Could have been incidental.
I identified the source as close to the MagSafe connector. My hypothesis was and continues to be that it was power related, i.e. 'sparks' or electricity jumps somewhere on the MagSafe board, probably capacitor related. It never bothered me enough to truly investigate, and it came and went, sometimes gone for weeks before it would start again.
If you want to test, I would get a new MagSafe board off eBay, stick it in and see if the sound disappear. Then report back.