How to speed up MacBook — 15 quick tips

Remember the feeling of a brand-new Mac? A Mac without rainbow wheels. A Mac that didn’t cause headaches or frustration. Below, we’ll show you 15 ways you can shake off the dust from your system and make any Mac faster. All it takes is to disable a few things here and there.

All the steps we outline apply to Mac computers running macOS Sonoma. You can follow the same instructions to speed up older Macs; however, the steps may be different, especially those related to using the System Settings app. 

Here’s how to speed up your Mac

Sounds like your Mac? 

  • Mac booting up slower
  • Overheating computer
  • Browser crashes
  • Frequent “beach-balls”

These simple steps provided below won’t take much time but will greatly help to improve your Mac’s performance. If you do these activities regularly, you won’t have to worry about the need to speed up your Mac again. 

Find resource-hungry processes

Use Activity Monitor to turn them off

Free up RAMGet CleanMyMac X to free up RAM in one click
Reindex spotlight

Relaunch the indexing process if it gets stuck

Uninstall unused appsGet rid of the apps you haven’t used for years
Clean up cache files

This includes system cache, app cache, and browser cache

So, here are our proven ways to make your Mac run faster.

1. Free up RAM

If your Mac runs out of memory, it will naturally slow down. You now know how to check memory and free it up using Activity Monitor. But it’s a lot of work. Luckily, there is a way to do it automatically.

It’s easy to do with a free tool in CleanMyMac X. It has a dedicated feature called Maintenance. Among the list of maintenance routines, you’ll find the command you need.

  1. Get the free version of CleanMyMac X here (a link to download).
  2. Install the app and choose Maintenance in the sidebar.
  3. Click Free Up RAM > Run.

Some users reported that the Speed feature is pretty impressive, especially on older Mac models.

Alternatively, free up your RAM with Terminal

If you don’t want to use a third-party app, you can free RAM instantly with Terminal. You can apply this trick when your system is running out of available memory. In other words, when a particular app freezes up and desperately needs some fresh memory. Follow these steps:

  1. Open the Terminal app via Launchpad.
  2. Paste in the following command: sudo purge
  3. Press Return.
  4. You will be asked to enter your system password.

2. Find resource-hungry processes

Some apps are more power-hungry than others and can slow your Mac to a crawl. To see which apps are eating up your system resources, use Activity Monitor. You can open it from the Utilities folder of your Applications folder or use Spotlight to find it.

How to use Activity Monitor to speed up Mac

Activity Monitor details five different resources: CPU, Memory, Energy, Disk, and Network usage. 

  • If your Mac is running slowly, pay special attention to the CPU section. It shows how processes affect the CPU (processor) activity. When you’re running intensive apps, like video editors or games, they may use more of your CPU capacity. Those apps will be listed at the top of the list in the CPU tab. If some app is using a lot of CPU power, you can quit it: select the app or process and click the “X” in the left corner of the Activity Monitor. 
  • The Memory tab shows how much memory each process or app is using. The Memory Pressure graph at the bottom of the window helps understand whether your Mac manages memory efficiently. If it’s green, you shouldn’t worry. But if it turns yellow or red, it means your Mac’s running out of free RAM — quit the apps that are on top of the list if you don’t need them running.
  • It’s also important to check the Energy tab. The most battery-draining apps will be listed first — see if you need them running. Otherwise, quit those programs to prolong the time between charges.
  • There are also system processes listed in the Activity Monitor. These usually have words like system, helper, assistant, and core in their names. To display them all, go to the View menu and select System Processes.

3. Restart your Mac now and then

Another quick tip that can help speed up your Mac is restarting it occasionally. It frees up RAM, installs any update that may be awaiting, and quits all apps and processes. On a Mac with Apple silicon, it also performs system checks and resets SMC and NVRAM. All of these optimize your Mac, thus making it faster. There are no rules here, but doing it once a week may become a good habit.

To restart your Mac, click Restart from the main Apple menu.

4. Manage your startup items

It goes without saying that a clean startup helps speed up slow Mac. When your Mac launches faster, it takes less time to do anything. No waiting for Safari, Chrome, or Firefox to open — they open instantly. How do you get such speed? Well, when your Mac boots up, it runs a lot of unnecessary apps. But it’s quite easy to take control of it. Go to your System Settings > General and then click Login Items. Now, find a program you don’t immediately need when your Mac starts up and disable it.

System Preferences - Login Items

There are also unseen apps called launch agents that may slow your Mac down. For example, your internet download speeds suddenly plummeted. How to speed up downloads on Mac? Delete background agents that cannibalize your internet speeds. They can be disabled from the Login Items pane as well — just make your way through the apps allowed in the background. 

