MacBook Air Running Slow? Tutorial – How to Fix?

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The whole point of having a MacBook Air is to have a snappy computer that boots quickly and allows you to do your work on the go. Obviously, a slow MacBook Air can really put a damper on your portable computing experience. Thankfully, there’s a lot you can do to fix your issues with a slow MacBook Air!

1. Try software optimization programs to speed up your MacBook Air

One of the simplest ways to speed up your computer is through software built specifically for this purpose. We recommend CleanMyMac 3 from MacPaw.

This program is simple, allowing you to fix your issues without a deep understanding of how the computer works. It will automatically rid your MacBook Air of useless junk files, clean up your start program list, and rid you of unnecessary language files, helping return your computer to the state it was in when you first took it home.

Though there are many software programs out there, CleanMyMac 3 is by far the most popular among the Mac user community. It has also won reader’s choice awards from Cnet.com and About.com, thanks to its ability to fix issues for hundreds of thousands of Mac users around the world.

CleanMyMac 3 is available for download here.

2. Reset your MacBook Air

Once in a while, your MacBook Air needs a reset. We’re not talking about a full system wipe–We’re talking about resetting certain hardware components that control your Macbook Air.These are always good options– they should help all of your computer’s parts work in sync with each other and speed up performance.

Basic reset by restarting

If you are one of those Mac users that has never really shut down your Mac but always put it on sleep or hibernate, it is high time you properly completely restarted your MacBook Air. A simple restart can sometimes do wonders for your MacBook Air. You can restart by either shutting down or powering up again or by simply clicking on the Apple Icon and then by clicking on “Restart”, from the drop down menu.

PRAM reset

  • Shut down your MacBook Air
  • Wait till all processes are closed and the MacBook Air is completely shut down (off)
  • Press the Power button – Please press the following buttons IMMEDIATELY after pressing the Power button
    • Command + Option + P + R
  • If you pressed the above sequence correctly, you would have heard a two tone startup sound
  • Your PRAM reset is complete

SMC Reset

  • Turn off your MacBook Air
  • Plug your power adapter to the wall outlet (or power strip) and make sure the power cord is also connected to your MacBook Air
  • Press the following keys in combination (all at the same time)
    • Left Shift + Control + Option + Power Button
  • Release all the keys
  • Press Power button again, to restart your MacBook Air with a successful SMC reset

3. Low on disk space?

MacBook Airs don’t come with huge hard drives because of their compact sizes. Dealing with a tiny hard disk is never fun– nobody wants to delete things every time you download a new movie or album.

To check your free disk space, open Finder -> View -> Show Status Bar -> Disk Utilization

CleanMyMac 3, mentioned earlier in this tutorial, will free up plenty of hard disk space without deleting your personal data. It offers one of the simplest ways to easily free up disk space on your Mac.

If you have a lot of large files like movie folders,  large music playlists, or photography albums, you can also consider copying them on to an external hard drive for your Mac.

4. Install OS X on a SSD

An SSD can be a fantastic investment if you can afford it. We wrote a post about the best SSD for MacBooks here.

Unlike a traditional hard disk that uses spinning magnetic disks, SSDs use flash memory which uses no moving parts, giving you read and write speeds much faster than what’s possible with a traditional hard drive.

Once you have got your SSD, you can follow this detailed tutorial to understand how to move your copy of OS X onto the new SSD. This is  the most important step of the process– you won’t see huge performance gains without moving your OSX install to the new hard drive.

5. Repair Disk on your MacBook Air

Apple gives you a free tool in within the “Disk Utility” section of your computer that can be used to repair your Mac’s hard disk. While this repair might not always help you speed up your MacBook Air, it’s worth a shot as it’s impossible for this step to ruin your computer.

To run  your Disk Repair, go to Utilities -> Disk Utility -> Disk Repair

Running down this list should alleviate any problems you have a with your slow MacBook Air. Please leave a comment if these steps didn’t help and we’ll try to find a fix for your problem.

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Don’t forget to check Apple’s App store for all your computer productivity needs.

About the Author
Michelle, author at Mach Machines. A tech lover and an insatiable latte drinker. Michelle blogs about improving the personal computing experience.
  1. The Alchemist Fan

    The resets definitely helped. I don’t know which particular reset helped the most but thanks for the share!

  2. SimonSays

    Carried out all the suggestions made in this tutorial and have to say that my MacBook Air is back to normal. It was crawling along and making me pull my hair out before I fixed it though.

    Appreciate the tutorial! Thx

  3. Danno

    Please excuse double post above.
    Was really interested in reading the “detailed tutorial” about moving OS X to a SSD, but the link goes to an article about Windows OS, not OS X. Is there an article for Mac?

  4. Michelle Smith

    Hi Danno. Thank you for pointing out that error. We have now updated the link to correctly point to a tutorial that shows how you can move your OS X from an HDD to a SSD, to allow for faster performance.

    Thank you for pointing out the other points as well! We really appreciate it.

  5. PizZaManiaC

    I have clean my mac installed on my MacBook Air and iMac. Pretty useful for quickly clearing out junk on your hard disks, to keep them light and with a lot of free disk space. It is quite useful in cleaning up your iPhoto folder as well.

    Btw, would you recommend a SMC and PRAM reset even if there wasn’t a significant problem with performance?

  6. Michelle Smith

    Both SMC and PRAM resets do not delete any user generated data. The only negative that comes out of these resets is that system preferences can sometimes change, needing to be reset.

    If you are up for that little task, you can definitely carry out these resets once in a while. It can only help. That being said, there’s also a pretty famous saying “Don’t fix it if it ain’t broke!” 🙂

  7. Khalid AlSharif

    Can someone please confirm that the reset won’t delete anything? I have lots of important files and applications that I cannot afford losing. Thank you

  8. Andy Bird

    My MacBook Air has suddenly started running slow.
    Activity Monitor shows that the Kernel_task is taking up most of the Processor usage.
    Currently the only applications running are activity monitor and Google Chrome.
    System usage is around 77%, User 10% and Idle 13%.
    I have 57Gb of store available.
    Opening applications takes a long time, internet access slow and Playing movies are very jerky.
    Any suggestions or do I have to take it to an Apple centre?

    Bets regards
    Andy

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    Very good article. I am facing a few of these issues as well..

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  11. Chris Owen

    My Mac Air was running really slow, and shutting itself down randomly. So I tried resetting SMC and PRAM, and it really worked. Thanks so much. As regards Clean my Mac, do you recommend the free download, or the paid version ?

  12. Abigail Smith

    This an easy method to fix and speedup MacBook air. Thanks for pointing out errors and solving issues.

  13. Mohammed Arif Khan

    Nothing’s working with the above solutions

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