Macbook Pro Running Slow? Here’s How To Fix It!

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MacBooks or any Mac computers for that matter (iMac, Mac Pro, MacBook Air etc), even with their powerful hardware configurations, have a tendency to slow up once in a while, especially when you compare its current speed to the speed it showed off when you first brought it home, when it was brand spanking new.

In this post, we will show you some simple but effective tips that will help you speed up macbook pro, so you enjoy your Mac’s full performance capabilities.

MacBook Pro running slow or Your Mac running slow? –  Common Fixes

Using Mac Cleanup Programs to Clean Up Your MacBook Pro’s Hard Disk, Resulting In Faster Speeds

A program like Clean My Mac 2 can instantly fix a bloated hard disk problem for you, freeing up several GBs of hard disk space in just a few minutes, with just a few clicks. Users have generally experienced a 25% to 40% increase in speeds from their MacBook Pro, after performing a cleanup with this program.

Clean My Mac 2 is available for a FREE download here.

Clean My Mac 2, winner of several prestigious awards, including About.com’s Reader’s Choice Award, is a Mac Utility software that can help to speed up your Mac in several ways, as mentioned below.

How Clean My Mac 2 can speed up MacBook Pro or Other Macs?

  • Frees up hard disk space to dramatically improve processor and memory performance
  • Uninstalls unnecessary programs and apps that you never use
  • Cleans out your application starting line up, resulting in really fast boot up times
  • Cleans up your iPhoto folders, removing photo duplicates with just a click
  • Helps you find very large, old personal files and presents them for deletion, allowing to free up even more hard disk space
  • Deletes system junk, cache junk, languages and binary junk that can all lead to a faster MacBook Pro

Not only will Clean My Mac 2 allow you to speed up your MacBook pro, it can also be used as highly efficient and intuitive maintenance software to ensure that your Mac never slows in the future.

2. Resetting the System Management Controller

Every MacBook Pro has an inbuilt hardware function called System Management Controller. While we won’t get too technical to explain its various functions, we will tell you that a reset of this controller can sometimes tremendously help in improving the speed of your Mac.

Don’t worry, resetting this controller will not harm your Mac in any way. It won’t even change any of your content. It just resets the hardware and in most probability,will solve your slow MacBook Pro problems.

Slow MacBook Pro - SMC Reset Solution

Follow the steps below to carry out a System Management Controller Reset on your MacBook Pro, to speed it up instantly

How to reset your MacBook Pro’s System Management Controller?

  • Turn off your MacBook Pro
  • Plug in your MacBook Pro’s power cord into the wall socket
  • Now, hold down the Left Shift + Option + Control + Power Button, simultaneously, for 10 seconds
  • When you do the above, your Mac won’t power on but a reset will be registered
  • Release all keys after 10 seconds and turn on your MacBook Pro like you normally do
  • Your MacBook Pro slow performance problems are hopefully solved!

Please note that when you press the above mentioned combination of keys, your MacBook Pro should not turn on. If it does, you probably didn’t press one of the keys properly. Do it again until you are able to press down all mentioned keys for 10 seconds, without powering up your MacBook Pro.

3.Macbook Pro PRAM reset to fix mac running slow problems PRAM Reset (Updated on 23, March 2014)

Just like the SMC reset discussed just above, another reset called the PRAM reset has also quite a few Mac owners fix their slow MacBook Pro problems.

Again, like the SMC reset, the PRAM reset will not delete your user generated data. The only thing you might have to restore after carrying out this reset is probably some system preferences like time, date etc., something that will take you just two minutes at the most.

How to carry out a PRAM reset to fix MacBook Pro slow problems?

  • Shut down your MacBook Pro
  • Press the power button
  • Press Command + Option + P + R in combination, all at the same time, before you see the grey startup screen
  • Press and hold until your MacBook Pro restarts
  • Release the keys when you hear the familiar startup chime sound that your MacBook Pro makes when it starts up
  • Your PRAM reset should be complete

4. Check for Power Hungry Apps

Sometimes, MacBook Pro slow performance problems can be caused by just one or two apps, apps that are very resource hungry, apps that hog all your processing and memory resources.

MacBook Pro X Activity Monitor Speed Check

Check Your MacBook Pro’s Activity Monitor to identify power hungry apps, to potentially uninstall or substitute them.

To check if your MacBook Pro is being affected by such apps, please carry out the following check.

  • Go to the Applications Folder
  • Select Utilities
  • Select Activity Monitor
  • Select CPU tab, shown at the bottom
  • Check the % Idle statistic
  • If your % Idle statistic is always less than 60% or 50%, some of the apps you are using are using up way too much memory than what is normal
  • Check the list of active apps to see which apps are the culprits, the culprits that are slowing down your MacBook Pro
  • Uninstall thise apps. If you need the apps, look for an alternative apps that are more compatible to run on your MacBook Pro. You can also try re-installing that app to see if it will consume less resources after a re-install


5. De-Clutter Your Desktop

If you are like many of the amateur MacBook Pro users out there, chances are that there are about a 100 icons on your desktop. What you must understand is that these icons are not static. In other words, your MacBook Pro’s processor is constantly checking up on these icons, making sure that the links are always live and ready to go.

