Is Your MacBook Pro Running Slow? Here Are Some Things to Try:
Editors note: this post was originally published in July 2015 and was updated in 2017 to reflect new reviews and experiences.
Any Apple computer will start to slow down over time, but there are steps you can take to keep your MacBook Pro speedy.
Step 1: Make Sure You’re Running The Latest MacOS and Have The Most Recent Updates
As of September 2017, the latest macOS is Sierra. However, High Sierra is coming soon! We recommend preparing your computer for the upgrade and making the jump to the latest and greatest macOS in order to have a fix your MacBook Pro running slow. MacPaw has an excellent tutorial on how to prepare your MacBook Air for High Sierra.
- Open App Store
- Click on Updates in the upper menu
- Download and install any available updates
Step 2: Check Your Disk Space and Clean Your Mac
How Do You Free Up Disk Space?
To check your free disk space:
- Open the Apple icon
- Select About this Mac
- Select Storage
If you’re running low on storage, we recommend two actions:
- Download CleanMyMac 3 from MacPaw
- Move large files to an external hard drive
CleanMyMac 3 is simple: it rids your MacBook Air of useless junk files, thus giving you more storage space.
Though there are many software programs out there, CleanMyMac 3 is the most popular among the Mac user community. It won reader’s choice awards from CNET.com thanks to its ability to fix issues for hundreds of thousands of Mac users around the world. Best of all, you can try it for free and see what you think.
Step 3: Use Activity Monitor
This free tool from Mac allows you to see which programs pull the most processing power from your machine. Activity Monitor will live among your Mac apps.
To review activity:
- Open Activity Monitor
- Select View > All Processes
- Click “% CPU” to sort by the percentage of CPU capability used by each program
This information helps identify programs that may cause your MacBook Air running slow.
Programs that pull high percentages of CPU should not run on startup. To check which programs run at startup,
- Go to System Preferences
- Users & Groups
- Login Items
Remove anything you don’t absolutely need by clicking the checkbox next to the item and then minus (-) sign.
Step 4: Consider Hardware Upgrades
Hardware upgrades, though quite expensive, can be the best way to fix a slow Mac. Software tweaks and changes can make a big difference, but you may need more. Upgrading system hardware can lead to significant performance improvements. Consider buying additional RAM for your Mac to help it improve.
Step 5: Reset the System Management Controller
Every MacBook Pro has a piece of hardware called the ‘System Management Controller’. Most people have never even heard of it! Running a reset of this controller can return your Mac to previous levels of performance.
The System Management Controller coordinates battery and heat, LED lights, and other parts of the hardware. Resetting the SMC allows you to re-balance all these factors.
Don’t worry, resetting this controller will not harm your Mac in any way. This won’t delete your content or user settings. It resets the hardware to its original state help your computer run.
How Do You 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 will register on reset
- Release all keys after 10 seconds and turn on and run your MacBook Pro like you normally do
Please note that when doing this, your MacBook Pro should not turn on. If it turns on, 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.
Step 6: PRAM Reset
Like the SMC reset, resetting the PRAM (Parameter RAM) may fix computer problems.
Resetting your PRAM will not delete the data on your hard drive. You may, though, need to restore system preferences like time, date, and mouse settings. This shouldn’t take too long.
How do You Reset Your PRAM?
- Shut down your MacBook Pro
- Press the power button
- Then, 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
Step 7: Too Many Apps Running in the Background
This can easily happen from time to time as we can all forget that apps are still loading in the background. But with constant refreshes, this means your operating system is working much harder than it needs to.
When you can see the apps that are currently running on your MacBook, reorder the list by memory by selecting the Memory tab. High numbers represent that the app is taking up a lot of room on your laptop. Also, don’t remove any app you don’t recognize just because you think you don’t need them; they might have a purpose you don’t know about.
How Do You Stop Apps Running?
- Visit your Activity Monitor to see what apps and systems are currently loading
- Scroll through the list and manually quit all that apps that are using power but you no longer need (this doesn’t mean that they’ll permanently delete from your device, just that they’ll stop running)
Step 7: Cluttered Desktop
It’s very easy for a desktop to become cluttered as this is where screenshots and pictures automatically save to. But, if you look at your desktop and see a cluttered mess, it’s time for an organized cleaning session. Not only does your desktop look disorganized like this, but every desktop icon is active which means that your operating system has to refresh and process this the entire time your device is on.
How Do You Organize Your Desktop?
