In this article you will find the following:
For Mac owners, there are few things as frustrating as poor performance. Apps take ages to open, browsing is lagging, and you’re frequently left waiting while your computer freezes before deciding what to do next. It’s a nightmare. But why is your Mac extremely slow sometimes? There are many causes for this slowness, so our team has honed in on a few that tend to occur the most often.
Before we start
Have you ever found yourself frustrated by the pace of your Mac running slow wondering, why is it lagging and freezing so much? More often than not, it's the result of accumulating digital clutter, bringing your system to a crawl. The good news is we have a solution that can help.
MacKeeper's Safe Cleanup is a handy tool that offers a preventative solution that streamlines the process and ensures your Mac operates at its peak. You can confidently speed up a Mac in just a few simple steps:
- Download MacKeeper
- Launch the app, choose Safe Cleanup, and click Start Scan
- After the scan is complete, review the results and select the junk you want to delete
- Then click on Clean Junk Files.
How often have you dealt with the notorious spinning wheel that seems to never disappear but instead reminds you that your Mac is slow? It might be obvious that your Mac is lagging and freezing, but understanding why is not always as easy to spot.
The most common reasons for a slow-running Mac:
- You’re running low on RAM
- Your hard drive is too full
- There are too many files on your desktop
- You have apps storing too many log files and caches
- Your browser has too many extensions installed
- You have too many browser tabs open
- You have malware on your Mac
- You have lots of startup items
- Some of your Mac’s hardware is failing
- Your hard drive or SSD is corrupted
- Your Mac is overheating
- Your Mac is too old to support modern software.
How to find out what is slowing down your Mac
Searching for the elusive culprit behind your Mac working slowly can feel like navigating a vast sea with no clear answer. In many instances, the constant freezing and slowness can be attributed to issues relating to RAM storage or Malware just to name a few.
For now, let’s focus on the common symptoms associated with a slow Mac:
- Persistent freezing
- Delayed response time
- Extended boot-up time
- Unresponsive applications
- High CPU or memory usage
- Slow internet browsing
- Noisy fan operation
- Overheating issues
- General sluggishness.
If your Mac keeps freezing, begin by reading this guide to make your problem-solving much easier.
Ways to speed up Mac
To make your Mac run faster, you may need to boost your Mac's performance with a combination of hardware upgrades, cleaning up clutter, or optimizing your settings. The following tips can help unleash the full potential of your Mac:
- Increase the amount of RAM
- Free up space on the hard drive
- Clean your desktop
- Clear app storage, log files, and caches
- Remove unnecessary extensions from the browser
- Close browser tabs
- Scan your Mac for malware
- Reduce the number of startup items
- Check your Mac's hardware for health
- Check the hard drive or SSD for damage and replace if necessary
- Monitor your Mac's temperature
- Check the compatibility of your macOS with modern versions of programs.
1. Increase the amount of RAM
Your Mac’s RAM is where it stores temporary information for quick access. The more you store in your RAM, the higher the risk of your Mac working slower. A suitable solution here would be killing background processes as this can claw back some speed.
Here’s how to see if your Mac’s RAM is full:
- Go to Applications > Utilities > Activity Monitor
- Go to the Memory tab and look for the Memory Pressure graph at the bottom of the window. If the graph is green, you have plenty of RAM left, yellow means you’re running low, but red indicates it’s nearly full.
Simply quitting some apps can be enough to free up a portion of your memory to reduce lags. In such cases, you can rely on the Activity Monitor to terminate those lingering processes.
Some cleaning apps also often come equipped with a Mac memory cleaner feature, designed to automatically declutter your RAM. These tools efficiently halt processes that are no longer necessary, allowing essential ones to continue running smoothly.
2. Free up space on the hard drive
Your Mac needs spare storage space to run properly. When it reaches or gets near capacity, it can be painfully lagging and will likely freeze until you optimize your data.
