Here’s what to do if your MacBook is slow at startup

One of the benefits of switching to SSD and Fusion drives on Macs is that it makes starting up your Mac much quicker. However, logging in can still take a while and can be frustrating. If your MacBook Pro is slow at startup, here’s what to do. Of course, these tips also apply to other Macs.

1. Make sure macOS is up to date

The first thing you should do when you run into any kind of problem or performance issue on your Mac is to check that you’re running the latest version of whichever flavor of macOS is installed.

System Preferences - Software Update

  1. Click the Apple menu.
  2. Choose System Settings > General.
  3. Click Software Update.
  4. If there is an update available, follow the steps on the screen to install it.

2. Make sure you have plenty of free disk space

When you restart your Mac, it clears out temporary files, caches, and swap files used for virtual memory. However, sometimes some of them get left behind, and gradually your Mac’s boot disk fills up with these junk files. If you have less than 10% of the total capacity of your boot disk available, it can affect performance.

The quickest way to free up space and get rid of junk files is to use CleanMyMac X’s System Junk tool. It detects outdated cache and old log files and sweeps them away in under a minute.

However, you can also free up some disk space using macOS’s built-in storage management tools.

  1. Click on the Apple menu again and choose About This Mac > More Info.
  2. Select the Storage Settings tab.
  3. Review the recommendations and follow those that are relevant to you.
System Preferences - Storage

3. Try a different user account

If you have another user account set up on your Mac, try logging into that when you restart. If you don’t, create one or enable Guest accounts. If it’s faster, you know the problem is with your user account, so try the next tip.

4. Don’t reopen applications when you reboot

The macOS feature that allows you to start up your Mac and return to the same state it was when you shut it down can be very useful. However, it can also slow down the time it takes to start up your Mac. To switch it off, when you shut down your Mac next, make sure the box labeled “Reopen windows when logging back in” is not selected.

5. Turn off FileVault

If you use FileVault to encrypt your startup disk’s contents, it will slow down any operations that involve reading from or writing to that disk, including starting up. If you really need to encrypt it, obviously, you should keep FileVault turned on. However, if you don’t, turning it off will make your Mac startup faster.

System Preferences - Privacy & Security

  1. Click the Apple menu and choose System Settings.
  2. Choose Privacy & Security.
  3. Find FileVault.
  4. Turn off FileVault. Enter your password if needed. 
  5. Quit System Settings.

6. Check Login Items

Login Items are scripts and applications that launch at startup. They can slow down the process of starting up your Mac. So, you should keep them to a minimum. CleanMyMac X can help you manage Login Items and help remove launch agents — the latter can’t be easily removed in System Settings. Here’s how to use it.

CleanMyMac X - Login items

  1. Download and install CleanMyMac X if you don’t already have it.
  2. When it opens, choose the Optimization module.
  3. Click View All Items, then Login Items.
  4. Select the ones you want to remove and click Perform.

To get rid of Launch Agents, follow the same process but choose Launch Agents instead of Login Items at step 3.

To remove Login Items in System Settings, go to the Apple menu, choose System Settings > General, then select Login Items for your account.

7. Boot your Mac in safe mode

Safe mode starts up your Mac without loading some system extensions and login items. It also performs a check of your boot disk using Disk Utility’s First Aid and deletes the cache and other temporary files. Booting in safe mode and then rebooting normally can fix lots of different problems. The process for booting in safe mode differs depending on whether you have an Intel Mac or one with Apple silicon (for example, an M1 MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, or Mac mini).

For Macs with Apple silicon:

  1. Shut down your Mac and wait 10 seconds.
  2. Press and hold the power button, then release it when you see startup options on the screen.
  3. Choose your startup disk, hold down the Shift key, press Continue in Safe Mode, then release the Shift key.
  4. Log in. You might have to log in more than once.

For Intel-based Macs:

  1. Shut down your Mac and wait 10 seconds.
  2. Restart your Mac holding down the Shift key.
  3. Let go of Shift when you see the login window.
  4. Log in. You might have to log in more than once and should see “Safe Boot” in the top corner of the login window.

If your Mac starts up more quickly in Safe mode, restart it as usual and check whether the issue is resolved.

8. Reset NVRAM

If none of the tips above work or the problem occurs across multiple user accounts, try resetting the NVRAM.

Macs with Apple silicon reset it automatically.

For Intel-based Macs, follow these steps:

  1. Shut down your Mac.
  2. Press the power button to start your Mac and hold down the Option-Command-P-R combination.
  3. Hold the keys for about 20 seconds.
  4. Release the keys, and your Mac will restart.

There are many possible reasons why your MacBook is slow to boot. The good news is that it’s very likely to be software related and fairly straightforward to fix. If you follow the steps above, you’ll be able to identify the problem and fix it. Hopefully, your Mac starts up much more quickly now.