10 ways to make your Mac run faster

8 min read

Even what seems like a perfect Mac at a time slows down with age. Rest assured that you are not alone. All Mac owners experience this sooner or later. Fortunately, your Mac can get back to its initial speed, so don’t give up on it just yet. Continue reading, and you will discover what the issues causing the slowdown are and some of the best tips and tricks on how to speed up your Mac and improve performance in no time.

Why is your Mac running slow?

  • Your system slows your Mac down. An updated macOS is essential to your Mac working fast. Every next system brings performance improvements and bug fixes, so it’s a good idea to keep your Mac up to date.
  • Your hard drive is nearly full. According to a test performed by MacWorld magazine, nearly full hard drives perform 17% slower than less cluttered ones. In addition to this, the more large files are there on your drive, the slower your disk runs. 
  • You got too much going on in the background. Items launching at login and apps allowed to run in the background put way too much pressure on your Mac, making it slow and sluggish. Ideally, you should have only the most necessary apps starting at login and running in the background — e.g., updaters or antimalware software. 
  • You have too many apps running. Remember the startup items problem? The same goes for regular work. When you have a browser with a hundred tabs open, a photo editor, and a video player running together with a dozen other everyday apps, your Mac is going to raise a white flag. 
  • Your hardware is old. If your Mac is very old, then it’s going to get slower, no matter what you do. 

How to speed up your Mac

So, are you ready to learn how to clean out your Mac to make it run faster? Here are the most effective tips on speeding up your Mac.

1. Optimize your storage

As we mentioned, if there’s not enough free space on your Mac, it may become sluggish. To check how your hard drive storage is doing, open the Apple menu and click About This Mac > More Info > Storage Settings. Wait for it to calculate the space division — at the very least, macOS needs 10% of free space on a startup disk.

System Preferences - Storage

From here, you can use a built-in Optimize Storage feature to free up some space and use it more wisely. See recommendations below the colored graph? They are this feature. Study what each recommendation does and enable those that make the most sense for you. We suggest turning on all of them. 

2. Free up space on your hard drive

While in System Settings > General > Storage, you can also make your way through all of the categories listed under the colored graph and delete documents, backups, books, and files you don’t need.

You may notice, though, that some files cannot be deleted: macOS and System Data. The latter may take up gigabytes of storage. To significantly thin it out, you can delete system junk like cache and logs. You can try to hunt down these files manually, but there is a risk of deleting something vital for the system.

For this reason, we recommend a dedicated Mac cleaner app that can detect and safely remove such files. One such app is CleanMyMac X — a professional Mac cleaning and optimization utility that can fix your slow Mac. It scans every inch of your system to find all the hidden system junk for easy, one-click removal. Moreover, it frees up your disk space and saves the time you’d spent looking for cache and user log files manually.

Download it for free and run a Smart Scan. You can then click Review Details to see what CleanMyMac X has found and click the Run button to clear your Mac. It will also perform a quick speedup routine. That’s all it takes!

CleanMyMac X - Smart Scan complete Additionally, check the Large & Old Files module that comes with CleanMyMac X — it can quickly find the largest and oldest files on your Mac, so you can delete them with one click. 

3. Update your macOS

We already mentioned that running the latest macOS version is one effective way to speed up your Mac. To check for updates, follow these steps:

  1. Open System Settings. 
  2. Go to General > Software Update.
  3. Click Update Now or Restart Now to install an update.

System Preferences - Software Update

Another way to update your OS is to open the App Store and click the Updates tab. If you’re not running the latest possible OS, you should see the next one you can update to on the list.

Keep in mind that updating the OS takes time. In order to avoid frustrations, choose a proper time to update, preferably when you can leave your Mac to do its job unhindered — maybe right before bedtime or when you’re going out for the day.

Also, note that old Macs can’t always update to the latest OS. If you can’t update to the latest version (macOS Sonoma), then at least update to the latest version possible.

4. Remove startup items

Startup items are applications that launch automatically when you boot up your Mac. These programs load your Mac’s memory unless you directly disable them. When you minimize your startup items, your Mac should boot faster and become more responsive.

