Why is My Mac Running Slow? | 10 ways to Fix Your Slow MacBook, iMac or Mac mini (2023)

As human beings, we are not immortal, and so as our Macs. No doubt it’s a brilliant piece of technology. Still, over time it begins to show noticeable signs of aging: Mac running slow, windows and apps becoming unresponsive, and loading time increasing endlessly. All these red flags mean our Mac needs a boost.

In this article, I’ll explain why MacBook is running slow and give you ten miraculous fixes to bring it back to speed.

Why is My Mac Running Slow? | 10 ways to Fix Your Slow MacBook, iMac or Mac mini (1)

Why is Mac running slow?

Browsers are getting more memory-demanding. Apps demand a good chunk of your Mac’s memory, resulting in increased app usage (which, in the end, is finite). And finally, we are filling our hard drives to the brim with media files like photos, videos, and other heavy data. In a nutshell, Mac is running slow because of data overload.

What can you do to speed up your slow Mac and prolong its life?

Use my ten proven ways described below, and your beloved device should fly in no time.

10 Guaranteed solutions to quicken a slow Mac

1. Too much running in the background

If your Mac can no longer handle simple tasks and you desire to find answers to the ‘why is my Mac so slow?’ question that hunts you day and night — the first place to look is Activity Monitor. Your goal is to track all processes running in the background and liquidate the ones you don’t need.

Why is My Mac Running Slow? | 10 ways to Fix Your Slow MacBook, iMac or Mac mini (2)

Quick fix: Shut down processes with Activity Monitor

Activity Monitor will show you what processes consume too much of your system resources. Quitting an app that’s taking up a lot of processing power could make a huge difference in speeding up your slow Mac. Here’s how to do it:

  • Open Activity Monitor. Check out the real-time apps and processes running on your Mac. Pretty complex, agree? But here, you can see what’s causing trouble on your Mac.
  • Click on the Memory tab, then the Memory filter at the top of the list; this sorts the programs by the amount of RAM they’re taking up on your Mac. The math is simple: the higher the number, the more power they use.
  • Click the “x” icon at the window’s top-left corner to shut down those heavy-consumer apps or processes. Don’t remove anything you don’t know!

2. Hard drive is getting full

Nothing slows down Mac more than an overloaded hard drive. So if there is a chance to lighten the load on your Mac, take it! I guarantee you’ll see an increase in speed almost instantly.

Why is My Mac Running Slow? | 10 ways to Fix Your Slow MacBook, iMac or Mac mini (3)

Quick fix: Clean up your hard drive

Sadly, this isn’t as painless as it sounds. Cleaning up old movie files, organizing your Desktop, and searching your Mac for old files is relatively straightforward. However, the hard part comes with cleaning up your entire system and figuring out all the stuff that can be safely removed.

Suppose your iMac is running slow or any other Mac model you’ve got. In that case, the best option is to use a utility tool like CleanMyMac X. Its innovative technologies clean up your entire Mac, knowing what to clean and where to clean. The app safely removes caches, logs, language packs, and more to help you speed up your Mac.

(Video) Slow Mac mini: Why is my Mac mini running slow? - FIX

Here’s how it works:

Why is My Mac Running Slow? | 10 ways to Fix Your Slow MacBook, iMac or Mac mini (4)
  1. Download CleanMyMac X for free.
  2. Install and launch the app.
  3. Go to System Junk.
  4. Click Scan.

Once the scan is completed, hit the Clean button to remove junk. Or, click Review Details to check what files will be deleted. All done!

3. Mac is overheating

Our Macs manage to handle the most intensive tasks, but they still overheat when too many CPU-heavy processes are active. Other causes of overheating include high ambient temperature, clogged or blocked fans, malware, or frozen or unresponsive apps.

If you notice that your Mac’s getting hotter, try first to avoid direct sunlight and clean it properly. Then go ahead and try these fixes.

Quick fix:Manage your browser tabs, check CPU usage & update your Mac

Browser tabs are probably the most resource-intensive processes on your Mac: if they are open, they continuously run and consume RAM and CPU resources. The best way to fix slow MacBook Air or any other model caused by overheating is to close all tabs you’re not currently using. Bookmark the pages you need and come back to them later. In Safari, click the Share button > Add Bookmark > Add.

