14 Ways to Speed Up a Slow Mac

How to Speed Up Slow Mac

We use our Mac to serve different purposes and have our ways to operate it. However, it can’t be denied that despite their popularity for rendering a faster and smoother experience, there can be odd days when you notice your Mac slowing down, especially if it’s old. In this article, I have shortlisted some simple ways to speed up your Mac’s performance.

However, before jumping to the solution, it is essential to understand the root causes to avoid similar glitches down the line.

Why is Your Mac Running Slow?

There can be a range of reasons behind it. The most common reasons are – negligence from our side or hardware and software issues. With passing years and new upgrades, Macs tend to slow down irrespective of the model you own or the amount you have spent over them.

However, a few workarounds may help you save your day.

Best Tips and Tricks To Speed Up Your Mac

  1. Close Unnecessary Apps on Mac
  2. Restart your Mac Regularly
  3. Use Activity Monitor to Identify Resource Hogs
  4. Reduce your Startup Items
  5. Update your macOS
  6. Perform First Aid and Repair Permissions on Mac
  7. Turn off Mac’s Visual Effects
  8. Reindex Spotlight on Mac
  9. Get rid of Mac Desktop Clutter
  10. Clean up Mac’s Hard Drive
  11. Reset your Mac’s SMC & PRAM
  12. Install more RAM
  13. Turn off File Vault encryption
  14. Replace your HDD with SSD

1. Close Unnecessary Apps on Mac

We often leave the ‘n’ number of apps open on our Mac. Eventually, this slows down the system. As cliche as it sounds, more often than not, this is the reason that’s holding your Mac back.

It is recommended to close the unused apps that may be running in the background. These can be done in the following ways;

  1. On the Dock, you’ll notice a tiny dot beneath some apps. This represents that the app is open. Right-Click (or ctrl + click) on the app, and click on Quit to close the applications that aren’t in use.
    Right Click on the app and click on Quit to close the app on mac
  2. If you see the force quit option for any program, that is likely the one that’s hogging your speed. Right-click on the app icon and select force quit. This will open a popup window with the list of running programs. Click on the app you wish to close and select force quit.
    Click on the app icon, and select force quit on Mac

You can also press option+command+escape to force quit an app.

Note: This step should only be used when your app doesn’t respond, or the first step fails to help.

2. Restart Your Mac Regularly

Most of us have the habit of pulling down the screen after using it rather than shutting it down. While initially, this might seem helpful, it may negatively impact your Mac over time.

If not daily, it is recommended to restart your Mac at least once in two days. It works like a power nap. This helps it revive and serve you again with its full potential.

Restart Your Mac

3. Use Activity Monitor to Identify Resource Hogs

This is one of the most convenient ways to identify which apps and programs consume most of your Mac’s energy. To access the activity monitor;

  1. In the Finder, click on Applications on the right sidebar.
  2. Scroll down to locate Utilities and click on it.
  3. Now open Activity Monitor.

You can also open the activity monitor using Spotlight.

This section will show you all the active processes on your Mac. Under the %CPU tab, you’ll notice the apps and their battery usage. Locate and close (if required) those draining your Mac’s energy.

Check apps and their battery usage under CPU tab on Mac

4. Reduce your Startup Items

Do certain apps open on their own as soon as you start your Mac? If the answer’s yes, these apps fall under the Startup items, and they may be slowing down your Mac.

To disable them;

  1. Click on the Apple icon located at the top left corner and select system preferences.
  2. Now click on Users and Groups.
  3. In the window, you’ll notice ‘Login items’ next to Password. Tap on it to access the list of startup items on your Mac.
  4. Tap on the ‘-‘ icon beneath the window to remove an app. Repeat for all the apps you wish to remove.In Login items toggle to app and click minus button to remove

5. Update your macOS

This is one of the most crucial considerations. Whether your Mac is running slow or smooth, it’s vital to keep the macOS updated all the time. To do this;

  1. Click on the Apple icon and open ‘About this Mac.’
  2. In the Overview section, you’ll have your current macOS version. Click on ‘Software Update‘ to see if there’s a pending upgrade. If yes, do it instantly.Check macOS Update

6. Perform First Aid and Repair Permissions on Mac

Whenever you install an application on Mac, it arrives in the form of various packages. These packages house permissions which change with time, eventually lagging your Mac or even freezing and crashing it. To overcome this issue, you need to access disk utility.

To do so;

  1. Turn on your Mac and immediately press and hold Command and R together.
  2. Release the keys once you see the Apple logo, spinning globe, or other startup screen form.
  3. If prompted, enter your Password and click on continue.
  4. The following screen will display four options;
    • Restore from Time Machine
    • Reinstall macOS
    • Safari/Get Help Online
    • Disk Utility.
  5. Choose Disk Utility to repair your Mac.Select Disk Utility and Click on Continue on Mac

7. Turn off Mac’s Visual Effects

The visual effects on your Mac undoubtedly add to the design and your experience. However, they do have the potential to hold down your Mac’s speed. Acknowledging this, turning off your Mac’s visual effects can undoubtedly be a wise decision.

