Mac running slow? How to fix a slow Mac

Asya Karapetyan
Content marketer, who specializes in Mac how-to guides
May 17, 2023
7 minutes to read

Despite the fact that the Mac operating system is quite stable and responsive, over time you may find your Mac running slow. The first step to diagnosing a system slowdown is to consider possible reasons that may cause this. Read below why your Mac is running slow and learn how to improve your Mac’s performance.

Why is my Mac running so slow

There may be various reasons for a decline in macOS performance:

  • High CPU usage of apps. Using programs for video conversion, backup, 3D rendering, etc., requires a large amount of processing power.
  • Insufficient RAM. Some applications require more RAM than is currently available on the system. When the required RAM is not available for background processes, the computer constantly saves some of the data from memory to disk.
  • Launching multiple applications simultaneously and having too many applications running in the background.
  • Unnecessary browser tabs left open. Websites with lots of media files and animations can slow down your Mac computer.
  • Lack of free storage space. For normal operation, the system requires at least 20GB of free disk space to store temporary files.
  • Apps that aren’t updated. Using outdated versions of applications may burden the system’s CPU usage.
  • Not restarting regularly. A MacBook may run slower if it has been running continuously for several weeks without rebooting.
  • The possible use of Mac resources by malware, such as crypto miners.
  • A damaged disk or using an outdated type of disk, for example, using HDD as a system one.

My Mac is running very slow. Can I speed up my Mac?

If the reasons for Mac’s system slowdown aren’t addressed, its speed will decrease even more. This may lead to involuntary reboots of the Mac and the loss of user data.

You can download MacCleaner Pro – a special tool to fix a slow Mac quickly and safely. Or follow our guide to manually diagnose why your Mac is so slow and improve its performance.

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MacCleaner Pro

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How to fix a slow Mac

Detect and close memory-consuming apps

If your Mac is running slowly, the problem can be with a particular application. Every application utilizes system resources, so the more apps you have running, the slower your Mac. Moreover, a specific app can require too much CPU and Mac’s memory. Follow the steps below to identify memory-consuming apps that are causing a system slowdown.

  1. Launch Activity Monitor.
  2. Click View in the Menu Bar and select Windowed Processes.
  3. Click the CPU tab to find and select the apps that take up too much CPU usage.
  4. Click the Close (X) button to stop it.
  5. Then switch to the Memory tab.
  6. Find the apps that use too much memory and click the X button to stop them.
Activity Monitor window

Clear RAM when Mac apps are openning slowly

If you notice that your Mac is slowing down even when you launch a few apps, then your system needs more free RAM to perform the tasks. Clearing inactive RAM will help to improve your Mac’s speed.

The easiest way to free up Mac’s RAM is to restart the system. Many users do not finish work on their Mac by the end of the day, but just put it into Sleep Mode. In this case, huge temporary files are created. Restarting a Mac allows your system to finish all system processes correctly, flush RAM, and clear service files. Also, you should shut down your Mac if you do not plan to use it for several days.

However, restarting the Mac to free up RAM is certainly not convenient, since it interrupts your work. Another option to clear RAM space is using the Terminal command line.

Steps to clear RAM with Terminal:

  1. Open Terminal.
  2. Paste the command sudo purge and press Enter.
  3. Enter your admin password and again press Enter. Your RAM memory will be cleared.
purge command in Terminal application window
Note, that with MacCleaner Pro you can free up RAM and speed up your Mac with just a few clicks.
  1. Run MacCleaner Pro.
  2. Go to the Speed Up section from the sidebar.
  3. Select Optimize RAM and click on Review and Speed Up button.
  4. Then you will need just to confirm performing this task.
MacCleaner Pro window with Optimize RAM section highlighted

MacCleaner Pro also comes with an additional helping tool Memory Cleaner, which can automatically clean up RAM each time your system is out of RAM.

