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How to Fix a Video Game that Runs Slow on a Mac

Authored by:
Support.com Tech Pro Team
This Guided Path® was written and reviewed by Support.com’s Tech Pro team. With decades of experience, our Tech Pros are passionate about making technology work for you. We love feedback! Let us know what you think about this Guided Path® by rating it at the end.

Introduction

You've just purchased and installed a new game for your Apple Mac, but something feels off. Your frame-rate is wildly inconsistent. Mouse input is very erratic. The introductory sequence hangs for a second or two every time someone talks. When you move the camera, there’s some sort of horrifying stuttering.

There are a number of reasons why your Mac might be struggling to run your new game. This guide will help you determine what the issue is, and ways to potentially resolve it.
Various PC games.

1 Does My Mac Meet the Game's Requirements?

All games have posted system requirements. Ensuring that your machine can handle the demands of a game before purchasing is generally best.

System requirements list what type of hardware and software you need to run a game. Minimum requirements are just that, the bare minimum required to run a game. If you meet the minimum requirements the game will run, but it may run poorly. 

Find the System Requirements for My Game

If you've purchased a physical copy of a game, the requirements are generally listed on the packaging. If you've purchased a game digitally, system requirements can be found on the marketplace they were purchased from, or directly from the game developer's website. Here is an example of Steam displaying the Mac system requirements for Tomb Raider:
Tomb Raider Mac OS requirements

Find the System Specs for My Mac

  1. On your Mac, select the Apple Menu and then About This Mac.
    macOS Mojave Apple menu with About This Mac highlighted.
  2. The About This Mac window will open, showing you the information.
    About macOS Mojave

If My Mac Doesn't Meet the Game Requirements

Physical upgrade options for Macs can be very limited. Depending on the model and manufacture date of your Mac, upgradeable hardware such as RAM and internal hard drive can actually be soldered to the logic board, making them impossible to remove or add to at all. Other internal Mac hardware is not made to be upgradeable whatsoever.

We recommend having a professional assess your Apple device to determine if you can upgrade it at all.

2 Reduce Game Settings for Better Performance

Optimize a Game's Graphics Settings for My Mac

Reducing the graphical settings of the game you're attempting to play reduces the demand it places on your computer's hardware, and can make a game playable, albeit a bit uglier from a graphical standpoint. Each game's graphical setting options will vary, and may still not make the game playable on your machine.

  1. Load the game you are attempting to play and navigate to the game's options or settings menu.
  2. Look for Video or Graphics settings. Depending on the game you are playing, the labeling of this menu will vary.
    Witcher the Wild Hunt's graphical settings window
  3. Some games offer a simple menu that allows the user to set graphical options using a range. Settings may range from low all the way to ultra. Try reducing these settings below where they are currently set.
  4. Test your game. The reduction in settings may make the game playable. Reducing graphical settings may make the game look visually less appealing, but can be the difference between a game being playable or unplayable.

Graphics Settings and What They Mean

  • Resolution: The number of pixels that make up your game screen. The higher the numbers, the more power your game uses. Lowering this setting will greatly increase performance.
  • Anti-Aliasing: A setting that smooths jagged edges, making the game look better. Reducing this will increase performance while making your game look noticeably dated. Below shows anti-aliasing off on the left, and anti-aliasing set to four on the right. The jagged edges are more noticeable on the left.
    Skyrim screenshots. Anti aliasing is off on the left
  • Texture Quality: Textures are the pictures put over the models in a game. The higher the quality, the better the texture. The lower the quality, the faster the game will run. The image on the left has texture quality set to low.
    An example of texture quality
  • Shadow Quality: Like texture, shadow quality determines how crisp and accurate the shadows in a game are, but they're much easier to set lower as you don't notice them as much. Lowering shadow quality may take out the shadow entirely or just reduce it to a dark circle. 
  • View Distance: Like it says, view distance is how far you can see in the game. It determines how far away things will be rendered. The shorter the view distance, the better the performance. The image on the left has the lower view distance.
    View distance examples
  • Fullscreen VS Windowed Mode: Full Screening your game may improve performance. This is because a full screened game allows the game to control the entire screen. A windowed mode game will have other simultaneous programs and settings running.

3 Keep My Mac and Video Drivers Updated

There are two areas to check for updates for your Mac, the System Software and the Apps installed from the App Store. When you update your Mac System, it will also update your video drivers.

Update System Software

  1. Open the Apple menu, and select System Preferences.
    macOS Mojave Apple Menu with System Preferences highlighted.
  2. Select Software Update.
    Software Update Preferences
  3. Any updates to your System Software will be offered here.
    Software Update Preferences

Update App Store Apps

  1. Open the Apple menu, and select App Store.
    macOS Mojave Apple Menu with App Store highlighted.
  2. Select Updates on the left. Any updates available will be offered here.
    App Store with Updates highlighted.