MacBook Pro X slow speeds caused by desktop

If your MacBook Pro is slow and your desktop looks this, just cleaning up your desktop icons can help your MacBook Pro run faster!

That process takes up a lot of memory and CPU resources. Try to limit your desktop icons to just 10 or 15 icons. As for all the remaining ones, you can put them all in a folder called, let’s say,  “Second Desktop” (Folder name is just an example, you can use what you like). That way, you will de-clutter your desktop and also not be too far away from all the shortcuts that are important to you.

Other ways in which you can potentially fix your MacBook pro running slow problems is to buy and install more RAM, install a SSD (Solid State Drive) hard disk and also use just a few apps at one particular time, reducing your multi-tasking work. All these fixes can help speed up your MacBook pro to various extents.

We hope this post helped you find at least some answers to your question; “Why is my MacBook pro so slow!?” If you have any personal tips, strategies or advice that you used to speed up your MacBook Pro, please share them with us. We would love to hear from you! Use the comment box below to get involved!

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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. Stefenie84 Reply

    I had no idea that there was something called a system management controller in my MacBook Pro! And yes, resetting it made a huge difference!

  2. Maciek Reply

    Resetting the SMC on Mac portables with a battery you can remove

    I’m not sure if you’re right. That’s the official instruction:
    Note: Learn about removing the battery on MacBook and MacBook Pro.
    Shut down the computer.
    Disconnect the MagSafe power adapter from the computer, if it’s connected.
    Remove the battery.
    Press and hold the power button for 5 seconds.
    Release the power button.
    Reconnect the battery and MagSafe power adapter.
    Press the power button to turn on the computer.
    http://support.apple.com/kb/HT3964

  3. GeneliaIn Reply

    Wow, the cleanup software really helped. Turns out my MacBook’s hard drive had just 248 MG of hard disk space left. The software freed up 17 GB of junk. Incredible. Made all the difference to both booting and browsing speeds. I use my MacBook to just browse!

    No wonder this post got shared on Prismatic :) Kudos – Keep it coming!

  4. DC Reply

    Early indications are that reseting the SMC has made a noticable difference.
    Thank you for this tip.

    • Michelle Smith Reply

      Great! Glad to have helped in some small way :)

  5. a.yk Reply

    the shift control option power does work! thanks

  6. Renee Reply

    Thanks! Was helpful.

  7. TheFultons Reply

    smc reset is an awesome way to boot performance on your MacBook Pro. I usually end up using it at least once a month and it always seems to do the trick….have to try clean my mac yet..

  8. Rob Reply

    Thank you… your material is succinct and very fast/easy to perform… my MacBook Pro is running much better now :-)

  9. dave Reply

    I did all you said but using the power button because mine broke.its still so slow (using my iphone). it just drastically reduced itself out of nowhere yesterday. I bought my computer new and didn’t come w a disc. updated to mavericks.all my data is backed up. but I use my computer 10 hours a day and sending it off to be fixed would affect me greatly.anything else I can do? can I reset it wo a disc? thanks

    • Michelle Smith Reply

      Hi Dave. It sounds like your Mac badly needs a SMC reset for which the power button will have to work. Is there someone savvy enough to get the power button working. If that could happen, you could try the SMC reset and I have a feeling it will help.

      Also, how much hard disk space do you have? If it isn’t a lot, you must try clearing it up as added free disk space can make a big difference to performance levels.

  10. vern Reply

    Thank for the info , kit has helped me. Vern

  11. Lizzy Reply

    Thank you for the information. I reset the system management controller. It seems to be helping but I haven’t had enough time to know for sure. I did declutter my desktop. I already knew that was a bad thing to do and it wasn’t that bad, but it’s much better. I still think my MBP is running too slowly though, but better than it was. Frustrating!

    • Michelle Smith Reply

      Hi Lizzy

      Did you try the PRAM reset as well? Also, how much free disk space do you have on your MacBook pro? A full hard disk can also really slow down your MacBook’s performance, even if it is a SSD!

  12. Iqbal Kabir Reply

    Thanks for this useful article. SMC reset worked like a magic to speed-up my MacBook Pro.

  13. Stephanie Francisco Reply

    Hi, I tried to do everything but it’s still running slow. Also, my idle statistic are always 80-90%. I’m getting frustrated because I really don’t know what to do anymore. My laptop is only 1 year and a couple months old.