5. Remove system junk

One type of system junk that may significantly slow down your Mac is cache files — temporary data used to speed up processes. For example, a web browser will cache web pages to download a website faster when you revisit it. Sounds great, right? Actually, it is, but there is always a “but.” Over time, these cache files take much storage on your Mac, and instead of speeding things up, they slow your computer down.

So, how to speed up MacBook by emptying the caches? There are two ways: you can clean them up manually (step by step) or you can remove them in a second with a cleaning utility CleanMyMac X.

If you want to clear the cache and other junk automatically, do the following:

  1. Open CleanMyMac (download the app for free here).
  2. Choose System Junk.
  3. Click Scan and then Clean.

That’s it! However, if you decide to clean cache files manually, check out this guide on how to clear cache on a Mac.

6. Uninstall unused apps

Another proven way to speed up MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, or iMac is to uninstall the application you don’t need anymore. So, how to remove unwanted apps on your Mac? You may be surprised to find out that simply dragging them to a Trash bin is not enough. It leaves gigabytes of junk behind. Dragging documents and movies to Trash works fine, but apps should be uninstalled completely.

Check out a step-by-step guide on “How to uninstall apps on a Mac.” It describes the manual way and the easy way.

Remove unused apps from Dock

In addition to deleting unnecessary apps altogether, it’s a good idea to clean your Dock of unused applications. Simply right-click the icon of the app you don’t need and choose Options > Remove from Dock.

7. Reindex Spotlight

If you recently updated your OS, you would be aware of the slowness that occurs when Spotlight is indexing. This only takes a few hours, and then your Mac will be fine. But sometimes, the indexing gets stuck, and you need to speed up a Mac. To solve this problem, you need to reindex Spotlight by going to System Settings > Siri & Spotlight and clicking Spotlight Privacy at the bottom of the window.

Now drag your hard drive from Finder into the Privacy List. Once added, remove it by clicking the “-” sign. The indexing will start again, but hopefully, after a few hours, it will finish properly and boost your Mac speed.

8. Update your Mac (OS and hardware)

Typically, Macs take care of themselves. Having the latest software from Apple makes speeding up your Mac simple. To check your version of the operating system, click the Apple icon in the top left corner of your screen and then About This Mac. Make sure you have the latest macOS/OS X installed (or the latest you can install since not all Macs upgrade to macOS Sonoma).

Here’s how to update macOS version:

  1. Open System Settings > General > Software Update.
  2. If a new version is available, click Update Now and follow the on-screen instructions to install it. 
System Preferences - Software Update

Also, make sure you update all apps. Here are different ways to do it: 

  1. Open App Store and click Updates from the sidebar. Click Update All or Update next to every app.
    AppStore Updates tab
  2. Open an app and click its name > Check for Updates from the menu bar. 

  3. Go to the developer’s website and download a new version of the app.

As for the hardware upgrade, as you’ve probably guessed, it is costly. But if your OS is the latest possible version and you’ve cleaned up the hard drive, and you still have troubles with speed, this could be your solution. Keep in mind that upgrading some hardware is not possible for certain Macs.

Upgrading to the latest OS and upgrading your hardware will typically solve a bunch of slowness issues.

9. Disable iCloud syncing

iCloud syncing, if you have it enabled, causes your Mac to slow down. You rarely notice it because it happens in the background.

  • Let’s check your iCloud settings.
  • Open System Settings > Apple ID > iCloud.

If you turn off some apps in this pane, they will stop syncing with iCloud. iCloud Drive and Photos are prime suspects worth a closer look. Are there too many large documents on your Mac? If so, iCloud will hog up resources trying to sync all that massive data.

Now, look at that option that says “Optimize Mac Storage.” This setting tells your Mac to stop offloading your files to the cloud and store the iCloud Drive contents locally on your drive. Its main purpose is to free up space. But the price is constant background sync. So, another way to make MacBook faster is to disable that setting.

10. Run maintenance tasks

If nothing so far has helped, consider running some additional maintenance tasks. In fact, maintaining your Mac properly can help prevent the drop in its performance, so if you’ve never done that before, it’s time to start doing it now. 

But how do you maintain your Mac? Some tasks include running maintenance scripts, repairing disk permissions, and removing Time Machine snapshots. You can do all of them manually, but it would be time-consuming. For example, to initiate maintenance scripts, you’ll have to use Terminal. You’ll also need to run other Terminal commands to thin out Time Machine snapshots. 

Luckily, there is an easier way — CleanMyMac X we’ve mentioned above. We’ve already introduced one maintenance routine it can perform — freeing up RAM. But it also has other tools that can speed up your Mac. In addition to running maintenance scripts, repairing disk permissions, and removing Time Machine snapshots, it can also flush DNS cache, speed up Mail app, and free up purgeable space. All of this will give your Mac a much-needed boost.

