Make your Mac run at top speed with our handy hints for speeding up a slow Mac computer. Apple Macs are generally speedy computers that last the distance, often clocking up many years before needing replacing. But it’s still worth taking time to clear out the digital clutter and gunk from your Mac to keep it performing over the years rather than slowly grinding to a halt.
Log out other Mac users
If you have multiple accounts on your Mac, any applications left running on another user’s account may make it seem sluggish. Make sure to log out of all other accounts for a zippier performance.
Reduce Mac startup items
Some applications launch automatically when you start a Mac. This is handy for programs you regularly use, but a slew of applications running in the background can bog down your system. To see what is launching automatically, click the Apple icon and then System Preferences. Click Users & Groups and select your user account from the left-hand panel, and then choose the Login Items tab in the main window. To remove an application, select the checkbox next to it and then click the minus button to remove it.
Quit unused Mac applications
Running multiple applications at the same time will slow your Mac down. Check the Dock to see which programs are open - if the icon has a dot under it, the program is running. Ctrl + Click the icon and select Quit. Likewise, running a host of widgets on the Dashboard can take a sizeable bite of your processing power and slow down your Mac. Even shutting down a few that you don’t really need can make a difference. From the Dock, click the Dashboard and then the minus sign. Click the cross at the corner of a widget to close it.
Use the Mac Activity Monitor
If your Mac runs out of steam, Activity Monitor can help diagnose the problem. Double-click your hard drive and select Applications, then click to open the Utilities folder and double-click Activity Monitor. You’ll see a fluctuating list of applications with a graphical overview of which applications and processes are running and how much memory and hard drive space is in use. Quit applications that are hogging too much memory by selecting the item and clicking the Quit Process "X" icon then choosing Quit or Force Quit.
Clear some hard drive space on your Mac
Your Mac needs 10-15% of free disk space to work properly, so avoid filling the hard drive to maximum capacity. Delete old files and folders or archive them to an external hard drive to free up space. Once you’ve identified the culprits taking up the most space – typically photos or music – consider backing them up to an external disk and then removing them from your Mac's hard drive.
Turn off Mac visual effects
Squeeze the maximum performance from your computer by sacrificing some of Mac OS’s snazzy effects. Switching off the Dock’s Genie effects when minimising windows and disabling open applications and desktop picture animations will make your Mac marginally faster.
To tweak the Dock, click the Apple icon and from the drop-down menu select Dock, then Dock Preferences. Select Scale effect under the Minimise windows using setting and uncheck Animate opening applications.
To turn off desktop animations, click the Apple icon and then System Preferences. Click Desktop & Screen Saver. Untick the Change picture checkbox to use a static desktop image.
Remove unused language packs
Mac OS X supports a wide range of languages but, as these are used only for viewing menus, dialogue boxes and other system files, it’s unlikely you’ll need anything but English. To remove language packs, click the Apple icon, then System Preferences. Click Language & Text and in the window that appears, click Edit List. Untick the checkboxes next to the languages you want to remove and click OK.
Remove unused fonts
It’s likely you have hundreds of fonts installed on your Mac – many of which you don’t use. Not only do these take up valuable disk space, they can decrease your Mac’s performance. So, it’s worth removing fonts that you never use. Launch Font Book from the Applications folder. Select the font you want to remove and from the File menu select Remove ‘Font Name’ Family. Click Remove when asked to confirm this action. Repeat to remove other fonts. Don’t worry about inadvertently removing important system fonts – Font Book won’t let you do this.