9 tips to speed up macOS Monterey

macOS Monterey is the latest and greatest version of the Mac operating system and has lots of brilliant new features, like new Safari tabs. However, latest and greatest doesn’t necessarily mean fastest. Every subsequent macOS collects more data points than the previous one. That puts extra pressure on your Mac’s RAM and causes it to slow down. So if you’ve noticed Monterey is slow, here’s how to speed it up.

Symptoms of macOS Monterey memory overload:

  • MacBook’s surface is getting hotter
  • Loud fan sound
  • Non-responsive tabs and pages
Tip:

macOS Monterey updated many default apps, like Notes. And as we said, every app is getting more resource-hungry these days. And many of them are running in the background, so you don’t even know it. A quick way to optimize memory usage, if you’re on Mac, is to try and run the CleanMyMac X app. It detects hidden memory-eating apps and clears their caches. You can download the free version of this tool here. This program is notarized by Apple.

Free up Mac RAM with CleanMyMacX


How to speed up macOS Monterey

1. Restart your Mac

Yes, that’s the very first thing you should do. Sounds too simple to have an effect on Monterey running slow? Try it. Often restarting your Mac is all you need to do to speed it up. Background processes hanging and temporary files causing problems are just two of the issues that are immediately fixed when you restart.

2. Make sure macOS is up to date

Sometimes Apple doesn’t get it right and has to issue an update to macOS quite quickly after releasing a new version. So, when you notice any kind of issue with your Mac, it’s always a good idea to check if there is an update available.

  1. Click on the Apple menu and choose About this Mac.
  2. Press Software Update.
  3. If it says there is an update available, follow the instructions to install it.
macOS update window

3. Declutter your Desktop

Dumping hundreds of screenshots to the Desktop is a guaranteed way to overload your Mac. Desktop has a privileged treatment from your macOS. Things you put there are meant for quick access so they always stay active in memory.

  • Go to your Desktop (press Fn + F11, or just F11).
  • Delete large files and useless screenshots there.
How to clean up your desktop

And the quickest way to clean up your Desktop in Monterey is to use Stacks. 

  • In the Finder, click on the View menu.
  • Choose Use Stacks.

4. Check if your applications are up to date

macOS updates can often change things behind the scenes that affect the way applications run on your Mac. So if you’ve noticed that a specific application is running slowly, check whether there is an update available for it. If you downloaded the application from the App Store, look there. If you downloaded it from the developer’s website, go to the application name menu in the menu bar and choose Check for Updates.

How to check for app updates

5. Disable some internet plugins

A plugin is a kind of crossover between a regular app and a driver. Many apps install additional plugins on top of the main app. And with many apps interacting with each other, this causes conflicts and resource leaks.

To check the extra plugins and extensions running on your Mac, you can use the free version of CleanMyMac X. This is a nice to have app for quick Mac troubleshooting.

Safari Extensions in Extensions module of CMMX

  • Examine plugins and extensions you’ll find there. Remove if necessary.

6. Reset the system management controller

This sounds a bit radical. But it’s merely a complicated Mac restart that refreshes settings controlling battery, fans, and other parameters. For example, if fans are underperforming, your Mac (macOS Monterey) gets hotter and slows down.

That’s why resetting SMC controller may help:

  • Turn off your Mac completely and plug out the power cable.
  • Wait for 15 secs and connect the cable again.
  • Hold down the left Shift + Control + Option and Power button.
  • Wait for 10 secs.
  • Release the buttons and start your Mac normally.

7. Reduce transparency and visual effects

Mac accessibility menu

The visual effects in macOS look terrific. But they also require CPU and GPU cycles to run them. On modern Macs, that’s not a problem. However, on Macs that are a little older those effects might be the difference between your Mac running smoothly and it running slowly. Here’s how to turn them off.

  1. Click on the Apple menu and choose System Preferences.
  2. Open the Accessibility pane.
  3. Choose Display.
  4. Check the boxes labelled Reduce motion and Reduce transparency.
  5. Quit System Preferences.

Two more tips to fix macOS Monterey slowdown

8. Close some browser tabs

Modern web browsers are fast and powerful and we use them for much more than surfing the web. However, that means that many of us have lots and lots of tabs open at once. Depending on the web browser you’re using, that can take a serious toll on your Mac’s performance. Google’s Chrome browser, for example, is notorious for using lots of CPU cycles when you have multiple tabs open. So, if you find that your Mac is struggling to run macOS Monterey, try to be more disciplined with browser tabs. Bookmark those you want to return to and then close them. Only keep open those you are working on currently.

Tip:

Safari is much less memory-heavy than Chrome, so you try using that browser.

9. Free up disk space

macOS Monterey requires at least 60 GB of disk space to run freely. macOS always borrows some disk space and translates it into RAM memory, when the default RAM is used up.

To free up disk space, try running the Optimized Storage feature.
Click Apple menu > About this Mac > Storage > Manage.

How to free up space on Mac
Tip:

While the Optimize Storage pane is helpful, it only shows the visible part of your storage. The other part is taken up by cache files and app parts that remain hidden. They may take up gigantic space, from 10 to 20 GB at least.


The mentioned CleanMyMac X app has a tool called System Junk that digs up all those cache files. Check it out. It’s the top tab in the app.

CleanMyMac X - System junk scan complete

macOS Monterey is a terrific upgrade but you may notice that after upgrading, your Mac is running more slowly. If so, follow the tips above and you will fix Monterey’s slow performance in no time.

Laptop with CleanMyMac
CleanMyMac X

Your Mac. As good as new.