Why is My Mac Running Slow? | 10 ways to Fix Your Slow MacBook, iMac or Mac mini (5)

CPU usage is your main indicator of intensive apps. Quitting those will help you reduce the heat. Use Activity Monitor to see what’s running and what needs to be shut down:

  1. Open Activity Monitor (Finder > Applications > Utilities).

  2. Click the CPU tab.

If you still ask why my MacBook is so slow after completing the chores above, make sure your Mac has all the latest updates.

(Video) How To Fix a Slow Mac

4. Visual overload

Animations and rich graphics are incredibly resource-hungry. And don’t get me wrong, we are not suggesting you switch your Mac back to 1984-style simplicity. But what would you rather have, a slow Mac with high-quality visuals or a fast Mac with good-quality visuals? The choice is yours!

Quick fix: Cut down on animations

Open System Preferences > Dock

Why is My Mac Running Slow? | 10 ways to Fix Your Slow MacBook, iMac or Mac mini (6)

Disable the following items by unticking:

  • Magnification
  • Animate opening applications
  • Automatically hide and show the Dock

Next to “Minimize windows using,” change Genie effect to Scale. The scale is a much simpler zoom and less taxing on memory.

5. Storage is not optimized

Apple developers have already anticipated the problem with slow-running Macs. Use their helpful recommendations on managing and optimizing your Mac’s storage.

  1. Click the Apple menu > About This Mac.
  2. Here choose Storage, then select Manage.
  3. In the new window that opens, you will see some suggestions.
Why is My Mac Running Slow? | 10 ways to Fix Your Slow MacBook, iMac or Mac mini (7)

Quick fix: Manage your files and data

Transfer your files and data to iCloud to save up some space on your Mac. Just click Store in iCloud and choose the files you want to save to iCloud storage. Another helpful tip is to optimize storage on your Mac by removing large files such as Apple TV films and TV shows. Finally, always empty the Trash and clean up your folders.

6. Not enough RAM

RAM stands for Random Access Memory. This memory is like fuel for all your apps. So when you get the “Your system is out of application memory” message, one solution is to pay to upgrade your RAM. Or, just use this free shortcut.

Quick fix: Flush your RAM using Terminal

Why is My Mac Running Slow? | 10 ways to Fix Your Slow MacBook, iMac or Mac mini (8)

You can perform this operation if your system urgently needs a fresh memory. Native macOS tool, Terminal, has a special command to release your available RAM.

  • Go to Applications > Utilities > Terminal.
  • Now copy-paste the following command into the Terminal window: sudo purge
  • Enter your user password to confirm.
  • Enjoy the results!

Tip:

If you followed the tip from the previous section and downloaded CleanMyMac X, you should be able to perform another trick that proved quite effective on most Macs. From our experience, it does boost up the performance of many applications.

  • Launch CleanMyMac X.
  • Click the Maintenance tab.
  • Tick “Free Up RAM.”
Why is My Mac Running Slow? | 10 ways to Fix Your Slow MacBook, iMac or Mac mini (9)

Running this command helps to clear your Mac’s memory with a few clicks. Try it and see how your Mac is doing. In the same app, there are controls for your “Hung Applications” and “Heavy Memory Consumers” in the Optimization module— use them to disable your biggest memory hoggers.

(Video) Slow Mac Fix 2020 | MacBook, iMac, Mac Pro, Mac mini running very slow - quick fix

    7. Slow internet connection

    Quick fix: Audit your internet connection

    What if your Mac is not slow, but your internet connection? Then the fix is more simple than we thought. Outdated network settings, the distance between your Mac and the Wi-Fi router, or even your network plan can make your Mac software and applications sluggish. Luckily, there’re a few ways to deal with these issues.

    Try first to fix the internet connection issue with these proven methods:

    • Using an Ethernet cable instead of a wireless connection
    • Move the Router Closer
    • Reset your Wi-Fi Router
    • Close Unnecessary Tabs
    • Remove Existing Wi-Fi Preference
    • Reset Mac Wi-Fi to Default
    • Use Wireless Diagnostics

    8. Too many unused apps

    As your Mac may be behaving slowly due to storage issues, it’s good to check whether you have some free space left. Unused apps are the biggest space-wasters. All of us download applications that seem helpful and exciting at first but turn to clutter up our disk instead of being used frequently.

