Have you had encontered those situations: While sitting in front of your Macbook Pro surfing the Internet or doing some work, all of a sudden, the spinning shows up. You wait for 1 second, 2 seconds…You yell out of patience: what the hell happened? Why My Mac so slow?
You are not alone!
As Apple advocates for more than a decade, we’ve probably encountered more performance issues than you. Fortunately, we were able to fix most of them, and today we still use our old MacBooks from time to time.
Here we are going to share the fixes we’ve discovered along the way, and you are going to learn:
- The four main reasons why a Mac can run slow.
- Solutions to fix your slow Macbook and make it fast again.
- Bonus tips to mitigate the risk of future slow-downs.
The tips below should also apply to other types of Macs such as iMac, MacBook Air, Mac Pro/Mini, etc. Use the Table of Contents below for better navigation.
Why Macbook Pro so Slow?
I divided them into four kind of reasons:
- macOS System.A newer macOS usually performs better than an old one, but no system is perfect. You may experience firmware or permission issues that impede performance as well.
- Personal Habits. If too many apps join the fun on startup, or multitask with loads of heavy applications open — your Mac will hang sooner of later.
- Outdated Hardware. Every piece of hardware has a lifespan; your Macbook is no exception. An outdated hard drive or lack of RAM can be the bottleneck of your machine.
Software Issues. Apps, whether pre-installed or third-party ones downloaded elsewhere, can consume lots of system resources when used improperly, which eventually will slow down a Mac.
You can check this post for more detailed reasons. The above reasons listed just high-level reasons.
Another tip you should note: If you updated to MacOs Catalina or higher than your old os. The best practise is restarting your Mac several times since the new OS needs time to re-index or update data in disk driver. If this does not help. Keep reading.
Since you know the reasons that slow your Mac, so, what should we do to fix it? Here we break down the solutions into 2 categories:
Please note that all the solutions below only work if your Mac can boot up normally.
- Manual Methods: best for those who are tech-savvy and don’t mind taking the time to do so. We list a number of things you can do manually to fix your slow Mac.
- Quick Technique: best for beginners or those of you don’t have time to implement manual fixes. We recommend using CleanMyMac X to scan your Mac and fix all issues the app finds.
The Quick Technique Method of fixing slow Macbook
If you don’t have or don’t want to spend too much time manually repairing a slow Mac Pro/Air. We provide the most time-saving solution. This is why it is put on top. All you have to do is just install a powerful application.
Method 1: CleanMyMac X
This is an app from MacPaw. It has been regarded as the best Mac Cleaner by many Authoritative websites like CNET, SoftwareHow.CleanMyMac X replaces dozens of optimization tools for Mac. It can be anything you tell it to be: a macOS cleaner, a performance monitor, a malware remover, and well, a lifesaver.CleanMyMac is super sleek and intuitive, just hit Scan to get started and then Clean to fix issues.
Method 2: Using MacBooster
MacBooster is an app developed by the IObit team. It is a Mac maintenance tool to clean up 20 types of junk files and remove Mac malware and virus to protect your Mac, Besides, MacBooster can optimize Mac hard disk to boost your Mac to the peak performance. It’s easy to use. You can try it free.
Manul Methods of fixing slow Macbook
Just to be clear: This may take serveral hours. These are not the only solutions. And you don’t have to complete all the methods just Treat symptomatically. Meanwhile here’s a checklist for Mac’s users on how to speed up Macbook Pro/Air.
Method 1: Clean up hard drive
This method is effective. That’s why we put it on top 1st position. But it may take longer than others.
When should be used: your Macbook Pro is running out of space, and it slows down or freezes more frequently.
How does it work: macOS utilizes free hard disk space as “virtual memory” in addition to RAM (Random Access Memory). Running out space on Mac may cause your Mac to freeze more frequently. Generally, we should keep at least 10 percent of disk free.
How to do: try the tricks below.