To do it;

  1. Click on the Apple icon and select system preferences.
  2. Open Dock & Menu Bar. Here you’ll find all the settings listed.
  3. Uncheck
    • Animate opening applications
    • Automatically hide and show the Dock
  4. For Minimize Windows Using, select scale effect instead of the genie effect.Uncheck Animate opening applications from dock on Mac

8. Reindex Spotlight on Mac

This is necessary when you have recently updated your Mac. Though it might take around an hour to get back to normal on a typical day, sometimes it slows down the system.

To reindex Spotlight on Mac;

  1. In your Mac’s system preferences, click on Spotlight.
  2. In the new window, switch to the privacy tab.From Spotlight Switch to Privacy Tab

Once you are here, drag and drop your hard drive from the Finder into the privacy list; once added, select and click on the ‘-‘ icon. The process should end in an hour, and hopefully, you’ll have the solution.

9. Get rid of Mac Desktop Clutter

Keeping the desktop clean is always a wise option as it directly consumes your RAM space. Depending on the Mac version you are using, you must always consider keeping it clean.

For the macOS High Sierra and older versions, you’ll have to consider deleting them. For the newer versions, you can choose ‘Desktop Stack‘ to arrange them neatly. This can be accessed by right-clicking on your desktop and selecting ‘Use Stacks.’

Get rid of Mac desktop clutter

10. Clean Up Mac’s Hard Drive

Clear Cache Files

Cache files are temporary data used to speed up your experience. However, with time, they accumulate in large numbers and eventually slow down your Mac. It would help if you preferred cleaning it for both Mac and browser.

To Clear your Mac’s Cache;

  1. Press Command+Shift+G or in the Go tab in Finder, click on ‘Go To Folder.’
  2. In the Go To Folder, type ~/Library/Caches/
  3. Now, delete all the files listed here. Select them all and press the delete button.

To Clear your browser Cache;

  1. If you are using Chrome, click on Chrome from the top and select Clear Browsing Data. Now check only the Cache and click on Clear Data.
  2. If you are using Safari, Click on Safari from the top and select Preferences.
  3. In the Advanced tab, select the Show Develop Menu and close the window.
  4. Now click on the Develop drop-down menu and select Clear Cache.

Optimize Mac’s Storage

This is one of the most straightforward ways of boosting the speed of your Mac. And it’s no rocket science.

Consider shifting your old and rarely used files to iCloud or an external hard drive. If these files are of no use to you anymore, deleting them will be a wiser option.

Besides, you can also consider compressing large files. Remember, there’s limited space on your Mac, and I’m sure you wouldn’t like wasting it over files and folders that are of no use.

Delete Large Unused Files

  1. Click on the Apple icon at the top left corner and select ‘About this Mac.’
  2. Select ‘Storage‘ and click on ‘Manage.’
  3. The playground is yours now. From the left sidebar, choose the file format. You’ll have the list of files in the Center. Select the ones you wish to remove and click on Delete at the bottom right section.

11. Reset your Mac’s SMC and PRAM

Resetting the SMC (System Management Controller)

For non-removable battery :

  1. When your Mac is in a shutdown state, press and hold shift+control+option together with the Power button for 10 seconds.
  2. Release the keys together and turn on your Mac normally now.

For removable battery :

  1.  To reset the SMC, you need to take out your Mac’s battery.
  2. Now press and hold the power button for around 5 seconds.
  3. Put the battery back to its place and turn on your Mac.

Reade more: Why you need to reset SMC on mac?

Resetting the PRAM (Parameter Random Access Memory)

  1. With your Mac shut down, press the power button followed by holding command+option+P+R together until it restarts.

Note: The process of resetting PRAM in MacBook Air and Pro is similar to resetting SMC in non-removable battery devices.

12. Install more RAM

This largely depends on your usage and the applications you have installed on your Mac. However, if you notice your Mac running slow, consider upgrading your RAM. Simple yet, highly effective.

13. Turn off File Vault Encryption

As the name suggests, file vault allows you to encrypt every single file you save on Mac. In the process, it utilizes numerous processor cycles to encrypt and decrypt the files.

Consider turning it off if you are using it. To do so,

  1. Click on the Apple icon and select system preferences.
  2. Now, select the Security and Privacy tab, followed by File Vault.
  3. Click on the padlock icon and enter your admin password when prompted. Then, click on turn off file vault.
Turn off File Vault Encryption on Mac

14. Replace your HDD with SSD

If you’ve tried everything we listed and it still didn’t speed up your Mac, consider replacing the standard HDD with the Solid-State Drive (SSD). To see which is the best SSD for your Mac.

Before you do that, don’t forget to backup all your files and folders. And yes, professional assistance will make the process seamless.

Try These Solutions to Speed up Your Mac

A device’s performance is mostly dependent on the way you use it. Often, small errors can lead to massive malfunctions.

These were a few ways that may help you to speed up your slowing Mac. I hope it helps. However, please feel free to connect with me in the comment section or shoot a direct mail on (info@igeeksblog.com) if you encounter any issues or if you have anything to add to the list.


Author Profile

Mayank is a published author and a tech-blogger with over ten years of writing experience for various domains and industries. At iGeeks, he mostly writes about blogs that solve user-problems and guide them on unleashing the full potential of their Apple Device. He can often be found with his headphones on, typing to the rhythm of some country song.

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