- Create folders for your files on your desktop so you can easily access them. This makes everything easy to find and is a structured process to declutter your desktop
- Trash any items you no longer need or haven’t used in the past few months
- Adjust the settings on your Mac so files don’t automatically download and save to this destination
Step 8: Your Internet Browser Is Full of Junk
The majority of us use our Macs to access the Internet, so if your browser is running slow and overwhelmed, your Mac will be too. If you’re the kind of person who has numerous tabs open at the same time and multiple extensions downloaded onto your device.
How Do You Free Your Internet Browser?
- Remove Chrome extensions by launching the Internet browser
- Select the three dots in the top-right corner of the browser and select Tools, then Extensions
- You’ll then be presented with all the Chrome add-ons that are currently installed on your device
- If you use Safari for your Internet, launch this browser and select Preferences in the upper menu to choose the Extensions tab
- Sift through all the extensions you no longer need or use and delete these as they’re taking up memory with no purpose
Another reason why your Mac might be running slow is because there’s a virus on your device without you even realizing. Many people think that Mac’s are invincible to viruses, but this isn’t the case. Yes, they’re less likely than Window devices, but the chance is still there.
Below are some of the best anti-virus software to download onto your device to both locate and delete viruses, as well as prevent them from accessing your MacBook Pro in the first place.
It’s essential to protect your MacBook Pro to prevent it from running slow and ensure that your personal information and files are kept away from cyber attackers. Thankfully, Bitdefender is easy to install and comes with numerous features. Begin by installing this tool and you’ll have access to all the available features on your screen.
The dashboard makes it stress-free to access all the information and features you need, with two sections on the left and right. Bitdefender comes with simple scanning features to protect your operating system from viruses and unidentified files. Specifically, there’s a total of three scanning options, including Quick Scan, System Scan, and Custom Scan.
To ensure that your connection, IP Address, and location is private, Bitdefender comes with a built-in VPN tool. This means you can change your existing location to another country to hide your IP Address. In simple terms, this VPN tool is ideal for stopping hackers from accessing your personal information and any sensitive files.
As well as protecting your device against malicious files, phishing schemes, etc., you’ll notice that your MacBook Pro runs quicker. This is because Bitdefender can delete any broken files.
Intego Mac Security X9
Intego performs everything you need to protect your device. Any MacBook Pro running slow could be because there’s no or a poor anti-virus software looking after it. This software features many tools than continuously check your device and scan files, even while you’re using it. Unlike other security software, Intego Security X9 doesn’t delete any malware instantly but instead, moves malicious files into a hideaway destination so your system doesn’t slow down.
Intego is equipped with a junk-removal tool that erases any files that might be reducing your Mac’s performance. This cleaner will show you the results so that you can choose which ones to save or delete. It’ll also categorize your files into tools, caches, and more, to make them easier to find. Plus, it’ll identify if any of these files are harmful using a rated system to help you understand.
Also, the Content Barrier tool is a great feature for parental control. Although this is useful in general, adult websites are a popular destination for cyber attackers, so make sure your device, location, and details aren’t visible. Finally, Intego Security X9 is user-friendly and designed simply so everyone can use it. You can also receive regular notifications if you’d like updates about your MacBook Pro’s performance.
Trend Micro Antivirus
Trend Micro has incredible abilities when it comes to beating malicious files. The initial scan will make a big difference to your MacBook Pro running slow. This Smart Scan investigates any active malware on your device and only takes a couple of minutes. In fact, this is one of the quickest scans for a Mac antivirus software.
If you often use your USB drive, Trend Micro is great for identifying any issues with the device before it’ll accept it. This might reduce your Mac’s speed temporarily, but while you’re using the USB drive, you’ll find that that performance is much quicker than usual.
We mentioned earlier that most Mac users engage most of their time online, so we love that Trend Micro comes with protection against any online threats. If you enter your credentials into e-mail services, gaming websites or (a very popular target!) PayPal, your information can be hacked in seconds. This hacking process can slow down your MacBook instantly, as well as in the near future until the virus is removed.
The Biggest Performance Trick Yet
Hands up if you turn your MacBook to sleep and rarely shut it down. That’s nearly all of us! The most popular reason for doing this is so we can access our device quickly when we next need it.
However, you probably didn’t know that this impacts your RAM. Leaving your laptop on overnight means that it can’t flush out any caches, as restarting your Mac clears these and closes all applications. As a result, you’re left with a quicker device when you wake up.
What is your opinion on the tips above? Have we missed any critical pointers that can improve our devices? Share your thoughts in the comments.