- Your Mac may be slow due to an outdated macOS or an overloaded cache.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.
It comes on slowly, reducing page load times and overall responsiveness over weeks or even months, until, eventually, you notice it — your Mac isn’t running as fast as it used to, and now it’s enough of a problem that it’s time to fix it.
But how can you do that?
We’ve put together 13 potential reasons why your Mac is running slowly, as well as troubleshooting tips to help speed it back up.
Table of Contents
- You put off updates for too long
- The hard-drive is almost full
- You haven’t restarted your Mac in a long time (and when you do, you have a bunch of tabs open)
- There are too many apps running at once
- You restarted your Mac with a ton of apps open
- The cache is overloaded
- You opened too many browser tabs
- You installed too many browser extensions
- You need more RAM
- Your desktop has too many files
- Your Mac has malware
- Your computer could be overheating
- You have an old Mac (and it’s failing to handle modern software)
You put off updates for too long
We all do it — the option to update appears, and we put it off. Unfortunately, doing so for a long period of time means your computer may become slower. And even if it feels like it’s never a convenient time to stop what you’re doing and update, it’s necessary.
Solution: The next time the computer alerts you of a macOS update, be sure to install it immediately. Alternatively, you can follow the below steps to perform a manual update:
- Go to the Apple icon in the top left corner and select System Preferences.
- Click on Software Update.
- Click on Update Now to install the latest update.
The hard-drive is almost full
Do you have a ton of files, like documents or photos, saved directly to your hard drive? Slow performance may mean you’re about to reach the storage limit on your Mac.
Solution: To fix this issue, read our guides on checking your Mac’s storage space and freeing up space to give it more room to breathe.
You should also consider using an external hard drive to store files you don’t need right away to give your Mac’s internal drive more breathing room. Plus, it ensures that your stuff is protected even if your computer glitches or dies.
You haven’t restarted your Mac in a long time (and when you do, you have a bunch of tabs open)
Your Mac isn’t meant to operate all day every day without breaks. When’s the last time you restarted it? If it’s been more than a few weeks, it may be time.
Solution: Restart your Mac. To do so, click the Apple icon in the top-left corner of the screen and hit Restart — it’s also a good idea to untick the box that gives you the option to open your current open apps and browser tabs for a quicker restart, provided you have everything saved.
There are too many apps running at once
In a perfect world, we’d browse the internet while listening to Spotify, working on documents, scanning for viruses and video conferencing with friends at the same time. In reality, however, that much activity may be the reason your computer isn’t as quick as it used to be.
Solution: Close apps and tabs that you aren’t using. Open apps appear in the bottom toolbar of your screen with a small dot just below the app’s icon. To close those out, simply right-click the app and then select Quit.
Alternatively, if you want to use a triage approach, your Mac’s Activity Monitor is a good way to figure out what’s using the most memory or CPU. But keep in mind that some of the things there should be left alone, so if you aren’t sure what it is, it’s probably best to keep it open.
You can open the Activity Monitor by:
- Clicking on Finder in the dock.
- Select Applications on the left menu and then click on Utilities on the right pane.
- Double-click on Activity Monitor to open the tool.
You restarted your Mac with a ton of apps open
Again, too many apps running at once can slow you down, and if your computer is set up to auto-launch a bunch of apps, restarting isn’t going to help you.
Solution: Set your Mac up to restart with fewer apps. This will make booting your Mac a less tedious affair and prevent too many apps from running as well. You can see how to do this by reading our guide.
The cache is overloaded
Your cache consists of temporary files gathered from the sites you visit. It lets you browse the internet faster, but those files can pile up and slow down your Mac as a whole.
Solution: Clear out your cache. Don’t worry if you’ve never done this before: It can be quickly and easily accomplished when you know where to go.
You opened too many browser tabs
Since our browsers are capable of opening multiple tabs, we tend to go a little crazy. At any given time, we might have five social media tabs open, together with YouTube, Gmail, and dozens of others.
However, what we don’t know is that the browser is creating separate processes for these tabs, which is akin to opening an app, which, in turn, slows down our computer.
Solution: Close every tab you’re not using. Instead of scratching your head trying to figure which tabs to close, you can simply close all of them and then start opening only the ones you need.
If you’re using Safari, we have a guide that can help you easily close all tabs. For Chrome users, just click the red button at the top left corner of the browser window.
You installed too many browser extensions
Extensions are a great way to extend the functionality of your browser. However, having too many can significantly impact the performance of your Mac since your browser will be demanding too much CPU to run them.
Solution: The fix for this problem is simple — remove the browser extension you don’t need. Google Chrome users can refer to our guide on removing Chrome extensions.
If you’re on Safari, follow the steps below:
- Click on Safari on the top left menu of your screen and select Preferences.
- Click on the Extensions
- Select the extension you want to uninstall and then click on Uninstall.
You need more RAM
Your Mac stores information temporarily in RAM so it can quickly retrieve it without much of a hassle.
When your RAM becomes full, however, you’ll notice that your computer will struggle to do a number of tasks as quickly as it used to, such as loading programs or multitasking.
Solution: The first thing you should do is check how much RAM you have. This will allow you to determine if your RAM is too low, and then you can follow the instructions laid out by Apple on how to remove and install RAM on various MacBooks.
Your desktop has too many files
We’ve all placed a file or two on the desktop when we’re too busy to organize them properly.
But this can quickly become a habit and soon enough, the desktop is littered with files that your Mac needs to create previews for as it loads. Naturally, this will slow down your computer, especially if the files are large.
Solution: Clean up your desktop by deleting any apps you don’t need by dragging them onto the Trash icon in the Dock. If the file is important, drag and drop it into the appropriate folder (your Mac will not load previews for folders).
Your Mac has malware
Compared to PCs, Macs are relatively safe when it comes to viruses. However, Macs can and do get infected by viruses, and one of the signs is a sluggish computer.
Solution: Scan your Mac computer with free third-party antivirus software like CleanMyMac X or Malwarebytes. Once you’ve detected the infected files, folders, or apps, it’s time to get rid of the viruses.
Your computer could be overheating
Overheating can cause your Mac to slow down because the motherboard will reduce the speed of certain components, such as the hard drive and processor.
It will do this to prevent them from generating excessive heat, which can damage them. If the heat gets too much, your Mac will shut down altogether.
Solution: The most obvious sign that your Mac is overheating is that it will start running hot. If you notice this and a reduced speed, then read our article on “Why is my MacBook hot? 8 ways to troubleshoot and cool down an overheating Mac laptop.”
You have an old Mac (and it’s failing to handle modern software)
If your Mac is new, it will be able to meet the demands of the current software, and it will continue to do so for the next few years.
But as the software becomes more advanced, it will demand more than your aging Mac can give. The end result is a slow Mac, and if it gets too old, you won’t even be able to run the latest version of macOS.
Solution: If you’ve had your Mac for five years or more, it might be time to get a new one. Click on the Apple icon on the top left and select About This Mac. You should be able to see various information about your Mac, including when it was released.
If the above options don’t work for you, it’s a good idea to get a professional to look it over (especially if your Mac is still within the AppleCare warranty), and it may even be time to consider buying a new computer.
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