Bitcoin mining can be a professional business activity where you dedicate huge resources to your mining operation, or it can be a hobby, where you simply use a portion of your computing power to mine BTC. While most of the Bitcoin mining is done with an advanced mining rig computer or ASIC miner machine, it’s also possible to mine some BTC with an Apple Mac computer. There are various software solutions for mining BTC with a Mac and utilising these computers’ top of the line CPUs, GPUs and microchips.

In order to understand how you can mine BTC on a Mac, let’s first take a detailed look at what BTC mining is, how it works and which mining software is best suitable for your device.

Mac laptop with black screen isolated on gray background

Bitcoin Blockchain Basics

In 2009, when Bitcoin was launched, it introduced blockchain technology as a viable solution for facilitating fast, cross-border transactions between any two blockchain addresses in the world, regardless of geographic location. A blockchain is a form of distributed, public ledger that shows the full transaction history of all transfers on the BTC blockchain. It’s a public ledger, which means that anyone can track any transaction through a blockchain explorer like Blockchain.info. Anyone can also see the exact number of BTC in all available Bitcoin addresses on a block explorer, but no one knows the person behind a certain address because the public addresses aren’t associated with personal information. This provides a certain degree of anonymity to Bitcoin users

When a Bitcoin user wants to transfer some coins to another address or exchange account, they need to use their private key to manage their funds. A private key is a sort of password that proves a user’s ownership over a certain number of BTC. Without a private key, you can’t access or manage your cryptos. The public address and private key are the two factors that determine the blockchain location and ownership over a certain amount of BTC.

Basically, when you’re transferring bitcoins, you’re just sending a cryptographic message through the blockchain that needs to be validated by network nodes. The coins can never leave the blockchain, and even when you’re storing them in a crypto wallet, they are still on the blockchain. The blockchain itself consists of a linear string of data blocks that contain 1MB of transaction data per block. Blocks are set chronologically from first to last, and they are immutable, which means that their content can’t be changed after they are approved and added to the blockchain. Approving data blocks is what miners do. This mechanism was later copied by many cryptos, including Ethereum (ETH), Monero (XMR), Litecoin (LTC) and Bitcoin Cash (BCH).

Bitcoin Mining

Miners play a key role in powering the Bitcoin blockchain, and without them, there would have to be some sort of central authority that approves transactions. The BTC blockchain is fully decentralized, and there is no central server that checks transactions. Instead, this obligation is delegated to network nodes, which are actually miners and their computers. The main incentives for miners to validate transactions are transfer fees and block rewards, which consist of freshly mined bitcoins.

A specific consensus algorithm is implemented in the Bitcoin code to make sure miners only validate legit transactions. This mechanism is known as Proof of Work (PoW). Every time you initiate a BTC transaction with your private key, the transaction goes into a memory pool (mempool) where it waits alongside other pending transfers for a miner to select it for processing. Miners tend to choose transfers with higher transaction fees, but transfers with average fees are also processed in 5 to 10 minutes. Whatever you do, don’t include a lower than average fee. 

After a miner chooses your transaction for validation, they start using their computing power to find a 64-digit alphanumeric transaction hash that corresponds with the transaction. This requires both time and a lot of processing power. That’s why miners usually join online mining pools, where they share their hashing power with other miners in order to process transactions faster and get more rewards. When a miner finally finds the right hash, they present it to the rest of the BTC network as proof of work. Additional miners check the legitimacy of the hash and, after several confirmations, the transaction is added to the next block of the blockchain. 

The miners who participated in the validation process get a block reward for their efforts. Block rewards are how new bitcoins are mined, but not all miners are equally rewarded, because there are several methods and efficiency levels of BTC mining.

There are essentially four Bitcoin mining methods: CPU mining, GPU mining, ASIC mining and cloud mining.

CPU Mining 

CPU mining was very popular during the early days of Bitcoin when many crypto enthusiasts would simply use the central processing unit (CPU) of their PCs or laptops to mine BTC. However, CPU mining soon became far less efficient than GPU mining. 

It’s still possible to mine Bitcoin with your CPU, but don’t expect to get rich. Strong computers such as various MacBook Pro models with state-of-the-art computer chips, such as the M1 chip, are far more efficient than average PCs and their CPUs, but even so, they have a far lower hash rate than GPU mining rigs and ASIC miners.

GPU Mining

GPU mining is the next level of Bitcoin mining. Graphics processing units have far more hashing power and are able to process considerably more transaction data than CPUs. 

Bitcoin miners usually build a mining rig with 2 to 8 strong GPUs that are interconnected and hooked to a motherboard, CPU and cooling system. A good cooling system is crucial for mining rigs because these computers consume a lot of electricity, which generates huge amounts of heat. Without proper cooling, a mining rig can quickly malfunction, causing irreparable damage to your overheated GPUs.

Strong mining rigs are pretty expensive, and you also need at least intermediate computer knowledge in order to maintain your mining rig. NVIDIA and AMD are the two main manufacturers of GPUs used for mining BTC and other cryptocurrencies.

ASIC Cryptocurrency Mining

ASIC miners are machines made specifically for mining a certain cryptocurrency, such as Bitcoin. These machines aren’t computers. ASIC is short for an application-specific integrated circuit, which means that the machine is literally only capable of running the application it’s programmed to when it was manufactured. 

These machines are very expensive, and they have far more hashing power compared to mining rigs. ASIC miners are generally used by companies engaged in Bitcoin mining as a business and use these machines on Bitcoin mining farms where hundreds of these devices are connected and operate 24/7, producing fresh BTC.

