Mac users often keep the same computer for considerably longer than typical Windows users. Mac performance is quite good but even Apple’s computers can slow down over time.
If you’re dealing with a Mac running slow, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s time for a new computer. There are several common causes of a slow Mac that you may be able to fix yourself.
Let’s look at 7 things that can slow your Mac down.
- Running Out of Available RAM
The RAM on your Mac is where it stores macOS, any apps that are running, documents you’re working on, and anything else that’s active on your computer. If you have too many things open at once, you can run out of available RAM.
When you run out of RAM, the Mac has to offload some things to storage which is a much slower type of memory. You can either upgrade Mac RAM or close some apps to free up memory.
- Running Out of Storage Space
Running out of available storage can cause similar problems. macOS constantly saves information to disk in the background and if it runs out of storage space, your Mac can slow to a crawl.
Deleting unnecessary files, apps, photos, and other information will help solve this problem.
- Your Desktop Is Too Cluttered
The Mac Desktop is meant to be used as a workspace where you can store documents and files you’re working on. But if you save too many things to your desktop, it will eventually start to slow down your Mac.
If you have dozens of files on your desktop, spend some time getting them cleaned up and moved into another folder. If possible, try to keep only files you’re actively working with on your desktop.
- Build-Up of Logs and Cache Files
As you use your Mac, it saves logs and cached information behind the scenes. If you tend to leave your Mac running for long periods between restarts, those logs and cache files can get quite big.
When they reach a certain size, it will slow your Mac down because it has to process such large files every time it accesses those logs. Restarting your Mac can help with this or you can use an app like CleanMyMac X to clean up old information.
- Too Many Browser Tabs or Extensions
Modern web browsers like Safari and Chrome make it easy to manage several web pages at a time using tabs. And extensions can add all kinds of extra features, especially in Chrome.
The trouble is, every tab you open and extension you install uses RAM and other system resources. If you have too many tabs open or extensions installed in your browser, it can cause your Mac to run extremely slow.
To avoid this problem, close all the tabs that aren’t necessary, bookmarking any that you want to return to. And deactivate any extensions that you don’t use all the time. You can always reactivate them when you need them.
If you don’t need them at all, remove them completely.
- Too Many Startup Items
If your Mac takes a long time to start up, it could be caused by having too many things on your startup list. A lot of apps set themselves up to start automatically every time you boot your Mac.
This can be convenient if you use them all the time but if you don’t, they take up unnecessary memory. To clean out your startup list, open System Preferences, click on Users and Groups, select your account in the list, and click on the Login Item tab.
Click on anything you want to remove so it’s highlighted and then click on the ‘-‘ button below the list to remove it.
- Need to Update macOS or Your Apps
Apple updates macOS regularly and most apps get updated by the developer as well. These updates will often improve the app’s performance so it’s a good idea to keep your Mac up to date.
A lot of the updates also address security flaws and bugs in the software so it’s a good practice to keep them updated from those perspectives as well.
Troubleshooting a Mac Running Slow
If your Mac is running slow, there are a few simple steps you can take to troubleshoot the problem.
Restart Your Mac
Restarting your Mac should always be your first step when you’re having trouble. When you reboot the system, it cleans up a lot of cruft and resets everything.
This step alone will often sort out performance problems and get your Mac back to its normal speed again.
Quit Apps and Close Browser Tabs to Free Up Memory
If you think it could be a RAM issue, try closing any apps you’re not actively using and any browser tabs you’re not working with.
This will free up the memory those things are using so it’s available to macOS again. If the slowdown is because of a lack of RAM, this will usually solve it.
Free Up Storage Space
If you’re getting low on storage (less than 10 percent free) you should look for ways to free up some more space.
Clean up any cache files, logs, and other temporary items. Look for duplicate files or unnecessary documents that you can delete or archive to a backup disk.
Check your photo library for pictures you can delete as well. Photos take up quite a bit of space and you probably have some pictures that aren’t worth keeping. There could be some duplicate images in it as well.
A Slow Mac Doesn’t Necessarily Mean It’s Time for a Replacement
A Mac running slow isn’t necessarily a sign that you need a new computer. Going through these 7 things we’ve covered here will often get your computer back to its proper operating speed, saving you hundreds or thousands of dollars on the cost of a new Mac.
Be sure to check out the Tech category on our blog for more helpful articles about getting the most out of your tech gear.