14 Easy Ways To Speed Up a Painfully Slow Mac

Is your Mac running slow showing you that spinning wheel? Starts to feel sluggish, slow and unresponsive? This article should help you out!

1. Shut down your Mac

Have you tried turning it off and on again? Ever heard this? Its actually not a joke… Your Mac can be turned on for weeks or months without any serious problems, but every now and then a shut down is recommended. It is often hanging applications and similar that in the end can make the computer feel slow and sluggish. So if you haven’t already: please start this guide with a shutdown of your computer (not restart, shutdown). I promise this guide will be here when you come back online again. If you are lucky, maybe this is the only thing you have to do!

TIP: Bookmark this page, press CMD + D to add a bookmark in your browser.

  • Choose Shut Down from the Apple () menu.

If your Mac won’t shut down it could be applications that prevents it from doing so. You may have to force-quit some of them.

Try the key-combination pictured below to force quit stubborn apps.

In the window that pops up, try to quit the application from there.

If none of these suggestions help you just have to hold the power button down on your Mac for about 5 seconds to force it to shut down.

If you are lucky, maybe this is the only thing you have to do! If not, go back to that bookmark when you have restarted and read on.

1.5. Disconnect devices

Disconnect every external thing connected to your mac. Disconnect dongles, extra hard drives, extra displays, docking stations, networking dongles. Everything. Sometimes a peripheral connected to your computer can cause slow mac issues without it being apparent. If the slowness disappeared when you did this. Connect back each device one at a time and you will soon find out what caused the problem.

2. Check your Startup Items

When you install applications during the time you use your Mac some of them may add themselves in Startup Items. This causes them to start at every login and thus take up a little memory and a little CPU usage. If you do the following: Apple Menu > System Preferences > Users & Groups > Login Items. You will see how many startup items you have. If you want to remove some of them just click the name of the startup item and then hit the minus button. Just make sure you know what you remove so you do not remove any critical system component. Remove start up items you are sure isn’t needed because it can contribute to your Mac running slow.

3. Clean up in System Preferences

While we still have System Preferences open take a look under the section called Other (or at the bottom section). If you have a lot of items down there there is a chance that some of them is not in use by you. They might be left overs from some application you tried out, or something else. You should clean out these too. In most cases you can turn it off from the preference pane itself.

To remove, just right-click on an icon, and choose remove from the Preferance Page. Before you do that though, I recommend that you check if the Application you want to remove have an uninstall feature. Big software packages such as Adobe, and others usually have an uninstall utility hidden in Applications/Utilities

Poke around in those folders first.

Preferance Pane in Mac OS

4. Activity Monitor is Great for Frozen and Slow Mac Apps

Do a spotlight search for Activity Monitor and start it up. You will probably see a window looking like the one below (don’t mind the Norwegian language):

Activity monitor a tool for solving slow mac issuesWhat you would like to do here is to click on CPU and then sort after highest % CPU. Let it sit for a while and you could see an app that takes up a significant amount of your Macs CPU cycles. This could be one reason your Mac is running slow. If you recognize the application try selecting it and click the X button located below the small red, yellow and green window buttons. If you don’t recognize the app do a quick google search for it and find out what it is. (You obviously know how to Google since you got here!).

In the bottom of activity monitor, in the middle you have a chart that shows how much CPU load you currently have. Make sure the chart is not at the top.

Hopefully its an application making your Mac slow, and it usually is. This way you can identify It and take necessary steps. Those steps should be checking for an update of the application causing troubles. Uninstalling it, or maybe check for some alternative? If not, then read on for more useful tips and applications that could help.

Apple ARM M Mac Slow

In activity monitor you have a column that says, Apple, or Intel. If the process says “Intel” it means that your mac have to use extra resources to translate that into ARM instructions (the language your new Apple M CPU understands). Make sure your software is up to date, as a lot of Intel based software running on an ARM CPU may slow it down.

5. Make Time Machine backup when YOU want

Apple likes to hold your hand, and that is probably smart in 98% of all cases. Especially when we talk about backing up your critical data.