Memory Cleaner application window

Add RAM to make a Mac run faster

If you need to regularly work with heavy programs on your Mac, you had better increase your RAM; but first, check if it is possible to add more RAM to your computer:

  1. Go to the Apple Menu → About This Mac. Here you will find the information about your memory.
  2. About This Mac panel

  3. To view whether memory can be configured on your Mac, click More Info and then click Details.
  4. About Mac panel in system preferences

  5. Click again Details.
  6. It will open the Apple Support webpage with information about RAM. Find the Memory section and check whether it can be configured on your computer.

Note, that on old versions of macOS, you will see the following window by clicking About This Mac. About This Mac window - Overview tab
You will then need to Switch to the Resources tab and click Specifications. About This Mac window - Resourses tab

Read also: “How to clear RAM on Mac.

Update macOS and installed programs

Update the Mac operating system and all used applications. As a rule, developers create and optimize their applications for the latest version of macOS. If your Mac starts to run very slowly when you launch a specific application, it’s likely the app is not compatible with your system. Check the system requirements for the app, minimum processor speed, minimum RAM, recommended GPU card, and so on. Update your apps to make them compatible with your new macOS.

Steps to check macOS for updates:

  1. Go to System Settings.
  2. Click General in the sidebar.
  3. Click Software Update.
System update window in preferences

To update apps downloaded from the App Store, do the following:

  1. Open App Store.
  2. Switch to the Updates tab.
  3. Click on Update All.
App Store window with Updates tab

Disable startup programs to fix a slow Mac

Having your favorite programs launch on startup is convenient. However, the more programs run automatically at login, the slower your Mac startup.

You should disable all apps from running automatically at system boot to speed up your Mac. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Run System Settings and go to the General section.
  2. Click Login items.
  3. Select unneeded apps and click the minus(-) button to stop them from launching automatically.
System Settings window

Note, that some apps may have extensions – daemons and launch agents, that are hidden or work in the background and run on user login or system startup. You can’t disable them using the System Preferences.

In this case, you can use a special tool from the MacCleaner Pro bundle – App Cleaner & Uninstaller. This app allows you to easily stop all the programs from launching on startup and even remove app extensions.

How to remove startup items and extensions with App Cleaner & Uninstaller:
  1. Launch App Cleaner & Uninstaller.
  2. Go to the Startup Programs section from the sidebar.
  3. Preview all startup items on your Mac, especially the Launch agents and Login items sections.
  4. Disable or remove unneeded items to stop apps from running automatically when you log in.
Mac Preferences window
This will help you speed up your Mac while booting the system.

Check a slow Mac for malware apps

It may happen that your Mac is working slowly because it is being affected by malicious software. Your Mac can receive malware when you download email attachments from unfamiliar senders or apps from untrusted websites.

To protect your Mac from malware, first, you should check your security settings. Here is how:

  1. Open System Settings and click on Security & Privacy.
  2. Scroll down and find FileVault. Turn it on.
  3. Filevault on Mac
  4. Then go to the Network section in the sidebar and activate FireWall.
  5. Firewall option in system settings window

Check hardware when Mac is slow

Another possible reason for a Mac slowdown is damage to or malfunction of the system drive. Use the Disk Utility app to find and solve possible hard drive issues.

How to check the Mac startup disk for issues:
  1. First, you need to restart your Mac in Recovery mode. Turn your Mac off and restart it by pressing and holding the Command+R keys.
  2. Release the keys as soon as you see a startup window.
  3. Enter your password if needed and click Continue.
  4. Select the Disk Utility section to repair errors on your startup disk in the Utilities window that appears.
  5. Click on the First Aid button and click Run to check your disk for errors. Disk Utility - Check disk for errors window
  6. If everything is okay, you will see the message that the process is complete, and some errors are fixed. If the operation failed, your disk probably has physical damage and needs to be replaced. Use this information to know how to repair your Mac.

Manage storage to speed up your Mac

Often a MacBook or iMac runs slowly because there is no free space on the startup disk. If there is a shortage, the system has nowhere to store the service files and operate correctly. For stable Mac performance, at least 10% of free storage is required. This means that you should clean up Mac hard disk and recover more valuable space.