How to get an overview of your Mac’s disk space:
- Click on the Apple icon
- Select More Info
- Now scroll down and click on Storage Settings to see a breakdown
- Hover over the colored sections to see what they are.
Consider moving some files to the cloud to address when Mac is slow. iCloud offers 5GB of free space, with options for more space at a reasonable price.
Another option is storing files on a flash hard drive.
In many cases, the best approach to speed up Mac is to uninstall unnecessary apps. It’s also wise to declutter your laptop or PC system by removing unwanted downloads and eliminating duplicate files. Learn more about this in our guide to freeing up disk space.
3. Clean your desktop
Your Mac's desktop is a lagging point for files where having too many can lead to a performance decline. MacOS creates previews for these files; if your desktop is clogged, your Mac will slow down.
Here’s how to turn off icon previews, to prevent lags:
- Click on your desktop, then select View > Show View Options from the menu bar
- Untick Show Icon Preview
- Now all the icons on your desktop will be shown as generic without file previews.
4. Clear app storage, log files and caches
To make Mac run faster, it's crucial to clear caches and log files. It’s also a good idea to clear these log files to free up additional disk space, protect your privacy, and solve speed issues.
Here’s how to manually clear your app caches on a Mac:
- First back up your Mac
- Quit any apps you have opened
- In Finder, hold the Option key and select Go > Computer
- Navigate to the Caches folder
- Find the folder that corresponds with the app whose cache you want to clear
- Move files to Bin and empty Trash to delete them permanently.
You can further your understanding of clearing caches with our guide to clearing caches on your Mac.
5. Remove unnecessary extensions from the browser
Extensions in your web browser can make your Mac run slow, often causing erratic performance. Removing these extensions, whether manually or automatically, can significantly minimize these issues and boost your browsing experience.
Here’s how you can remove extensions from Safari:
- Select Safari > Settings
- Click Extensions
- Check the list of available extensions and click Uninstall to delete the unnecessary ones
- To only temporarily stop an extension from running, uptick it.
Here’s how to remove extensions from Chrome for Mac:
- From Chrome’s menu bar, go to Window > Extensions
- To delete an extension, find it in the list and click Delete
- Click Remove.
While MacKeeper’s StopAd blocks ads when you browse, MacKeeper’s Smart Uninstaller helps you to delete the unnecessary extensions in the bud. This will elevate your browsing experience in Safari and Chrome even more.
6. Close the browser tabs
Juggling too many browser tabs can also slow down your device. Each tab is a separate process, consuming memory and causing performance dips. To speed up Mac and prevent slowness, minimize your tabs.
Here’s how to identify which Safari tabs are using up your Mac’s memory:
- Open Finder, go to Applications > Utilities > Activity Monitor
- Click Memory
- Now look for any web addresses under Process Name
- If any are using up a large amount of memory, close them.
Some web addresses might be browser extensions rather than open web pages. If so, you can follow the above steps to quit and disable them.
To see which Chrome tabs are using your Mac’s memory, follow these steps:
- In Chrome, select Window > Task Manager
- This opens Chrome's task manager, where you can see how many resources are being used by each tab. Look to see if any are using a lot of RAM or processing time
- Close any that are using up a lot of resources
- You can then click End Process.
7. Scan your Mac for malware
While Mac laptops and PCs are generally secure, they can get viruses and malware from sources like unsafe websites, file-sharing apps, and spam emails with cryptic ransomware. These threats can intentionally cause your device to be super laggy or use its resources for other malicious activities. To enhance security and reduce slowness on your MacBook, restrict app installations to the App Store.
Here’s how to restrict Mac app installations to App Store only:
- Click the Apple icon and System Settings
- Click on Security & Privacy
- Scroll down until you see Security. Then choose the App Store option. You will be asked for your username and password to execute this.
If you suspect malware is behind your Mac’s freezing or slowness, read our guides on how to remove malware and how to check for malware on your Mac. Alternatively, give MacKeeper a try as it offers built-in antivirus scanning and removal features.