Time Machine is a good backup solution. But it backups every single hour and especially if you work on heavy files it will create some noticeable slow Mac performance when it starts the backup process. Time Machine doesn’t have a switch that enable you to start the backup off working hours but there are people that have solved this problem. The free app TimeMachineEditor will help you with that. I have tried it myself and it works just as advertised. Take care while messing with the backup though. Even though this app is working as it should and have done so for many years it is still third party. Meaning Apple could make some changes to Time Machine in the future that may break the settings and in worst case disable your backups. So make 100% sure that your backups are there.

You can also check: Time Machine Slow? Speed it up With This Terminal Hack!

Initial Backup Is Usually Slow and that is OK!

If you just started the backup, please realize that the initial time machine backup could slow down your Mac. This is in some cases expected behaviour and you should let it complete the initial backup. Just turn it on overnight. When its done the performance should get back to normal.

6. Clean up your hard drive

Eventually your hard drive will fill up, it doesn’t matter how big it is. Many people experience this and many also ask themselves where all the free space have gone? Maybe your Photos library starts to grow? Maybe you are editing videos that take up a lot of space. Or you might have a lot of downloaded stuff you never got around to delete. Your Mac works best with a little free space to work with. It use a part of that free space as virtual memory and that memory is important for your Mac to work optimally. Please make sure to delete unneeded files and also remember to empty your trash! If you forget to empty the trash you will still have the free space problem and possibly a Mac running slow.

Buy Clean My Mac to clean your Mac automatically in an very easy and safe way. Also read my extended article on how to reclaim more space on your mac. Where I also review the software I suggest you buy above. Its a free download so you can see how it works on your system before you buy anything. And, no. This is not one of those “bad” cleaners out there.

With that said, we have free options as well, so continue to scroll down and check out those first if you want. 🙂

7. Download Onyx or CCleaner (it is free)

Onyx verifies the Startup Disk and the structure of its System files, it also allows you to run miscellaneous tasks of system maintenance. It can clean the cache, repair system permissions and also execute maintenance scripts. This tool is old and trusted among many Mac users and running it could help speed up your Mac.

Onyx can solve slow mac problemsAnother good cleanup tool is CCleaner. I use this tool to clean up Windows computers and now its available for Mac users. These two tools may overlap some but you won’t do anything wrong if you try both.

8. Download Malwarebytes Anti-Malware for Mac (it is free)

Malwarebytes Anti malwareMaybe you have clicked on something that you shouldn’t click on and your computer got some adware slowing it down? Malwarebytes Anti-Malware is a free (accepts donations) application that scans your computer for known adware and removes it.

9. Update software to prevent a slow Mac

Once in a while Apple releases software updates. It is wise to install these because they often contain improvements. It can be security improvements or performance enhancements that can solve slow Mac performance in some cases. Even firmware updates in some cases. Also check if you can download updates to your already installed third party applications, this can also improve performance and stability.

Updating software on your Mac is done through the App Store.

Click the icon and see if you have anything to update.

10. Move your Photos Library to an External Drive

If you have a lot of photos and videos, they can take up a lot of storage on your Mac. If you sync everything with your iPhone it could fill up fast. Many of us skimp on storage space in our macs. Because its expensive. Especially in newer models where you have no option of upgrading after buying.

Newer Macs have features that automatically optimize the internal storage, but doing that optimization also demands system resources. That is why moving your photo library to an external drive could be beneficial.

Its pretty easy, and here is the short version:

Make sure that photos is shut down. Then, copy the entire photo library to your external hard drive. This may take a while depending on size of library, speed of hard drive, etc..

  1. When the copy operation is done, you hold down the Alt/Option key and launch Photos.
  2. “Choose Another Library” and navigate to your external hard drive and select the library you just copied.
  3. In Photos, go to preferences and click Use as System Photo Library.

Use the Photos app for a bit, add some photos. Delete some photos that you dont like. Shut down the Photos app, open it again. Just to check that everything works.

When you have verified that the photos library on the external drive is operating correctly. You can delete the library on your main drive. Thus reclaiming a lot of storage space.

I recommend having backups, in case something goes wrong.

11. Turn off Visual Effects

visual effects preferance pane<figcaption>Screenshot in Norwegian, but you see the window layout at least! 🙂</figcaption>Most macs are made so they are able to run their operating systems smoothly with the default visual effects. If you want, some visual effects can be turned off and it may give you a small increase in speed.

