Why Is My Mac so Slow?

Do you feel like you’re seeing your Mac’s spinning beachball a little too often?


Over time, your Mac might start to get a little sluggish, taking longer to launch apps or accomplish basic tasks.




And more importantly, what can you do about it?


Before you go erasing all your data, or bringing your Mac in for a full hardware repair, there are a few simple checks you can carry out first. And the good news is you don’t have to be a programmer to do them.  


Read on for a run down of the most common issues causing otherwise healthy Macs to slow down and how you can fix them all by yourself.

1. Your system is due an update

Keeping your operating system (OS) and software up-to-date is important for so many reasons.


Firstly, it’s absolutely critical for your digital security. The world of technology and cybercrime is constantly evolving, meaning an OS that was secure yesterday, might not be today.


The likes of Microsoft and Apple uncover and fix these vulnerabilities very quickly in system updates. However, if you fail to install them, then these updates provide absolutely no protection.


Secondly, keeping your system up-to-date ensures your computer runs optimally, providing you with advanced features and better compatibility. If you delay these updates for too long, not only will your computer be vulnerable to malware attacks, you’ll also start to notice your computer slowing down.


How to check and install updates on your Mac

  1. Open the Apple menu on your Mac
  2. Click Software Update
  3. If updates are available, click Update Now

2. Your Mac needs a restart

Well, it wouldn’t be a technology troubleshooting article without the sage advice to ‘turn it off and on again’ now, would it?


What can we say? It’s effective!


While you may not need to shut down your Mac after every use or even every day, it might start to run slow if it hasn’t been powered off in a few days or weeks. Give it a restart if you notice your Mac slowing down.


How to restart your Mac

  1. Save all of your work in progress
  2. Open the Apple menu on your Mac
  3. Click Restart

3. You’re running out of disk space

Your hard drive or disk is where all your photos, videos, documents, OS files and software files are stored. Unfortunately, the available storage space has a limit and the closer you get to hitting it, the more sluggish your Mac will become.


If you’re trying to find out what’s slowing down your Mac, checking your disk space is a good place to start.


How can I check my Mac’s available disk space?

  1. Open the Apple menu
  2. Select About This Mac
  3. Click Storage
  4. View the available storage in the graph

If your available storage looks low, then move on to the next steps to make some adjustments.


How to manage storage on your Mac

  1. Having completed the above steps, click Manage
  2. The Storage Management window will open. Here you can explore and action the recommendations.

Some of the recommendations include:

  • Store in iCloud: This will help you free up space on your device by storing files in the cloud instead.
  • Optimize Storage: Here you can edit settings to automatically remove TV shows or movies purchased from the iTunes store after you’ve viewed them. You can also edit a setting to stop automatically downloading email attachments.
  • Empty Trash Automatically: This setting will permanently delete files from your Trash if they’ve been there for more than 30 days.
  • Reduce Clutter: This will help you spot large files and files you don’t need so you can delete them.

For your security, consider moving files to an external hard drive

As recommended by Apple, while you’re organizing your file storage for optimal performance, consider moving files to an external hard drive. This is another way to keep your Mac’s hard drive free of unnecessary or rarely used files. It is also good practice when it comes to maintaining your online security.


Should your device ever become infected with malware (and yes, even Macs can get malware), safely storing your files on an external hard drive will at least ensure they are protected from hackers.

4. You have unused apps running

In this modern world of instant connection, we want it all and we want it now.


This desire for instant information can tempt us into running multiple tasks at once. Designing a PowerPoint presentation, pulling numbers from a spreadsheet while also watching YouTube and completing your grocery shop at the same time … sound familiar?


While Macs are undoubtedly powerful machines, there is a limit to how much they can handle at once. Running too many apps may well be what’s slowing down your Mac. Here’s how to check.


How to view and close your running apps

  1. Launch the Activity Monitor app on your Mac
  2. Switch to the Memory tab
  3. View the table detailing the various processes using up memory
  4. Choose to close apps and processes you’re not using

5. Your Mac is set to auto launch too many apps

There’s a handy option on Macs to auto launch certain apps when you log in to help you get started on your tasks as quickly as possible. However, what might start out as a time saver, could end up slowing you down if you launch too many apps at once.


How to check your auto launch apps and remove them

  1. Go to the Apple menu
  2. Open System Preferences
  3. Click Users & Groups
  4. Switch to the Login Items tab
  5. Check the Hide box next to the apps you don’t want to launch automatically when you turn on your Mac

Make sure you uncheck the box to ‘Reopen windows when logging back in’ when restarting your computer.

6. You need to clear your cache

This may be up there with ‘turn it off and on again’ but clearing your cache can be a miracle worker if you’re dealing with a slow Mac.


What is my cache?

Cache is technical data stored when you carry out a task on your computer, essentially creating a shortcut so the same task can be performed more quickly next time.


There are three main categories of cache:

  1. App or user cache: Files created by all the apps you use on your Mac
  2. Browser cache: Files created by your web browser as you browse the internet
  3. System cache: Files created by the macOS on your device

Your app and browser caches can expand over time and start to take up too much space on your computer, slowing it down. So, it’s good practice to clear these every now and then.


Here’s how.


How to clear your app or user cache on Mac

  1. Open Finder
  2. Choose Go, then Go to Folder
  3. Enter the command ~/Library/Caches and click Go
  4. Select all caches you don’t need and move to Trash
  5. Repeat steps 1 and 2, then type /Library/Cache (without the ‘~’) and click Go
  6. Repeat step 4
  7. Empty Trash to completely clear your cache


How to clear your browser cache on Mac

  1. Go to the web browser you typically use, such as Safari
  2. On the Safari drop down menu, click Preferences
  3. Choose Advanced tab
  4. Select the Develop drop-down menu
  5. Click Empty Caches

Why you should avoid third-party ‘cleaning’ apps

We’ll bet you came across a number of apps promising to take all the hassle out of cleaning your Mac.


Be wary of these.


In most cases you should clear your caches manually as these third-party cleaning apps are rarely endorsed by Apple.

Clario makes managing digital life easier

Whether it’s advice on how to fix your slow Mac, or making sure you know how to stay safe from online threats, the Clario blog is here to help.

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