8. Reduce the number of startup items
The more your Mac has to load on startup, the more it’ll lag. So if you find your Mac has accumulated a lot of start-up items, it’s a good idea to reduce them.
How’s how to safely disable startup items on your Mac:
- Open your Mac’s System Preferences
- Search Login Items
- If you have any apps you don’t want to automatically load at startup, select them and click the minus symbol.
This only applies to some of the processes that run at startup, as some are likely to run in the background as well. Dealing with those is a slightly different process, though. Read our guide to changing startup items to learn more or download MacKeeper and rely on its Login Items feature to do the trick for you.
9. Check your Mac’s hardware for health
Computer components have a limited lifespan, and their longevity depends on usage frequency. When your Mac is slow, it might be due to a failing component, often the hard drive or SSD.
Here’s how to check if your Mac’s hard drive or SSD need fixing:
- Open the Disk Utility from Applications > Utilities
- Select your Mac’s main drive from the list on the left
- Now click on the i symbol in the top right
- If there are any errors on the disk, you may see them here.
10. Check the hard drive or SSD for damage and replace if necessary
Occasionally, some of the data on your Mac can get corrupted, leading to issues like lagging and slow performance. This might happen, for example, if your Mac is powered down suddenly while it’s running. MacOS’s Disk Utility can often help fix these disk errors, optimizing your Mac's performance.
How to fix Mac disk drive errors using Disk Utility:
- In Disk Utility, select your main disk drive
- Click First Aid
- Click Run
- If you see a warning about the scan taking a long time, click Continue.
MacOS will verify the data on your Mac, looking for errors. If it finds any, it will try to fix them. For more detailed guidance, check out our tutorial on fixing disk errors.
11. Monitor your Mac’s temperature
When a Mac gets too warm, it may increase the speed of their internal fans to reduce heat generation. This precautionary measure helps prevent critical parts like your laptop or PC processor from overheating and suffering permanent damage. However, the overheating will result in your Mac working slowly.
Overheating is less of a concern for Mac Pros, given their roomier cases. However, iMacs, MacBook Pros, Airs including the M1 and M2 as well as Minis face greater challenges in heat regulation. For those reasons, it’s advised to regularly monitor your Mac’s temperature.
As macOS doesn’t come with any default apps to check the temperature, you’ll need to search for ‘temperature’ in the App Store to install one.
If your Mac is extremely slow and hot, these quick ways to stop your Mac overheating might also help.
12. Check the compatibility of your macOS with modern versions of programs
Sometimes, the sad truth is your Mac is running slow because it’s just too old. It might have been fine when you bought it, but newer software is generally more demanding which causes older Macs to struggle to keep up.
Here’s how you can check the age of your Mac:
- Click the Apple in the top left of your desktop
- Select About This Mac
- On the Overview page, you can see some basic information about your Mac, including when it was released.
Using the tips in this guide, you might be able to speed up an old Mac a bit. But eventually, its age will get the better of it, and there’s not much you can do.
If you’re feeling brave, you can speed up an old Mac by replacing its hard drive with an SSD. This can significantly increase loading times, but it’s not easy to do, and you can damage your Mac in the process.
Speed up your Mac with MacKeeper
We’ve now shared several methods you refer to enhance your Mac’s performance and reduce any lags you’re experiencing. This includes increasing your RAM, freeing up disk space, removing unwanted browser extensions, and limiting the number of browser tabs to just mention a few.
Now, assuming your Mac doesn’t have anything physically wrong with it, MacKeeper’s Safe Cleanup can also help speed it up by emptying all unnecessary cache and removing log files in just one click. These are by far some of the most common reasons for a slow Mac—and with our tool by your side, you can deal with them efficiently. Give it a try, and see what it can do.
*You can download the app for free and try its functionality yourself before making a purchase.