    Quick fix: Uninstall unused apps

    Answering the question “why is my iMac so slow?” from our users, the first thing we recommend is getting rid of those dead-weight apps. And here’s how:

    1. Open Finder and navigate to the Go menu.
    2. From the drop-down list, select Applications.
    3. You will see all applications installed on your Mac. Organize the list by size to reveal the largest apps.
    4. Right-click on the app and choose Move to Bin.

    Mind the fact that if you delete the apps, some leftover files usually stay on your Mac. That’s why it’s a good idea to clean your device from remnants with tools like CleanMyMac X. Its Uninstaller module shows how many apps you have and conveniently gathers all leftovers in one tab.

    (Video) How To Speed Up Your Mac When It's Running Slow

    Why is My Mac Running Slow? | 10 ways to Fix Your Slow MacBook, iMac or Mac mini (10)

    Delete apps you don’t need or quit them to reduce CPU waste. Click the Apple menu and select Force Quit. It will launch the Force Quit menu.

    1. Click the Apple menu and select Force Quit. It will launch the Force Quit menu.
    2. All your active apps will be listed in the window that appears.Why is My Mac Running Slow? | 10 ways to Fix Your Slow MacBook, iMac or Mac mini (11)
    3. Select the app you don’t use.
    4. Click Force Quit and confirm.

    Now, these apps won’t be secretly using your Mac’s power.

    9. Cluttered Desktop

    Transfer your files and data to iCloud to save up some space on your Mac. Just click Store in iCloud and choose the files you want to save to iCloud storage. Another helpful tip is to optimize storage on your Mac by removing large files such as Apple TV films and TV shows. Finally, always empty the Trash and clean up your folders.

    Why is My Mac Running Slow? | 10 ways to Fix Your Slow MacBook, iMac or Mac mini (12)

    Quick fix: Plow through your desktop items

    To make your Mac run faster, organize files on your Desktop into separate folders. Right-click on your desktop and select Use Stacks. Then, you can move them to another location. Never hesitate to send to Trash things you rarely use. Cleaning the Desktop isn’t fun, but it does pay off.

    10. Too many open windows

    If you didn’t know, the Finder is very memory-demanding. Unlike Windows, windows in Finder often overlap and go into the background. This is true for Preview, Mail, and many other apps. So you’re faced with dozens of open windows without even knowing where they are located.

    Quick fix: Click “Merge All Windows”

    This lesser-known trick has been hiding in plain sight and will soon become your best weapon against windows overload. “Merge All Windows” works for Finder as well as Preview. You can find it inside the Window menu in the upper bar.

    Why is My Mac Running Slow? | 10 ways to Fix Your Slow MacBook, iMac or Mac mini (13)
    • Click Finder
    • Click Window
    • Click “Merge All Windows”

    All your scattered windows are now joined together in one. From there, you can close them one by one, thus saving your precious memory resources.

    Final thoughts on how to fix Mac running slow

    So we have run over the main methods to speed up a slow Mac. They all boil down to one simple idea: give your Mac some space to breathe. Eventually, any Mac will be filled with garbage that consumes resources, memory, and disk space. Use this article as a guide to speed up your Mac manually, or use an app like CleanMyMac X (which does 80% of the things described in this article).

    FAQs

    Why is my Mac so slow and how do you fix it? ›

    If you find your Mac is running slowly, there are a number of potential causes that you can check. Your computer's startup disk may not have enough free disk space. To make disk space available, you can move files to another disk or an external storage device, then delete files you no longer need on the startup disk.

    Why is my Mac so laggy and slow? ›

    Your Mac might be slow because of an outdated operating system or a full hard disk — especially if you have an older model Mac. If your Mac is new, it might be slow because you're running too many background programs and apps or even have a malware infection.

    How do I find out what is slowing down my Mac? ›

    Activity Monitor is built into MacOS and can be found in Applications > Utilities. When you first open Activity Monitor, the CPU tab will be selected. You'll see a list of apps and processes that are running, and every few seconds the list will rearrange.

