An instruction 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.


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


1. 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-hand 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 — close 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, core in their names. To display them all, go to the View menu and select System Processes.

2. Run maintenance scripts

Maintenance scripts are internal service tasks of the macOS itself. macOS runs them periodically to fix various system errors and inconsistencies. For example, they reindex certain databases for smoother Mac performance.

If your Mac responds with delays, you can force-run the maintenance scripts. 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. Again, get the free version of CleanMyMac X here (a link to download)
  2. Install the app and choose Maintenance in the sidebar.
  3. Click on Run Maintenance Scripts.

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


3. 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 launch — 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 Preferences > Users & Groups and then click on your username. Now click on Login Items and select a program you don’t immediately need when your Mac starts up, and click the “-” button below.


4. 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 Preferences > Dock & Menu Bar.
  2. Untick the following boxes: Animate opening applications, Automatically hide, and show the Dock.
  3. Click on Minimise windows using and change Genie effect to Scale effect.

5. Check your internet connection

Slow internet can mess with your productivity. It can also make you think that your Mac’s running slowly, which is not exactly what’s happening. So, if you’ve run out of ideas of how to make your Mac run faster, try checking your internet connection.

  1. Hold down the Option key and click the Wi-Fi icon in your menu bar.
  2. Click Open Wireless Diagnostics.

Run the diagnostics and see if there are any problems with a network connection. When it’s finished, follow the prompts to try and resolve whatever problem it may detect. 

When Wireless Diagnostics finds no issues, try restarting your router. If that doesn’t help either, contact your network provider to get help.

Tip

Remove physical barriers between your Wi-Fi router and your Mac. Here's a simple rule to follow: make sure the router is always visible from your workplace.


6. 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 Preferences > Spotlight and clicking on the “Privacy” tab.

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.


7. Reduce Desktop clutter

Remember, every desktop icon takes up RAM space. Fewer icons — the faster your Mac gets. When your Desktop is clean, restart your computer. And the "Desktop Stacks" feature lets you put those icons in order. If you're running macOS High Sierra or an older macOS version, don't worry. The mere deletion of desktop items will make your MacBook faster. 


8. Empty the caches

Cache files are temporary data used to speed up the 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 “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 cache automatically, do the following:

  1. Launch 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 his guide on “How to Clear Cache on a Mac.”


9. 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.

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. 


10. 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, 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 Apple menu > About this Mac > Storage.
  2. Click on “Manage…”

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

    Of course, you can clean up your Mac manually. But finding and removing all these things takes time. And you have to know where to look. The good news is that there is an easy solution to the problem. CleanMyMac X by MacPaw has everything you need to finish the 3-hour task of hard drive cleanup in under 5 minutes. Even more, it will clean up the junk you didn’t even know about and speed up Mac.

    1. Download CleanMyMac X here (a link to the free edition).
    2. Install and launch the app.
    3. Go to Large & Old Files.
    4. Press Scan.

    You'll see a list of all large files that have not been opened for a while. You can sort files by size and delete the huge ones — just select them from the list and press Remove. That's it!


    11. 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 Monterey).

    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.

    Tip: Will a Restart help?

    Don't forget to restart your Mac once in a while. Restarting the Mac cleans the outdated logs, refreshes system apps, and generally makes things run smoother.


    12. 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 Preferences > Apple ID.


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

    Now, look at that checkbox that says “Optimise 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 uncheck that setting.


    13. Free up RAM using Terminal

    If you made it to this tip, you probably have enough skill to start using Mac's Terminal app. It's like using a magic wand — there are dozens of helpful combinations that you can use to speed up mac OS. One of them is used to free up RAM instantly. 

    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. 

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

    If you're not comfortable with using Terminal, there is a shortcut way to free up RAM that requires no hacking skills.
    You can download the app I've mentioned above, CleanMyMac X, preferably the 2021 version. 

    1. Download CleanMyMac X here (this app is notarized by Apple).
    2. Navigate to the Maintenance tab.
    3. Click Free up RAM
    4. That's it!

    Extra tip: Add more RAM

    How to speed up my Mac? How to get it to run faster? In fact, upgrading RAM is usually a great solution for improving your Mac’s performance. But first, check how much RAM you physically have on your Mac. 

    1. Click on the Apple logo > About this Mac... 
    2. Look out for Memory specs. 

    The normal amount in 2021 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.”

    Tip

    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.


    14. Reset SMC & PRAM

    Sometimes your Mac will act strange for no apparent reason — it sleeps or shuts down unexpectedly, the battery doesn’t charge properly, the keyboard backlight behaves incorrectly, and your Mac performs slowly. If these issues are not solved by restarting your computer, you’ll need to reset SMC (system management controller) and PRAM (parameter RAM).

    How to speed up MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, and MacBook

    Resetting the SMC

    First of all, you need to determine whether your Mac’s battery is removable. That’s because the process of resetting the SMC for computers that have a non-removable battery is quite different.

    If the battery is non-removable:

    1. Shut down your Mac.
    2. Press Shift+Control+Option on your keyboard and press the power button at the same time. Hold the keys and a power button for 10 seconds.
    3. Release all keys.
    4. Press the power button to turn on your Mac.

    If the battery is removable:

    1. Shut down your Mac.
    2. Remove the battery.
    3. Press the power button and hold it for 5 seconds.
    4. Press the power button again to turn on your computer.

    How to speed up iMac, Mac Mini, Mac Pro

    1. Shut down your computer.
    2. Unplug a power cord and wait 15 seconds.
    3. Plug the power cord in.
    4. Wait 5 seconds and press the power button.

    Resetting the PRAM to make Mac faster

    1. Shut down your Mac.
    2. Press the power button.
    3. Press the Command-Option-P-R keys at the same time.
    4. Hold the keys until your Mac restarts.
    5. Release the keys.

    Resetting SMC and PRAM may seem to be difficult, but it can really help with Mac speedup.


    15. Reinstall macOS

    If nothing else helps, reinstalling your macOS may be the only way to recover your Mac’s initial power and speed.

    Before you begin the process, don’t forget to back up your data first. At least, transfer all important files and documents to an external drive — that way, you’ll ensure nothing essential will get erased.

    Check out our detailed guides to help you reinstall macOS Monterey, Big SurCatalina or Mojave.


    Here is a short video recap of what we've discussed above.

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