Cloud Mining

Cloud mining isn’t a specific type of mining in terms of used technology like CPU, GPU or ASIC mining since it can include any of these three mining techniques. The term simply refers to BTC mining companies that sell hashing power online to customers around the world. 

Crypto enthusiasts who don’t have the resources, time or knowledge to set up a mining operation by themselves can buy some hashing power online from cloud mining services that own BTC mining farms. This is probably one of the easiest ways to engage in Bitcoin mining, but it can be quite expensive if you’re in it for the long run. 

Cloud mining services charge fees that are usually deducted from your earned BTC in order to pay for maintenance, power and the service itself. If you analyse how much fiat currency you need to pay for a certain amount of hashing power, it might be financially wiser to buy your own mining rig. On the other hand, if you’re not too familiar with the BTC mining technology, using cloud mining services is still a great choice. Some of the most popular BTC cloud mining platforms are Gminers and Shamining.

Bitcoin Mining Software Compatible With Mac Computers

In order to start mining with your CPU or GPU, you need to install appropriate mining software on your designated mining computer. Mining with Mac devices is far less popular than using PC mining rigs, but it’s still an option, and you can earn a modest amount of BTC if you set up your Mac to mine cryptocurrency while you’re not using it. Of course, you can try and use your Mac while it’s mining BTC, but the performance of your computer will significantly drop during the process.

You can also choose to use your Mac computer as a management device for your ASIC miner, but keep in mind that this will render your Mac useless for anything else while it is connected to the ASIC machine.  Keep in mind that you can’t create a mining rig out of a Mac computer. MacBook devices are laptops by design, so it’s obviously impossible to turn them into a rig with multiple graphics cards, while desktop Mac computers such as various iMac and Mac Pro models aren’t suitable for any modifications. 

In any case, you need to install adequate mining software on your Mac before you can start mining BTC. Here are some of the most popular Bitcoin mining software solutions compatible with Mac devices.

BGFMiner

BFGMiner is one of the most popular software solutions for Bitcoin mining with ASIC machines or FPGA mining devices. FPGA miners are small devices based on advanced microchips specially made for mining a certain cryptocurrency. The BFGMiner programme is compatible with Mac computers, which means you can run your ASIC or FPGA Bitcoin mining operation from your Mac.

The programme was launched back in 2012, during the early days of BTC by crypto enthusiast Luke Dashjr and it has become one of the most popular programmes on the market for serious miners who wish to engage in BTC mining as a business.

You can monitor your whole mining operation and optimise various parameters with BFGMiner, such as the temperature of the mining hardware, the electricity input, the hashing power of your ASIC or FPGA and other aspects. The software is open-source, written in C programming language, and it’s compatible with macOS, Linux and Windows.

CG Miner

CGMiner is probably the most well-known Bitcoin mining programme on the market. It’s the first open-source programme of its kind and has enjoyed the miners’ trust around the world for more than 10 years. Its command-line interface is a bit complex because it doesn’t have a fancy, elegant design. Instead, you get a classic programming interface that’s more suitable for advanced users, but once you get the hang of it, using CGMiner becomes quite simple. 

CGMiner was launched in 2011 by crypto developer Con Kolivas, specifically for mining Bitcoin and Litecoin (LTC). You can manage the temperature and power input of your mining operation with CGMiner, as well as your cooling system and hash rate.

The software is compatible with Mac computers and it can be used to run ASIC miners, as well as perform CPU and GPU Bitcoin mining. This means that you can use CGMiner to run your Mac powered mining operation no matter whether you’re engaging in large-scale mining with an ASIC or modest hobby mining with your built-in GPU or CPU.

MultiMiner

MultiMiner is another trustworthy BTC mining software available for download at Github. Unlike CGMiner, MultiMiner has a very simple graphical user interface (GUI) suitable for beginners. It was launched back in 2013 by Nate Woolls, the developer of BFGMiner. This programme is known to be easy to use and offers various quick start options that allow users to set up and initiate their mining operation right away. 

You don’t need any programming skills to run MultiMiner because the software gives you simple instructions for all the necessary setup steps during the installation process. MiltiMiner can manage a variety of mining operations, including CPU, GPU and ASIC mining. It’s made for Windows, but it can also run on Linux and macOS with additional plugins that are required for these two operating systems.

Bitcoin Mining With Apple MacBook Pro

The Apple MacBook Pro model with an M1 Mac chip is one of the best choices for crypto mining with a Mac computer. You can choose to manage your ASIC miner with the MacBook Pro, or you can engage in BTC mining with your computer’s GPU or CPU. 

MacBook Pro is far more efficient in mining Bitcoin compared to other laptops. You just need to install the software of your choice from the list presented in this article, and you’re ready to start mining. However, it’s important to note that apart from managing an ASIC miner with your MacBook Pro, the other two mining methods, CPU or GPU mining, won’t be very profitable. If you want to make serious cash, then the most profitable way for mining BTC with a Mac device is to use it to manage an ASIC miner. Still,  ASICs are very expensive machines, and they consume a lot of electricity, so be prepared for some serious upfront investments.

CPU or GPU mining with a MacBook Pro is good for a modest and steady stream of BTC over time in case you’re a hobby miner.

A Few Ending Words…

When engaging in Bitcoin mining, you really need to decide what your goal is, especially if you’re using a Mac, because of the inability to turn it into a mining rig. If you’re prepared to invest several thousand USD in an ASIC miner to manage it with your Mac, then go for it, but if you just want to mine with the hashing power of your computer, then don’t expect to earn a lot of BTC.