Mac Slow After El Capitan Update? Fix It now!

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*Note* Having trouble with the new El Capitan update? Are there any bugs you’ve noticed? Email us at bgalloway@machmachines.com, we’ll look into a fix and then update the page.

Is your Mac slow after the El Capitan update? You’ve come to the right place. We think we have the best advice for fixing an older computer running the newest El Capitan update. We’ll make sure to  update this page when we run into new fixes.

Mac Running Slow After El Capitan? Fixes for your computer

1. Free memory = Faster Mac

OS X Yosemite tried to reduce RAM usage, and since OS X El Capitan is an updated version of OS X Yosemite, so it’s still trying to reduce the operating system’s footprint. Older computers might not be able to keep up with increasing RAM requirements– but you can reduce RAM usage through software

There is a very simple fix– you’ll need to free up memory space on your computer. Though there are manual ways to do this, but we would recommend that you use software like CleanMyMac 3 to handle the task. CleanMyMac 3 is an excellent piece of software to handle basic system maintenance on your Mac.

CleanMyMac 3 is available for download here.

2. Repair Disk Permissions in El Capitan

In some cases, repairing disk permissions can help speed up your slow mac after the El Capitan update. To repair your computer’s disk permissions, simply follow the steps below.

  1. Restart your Mac
  2. Press the “Option” key as soon as you hit restart
  3. When prompted, select “Disc Utility Option”
  4. Select the partition where El Capitan is installed.
  5. Click “Fix Disc Permissions”
  6. Restart your Mac
  7. Enjoy a faster browsing experience.


3. Run Mac System Resets in El Capitan

For some people, simply performing a SMC and PRAM reset can help fix performance issues, even if they aren’t tied to a system upgrade.

The System Management Controller is a piece of hardware in your computer that coordinates battery and heat management, LED lights, and other parts of the hardware. PRAM (Parameter RAM) stores the default values of some core system settings such as your alarms, mouse settings, start up programs, and speaker volume. Sometimes these two parts of the computer can get bogged down and slow down the rest of the system.

We have provided instructions on how to carry out these resets in a post about fixing MacBook Pro’s performance issues. The post talks specifically about MacBook Pros, but the instructions will work for any Apple computer.

4. Re-install OS X El Capitan

Yes, we know that this isn’t an ideal resolution to your problems considering you just upgraded, but this might just be your last resort to fix performance issues from El Capitan.

How do you re-install OS X El Capitan?

  1. Restart your Mac
  2. As your Mac restarts, hit ⌘ (command) + R, together
  3. When prompted, choose and connect to your choice of Wi-Fi network
  4. Select option titled “Re-Install OS X El Capitan”
  5. Re-Install OS X El Capitan on the same OS X Partition that you previously installed it on
  6. Wait it out (It can take several hours, so take this into consideration)
  7. Restart after the re-installation!

Try to start this process right before you go to sleep for the night, and hopefully it’ll be ready to go when you wake up in the morning

5. Fixing slow WiFi speeds after the El Capitan update

WiFi issues can spring up after any computer update, especially with laptops. Here’s how to solve some potential internet-related issues.

How can you fix El Capitan related Wi-Fi issues on your Mac?

1. Try deleting this System Configuration file

Finder -> Go -> Computer -> Macintosh HD -> Library (double click) -> Preferences (double click) -> Find file called “SystemConfiguration” -> CMD + DEL -> Enter password if necessary -> Restart your Mac

2. Altering Keychain Access

Keychain Access -> System -> Wireless Network -> Double Click -> Access Control -> Check “Allow all applications to access this item”

3. Turn off bluetooth

Apparently, just turning off Bluetooth allows the Wi-Fi connection to work normally for some people. El Capitan is struggling to keep both a Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connection running at the same time.

4. Create new network location

Network Preferences -> Location -> Create a New Location -> Enter a New Name -> Hope for normal Wi-Fi!

5. Turn off Handoff

Setting -> General -> Turn Off Handoff

6. Altering network preferences

Network Preferences -> Wi-Fi Adapter -> Click on the “cog” or setting wheel icon at the bottom -> Make Service Inactive -> Apply -> Click on Wi-Fi in the same list-> Click (-) to delete -> Apply -> Reboot your Mac -> Network Preferences -> Wi-Fi Adapter -> Click (+) -> Select Wi-Fi from dropdown list -> Change the name of the Wi-Fi network (IMPORTANT, Must change!) -> Apply -> this should fix your problems

If you find El Capitan slow even after these fixes, let us know about that as well. We’re always wanting to improve our content.

Other Potential Tricks

1. Turn Off Transparency Effects

Some users have said that this tiny tweak can make a huge performance difference for a El Capitan-based computer.