You can click Manage to see what types of data take the most space and decide what to remove. However, this report does not give a lot of information and only suggests that you will have to free up space on your Mac by deleting files manually, one by one.

The steps to see Mac storage usage on macOS Ventura and free up space to speed up a Mac slightly differ from the previous system version.

How to check how much storage space you have on macOS Ventura:
  1. Open System preferences.
  2. Go to the General section from the left panel.
  3. Click Storage in the right panel.

We recommend using the MacCleaner PRO, which provides a similar report on disk usage, and immediately provides tools for clearing each category of junk and user files. MacCleaner Pro - Disk usage overview

Remove junk files

Your Mac stores lots of service files, such as application caches, logs, language resources, and so on. Individually these files may occupy only a few kilobytes, but all together they will consume gigabytes.

Manually finding and clearing caches and other service files on a Mac is not easy. Here is how to quickly and safely clean up unneeded files on your Mac with MacCleaner Pro:

  1. Launch MacCleaner Pro.
  2. Go to the Clean up section from the sidebar.Clean Up option in MacCleaner Pro
  3. Select all unneeded types of junk files.
  4. Click on Review and Clean up and confirm the removal.

Delete old and large files

You should optimize your hard drive usage and stop storing bulky content on your Mac hard drive. Recovering some free space will fix a slow Mac. Use the Disk Space Analyzer tool from MacCleaner Pro to analyze your storage usage, discover large and old files and easily operate them.

  1. Launch Disk Space Analyzer. Maccleaner Pro window showing the disk analyzer tool
  2. Scan your Macintosh HD. diagram showing mac had drive space uasage
  3. Review the diagram and find large and not used files.
  4. Remove large items or move them to an external storage.

Remove duplicate files

If, after analyzing your storage usage, you are going to move your bulky data to external storage, we recommend that you first check your storage for duplicates.

You can find duplicates manually. However, the best way to find and remove useless duplicate items on a Mac is to use a special tool from MacCleaner Pro – Duplicate File Finder. This tool automatically finds duplicate photos, videos, documents, and any other type of files. You can even find and clean up similar photos and similar folders.

Here is how to remove duplicates and get more Mac storage:

  1. Launch Duplicate File Finder from MacCleaner Pro. The Duplicate files panel
  2. Add folders and scan them.
  3. Select duplicates and click to remove them. Duplicate files found with Duplicate File Finder

Uninstall unused apps

You may have many apps that you haven’t used for a long time. You should take a look at all your apps you installed for some earlier tasks, and remove the ones you no longer need. To quickly and completely remove apps from your Mac, use a special tool from MacCleaner Pro – App Cleaner & Uninstaller.

  1. Launch App Cleaner & Uninstaller. Uninstall applications tab in MacCleaner Pro window
  2. Select unneeded apps.
  3. Click to Uninstall them.
  4. Uninstall applications tab in MacCleaner Pro window

Reduce visual effects that are making your Mac to run slowly

If you’re using an older MacBook or iMac, you might have noticed that the built-in visual effects on the operating system can slow down its performance. Try to speed up your Mac by turning off those effects. Here’s how:

  1. Open the Apple menu and head to System Settings.
  2. Click Accessibility in the left panel.
  3. Select Display from the left panel.
  4. Switch on the “Reduce motion” option.
System preferences showing display options

By doing this, you can reduce those extra motion effects and potentially boost the performance of your older Mac.

So what to do if your Mac is slow?

Now you know all the reasons why your Mac may be running slow and how to optimize its performance. You can fix Mac issues manually or use MacCleaner Pro, which will keep your Mac clean and free from unneeded apps, extensions, duplicates and malware files.

The MacCleaner Pro software is an all-in-one solution that allows you to safely clean up and speed up your Mac.

MacCleaner tools

Download MacCleaner PRO


How do I find out what is slowing down my Mac?
Do Macs get slower over time?
What is the best app that can help me speed up my Mac?
How to check my Mac’s performance?
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