Go to: System Preferences > Dock and disable the following:

  • Magnification
  • Automatically hide and show the dock
  • Animate opening applications

You can also change “minimize windows” to scale effect.

12. Try a PRAM / NVRAM and a SMC Reset

If you dont know what is wrong with your Mac and just want to try something. Do a PRAM reset. This will not damage your computer or remove anything from your hard drive. But it may solve strange problems. If you have issues regarding sound, display resolution, startup drive selection, time-zone and kernel issues a pram reset could help.

Turn your Mac off, then turn it on and immediately hold all keys pictured above down. That is option + command + P + R. Release the keys after about 20-30 seconds. Your Mac will probably restart during this. For older Macs that have the startup chime you can release the keys after the second chime.

For iMac Pro you can let go of the keys when the Apple logo shows and disappears for the second time.

SMC Reset

Another thing you could try is an SMC reset. Especially if your laptop have problems accepting power or wont charge. Strange fan behavior or low performance.

  • Shut down your Mac.
  • Plug in the power adapter to a power source and to your Mac.
  • On the built-in keyboard, press the (left side) Shift-Control-Option keys and the power button at the same time. (it should NOT boot) but the LED on your MagSafe adapter may change.
  • Power on the computer.

13. Reinstall your OS / Install the newest OS X, its free!

If nothing of the above helps maybe a full format of your hard drive and a reinstall of the OS may be the only viable solution. If you have a fairly new Mac you should be able to start from the recovery partition if you hold CMD and R when you restart. From there you can reinstall.

The Quick Version:

Start up from Internet Recovery: hold Command + Option + R when you boot until spinning globe appears. Then let go of the keys. Let it load and reinstall OS X this way. When your computer and account is set up. Open App Store and update to the newest OS X available for you. Even if you have a old Mac it may be able to upgrade to a newer version of OS X.

14. Upgrade your Slow Mac with SSD & RAM

This tip mostly applies to older Macs you can upgrade. Mostly pre 2012 models.

Hard Drive

If your computer is very slow it can be a symptom of a hard drive that is going bad especially if it makes strange noises. This applies to all types of computers not only Macs. Make sure to check the hard drive using Disk Utility and if it finds any errors make sure to backup what you can right away.

Ram Upgrade

Max out the RAM in your computer, especially if you run a lot of apps at the same time. Another extremely recommended option is to replace the hard drive inside your older Mac to an SSD. If you havent experienced SSD storage you are in for a treat! It will blow your mind in terms of speed and it can breathe new life into older computers for sure. That is probably why the entire Mac lineup is SSD-based now.

Solving slow mac performance using money to buy new hardware is one option of course. But you should try the others first. (Although SSD is extremely nice to have, you never want to go back!).

I hope this guide helps you to get your Mac in shape. If you liked this guide, it will really help me and this site if you share it with others on Facebook, twitter etc. You will find the buttons for that below. Also check out Clean My Mac. It is a suite of tools that help with deep cleaning.

Download Clean My Mac X over at MacPaw

This article contains affiliate (ads) links to macpaw and amazon.com.


Good to Know Before Buying a Mac

Some things you should know before you buy a Mac. Computers are changing, and how we did things 10 years ago is not necessarily how we do things today.

Is Mac Studio Good for Music Production?

The Mac Studio can absolutely be used for music production. So long as the software and plugins you use are updated to take advantage of the M-based CPUs. Ma...

Rumor: New M2-based Macs on its way

According to several articles and rumors Apple is in the process of updating their M1 chip. It will likely be called M2 although its not confirmed. And be us...

Back to Top ↑


Back to Top ↑


How to Fix Issues with macOS Big Sur

So you installed the macOS Big Sur update hoping to enjoy the new features…but now you’re frustrated because all you seem to have are issues and problems – t...

Look out for new Macs on November 10 Event

Apple announced a new event this month. November 10 we will be gettings news about new Apple products. The event will probably be like we have seen the last ...

Look What Happens with the iPhone 12 Pro

People are reporting several quality focused issues with the new iPhone 12 Pro. It looks like the quality of the materials isnt really up to the Apple standa...