    • Michelle Smith Reply

      Hi Stephanie. Sorry to hear that. Can you tell us what specifically your MacBook Pro is doing wrong? Booting up slowly, not being able to multitask or maybe just hanging up all the time?

      If you are more specific, we can maybe try to help you with some fixes. Can you also go to our site’s search bar and type in Apple Diagnostics and then go to the post that mentions it. There, you will find instructions on how to do a hardware test. I suspect that some hardware component might have failed in your MBP

      • Stephanie Francisco Reply

        It just keeps on hanging up. Like even if I type something, I need to wait for a minute before it appears.

        • Michelle Smith Reply

          Wow, that is really bad. I would try the SMC and PRAM resets again. Are you sure they worked the first time around? If the resets don’t fix it, I think you might need to take it to a service station. It could be that your hard drive is corrupted or damaged as well.

  14. Luis Reply

    Hi Michelle, this is my first time here! Thanks for all of your tips.

    I’m pretty sure I have my macbook pro cpu’s damaged, due to overheating. I have already cleaned up my fans and solved the overheating problem, but the problems remain. Upgraded my OS, run apple hardware test (nothing came up) and everything is still the same. I can not even watch a movie here. a lot of bumps, the image stops while sound keeps on going, non-responding programs, etc.

    My question is: is there anyway to repair my cpu or do i need to buy a new one? If I buy a new one (don’t want to :/), what can I do with the current one? It’s a Macbook Pro 15″ early 2011, 2.2GHz Intel Core i7, 4 GB memory, etc. This mac was supposed to last for a long time and i’ll be really sad if it’s just garbage.

    Thanks in advance!

    • Michelle Smith Reply

      Hi Luis. Thank you for your comment. Unfortunately, there is no way to safely replace or upgrade just your MacBook Pro’s CPU or motherboard as these are soldered on during manufacturing. If someone were really technically savvy, they could probably replace it with a newer CPU for you although I doubt if they will give you any sort of guarantee that the fix will work. If anything, it will be a trial and error fix. Are you sure that your hard disk is OK? Can you run Verify Disk by running disk utility. To run it, please use Applications -> Utilities -> Disk Utility -> Select Your Hard Disk -> First Aid (On the left hand side menu) -> Verify Disk.

      If that program finds errors, it will also help you repair those errors. Please give it a shot and see if it fixes your MacBook Pro.

      P.S. – You will see that the repair disk option will not be available if your disk has OS X installed and running on it. However, you can still repair your OS X disk by doing the following.

      1. Restart your MacBook Pro
      2. As soon as your MacBook Pro begins to restart, hold down Command + R at the same time (In some model MacBook Pros, you might have to hold down the Option key as well)
      3. Choose “Recovery HD” from the menu that will pop up
      4. Choose the OS X hard disk that disk utility found errors in
      5. Click on Repair Disk
      6. Finish the repair and continue to boot your MacBook Pro
      7. Hope for the best!

  15. Luis Reply

    Thank you for your quick answer, Michelle. I’ve already ran all kind of tests that Apple offers. Minimal errors were found and fixed, but nothing important.

    Guess I don’t have another option but to buy a new mac. Although, I’ve already been told that the new MBP retina also have the overheating problem. Can you confirm that? I’m a journalist, so I use my mac for editing, etc. I use ‘heavy’ programs, such as final cut, photoshops, etc. Overheating is not welcome :)

    Thanks a lot again!

    • Michelle Smith Reply

      Hi Luis. Yes, we are seeing many people reporting overheating problems on their retina display MacBook Pros over the past few months. It looks like the high power resolution combined with the heavy workload you require from your MBP is just a bit too much for it to handle. Before you buy a new Mac, we would however recommend that you try a high quality laptop cooling fan to see if it can be good enough to keep temperatures down, even when you have Final Cut and other types of graphic editing software running at full tilt.

  16. Esther Bezalel Reply

    Hi Michelle, I will just do the SMC reset. But my idle was between 80-90%, how can I fix that?

    • Michelle Smith Reply

      Hi Esther

      If your idle is high, it means your processor has a lot of bandwidth available. That shouldn’t be a problem. Is your MBP still slow after the SMC reset?

      What problems are you exactly facing?

  17. Lance Frazer Reply

    Hi Michelle,

    Thanks for the post. I went through the steps listed, and everything is A-OK when my computer is NOT plugged in. Weirdly enough, when I plug it in, my MacBook is rendered useless. The touchpad becomes pretty much unresponsive as my mouse is jumping all over the screen. Really not sure what to do here. Any ideas?

    Lance

    • Michelle Smith Reply

      Hi Lance. That is a very unusual problem indeed! From what I know, your type of problem only occurs when your charger is faulty. If you have more than one MacBook or if you can borrow your friend’s MacBook charger for a day, swap it with your old charger and see if the problem persists.

      I have a feeling that your charger is the problem and can be pretty easily fixed!

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