    How do I fix a slow Mac mini? ›

    Tips to Speed Up Slow MacBook, Mac Mini and iMac
    1. Restart Mac. ...
    2. Remove USB Connected Devices. ...
    3. Install macOS Update. ...
    4. Clear Trash, Remove Unwanted Files from Downloads & Documents Folders. ...
    5. Close Apps Consuming Excessive CPU and RAM. ...
    6. Manage Startup Programs. ...
    7. Enable Firewall. ...
    8. Update Apps.

    How do you clear RAM on a Mac? ›

    How to clear memory on a Mac
    1. Restart your Mac. Restarting your computer is the simplest way to free up RAM. ...
    2. Update macOS. ...
    3. Check Activity Monitor. ...
    4. Close suspect applications. ...
    5. Check CPU usage. ...
    6. Check the printer. ...
    7. Purge RAM in Terminal. ...
    8. Tidy up your Desktop.

    How do I defrag a Mac? ›

    How to defrag a Mac
    1. Step 1: The safest and easiest way to do a defrag for a Mac is to use trusted third-party Mac defrag software.
    2. Step 2: Backup your data using Time Machine, iCloud, or an external drive. ...
    3. Step 3: Install the defragmentation software that works best for your Mac and follow the on-screen instructions.
    6 May 2021

    How do I optimize my Mac? ›

    Optimize the inside of your Mac with a clean-up
    1. Step One: Update your software. ...
    2. Step Two: Tidy up your start up. ...
    3. Step Three: Clean out unused apps. ...
    4. Step Four: Clean out the downloads folder. ...
    5. Step Five: Tidy up your storage disk. ...
    6. Step Six: Clean out the cache. ...
    7. Step 7: Remove resource-hungry programs. ...
    8. Step 8: Take out the trash.

    How do I clear the cache on a Macbook Air? ›

    Select Preferences in the Safari menu. In the Advanced section, enable the option “Show Develop menu in the menu bar.” Go to the Safari menu → click on Develop → select Empty Caches (or press Shift+Command+E shortcut). Close the Safari browser to finish the cache clearing.

    Why is my Mac Internet so slow all of a sudden? ›

    There are a number of factors that could affect your Mac's internet speed. Your internet provider may be experiencing a service outage, there could be a temporary glitch with your router, or your Mac's Wi-Fi configuration files could be corrupt, etc. A VPN connection can also slow down your internet speed.

    Why is my Mac running so slow after update? ›

    Free up RAM

    Another reason your Mac's running slow after an update could be that you're running out of available RAM (random access memory). As a quick reminder, RAM provides temporary storage for ongoing processes and tasks, a lack of RAM can slow our devices down to a grinding halt.

    Why is my Mac so slow all of a sudden 2022? ›

    Your Mac may be slow due to an outdated macOS or an overloaded cache. Malware can also infect your Mac and slow it down by hogging system resources. If your Mac is old, it might struggle to run modern software, and you may need to replace it.

    How do I clean my Mac Mini to run faster? ›

    To speed up your Mac, clear out the user cache regularly. Here's how:
    1. Open a new Finder window and select Go.
    2. From the drop-down menu, select Go to Folder.
    3. Enter ~/Library/Caches and click Go.
    4. Go through each folder and drag cache files to the Trash.
    5. Empty the Trash.
    24 Feb 2021

    What is slowing down my Mac Mini? ›

    These are some of the most common reasons for a slow running Mac: You're running low on RAM. Your hard drive is too full. There are too many files on your desktop. You have apps storing too many log files and caches.

    How do I reset my RAM? ›

    How To: Reseat / Remove / Install RAM - YouTube

    Does restarting Mac clear RAM? ›

    Restart your Mac

    The simplest way to clear some RAM on your Mac is to restart it. Open the Apple menu and select Shut Down to do this. When your Mac powers off, it clears all the files from the RAM. If your Mac is unresponsive, press and hold the Power button to force it to shut down instead.

    What is taking up RAM on my Mac? ›

    To check RAM usage on your Mac, go to Activity Monitor (Applications > Utilities). In the Memory tab, you will see all the active processes that are using your Mac's RAM. At the end of the window, there is a Memory Used graph, which indicates how much application memory is used.

    Do Macs need cleaning software? ›

    You can speed up your Mac and improve performance with a Mac cleaning app. We review CleanMyMac and other apps for deleting files and memory hogs on a Mac. If your Mac is slowing down, frequently freezing, regularly running out of RAM or just not behaving like it used to, then it probably needs a clean.