No 14-Inch MacBook Pro Yet, This is Why

I just want to clarify that this information doesn’t come from me, and I do not take any credit from it. I found the information in this podcast with Jon Pro...

13-inch MacBook Pro Gets an Update Today

As rumored Apple released an update to the 13-Inch MacBook Pro. In November 2019 Apple released the 16 Inch MacBook Pro where they went back to the scissor k...

Test Front Page

## [14 Easy Ways To Speed Up a Painfully Slow Mac](https://all-about-apple.com/slow-mac-performance-this-article-solves-it/)

7 Ways to Fix MacBook Pro Overheating

MacBook overheating is often caused by software that stops responding. Its easy to check and fix by yourself. Also make sure to use the right Thunderbolt por...

Macs running Apple CPU in the future?

Update 29 Apr, 2020: So here we are again, I originally posted the article about Apple CPU in Macs on Oct 30, 2016. Sharing my thoughts on why Apple is going...

Spotlight for Windows? Try Wox

Apple doesn’t make spotlight for Windows, but the open source alternative Wox is a really good alternative.

16 Inch MacBook Pro Review: I Am Returning It

<span data-tt=”{“paragraphStyle”:{“alignment”:4,”writingDirection”:1},”font”:{“name”:””,”pointSize”:13}}”>This will probably be the last article I make...

Opening 12 Inch Retina MacBook Pro

In this video, I am opening the 12 Inch Retina Macbook Pro using the excellent iFixit Pro Tech Toolkit (affiliate link to Amazon). In this case, I had to rep...

Back to Top ↑


16-Inch MacBook Pro Is Here

As rumoured, Apple released the 16-Inch MacBook Pro set to replace the 15-Inch model. Here are the most important new changes and features to this new laptop...

16-Inch MacBook Pro Could Appear Soon

According to images uncovered in a macOS catalina beta, it seems like Apple is working on a 16-Inch MacBook Pro. This was first uncovered by the blog: MacGen...

The $6000+ Mac Pro 2019 – My Thoughts

A 2019 Mac Pro is not on my shopping list mostly because of the price, but that doesnt mean I dont want it. Here are some of my thoughts about this computer ...

Install macOS on Older Unsupported Macs

With the free tool macOS Patcher from dosdude1.com its possible to install a version of macOS that your Mac officially doesn’t support. This is a video that ...

Flexgate – a new MacBook Pro Problem?

I don’t like to use that word, but since people are searching for it I guess I have to … flexgate. Apple may have a new big problem on their hands. That said...

AirPower may Release Soon

It has been a while now since Apple teased their charging mat for devices such as iPhone, Apple Watch and AirPods. The release was anticipated in 2018 but du...

Back to Top ↑


Install macOS Cleanly Can Solve Problems

Occasionally a clean install of macOS is the only thing that can solve problems with your Mac. This because it is difficult to pinpoint exactly whats causing...

iPad Pro 2018 may Come with A Slight Bend

If you notice a slight bend in your iPad Pro you should embrace it. The little bend adds to the character of the device and is an result of Apples highly adv...

Qualcomm and Apple isn’t exactly friends

Qualcomm was recently granted an injunction on iPhone 6s through iPhone X in China. The Fuzhou Intermediate People’s Court have decided that Apple violates t...

My favourite apps for macOS

My absolute favourite app for macOS has to be Magnet. Its a window manager for macOS that works in a lot of similar ways to the native Windows manager. Drag ...

2019 iPhone X Models Allegedly Uncovered

In a video we see the 2019 models of iPhone X Apple is planning to release at the end of this summer. Apple usually refresh their iPhones each year around th...

Nice Collection of 5k wallpaper

A user on the online community reddit shared some 5k wallpapers that Apple use on their iPad Pros as demo photos. Apple doesn’t include these photos with new...

2018 MacBook Pro Benchmark

John Poole the founder of primate labs that makes the benchmarking app Geekbench is getting more and more information about the performance of the new 2018 M...

2018 MacBook Pro Max Specs and Pricing

Apple just released their updated lineup of MacBook Pros for 2018. The design is the same compared to the earlier 2017 models with specs bumps as you would e...