To remove apps as startup items (don’t worry, the apps will still be installed), you need to visit your System Settings. Follow these steps:

  1. Go to System Settings > General > Login Items.
  2. Select startup items that you know you don’t need loading on start.
  3. Then click the “-” at the bottom to remove them from startup.
  4. Check apps under Allow in the Background and turn off anything you don’t need.
  5. Reboot your Mac.

    System Preferences - Login Items

    5. Run maintenance scripts

    Maintenance scripts are helpful under-the-hood optimizations that your macOS runs to clean itself. This procedure rotates certain libraries and system logs and replaces old file paths — hundreds of small operations to shake up and refresh the system.

    When your Mac gets slow and weary, you can force-initiate maintenance scripts. To do it with one button:

    1. Grab a free edition of CleanMyMac X.
    2. Click on the Maintenance tab.
    3. Select Run Maintenance Scripts and click Run.

      This is so easy, and it works every single time to make a Mac speedier.

      Maintenance Scripts in CleanMyMac X

      Download Free Version

      6. Uninstall unused apps

      You may have removed unused apps when you were freeing up space in storage settings. If not, take your time to delete apps you no longer need. It frees up some extra space. There are two ways to do it: 

      • Go to System Settings > General > Storage and click the i icon next to Applications. Select an app you don’t need and click delete. You can mass-delete apps by pressing and holding the Command key while selecting them.
        Remove unused apps from Mac
      • Go to the Applications folder and move anything you don’t use to Trash. 
        Remove unused apps from Mac

      You may have noticed that some apps cannot be removed. It is because such apps are preinstalled with macOS, so they are protected by the system. 

      Did you know that simply moving the app to the trash does not delete all of the files associated with it? To completely remove an application from Mac, you will have to hunt down all leftover files. Check out this article to find out how to do it. 

      7. Free up RAM

      When your Mac is running slow because of app overload, you need to find the ones that cause the problem. Follow these steps:

      1. Navigate to Applications > Utilities > Activity Monitor.
      2. Click the Memory tab.
      3. Click the Memory column to sort the memory hogs from worst to least.
      4. Now, you can simply select an app and then click the X in the top left corner to quit it. You want to make sure you’re not closing an app you either a) need open or b) don’t know what it is. The latter may be a vital system process.

      Free up RAM on Mac

      8. Disable notifications

      Nowadays, almost every app is trying to trick us into seeing their notifications. We are annoyed by pushes and news updates from websites, and hardly anybody knows how to switch this madness off. What does it have to do with a slow Mac? These notifications bite away a portion of your virtual memory and slow down your browsers.

      Here’s how to disable notifications on Mac:

      1. Open your System Settings.
      2. Click Notifications.
      3. Look through the list and select an app. Toggle off “Allow Notifications.”

      Disable notifications on Mac

      To disable website notifications, check your browser settings. In Safari, they are in Settings > Websites > Notifications.

      9. Turn off visual effects

      One more tip for older Macs is to turn off some of the visual animations. Sure, they look pretty, but who cares when your system is grinding to a halt? Definitely not the person using the Mac at that moment.

      So try turning off some of the worst offenders to make Mac run faster. Open Terminal from Applications > Utilities and try these commands:

      • Turn off dock animations - defaults write com.apple.dock launchanim -bool false
      • Turn off window animations - defaults write NSGlobalDomain NSAutomaticWindowAnimationsEnabled -bool false
      • Turn off quick look animations - defaults write -g QLPanelAnimationDuration -float 0
      • Turn off windows adjustment animations - defaults write -g NSWindowResizeTime -float 0.001

      After you enter each command, copy and paste this line into Terminal: killall Finder Dock QuickLookUIService

      This will close all active windows of your apps to apply changes.

      Disable the visual effects

      10. Add SSD

      Adding an SSD (Solid State Drive) is an expensive option, but still much cheaper than a new Mac. It is also a disruptive one, as you’ll need to make it your system drive, not to mention that an SSD is challenging to install. But if your Mac runs slowly, this will provide a big performance boost. Note, though, that it works for older Macs only — in newer Macs, SSD cannot be replaced due to being soldered onto the motherboard.

      And that’s how you speed up Mac

      If your Mac was running slower over time, these solutions should immediately make your Mac faster. It could even feel like you bought a new Mac but without a hefty bill. Remember to run occasional system cleanups with CleanMyMac X so that your Mac remains clean and fast.

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      System requirements: macOS 10.13+
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