Why your Mac is running slow and what you can do to fix it

Jason Cipriani for CNET:

If you’ve used a Mac for an extended amount of time, you’ve surely seen the spinning beachball as your system slows to a crawl. It’s especially frustrating to have a Mac that’s just not performing as fast as it should when you’re trying to get work done… You could roll your eyes and learn to deal with frequent slowdowns, or you could do something about it.

Almost any app can hog your Mac’s processing power and memory, causing sluggish performance as a result. However, some apps are more prone to bringing your system to a crawl than others. If you use Google Chrome, you likely already know it’s usually at the top of the list.

Before switching up your favorite apps, you’ll need to figure out which ones are slowing down your Mac. To do that, you’ll need to get familiar with Activity Monitor.

MacDailyNews Take: Activity Monitor is your friend. We keep ours right in the Dock.


  1. Consider, too, the possibility that the manufacturer has, without telling or asking you, throttled your processor because of your battery age.

    1. and your solution would be?

      Because of the battery age, high processor loads were leading to crashes. Apple’s solution was to slow the processor to reduce the load and prevent crashes. Not seeing the problem.

      1. Good technical solution to a technical problem.

        Then you advise your customer that you are doing this.

        Then when your customer brings his device to you for service, you advise him that a $100 battery replacement will restore the phone to normal working order rather than selling him a new phone.

        Why is it so hard to admit that Apple is not a loving mother, but rather a corporation which is trying to generate as much revenue & profit as possible for its shareholders, and hold them to the same scrutiny as other corporations?

        1. Exactly right. Apple’s bad behavior in the battery fiasco was doing it without telling the user. Even if they did it by default, they needed to TELL the user why things were slower.
          That’s what they do now.
          It’s one thing to make decisions for (most) users. Apple often does that, and generally makes good default decisions. It’s another thing entirely to hide the fact the a decision was made, and for users to make purchasing choices based on a misunderstanding of what their device is doing without their knowledge.

  2. My in-laws white MacBook was running quite slow with constant beach balls. I had to run disk repair in single user mode 3 times to fix certain errors but it still was slow. I guess the 14,000+ emails in Mail wasn’t helping either.

    I replaced their hard drive with an SSD and holy moly – it runs faster than when it was new. Mail launches instantly even with all those emails. I think it had one of the old 4500 rpm drives in it which was probably on its way out.

    So there could be any number of reasons why a Mac is running slow. One of the common reasons is that the user performs a hard shut down which causes some file cross linking. Running Disk Repair often helps to clear up the issue and get it back running smoothly again.

    Another hint – if you have hundreds of files on your desktop – move them to the Documents folder. It will reduce disk activity as well.

    And a final bonus for reading this long – you may have some old program services that are still running that you no longer use. Check the Activity Monitor as Jason suggested and look for the obvious ones – like an HP Printer application that you have never used but still runs in the background.

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