Stellar Phoenix Mac Data Recovery

Many of us store our digital lives on our devices. What should you do if something happens with your data? Stellar Phoenix Mac Data Recovery can help you ret...

macOS now has official support for eGPUs

With macOS 10.13.4 Apple introduced official support for eGPUs. A eGPU is a box that contains an graphics card, making it possible to do graphic intensive ta...

Back to Top ↑


Preparing for macOS High Sierra Update

Apple will soon release their new version of macOS called High Sierra. This update will mostly focus on under the hood improvements and new / updated technol...

Setapp Educational Pricing Tier

Setapp have now released a new pricing tier for educational customers. An annual plan which equals to $4.99/mo. All you’ll need is a working EDU email.

Save Space On Your Mac: Try CloudMounter

I recently got the opportunity to try CloudMounter. Its a great little tool for users that have low space on their devices because it allows to mount Dropbox...

iPhone 7 Special Edition (PRODUCT RED)

iPhone 7 special edition (product red) was released by Apple today. If you buy a product in this category you support the fight against AIDS. A percentage of...

Unable to Type in Spotlight Search Bar

I am unable to type in the spotlight search bar occasionally. I can bring it up using the command + space shortcut. The input field appears as it should be d...

Windows Alternative to Mac Apps

What if you wanted to move away from the Mac ecosystem and go back to Windows? The applications you used in macOS, do they have good alternatives on Windows?

Back to Top ↑


Super Mario Run for iPhone and iPad Out Now!

Are you ready to play the beloved Mario character on your iPad or iPhone? Super Mario Run was just released by Nintendo and is available from the App Store. ...

Remove Duplicate Files on Your Mac

I like keeping things tidy, both in my home and on my computers. A cluttered and unorganised life is undesirable. Even though I have good control of most asp...

Add Spacer To Your Macs Dock

To add a spacer to your Macs dock so that you can organise the icons a little better you just have to right click the dock and select add…. nope, sorry. Did ...

Restore 2016 MacBook Pro Startup Chime

With the release of the MacBook Pro in 2016 Apple also decided that the classic startup chime from 1999 had to go. If you are dealing with grief due to this ...

MacBook Pro Docking and USB-C Dongles

With Apples move to USB-C only on their laptops you may need some adapters until manufacturers hop on the far superior USB-C standard. The most basic adapter...

Print To PDF From Your Mac

You dont need third party software to create a PDF file from something you want to print. This functionality is built into macOS. If you have a document, web...

Lowest Mac Volume Still Too Loud?

Did you know you can lower the volume on your Mac even more? Without making it completely silent? If you hold the shift and alt key while pressing the volume...

Quickly Resize macOS Window Edge

Move the cursor (mouse pointer) to the edge of the window you want to maximize and make sure the pointer shows two arrows, then double click.

DFU Restore Mode on iPhone 7

If your restoration attempts using iTunes or apple configurator have failed you may have some luck trying a DFU Restore. This can also be helpful if your iPh...

iPhone 7 Plus Photos Edited From RAW

Photography is one of my hobbies and with the new 12 MP camera in the iPhone 7 Plus I was eager to try it out. Usually I haul my Nikon D810 full frame DSLR b...

macOS Upgrade Preparations

Usually doing a macOS upgrade is pretty much straightforward. With that said: it doesn’t hurt to be prepared.

2TB iCloud Storage Now Available for $19.99

Apple have silently upgraded their available iCloud storage tiers, adding 2TB storage as an option. 2TB is a lot of storage but with future high resolution v...

Seriously, Why Buy a Mac Computer?

Why buy a mac computer, a hotly debated topic where no one agrees, ever. I am going to dispel some myths that hopefully will help guide you on the right path.

When to Buy Mac? Not now!

When to buy a Mac is subjective. If you need a computer right now and can’t wait then now is the time you should buy it. With that said if you have some pati...

iPhone GPS Apps I Use

When the iPhone and App Store was new, the iPhone GPS apps available at that time felt somewhat bulky and expensive. Now I used Google Maps during our vacati...

How To Develop iPhone Apps Using Swift

Developing for the iPhone is fun and rewarding. Apple gives you the complete package you need to be successful for free. The only thing you need to bring is ...

Problems Installing Older OS X Versions?

I had to load an older OS X system onto one of our Macs at work but I couldn’t for the life of me get it to install. In this case it was OS X Mavericks but t...

