Slow Mac Problems and Fixes

This article documents some common causes of slow Mac performance and the fixes.

Full Hard Drive

Having a full hard drive makes it hard for the computer to function quickly and efficiently.

Fix: Clean up the Hard Drive

Go through the files on the computer and see what can be moved to different external locations/cloud storage centers. Delete files that are no longer important to free up space.

Outdated macOS

Older OS's tend to run slower than the newer ones, so keeping the OS up-to-date is a good way to make a computer run quicker.

Fix: Update macOS.

The most recent macOS can be searched for in the App store. Back up your data before any update to make sure all information and files on the computer are safe, and install the new operating system. This will take approximately an hour and the computer will require Internet connection and power.

Too much in Startup

When you start your Mac, a lot of things load up in the background. Not only do they slow down your startup, but they continue to do so the whole time you’re on your Mac.  

Fix: Clean up Startup Items

Remove unnecessary applications from starting up immediately by going to System Preferences > Users & Groups. Find your username and click on it.Click on Login Items in the top right, click on the name of an application you don't need to launch during startup, and then click the "-" symbol located below the list to the left; this will remove the application from the list. The fewer applications on the list, the better.

Background Usage

Too much running in the background can cause a Mac to slow down because the RAM is being used unnecessarily.

Fix: Activity Monitor

Activity Monitor shows all the active processes on the computer. Open Applications and go to Utilities. Select Activity Monitor.  Click on the Memory tab then Memory filter at the top of the list; this sorts the programs by the amount of space they’re taking up on your Mac RAM. The higher the number, the more power they need. Stop an app from operating by clicking on the app in the list and then clicking the gray “x” icon located at the top-left corner of the window. If you don't know what something is, do not remove it.

Too Much on Desktop

Each file on the desktop works as a direct link to the file space on the computer. These files are at the top of the computer's memory and use a lot of energy to pull up. Removing files from the desktop can greatly improve the speed of the computer.

Fix: Remove things from Desktop

To make your Mac run faster, organize files on your desktop into separate folders or move to a separate location. Delete things no longer used or necessary.

Browser is Full

Multiple tabs and running extensions slow down the processing speed of your Mac.

Fix: Remove Extensions and Limit Tabs/Windows

How to remove Chrome extensions manually

  1. Launch Chrome.
  2. Click a three-dot icon in the top-right corner.
  3. Click More tools > Extensions.

If you don't recognize an extension (or you don't want it) the best thing to do is delete the extension. Otherwise, disabling the extension is okay if you'd prefer to keep the extension but not use it every time your browser is open.

How to remove Safari extensions manually

  1. Launch Safari.
  2. Click Safari > Preferences in the upper menu
  3. Choose Extensions tab.
  4. Remove the extensions you don’t need

Try to keep tabs and windows open limited to single-digits. You should be able to see the full tab at the top of the browser, not compressed tabs. Keeping minimal windows open also helps with process time.

Cache Files

Cache files come in many flavors: system cache, user cache, app-generated caches and more. User caches (tied to your user account) make up for about 70% of junk on your Mac. Manual deletion method involves a bit of clicking and typing. So here you are.

Fix: Remove Old Cache Files

  1. Open Finder and click “Go to Folder” in the Go menu.
  2. Type in ~/Library/Caches and press Enter
  3. Locate a cache folder tree
  4. Go into each folder and delete its contents
  5. Empty the Trash bin

Note:  It’s not recommended to remove the folders themselves, but only their insides.

Now it is time to delete System caches. Type in:

/Library/Caches (without a ~ tilde sign)

Locate the main cache folder and go into its sub-folders. Remove the content stored there. Preemptively back up the Caches folder just in case you delete something necessary.

Slow keyboard


An often-reported lag that could seriously alter your productivity. Sometimes, when you type, your keyboard would freeze for a fraction of a second. This lag usually affects Notes app as well as Chrome. The issue is reportedly caused by outdated system caches that are responsible for keyboard performance.

  1. Shut down your computer
  2. Restart your Mac
  3. Hold down the Shift key
  4. Let go of the key when the login window appears
  5. You’re in the Safe mode — take a note of your keyboard’s response
  6. Restart your Mac in a normal way

Entering the Safe mode erases lots of unneeded caches and repairs some software paths inside your macOS. Your Mac should perform better if you’ve followed the steps correctly.

Overloaded Download/Trash Folders

These files typically fill extremely quickly and take up unnecessary space.

Fix: Empty Download and Trash

Right click on Trash bin and choose Empty the Trash. Now, go to your Downloads and sort files by size. There you’ll probably encounter things you hardly remember downloading, like old movies or photo albums.

  • Search for .DMG files in Downloads
  • Move your media files to iCloud
  • Transfer data to an external drive
  • Remove duplicate files and folders


Too Many Desktops

If you didn’t know, the Finder is very memory-demanding. 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.

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 Window menu in the upper bar.

  • Click Finder
  • Click Window
  • Click “Merge All Windows


Article ID: 84257
Fri 8/2/19 9:44 AM
Fri 2/14/20 8:38 AM