My MacBook Pro is making a strange, birdlike chirping sound – is this a virus?

David Hallengren December 26, 2011

The sound is a very distinct birdlike sound, and it does not seem to be the fan. I have run multiple virus scans, but nothing has turned up. Can the issue be resolved?
MacBook Pro, Mid 2009, Core i2 Duo

  1. Pascal derval
    August 27, 2012 at 10:45 pm

    The noise that you ear is just the notification from outlook telling you that you do not have new messages. If you go to preferences - notifications and sounds, you will find it there. I had the same issue... Sometimes things are more simple than we think...!

  2. Delores
    August 9, 2012 at 3:48 pm

    Are you sure it is not an instant message coming in?
    Check your instant message.

  3. Vincent DeVeau
    July 16, 2012 at 4:50 pm

    There are security programs like Prey which can remotely cause your laptop to make a loud chirping sound. Have you installed or used any of these?

    • Stephanie Guertin
      August 15, 2012 at 2:51 am

      Since when does Prey make a chirping noise?

  4. webgeek
    July 8, 2012 at 12:45 pm

    I have heard the same type of "chirping" noise from my Macbook Pro. It always seemed to be at random when it happened. I have recently figured out that it is my Mac Outlook automatically searching for new messages. I have never set any sounds on my computer so I assume that it is the default sound to do that but if you are experiencing this type of sound you may try to hit the send/receive button in Outlook and see if you hear the noise

  5. gmtroberts
    March 19, 2012 at 8:49 pm

    I have a late 2008 mbp 15" that has been making that sound for a while.  Recently my battery has gone bad, and when my mbp makes the sound it dies (at about 80% battery life) and indicates no battery power.  I also have a late 2010 mbp 17" that makes the noise.  I notice it's when I hold it with one hand near the trackpad.  All I can fathom it's a manufacture's flaw and something is rubbing against something else.  There are countless forums that have posts of this.  I don't believe it's the hdd.  If it were then the hdd wouldn't come back.  Keep an eye on it tho.

    • Mike
      March 19, 2012 at 9:09 pm

      Not sure which countless forums you found that in. I haven't really found anything referring to a bird like noise in any Mac related forum...

      Administrating about 250 Mac clients with at least one quarter being mobile devices I'm also confident to say it's not a manufacturing flaw or fault. I would rather say that you handle both devices the same way resulting in the same problem source.

      In general the most likely sources of noise are the hard drive and the fan(s). Less likely are the power supply board and the inverter for the display.

      First I suggest to clean the fan inside of the MBP ~ you will be surprised how much and what makes it's way into the case and the fan over time.
      iFixit - MacBook Pro 2010 Fan guide (it's basically just the 10 screws on the back)

      While you have it open you could also carefully put it on it's side (make sure it doesn't fall to either side), turn it on and try to get a better location of the noise source.

  6. Mike
    December 26, 2011 at 11:37 pm

    At this point I will simply rule out a virus or any other malware infection. Mute the sound and see if it still occurs:

    (a) if no, look through your software settings and preferences
    e.g. in "System Preferences > Sound > Sound Effects" and each application running

    (b) if yes, it is definitely hardware related
    I wouldn't directly rule out the fan. It could very much be a bad bearing which comes into play after a certain time of usage, temperature and therefor fan speed.
    However since a fan sound is usually easy to identify and located I do agree with @Jeff_Fabish:disqus and @FIDELIS1:disqus that there is a high probability it's your hard drive.

    In either case visiting a professional is probably the best option. Fiddling with the hardware including the hard disk is not always a good idea. MacBookPros' have a rather fragile hard drive connector cable ~ broke it once myself although I regularly work with Macs.

  7. Jeff Fabish
    December 26, 2011 at 10:33 pm

    No, I don't think a virus would do this, especially if its coming from the hardware. It's probably your hard drive's head.

  8. Anonymous
    December 26, 2011 at 10:31 pm

    if you have AppleCare plan coverage in effect now, call AppleCare's main number and ask for help.

    Power On Self-Test Beep Definition

    if you have skype, Apple Mail settings....then UN-select the play sound

    go into Disk Utility and run a check on the drive

    the speakers making noise?

    maybe you will have to reinstall MAC?

    December 26, 2011 at 8:30 pm

    Hello, have you noticed if this happens when you are doing something specific?  or when your harddrive is under heavy load?  Have you checked if you have any software like for example, email or a messenger configured to make this noises when you have new email/messages?.  The Weatherbug application/widget is known to make chirping sounds for notification.

    It could also be that it happens when your harddrive is working hard.  Make sure to check your harddrive is running good and also if possible check it for errors.  Also, it would be a good idea to make a backup.

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