How to Speed Up Your Mac

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Few things about computer ownership can be more frustrating than when a computer starts to slow down. While you would like to believe that your Mac will always run fast, all Macs slow down with age. Thankfully, a slow Mac doesn’t mean you need to run out and buy a new one. There are multiple ways you can speed up your Mac, and we cover them below.

Why Is Your Mac Running Slowly?

Mac Running Slow Fix Macbookpro

There are a number of causes for a slow Mac. Everything from memory issues and leaving too many apps open can cause slowdowns. There is also a possibility your computer is running out of storage. If you don’t have enough free space, your computer could slow down. Buggy software could also be the source of the issue. The good news is that when macOS runs slow, there are a number of tips and tricks available to help get things back on track.

Free Up Storage

One of the easiest ways to keep things running smoothly on any macOS hardware is to free up storage. The more crowded the SSD, the slower it will run. You can go through a full tutorial and clean out anything unnecessary but the easiest step is to optimize storage.

Start by heading to the Apple logo in the top-left corner, clicking on “About This Mac” and then Storage. From here you can see how all of your storage is being used.

Mac Running Slow Fix Free Up Storage

Now click on “Manage” and start taking back your space. It’s in this window that you can “Optimize Storage” by removing content you have already viewed. Empty your trash or go through and delete large files you no longer need. Get rid of anything you can and free up storage for better, faster performance. Don’t forget to clear out browser caches as well.

Disable Login Items

When you reach a point that your macOS hardware takes longer to boot than it normally does, it’s time to disable unnecessary login items. These items can accrue over time, and it’s easy to forget what you have given permission to run as soon as your computer starts.

Mac Running Slow Fix Disable Login Items

To see what is running, click on the Apple logo at the top left, System Preferences, and then “Users and Groups.” Inside this window, click on the tab that says “Login Items” and see what is checked off. Each of the checked apps starts whenever your Mac is restarted or powered on. The more of these you have enabled, the more likely it is that they are at least part of the reason your computer could be running slowly. Disable apps that you don’t use or don’t want and take back some much needed memory. 

Repair Disk Permissions

With the installation of every app on your Mac, a set of permissions is added that enables access to the program for each user. These permissions can become “damaged” over the years and cause slowdowns to your Mac without you ever knowing. Fortunately, correcting these permissions is incredibly easy.

Mac Running Slow Fix Permissions Repair

Go to your Applications folder in your Finder window and locate the “Utilities” folder. Inside this folder you will find Disk Utility. Once the app is open, make sure your hard drive is selected on the left side, then click on “First Aid” across the top. Note that while running these repairs, your computer can slow down so it can properly fix any of the broken permissions. 

Use Activity Monitor

Mac Running Slow Fix Activity Monitor

Activity Monitor is the single best resource for finding absolutely everything that is running on your macOS machine at any given time. Everything from your open applications to behind-the-scenes operations will be available through this window. If you see apps that are open that are not currently in use, close them and save some memory/RAM.

Another big reason to watch this space is to identify apps that are consistently eating up more memory than necessary. For example, Chrome is often considered a memory-intensive browser, and with multiple tabs open, it can quickly slow down even the most powerful computers. If that is a scenario that affects you, look to less resource-intensive browsers like Safari, Microsoft Edge or Brave. 

Disable Visual Effects

Mac Running Slow Fix Dock

Another aspect of Mac ownership that can often be overlooked are visual effects. Effects like magnification, animating applications when they open, and automatically hiding the dock can impact overall performance. If you want the absolute fastest performance out of your current hardware, go to the “Apple logo -> System Preferences and Dock.”

Look for the boxes to uncheck the three aforementioned features. You can always play around to see if just one of these is enabling hardware slowdowns so you can keep the rest running. You can even disable them all. Either way, this is a minor step that can potentially have some major impact. 

Restart and Update

Mac Running Slow Fix Software Update

If all else fails or if you want to use this as your first step, restart your Mac. It’s unquestionably the easiest step on any list for speeding up your Mac and could solve the problem entirely. The same goes for making sure your Mac is up to date with the most current software. Bugs or software problems can often cause slowdowns, and until a fix or patch is released, there is little you can do to resolve the issue. If that is the case, make sure you are keeping current with every macOS release and individual application updates from the Mac App Store. 

Final Thoughts

Mac computers are some of the best at managing memory thanks to Apple’s ownership of both the software and hardware. Unfortunately, that does not make them immune from slowdowns. That is why each of these steps can be so important, as they are your first line of defense at rectifying any slowdown. Don’t just rush out to buy a whole new computer. Instead, start with this list and see if the problem resolves. You just may save a whole lot of money.

David Joz
David Joz

David is a freelance tech writer with over 15 years of experience in the tech industry. He loves all things Nintendo.

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