4 If It Still Doesn't Work

Please contact product support for this application for further assistance.

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You've just purchased and installed a new game for your Apple Mac, but something feels off. Your frame-rate is wildly inconsistent. Mouse input is very erratic. The introductory sequence hangs for a second or two every time someone talks. When you move the camera, there’s some sort of horrifying stuttering.

There are a number of reasons why your Mac might be struggling to run your new game. This guide will help you determine what the issue is, and ways to potentially resolve it.
Various PC games.

All games have posted system requirements. Ensuring that your machine can handle the demands of a game before purchasing is generally best.

System requirements list what type of hardware and software you need to run a game. Minimum requirements are just that, the bare minimum required to run a game. If you meet the minimum requirements the game will run, but it may run poorly. 

Find the System Requirements for My Game

If you've purchased a physical copy of a game, the requirements are generally listed on the packaging. If you've purchased a game digitally, system requirements can be found on the marketplace they were purchased from, or directly from the game developer's website. Here is an example of Steam displaying the Mac system requirements for Tomb Raider:
Tomb Raider Mac OS requirements

Find the System Specs for My Mac

  1. On your Mac, select the Apple Menu and then About This Mac.
    macOS Mojave Apple menu with About This Mac highlighted.
  2. The About This Mac window will open, showing you the information.
    About macOS Mojave

If My Mac Doesn't Meet the Game Requirements

Physical upgrade options for Macs can be very limited. Depending on the model and manufacture date of your Mac, upgradeable hardware such as RAM and internal hard drive can actually be soldered to the logic board, making them impossible to remove or add to at all. Other internal Mac hardware is not made to be upgradeable whatsoever.

We recommend having a professional assess your Apple device to determine if you can upgrade it at all.

Optimize a Game's Graphics Settings for My Mac

Reducing the graphical settings of the game you're attempting to play reduces the demand it places on your computer's hardware, and can make a game playable, albeit a bit uglier from a graphical standpoint. Each game's graphical setting options will vary, and may still not make the game playable on your machine.

  1. Load the game you are attempting to play and navigate to the game's options or settings menu.
  2. Look for Video or Graphics settings. Depending on the game you are playing, the labeling of this menu will vary.
    Witcher the Wild Hunt's graphical settings window
  3. Some games offer a simple menu that allows the user to set graphical options using a range. Settings may range from low all the way to ultra. Try reducing these settings below where they are currently set.
  4. Test your game. The reduction in settings may make the game playable. Reducing graphical settings may make the game look visually less appealing, but can be the difference between a game being playable or unplayable.

Graphics Settings and What They Mean

  • Resolution: The number of pixels that make up your game screen. The higher the numbers, the more power your game uses. Lowering this setting will greatly increase performance.
  • Anti-Aliasing: A setting that smooths jagged edges, making the game look better. Reducing this will increase performance while making your game look noticeably dated. Below shows anti-aliasing off on the left, and anti-aliasing set to four on the right. The jagged edges are more noticeable on the left.
    Skyrim screenshots. Anti aliasing is off on the left
  • Texture Quality: Textures are the pictures put over the models in a game. The higher the quality, the better the texture. The lower the quality, the faster the game will run. The image on the left has texture quality set to low.
    An example of texture quality
  • Shadow Quality: Like texture, shadow quality determines how crisp and accurate the shadows in a game are, but they're much easier to set lower as you don't notice them as much. Lowering shadow quality may take out the shadow entirely or just reduce it to a dark circle. 
  • View Distance: Like it says, view distance is how far you can see in the game. It determines how far away things will be rendered. The shorter the view distance, the better the performance. The image on the left has the lower view distance.
    View distance examples
  • Fullscreen VS Windowed Mode: Full Screening your game may improve performance. This is because a full screened game allows the game to control the entire screen. A windowed mode game will have other simultaneous programs and settings running.

There are two areas to check for updates for your Mac, the System Software and the Apps installed from the App Store. When you update your Mac System, it will also update your video drivers.

Update System Software

  1. Open the Apple menu, and select System Preferences.
    macOS Mojave Apple Menu with System Preferences highlighted.
  2. Select Software Update.
    Software Update Preferences
  3. Any updates to your System Software will be offered here.
    Software Update Preferences

Update App Store Apps

  1. Open the Apple menu, and select App Store.
    macOS Mojave Apple Menu with App Store highlighted.
  2. Select Updates on the left. Any updates available will be offered here.
    App Store with Updates highlighted.