Note: if you want to save time, CleanMyMac is a nice tool for this purpose. It automatically detects and cleans extra junks that can take up gigabytes of disk space.
- Empty Mac Trash bin.
- Clear web browser (Safari, Chrome, Firefox, etc.) files such as caches, history, plugins, etc.
- Uninstall unused applications.
- Remove unused language packs on your Mac.
- Go to the “Movies” and “Pictures” folders, delete large or duplicate items you’ve already backed up. You can use Gemini 2 to find them more quickly.
- Go to the “Download” folder and get rid of items you don’t need.
- Transfer big files or folders to your external hard drive or another computer.
- And other ways you can think of to lighten your Mac hard drive.
Method 2: Manage login items to tune startup times
Startup items will help Mac allocate resources to load processes afterward. If you have too many startups, you’d better find which is necessary and which is not and disable those you don’t need desperately. This solution may take you 5 to 10 minutes. The effectiveness may be moderate or low.
When should be used : Your Mac Pro/Air runs too many startup that slows down your mac extremely.
How does it work: disabling login items (auto-run applications or services) you rarely use helps your Mac better allocate system resources to load the processes you do use, you’ll reach the login or desktop screen more quickly.
How to do:
There are 2 ways to disable the login items:
1.Right click app then you’ll see several options which will alow you uncheck “open at login” if you have check it.
2. You can setup login items from system preferance – Click the users& Groups – > choose login items. Then you’ll see all the startup
If you find some items’ checkbox shows grey, what you need to do is click the lock enter your password then you can disable them.
I also prepared a video that may help you directely and visually.
Method 3: Clean your Desktop, Dashboard and Dock
If you have a cluttered desktop, I suggest cleaning it up. It won’t take long and what’s more. It’s a good habit and helpful for effective work. This may take you 10 or 20 minutes, but it is worthy. The effectiveness is moderate to low.
When should be used: your Macbook Pro takes a bit longer to load the first screen after startup.
How does it work: MacOS treats each desktop item, including a file, a Dock application, or a Dashboard widget as a small task, it uses resources to load it when starting up. Reducing the number of such items can make the first screen show up faster.
How to do:
- Keep desktop clean. Group files into folders. Move folders like Documents and Photos.
- Remove apps you seldom use from the dock. Right-click app -> remove from dock. The dock is designed for convenient using apps not for storing all apps.
Method 4: Repair disk permissions for old Mac
Note that this is only for Mac os before OS X EI Capitan and SIerra. The higher MacOs no longer need this as Mac has made system file permissions to be automatically protected.
This method may take you 10 more minutes. The effective is moderate or lower.
When should be used: Having issues launching some applications, and doing so slows down your Mac.
How does it work: If you have corrupted or damaged file permissions, the corresponding app will run abnormally or even unable to run. Repairing file permissions is harmless, so you can do this event with confidence. There is a post from Apple support you can follow this guide.
Or if you like I also have a video prepared for step by step guide.
Method 5： Optimize your browser
This method can improve your internet surfing experience. This may take you 15 more or fewer minutes. The effectiveness may be moderate to low on the overall system, but it does help make internet-surfing fluent.
When should be used: your web browser (Safari, Chrome, or Firefox, etc.) just seems stubborn to load pages or becomes unresponsive.
How does it work: web browsers are notorious for dragging down computer performance after extended use. By implementing the things below, you can expect a much smoother net surfing experience.
How to do:
- Remove or disable browser extensions you rarely use. Remove extensions on Safari from here, Chrome here, Firefox here.
- Nowadays, browsers allow us to open multiple tabs at the same time, but this may exhaust your System resource if too much opened. We suggest keeping the tabs you need.
- Clear browser cache, history regularly. This can free up your hard disk space also. This article may help you do this.
- Chrome normally eats up more RAM and CPU than safari or others. Chrome has a wealth of plugins and is friendly to front-end developers. But these features need resources. Simple quit and restart will help it get back to “normal.”