Apple Recalls Duckhead Adapters

Apple recalls duckhead adapters sold with MacBook laptops and iPads. A design flaw that could potentially lead to electrical shock is the reason for this rec...

Back to Top ↑


Mac Mini Server – Host Your Own Blog

Using a Mac Mini Server is a nice way to set up your very own home web server. You can for example set up and host your own free wordpress blog or make a gal...

Apple Repair Programs

Apple sometimes have repair programs for different products. Meaning they repair your product free of charge if it is covered.

How To Activate TRIM in OS X

If you have a third party SSD in your Mac it is now possible to activate TRIM support for that drive. It is built into the OS natively from Apple (from 10.10...

Hackintosh – Viable Long Term?

You may have heard about the Hackintosh community. A place where tech interested people come together to get their home built computer rigs running the lates...

Back to Top ↑


Magic Mouse With Multi-Touch (Mini-Review)

Apple always want to redefine things and the way we use computers so they have the Magic Mouse with Multi-Touch capabilities. Instead of using mechanical but...

Yosemite fixes SMB problems?

I have had some issues with Windows file sharing between a desktop Windows 8.1 based PC and a Mavericks equipped Mac. I even wrote an article about it on ano...

Windows 10 or OS X? Both Please!

People discuss all the time whether they should use Windows or OS X. A lot of people have their own opinion about which OS is “the best” and discussions can ...

OS X Yosemite goes flat

Apple today revealed some information about their next big update to OS X. As the title says it will be named OS X Yosemite after the national park with the ...

Run Any Windows Game on your Mac

Now we have a good way to play almost any Windows game on your Mac. You don’t even need a dedicated GPU on your Mac because you are going to use other hardwa...

Back to Top ↑


Setting Up iCloud Calendar for Family Use

I haven’t given up my dropbox account yet. Sometimes I just want to store some damn files without having to rely on some application. iCloud doesn’t work tha...

Free Mac Wallpaper for Retina Macs

Its not hard to find a free mac wallpaper today. Many websites gather a lot of them and offers them for download. You should also know that many of the image...

Give Your Mac the SSD Speed Boost

If you haven’t heard already giving your mac SSD may add a few more years to its lifetime. For regular use like surfing the web and doing some light photo wo...

Good Games for Macs, Yes They Exist

Sure! Games for Macs is not something non existent. In fact the Mac is gaining more and more support from game developers. As more people use products from A...

Considering Apple Computer Financing?

Use Apple Computer Financing if you don’t have the cash you need to pay for a new Apple product upfront. Remember that you often pay a lot more for the produ...

A Brief History of OSX

Here you have a little short history of OS X and the different releases during the years. This is a brief history where you learn about the major milestones ...

Back to Top ↑


Playing Diablo 3 On Mac

Blizzard announced Diablo 3 in June 2008 although the development of this game first started in 2001. It was first released in 2012 and at the same time sett...

Readying Your Apple Mac Computer

Your apple mac computer is usually good to go after you have completed the initial setup and entered your details. Tweaking and adjusting things is not reall...

Back to Top ↑


Age of Mythology For Mac

Age of Mythology is a RTS (Real Time Strategy) game available for Macs. If you are interested in mythology and like a good strategy game this is a safe bet g...

Finding The Best Mac Software Is Not Hard

A lot of the built in software is useful. It is nothing new that operating systems come with pre – installed applications, almost all of them do. With OS X i...

Mac Mini Mediacenter, Small & Easy HTPC

Using a mac mini mediacenter is one of the smartest move I have made. I have tried many different home theater solutions without being completely satisfied. ...

Problem Ejecting Your Macs DVD or CD?

Get that stuck DVD CD out Some are struggling with the fact that they have a CD that refuses to eject itself when you press the eject-button. This can be rat...

Use Mac Backup Software, Mac Backups

Let us find Mac Backup Software but remember that a Mac is just like a regular PC in so many ways. It has a hard drive, a motherboard, memory, CPU and so on....

Back to Top ↑


Change The Timemachine Backup Interval

Apple doesn’t want us to change all settings in our os and the time machine backup interval is one of them. By default this backups your computer every singl...

Back to Top ↑