Simply head over to the Apple Menu -> System Preferences -> Accessibility -> Display -> Check the box that says “Reduce Transparency”.

This lowers El Capitan’s visual appeal, but it also reduces the general load on your system’s resources.

2. Lighten up the Notification Center Workload

By default, El Capitan loads up calculator, weather, stocks, social, and reminder notifications, requiring some extra system resources that could go towards other applications.

Go to the Apple Menu -> System Preferences -> Extensions – Today, and then disable widgets that you don’t use.

3. Turn Off File Vault Encryption

Encryption is great for safety, but not great for speed. If you had enabled File Vault during your El Capitan installation, you could consider reversing the decision.

Go to the Apple Menu -> System Preferences -> Security & Privacy -> Enter Administrator password if prompted -> Turn Off File Vault -> Turn Off Encryption -> Restart Mac

4. Throttle Back Spotlight

Spotlight in El Capitan is better than ever before. However, if you are running it at full speed there is a chance that it might be making your Mac’s processor and RAM bite off more than it can chew and slow down the system.

To throttle back the performance of Spotlight, go to System Preferences -> Spotlight -> Un-check categories as needed.

For example, if you don’t need Spotlight to look up web definitions for every search, simply disable “Definition”. You might also feel that search results from calculator, system preferences, and even documents might be unnecessary. For every category that you turn off, Spotlight has to do a little less work, which should speed up your computer.

5. Turn off Dashboard

Dashboard in El Capitan is fun and exciting but it can decrease system performance, especially related to graphics. Once again, if you don’t mind losing some eye candy to fix your performance issues, you can definitely try turning off Dashboard altogether.

Go to System Preferences -> Mission Control -> Set Dashboard setting to Off.

Fixing other El Capitan related performance issues on your Mac

6. Unreasonable battery drain

Turning off transparency

Turning off transparency effects also seems to help with battery drain issues.

Go to System Preferences -> Accessibility -> Reduce Transparency. This can be a good trade off, because all you’ll be losing is a bit of visual flair. After all, what good is a flashy UI if the battery doesn’t last long enough for you to get work done on your computer?

It’s worth mentioning– sometimes these battery issues are related to your system having to work harder after a new instillation, so they might clear up on their own after a day or two.

7. Safari slow on El Capitan

Clearing cache

Try clearing the Safari cache to see if your browsing will speed up afterwards. Sometimes the cache can become bloated and slow down your browsing experience.

To clear your Safari cache, go to Safari -> Preferences -> Privacy -> Remove all website Data. If you have never cleared out your cache before, this might significantly speed up internet browsing.

The whole idea of browser caching is to actually help speed up your browsing experience. Your browser downloads small objects like logos from websites that you visit often, and they’ll load back up the next time you visit the site. However, beyond a certain point, excessive caching can actually lead to problems as there might just be too much locally downloaded content that doesn’t sync up with websites that are continually modified or updated on a daily basis.

Clearing Finder

Open Finder -> Go -> Go to Folder

Now, type in the following line exactly as given. ~/Library/Caches/com.apple.safari/cache.db

Once Finder finds the file for you, click it and delete it by moving it to trash. Once done, restart Safari to see if browsing is faster.

Turning off Safari Extensions in El Capitan

Though some Safari extensions can make browsing very convenient, they can slow down your browsing experience significantly, especially when they don’t get along with the latest version of your operating system.

This might be too much for some people, but if you want to turn off extensions simply go to Safari -> Preferences -> Extensions -> check the toggle button at the top-right-> Restart Safari

Conclusion

Drop us a comment with your own fixes and questions as well, and we’ll add it to the list if we think it’ll be worth other people seeing. We would love to publish your comment for all to see.

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About the Author
Brian Galloway is an unabashed tech geek based in Nashville, Tennessee. When he's not obsessively searching for the next computer upgrade, he's probably curled up on the couch with a book and the day's third cup of coffee.
  1. Jason

    FINALLY, THE THING THAT WORKED WAS GOING INTO LAUNCHPAD (applications) > UTILITIES . AIRPORT UTILITY > CLICK ON THE WIFI UNIT ICON (in my case Airport Extreme) > ENTER USERNAME AND PASSWORD TO MAKE CHANGES > IN THE UTILITY WINDOW INSIDE THE BASE STATION TAB I CHANGED THE NAME OF THE BASE STATION > CLICKED UPDATE IN THE LOWER RIGHT CORNER… WHICH RESET THE UNIT AND I THINK DID A FIRMWARE UPDATE AUTOMATICALLY (if not, update the firmware somewhere) > THEN ON THE INTERNET TAB IN THE WINDOW, CLICK RENEW DHCP LEASE

    After trying everything else, this was the only thing that worked!!!

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