Method 6: Find the most Resource-consuming apps and processes By Activity Monitor
You must encounter that Mac suddenly slows down and you have no idea what causes that. It is likely that some processes are consuming resources in the background. It is easy to Locate these processes. It may take you several minutes and this method is effective.
When should be used: Mac is usually fast until it suddenly slows down at some point.
How does it work: Activity Monitor is a task manager on Mac that shows you both running applications and inactive processes. The list allows you to have a clear understanding of which one is devouring too many system resources (CPU, memory, disk, network, etc). Once you find the culprit, you can also use Activity Monitor to quit or force quit the app/process easily.
How to do:
press command ⌘ + space -> input activity monitor-> order Process By Click CPU -> find the most CPU-consuming Process
If you’re not using that process just quit this process. Wait a minutes until the system reacts. You’ll find the Cooling fan stops spinning wildly. Also I’ve prepared a video tutorial for you.
Method 7: Reset SMC and NVRAM to fix odd hardware errors
This method really works especially for old Macs. It may take more than half an hour, but it’s effective.Restart NVRAM is good practices not only for those issues list below but for a lot of troubleshoting.
When should be used: Mac shut down slow, boot up slow, the cooling fan seems never to stop, the screenshots can not adjusting correctly. If one or more happened, try this method.
How does it work: NVRAM (or PRAM in older Macs) stores certain settings in a location that macOS can access quickly. SMC has roles in controlling thermal and power management on Mac. Resetting NVRAM and SMC helps resolve the issues mentioned above, and it’s a safe thing to do.
How to do: Check out this video on how to reset NVRAM and SMC.
Also reset SMC is also safe, check out this video for detail.
Method 8: Update your Macbook Pro OS
It may take hours if you’re prepared to update you Mac Os. The effectiveness is moderate, but it depends. Your Mac must meet basic hardware requirements: At least 2GB RAM and 15GB free space of driver if you want update to 10.15 Catalina.
When should be used: your Mac is still running an older macOS version
How does it work: a newer macOS version typically runs faster than an older one, though it depends on the model of your Mac machine.
How to do: Before you start, check those things like if your model compatible, do you have enough space, etc. Anyway it’s better to backup your staff.
Method 9: Upgrade hardware (RAM, SSD) (For MacBook Pro)
While, last but most effective way. It takes maybe more than 2 hours to complete.
When should be used: If you are using an old Mac and ofen run heavy tasks on it, then you should consider updating your computer hardware, and the most effective way is updating the RAM and replacing HDD to SSD.
How does it work: adding more memory (RAM) or replacing your HDD (hard disk drive) with a new SSD (solid-state drive) will give your Mac a real boost in performance. The only con is the upgrades can be pricey.
How to do:
Note: be careful. you’ll need to open bottom case with a screwdriver. Take good care of these screws.
Add Extra RAM: Once you’re sure which model you have, find it in the list below to go to the instructions for that model. Check our review of the best RAM upgrade plan for MacBook Pro. It’s not complicated.This video below from CNET is also worth checking out.
Note: Apple notebooks not listed in this table have non-removable memory.
Upgrade to an SSD: SSD read and write data much faster than traditional HDD. You want to boot up OS or other application fast, the best option is to replace the hard drive with a speedy SSD, see our picks here. Once you purchase your desired SSD, this video from CNET may help you to install it step by step.
we are not Mac or Apple experts nor have I worked for Apple. All the ideas we shared are based on our experience as a 10 years Mac user. You may have a different thought, and we’ll be glad if you can leave your ideas below in the comments zone. we have recommended some tools because we use the tools with our Mac machines and find them truly great. Make sure you only use what works for your issue, and don’t over-spend on things you don’t need.
Good usage habits can extend the life of the Mac and keep the Macbook fast. We have summarized some tips on making Mac run fast, I believe these can help you better protect your computer. You can check this here.