7 Common Mistakes That Slow Down Your Mac

By | August 24, 2022

Is your Mac running slower than you’d like. By changing some of your bad computing habits, you can improve the overall performance of your Mac.

While macOS isn’t an operating system that requires a lot of user care, it’s by no means perfect. Some of these mistakes are easy to avoid, while others may require some effort and investment on your part.

Using Antivirus

Mac malware exists, but it’s not as prolific as Windows or Android. Due to the way Apple locks core OS components with system integrity protection (SIP), most users are unlikely to experience a system failure due to malware.

Gatekeeper stops your Mac from running unsigned applications, and requires manual intervention to circumvent it. Apps that want to make potentially damaging changes to your files will require you to provide your admin password. To stay safe, you can check everything you run and be suspicious of anything that asks for admin authorization.

Most major antivirus developers have Mac versions of their products, and most of them run constantly in the background. Even with a solid state drive, it can slow down your machine by wasting valuable available resources. Some of them might come in handy if you’re running other Windows computers on your network, but when it comes to protecting macOS they’re not necessary. But if you still want to use an antivirus with various security considerations We have prepared Best Free Antivirus For Your Mac

Watch out for fake Mac security apps too. MacKeeper is one of the worst offenders, while others can lead to more sinister ransomware attacks that demand payment. The best defense against Mac malware is a sharp eye, and a quick scan with KnockKnock every time.

Not Maintaining Enough Free Space

Failure to maintain bearing clearance is one of the most common causes of throttling. This can cause long lags, sudden freezes, and even boot problems. Your computer needs free space to create log files, caches, and temporary files as part of its normal operation.

It can be difficult to stay on top of free space, especially if your MacBook doesn’t have much to start with. If you need more space, you have the following options:

  • Replace your Mac’s storage media with a larger drive.
  • Add more space with a memory card.
  • Purchase an external hard drive or use network attached storage.

The latter option will allow you to move your device backups and core libraries elsewhere, potentially saving hundreds of gigabytes of space. If this option is not possible, there are many other small changes you can make to save space such as removing duplicate data. See our article How to Free Up Space on Mac or Delete Multiple Folders On Mac with Safe

Uncontrolled Temporary Files and Cache

Time and time again I rebooted my Mac with only 3GB of free space, then realized I had 9GB when I logged in again. This is caused by temporary files created by macOS and third-party applications, which are routinely deleted and deleted at startup.

The simplest solution here is to restart your machine more often. If that’s not enough, you can manually clear the macOS cache which will create more free space than just letting macOS handle the process on its own. If you prefer not to get your hands dirty, you can use apps like CleanMyMac X to clear cache and perform other tasks to keep your Mac in top shape.

Too Many Desktop Clutter

Did you know that each icon on the desktop is a small window, and macOS needs to render it separately? Given that this is a standard dump for screenshots, a cluttered desktop can really take a toll on your system.

By cleaning your desktop, you will reduce your background workload. It frees up resources for use elsewhere.

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Too Many Background Processes

Your computer has a limited amount of system resources. It’s easy to tie up your available RAM and processing power with too many background processes. You can use Activity Monitor to see what is running at any given moment. This is especially useful when you’re not sure why your machine is slowing down.

Click on tab CPU or memory and sort by the first column to see what’s currently consuming the most resources. Find the process and kill it by clicking the button X. There are various fixes you can try if you see kernel_task consuming a lot of processing power.

Too often this process starts when your computer boots up, so your first stop is System Preferences > Users > Login Items. Select the application and click on minus symbol to remove it from the list. The selected application will not start again when you start your machine.

Browser extensions and web applications can also drain your available resources. It’s a good idea to audit your browser for extensions that don’t pull their weight. You can also try disabling the extension before removing it completely to see if the extension is the problem.

Watching your running processes closely has another benefit: it can help you identify serial criminals.

Using Thirsty Apps

Your choice of application can make a huge difference to the overall performance of your machine. This is especially noticeable in your browser of choice. Safari is better optimized than Chrome for macOS, and it will give you more battery life too.

That rule applies to almost all of Apple’s first-party apps. Pages run better than Word, Notes is lighter than Evernote, and apps like iMovie and GarageBand enjoy smooth performance even on older machines. This also applies to big guns like Final Cut Pro, which provides a much smoother experience than Adobe’s Premiere Pro.

If possible, choose a lighter third-party app. Pixelmator isn’t as powerful as Photoshop, but it’s also less taxing on your system. Most apps written specifically for macOS will run much better than their cross-platform counterparts. One example is the torrent client Transmission, which outperforms the Java-based alternative Vuze.

Skip Update

Your Mac may be downloading updates in the background, so they’re ready to go when you click Update Now on the popup you’ve been ignoring. Running the update will actually increase your available free space, as the system cleans the installation files after the update is applied.

Similarly, macOS also needs to be updated regularly. Most annual macro releases improve performance, although this is not the rule. The updates that follow each new major version of macOS are always worth your time, as they fix issues that could lead to poor performance (and security issues too).

Sometimes Patience Is a Virtue

It is important to know that there are times when it is normal for your machine to run slowly. This includes:

  • Immediately after major OS upgrades, as apps like Photos often rebuild their libraries and analyze images.
  • Immediately after installing a new app, because features like Spotlight take some time to index.
  • When connecting an external drive, especially for the first time, because of Spotlight indexing.
  • While it’s loading, it’s like encoding video or batch converting RAW files.
  • If your computer is really old

That last point is no joke. Because Apple hardware is built to last, it’s likely that you’ll feel the pressure of outdated technology before your computer stops working altogether. Have you asked yourself if you have time to upgrade your Mac? Operate Best Mac Benchmark Apps to Measure Mac Performance can help you reach a conclusion.

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