Editors note: this post was originally published in August 2015 and was updated in April 2017 to reflect new reviews and experiences.
Look no further if you’re living through the frustrating experience of operating a slow iMac computer— we’ve got you covered. Your slow iMac can come from many different things, and there’s a lot you can do to to try and fix your issues.
iMac is Running Slow? — Here’s Your Checklist to Fix It!
1. Check free disk space
Your issues might come in part from a full hard drive– you can encounter a lot of issues with OS X when your hard drive space gets low. With every update, Apple tweaks its OS X to work on more powerful specs, leaving you a bit in the dust if you have only an old iMac.
Sometimes a full hard drive can lead to crashes and other usability issues. There are programs on the market to help, such as CleanMyMac 3, an Apple community-approved software program. CleanMyMac 3 frees up GBs of hard disk space in a matter of minutes, restoring your iMac’s original speeds in no time.
CleanMyMac 3 will also remove duplicate file photos from iPhoto and remove useless apps that might be slowing down your iMac further. Using this software is the easiest way to fix your issues with a slow iMac.
2. Invest in RAM
Another easy way to increase your iMac’s speed is to upgrade your RAM. RAM, or random access memory, provides “space” for your programs to operate. Your computer stores instructions and data in RAM while powered on— and deletes everything stored in RAM once you turn off the computer. We recommend at least 4GB of RAM, but some users can see performance benefits from using 12 or 16 GB of RAM. People who do a lot of photo or video editing are more likely to see increased performance with more RAM.
3. Edit your start up items
Your computer starts up a list of apps—startup apps—every time you launch. You want this list to be as small as possible. The less work your computer has to do when it starts up, the faster it launches. Furthermore, unused startup apps slow your computer.
4. Carry out soft resets (SMC & PRAM)
Try carrying out a couple of soft resets: the SMC (System Management Controller) reset and the PRAM reset. These should help speed up your computer.
The SMC in your iMac is a very important controller. It manages functions such as thermal monitoring, power button response, startup of hard drive spin down cycles, and returning to sleep mode. Your SMC getting out of sync can make your iMac slow, leading to several performance issues.
Thankfully, the reset is pretty quick and easy!
- Shut down your iMac
- Unplug the power cord from the wall outlet
- Press and hold your iMac’s power button for 15 seconds
- Release the power button
- Reconnect your iMac’s power cord to the wall outlet
- Wait for 5 seconds
- Turn on your iMac
Though a very simple procedure, the SMC reset can do wonders to a slow iMac, even bringing it back to speeds that you only enjoyed when your iMac was brand new.
PRAM is short for Parameter RAM. This little memory module also, like the SMC, controls a many functions (like startup volume monitoring, speaker volume control, display resolution control, and the all-important tracking of date and time).
Resetting your iMac’s PRAM is another very easy procedure
- Shut down your iMac
- Power your iMac back on
- Immediately press the following combination of keys, before you see the grey startup screen: Command + Option + P + R
- Press and hold until your iMac restarts
- Allow your iMac to startup like normal
Please note that you might have to reset your date and timezone data after a PRAM reset. This is perfectly normal and nothing to be alarmed about. All your data and other settings are still intact.
These two resets can be great to fix your issues with a slow iMac, particularly if the performance issues came out of nowhere, without any rational explanation.