Here’s how to use it: 

  1. Open CleanMyMac X once again.
  2. Click Maintenance.
  3. Select tasks you want to run — you can read what each of them does, along with usage recommendations, when you click them.
  4. Click Run. 
Maintenance Scripts in CleanMyMac X

11. Clean up Mac’s hard drive

If you want the most bang for your buck, cleaning your hard drive is by far the best and easiest way to speed up MacBook or iMac. Go through your hard drive and clean out everything that is slowing it down. But what is slowing down my Mac? What to look for? Caches, logs, apps, widgets, hidden trash, and large and old files.

Extra step: Delete large unused files

Think of a car that has a heavy load in the trunk. For all its engine power, it cannot really go fast. The same happens on your Mac — only your disk is stuffed with heavy files. 

  1. Go to System Settings > General > Storage.
  2. Click i icon next to the Documents.
System Preferences - Storage

    These should be your largest space-wasters. In our case, these are movie files. Review these and move them away onto an external drive.

    12. Upgrade your RAM

    RAM stands for Random Access Memory, and it is a temporary memory that the CPU uses to hold important information system processes need to run. In case of high RAM usage, your Mac may slow down, so upgrading your RAM may be a great speed-up option.

    The normal amount in 2023 is anything above 8 GB of RAM. An extra 8 GB RAM card will cost you around $30.

    The more RAM your Mac has at its disposal, the more windows or tabs you can have open without slowing the system down. With more RAM, the operating system isn’t making calls to virtual memory, which uses the hard drive and slows down the system considerably. Here’s a comprehensive guide on how to upgrade your Mac’s RAM.


    One more hardware solution to speed up your MacBook is to reapply MacBook’s thermal paste, which has probably worn off over time. The tell-tale sign for this is your Mac overheating too often. The thermal paste transfers heat away from your Mac’s processor, thus making it more efficient.

    13. Turn off visual effects

    A great tip to help you when you wonder how to speed up your Mac is to turn off visual effects. Sure, they look pretty, but who cares if your Mac is running slowly? Turning off some of the features can greatly speed up iMac or MacBook.

    Here’s how to speed up a Mac by turning off some visual effects:

    1. Click System Settings > Desktop & Dock.
    2. Disable the following options: “Animate opening applications,” “Automatically hide and show the Dock.”
    3. Next to the “Minimize windows using” option, change the Genie effect to the Scale effect.

    14. Check your Mac for malware

    You may be surprised that Mac may become sluggish because of malware. It is due to the fact that malicious apps consume significant resources of your system, thus slowing it down. So, one way to speed up your Mac is to check it for malware. You can do it either manually or automatically.

    Manual removal includes hunting down the virus application and removing it along with all of the files it has scattered around your Mac as well as getting rid of browser extensions. In the most severe cases, you may even need to create new user accounts or delete all of the information you had on your computer. Detailed steps are outlined in this article on how to remove viruses and malware from Mac.

    Alternatively, you can use CleanMyMac X, and it is a quick and easy way:

    1. Open CleanMyMac X (if you haven’t downloaded it yet, here’s the link to the free version of the app). 
    2. Navigate to Malware Removal in the sidebar. 
    3. Click Scan and then Remove. 

    That’s it! The best thing about this malware removal method is that the database is regularly updated, so the app can help get rid of hundreds of different threats within just a few clicks. 

    More than that, it comes with a real-time malware monitor that will scan your Mac in the background, check all of the apps you try to install, and notify you if any app behaves suspiciously. It can be reached from CleanMyMac X’s Menu app by clicking a little iMac icon in the menu bar. But to enable the monitor, you will have to go to CleanMyMac X Settings > Protection and select all options there.


    15. Run Apple Diagnostics

    If you think that your Mac may need a speed-up because of a hardware issue, you may easily test it with Apple Diagnostics. It is also known as an Apple Hardware Test that helps determine which hardware components are not working properly. 

    The process is different for Mac computers with different processors. 

    Apple silicon

    1. Start up your Mac.
    2. Continue to press and hold the power button as your Mac turns on.
    3. Release the power button when the startup options window appears.
    4. Press Command-D to run the Diagnostics.
    5. Apple Diagnostics will run automatically. 

    Intel processor

    1. Start up your Mac and press and hold the D key while it turns on.
    2. Release the key when the progress bar appears or when you’re asked to select a language.

    When the process is complete, it will show a list of the problems encountered, and it will be presented as a list of reference codes. You can find the entire list of Apple Diagnostics reference codes in this article from Apple Support.

    There are a few things more annoying than a slow Mac. Luckily, there are numerous tips to help you out, and hopefully, one of the solutions listed here worked well for you. Thanks for reading, and stay tuned for more tips and tricks.

    Laptop with CleanMyMac
    CleanMyMac X

    Your Mac. As good as new.