    Does Mac Have a Disk Cleanup? ›

    Open Finder, and from the menu along the top of your screen select "Go." Scroll down to "Go to Folder", select it, and then enter ~/Library/Caches in the dialogue box. From there you can clear out any cached files you don't need.

    Does Apple have a defrag program? ›

    While macOS automatically defrags smaller files, it doesn't do so to larger files, so they may be significantly fragmented. In general, the built-in algorithms in macOS handle arranging files fairly well and your Mac will only need additional defragmentation if it's really old.

    How do I know if my Mac is optimizing? ›

    If you want specifics, the easiest way to see exactly what is going on during this “optimizing your Mac” process is by going into the Activity Monitor application and sorting by CPU or by Energy usage, as long as you show processes by all users and system, you should quickly be able to see what exactly is going on.

    How do I check my IMAC performance? ›

    View CPU activity in Activity Monitor on Mac
    1. To view processor activity over time, click CPU (or use the Touch Bar). ...
    2. To view current processor activity, choose Window > CPU Usage.
    3. To view recent processor activity, choose Window > CPU History.

    What does optimizing your Mac mean? ›

    In macOS, Apple includes a feature that can optimize the storage on your Mac by reducing the amount of space that data takes up on your Mac's internal drive. It does this by offloading certain files, data, and documents to iCloud and iCloud Drive when space on your Mac is running low.

    What happens if I delete all cache files on Mac? ›

    It is not always safe to delete the system cache

    But be careful—if you delete a file that macOS needs to keep the system running, your Mac could freeze up. Clearing the system cache will not speed up your Mac. Cache is designed to make it faster for apps and services to load.

    Does clearing cache delete passwords? ›

    If you saved passwords in your browser so you could automatically log in to certain sites, clearing your cache can clear your passwords as well.

    Is it safe to delete all cache files on Mac? ›

    Is it safe to delete Mac caches? It's good to be careful about deleting stuff from your Mac, but it's generally safe to remove cached data. You shouldn't run into any major issues if you delete cached files from system-level (/Library/Caches/) and user-level folders (~/Library/Caches/).

    What is a good internet speed? ›

    A good download speed is at least 100 Mbps, and a good upload speed is at least 10 Mbps. With 100 Mbps, you can watch Netflix or YouTube, attend Zoom meetings, and play most online games on several devices at the same time. Some people can get away with fewer Mbps, and others need more.

    How do I fix slow internet on my MacBook Pro? ›

    MacBook slow Wi-Fi
    1. Restart your MacBook. You can restart your computer by going to the Apple menu > Restart.
    2. Update the macOS software on your MacBook. ...
    3. Disable and then re-enable Wi-Fi. ...
    4. Use Wireless Diagnostics. ...
    5. Reset your network settings on your Mac.
    6. Remove existing Wi-Fi preferences. ...
    7. Reset PRAM. ...
    8. Reset SMC.
    16 Dec 2019

    How do I clear the cache on a Macbook Air? ›

    Select Preferences in the Safari menu. In the Advanced section, enable the option “Show Develop menu in the menu bar.” Go to the Safari menu → click on Develop → select Empty Caches (or press Shift+Command+E shortcut). Close the Safari browser to finish the cache clearing.

    Why is my Mac so slow after Monterey update? ›

    Why is my Mac slow after Monterey update? Updating your Mac to the latest macOS Ventura build can slow down the performance as the new build is in Beta and has some bugs and other issues. In addition, apps and services are still being optimized for the new OS, so your system might be having performance issues.

    How do I free up space on my Mac startup disk? ›

    How to free up space on your Mac startup disk
    1. Empty the Trash and Downloads folder. ...
    2. Get rid of Time Machine snapshots. ...
    3. Delete old iOS and iPadOS backups. ...
    4. Uninstall apps you don't use anymore. ...
    5. Upload or export your largest files. ...
    6. Find and remove duplicate files. ...
    7. Clean up unnecessary system files.
    17 Jun 2021

    How do I reboot a Mac? ›

    Normally you can restart your Mac by choosing Apple menu > Restart. However, in some cases—for example, if your Mac becomes unresponsive—you may need to use a different startup method. Press and hold the power button on your Mac until it shuts off. After a moment, press the power button again to start your Mac.

    What happens if I delete all cache files on Mac? ›

    It is not always safe to delete the system cache

    But be careful—if you delete a file that macOS needs to keep the system running, your Mac could freeze up. Clearing the system cache will not speed up your Mac. Cache is designed to make it faster for apps and services to load.

    Does clearing cache delete passwords? ›

    If you saved passwords in your browser so you could automatically log in to certain sites, clearing your cache can clear your passwords as well.

    Why is my IMAC so slow all of a sudden? ›

    Your Mac may be slow due to an outdated macOS or an overloaded cache. Malware can also infect your Mac and slow it down by hogging system resources. If your Mac is old, it might struggle to run modern software, and you may need to replace it.

    Can I uninstall Monterey on my Mac? ›

    Once you enter the recovery mode, follow these steps to remove macOS Monterey from your device. Here, select Disk Utility and click Continue. Click Startup Disk; it will probably be named Macintosh HD. Select Erase from the top of the window.

    Should you upgrade Mac to Monterey? ›

    Conclusion: Upgrade to macOS Monterey on M1 Mac

    It's recommended to upgrade until Apple releases the fixes for this issue on older Macs. But if you're one of the Mac users who is waiting for Universal Control, there's nothing wrong to wait.

    Will updating my Mac make it faster? ›

    Major macOS versions released annually typically increase performance, but this isn't a golden rule. Updates following each major new macOS release are always worth your time since they fix problems that can cause poor performance and security issues.

    What is taking up so much space on my Mac? ›

    How To Figure Out What Is Taking Up Space On Your Mac (MacMost ...

    How do I wipe my Mac when disk is full? ›

    Briefly press the power button on your Mac, then immediately press and hold command+R. Keep holding the keys until you see a macOS Utilities window appear. Open Disk Utility, then select your Mac's startup disk and click Erase.

    How do I clear a full disk? ›

    One of the easiest ways to clean up files you no longer need is by using Disk Cleanup. Open Disk Cleanup by clicking the Start button . In the search box, type Disk Cleanup, and then, in the list of results, select Disk Cleanup. If prompted, select the drive that you want to clean up, and then select OK.

    What is the difference between reboot and restart? ›

    Restart starts the firewall and IPS services without rebooting the underlying operating system. Reboot includes the OS as well as all of the services.

    When should I restart my Mac? ›

    You should periodically restart your Mac computer in an effort to help the computer run faster, and allow it to install any pending system updates. If your Mac is running slowly or failing to load certain programs properly, a restart is the best way to make it work smoothly again.

    How do you reboot a Mac mini? ›

    On your Mac, choose Apple menu > Restart. If you don't want app windows that are open to reopen when your Mac restarts, deselect “Reopen windows when logging back in.”

    Videos

    1. The ULTIMATE Guide to INCREASE Mac Performance/Fix a Slow Mac (2020)
    (Created Tech)
    2. MacBook Pro Running Very Slow? Speed Up Your Freezing Mac Now!
    (Know My Tech)
    3. How to Fix a Slow Mac
    (Howfinity)
    4. How to Fix a Slow M1 Mac - How to Speed Up Your Mac
    (Emilio Aguero)
    5. How to Fix Mac If Running Slow or Freezing
    (Chris Bumeter)
    6. HOW TO SPEED UP SLOW MAC | Slow Macbook & iMac DIY Fix | Clone Hard Drive to External SSD EASY FIX!
    (Korey Freeman)
    Top Articles
    Latest Posts
    Article information

    Author: Greg O'Connell

    Last Updated: 11/17/2022

    Views: 6118

    Rating: 4.1 / 5 (62 voted)

    Reviews: 85% of readers found this page helpful

    Author information

    Name: Greg O'Connell

    Birthday: 1992-01-10

    Address: Suite 517 2436 Jefferey Pass, Shanitaside, UT 27519

    Phone: +2614651609714

    Job: Education Developer

    Hobby: Cooking, Gambling, Pottery, Shooting, Baseball, Singing, Snowboarding

    Introduction: My name is Greg O'Connell, I am a delightful, colorful, talented, kind, lively, modern, tender person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.