How to Fix Performance Issues on a Mac

Introduction

macOS does a very good job of taking care of itself; for the most part, you do not need 3rd party utilities to help keep your Mac running well.

This guide will walk you through a series of simple steps, using the built-in tools with your Mac, to make sure it's running as well as it can.

Apple

1 Check Startup Programs

  1. Select the Apple Menu and then System Preferences.
    macOS Mojave Apple Menu with System Preferences highlighted.
  2. Select Users & Groups.
    macOS Users and Groups Preferences
  3. Select Login Items at the top, then your Username on the left. Finally, select the lock in the bottom-left corner to unlock these settings.
    Users and Groups Preferences with Login Items, User, and Lock highlighted.
  4. Enter your macOS password, and select Unlock.
    System Preferences unlock prompt with password and Unlock button highlighted.
  5. Look through the list on the right. If you see an item you don't recognize, or an item you don't use frequently, highlight it by clicking its name, then click the Remove (–) button below to remove it.
    Users and Groups Login Items with an item and minus button highlighted.

2 Check for Updates

  1. Select the Apple menu, then App Store.
    macOS Mojave Apple Menu with App Store highlighted.
  2. You will now see the app store pull up. Select Updates.
    macOS 10.14 Mojave or LaterApp Store side bar with Updates highlighted.
    macOS 10.13 High Sierra or EarlierApp store menu bar with Updates highlighted.
Any version of macOS 10.7 (Lion) or older can check for available updates through the Apple Menu and Software Updates.

3 Reset NVRAM

NVRAM (nonvolatile random-access memory) is a cache of settings specific to your Mac. Resetting NVRAM is safe, however you will need to reset some of your minor customizations, such as volume, time zone, or screen resolution.

  1. From the menu bar across the top of the screen, select the Apple menu (1), then select Shut Down... (2).
    Apple menu icon highlighted with menu beneath highlighting the shut down option.
  2. Wait for your computer to shut down, and turn off.
  3. Turn your Mac back on by pushing the Power button.
    Macbook power button highlighted on the keyboard.
  4. Immediately push and hold the option, command ⌘, P, and R keys on your keyboard.
    option keyPluscommand keyPlusP KeyPlusR Key
    • If your Mac plays a startup sound, release the keys after the second time it plays.
    • If there is no startup sound, release the keys after the second time the Apple logo disappears.

? Did this solve the performance issues?

  1. Yes
  2. No

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macOS does a very good job of taking care of itself; for the most part, you do not need 3rd party utilities to help keep your Mac running well.

This guide will walk you through a series of simple steps, using the built-in tools with your Mac, to make sure it's running as well as it can.

Apple

  1. Select the Apple Menu and then System Preferences.
    macOS Mojave Apple Menu with System Preferences highlighted.
  2. Select Users & Groups.
    macOS Users and Groups Preferences
  3. Select Login Items at the top, then your Username on the left. Finally, select the lock in the bottom-left corner to unlock these settings.
    Users and Groups Preferences with Login Items, User, and Lock highlighted.
  4. Enter your macOS password, and select Unlock.
    System Preferences unlock prompt with password and Unlock button highlighted.
  5. Look through the list on the right. If you see an item you don't recognize, or an item you don't use frequently, highlight it by clicking its name, then click the Remove (–) button below to remove it.
    Users and Groups Login Items with an item and minus button highlighted.
  1. Select the Apple menu, then App Store.
    macOS Mojave Apple Menu with App Store highlighted.
  2. You will now see the app store pull up. Select Updates.
    macOS 10.14 Mojave or LaterApp Store side bar with Updates highlighted.
    macOS 10.13 High Sierra or EarlierApp store menu bar with Updates highlighted.
Any version of macOS 10.7 (Lion) or older can check for available updates through the Apple Menu and Software Updates.

NVRAM (nonvolatile random-access memory) is a cache of settings specific to your Mac. Resetting NVRAM is safe, however you will need to reset some of your minor customizations, such as volume, time zone, or screen resolution.

  1. From the menu bar across the top of the screen, select the Apple menu (1), then select Shut Down... (2).
    Apple menu icon highlighted with menu beneath highlighting the shut down option.
  2. Wait for your computer to shut down, and turn off.
  3. Turn your Mac back on by pushing the Power button.
    Macbook power button highlighted on the keyboard.
  4. Immediately push and hold the option, command ⌘, P, and R keys on your keyboard.
    option keyPluscommand keyPlusP KeyPlusR Key
    • If your Mac plays a startup sound, release the keys after the second time it plays.
    • If there is no startup sound, release the keys after the second time the Apple logo disappears.

Make the Dock work faster

  1. Select Apple menu > System Preferences.
    macOS Mojave Apple Menu with System Preferences highlighted.
  2. Select Dock.
    macOS Dock Preferences
  3. For Minimize windows using, choose Scale Effect. Remove the check for Animate opening applications.
    Dock Preferences with Minimize Windows Using and Animate Opening Applications highlighted.

Desktop Background

  1. Select Apple menu > System Preferences.
    macOS Mojave Apple Menu with System Preferences highlighted.
  2. Select Desktop & Screen Saver.
    macOS Desktop and Screen Saver Preferences
  3. Choose a single image (not an animated one), and remove the check mark for Change picture at the bottom.
    Desktop and Screen Saver preferences with static desktop pictures and change picture option highlighted.

Close unnecessary Dashboard Widgets

  1. Select Spotlight Search in the top right corner of your menu bar.
    macOS menu bar with Search highlighted.
  2. Type in "dashboard", and select Dashboard from the search results.
    Spotlight Search for Dashboard with Dashboard highlighted.
  3. Click the Remove – button in the lower-left corner.
    dashboard with remove button highlighted
  4. Click the Close X button for any unwanted widgets.
  1. Select Apple menu > About This Mac.
    macOS Mojave Apple menu with About This Mac highlighted.
  2. Select Storage.
    About This Mac with Storage highlighted
  3. Free space is the first number you see below the name of your hard drive.
    About This Mac Storage with available space highlighted

    Disk space needs will vary depending on how you use your computer. In general, if you have over 15 GB of free space, you should be fine for updates and upgrades.
    Only proceed if you have less than 15 GB of free space.

  4. Select Manage.
    About this Mac with Manage button highlighted
  5. Under Recommendations on the left, you'll see some very easy-to-use tools to help optimize and clean up your disk space, such as optimizing the files already stored in iCloud, removing items from iTunes you've already watched or listened to, emptying the Trash automatically, and reviewing the files stored on your Mac to delete unused or old ones.
    macOS recommendations

Disk Utility is designed to be easy to run, and help fix many small issues with your Mac's storage disk. Keep in mind, though, it is also designed to do major repairs and has the capabilities to cause problems if not used correctly. This guide will walk you through the proper options to select to use it safely.

Disk Utility can take a long time to run, especially on larger hard drives. Please make sure you won't need your computer for at least 1 hour before beginning this step.
  1. Select Apple Menu > Restart.
    macOS Mojave Apple Menu with Restart highlighted.
  2. Immediately after your Mac restarts (some Mac computers play a startup sound), press and hold the command ⌘ and R keys until the Apple logo appears, then release the keys.
    Mac keyboard with command and R keys highlighted
  3. Select Disk Utility, then Continue.
    macOS Utilities with Disk Utility and Continue highlighted
  4. Select your hard drive, then select First Aid at the top.
    Disk Utility with drive and First Aid highlighted.
  5. A message telling you First Aid will check and repair errors. Select Run.
    Disk Utility First Aid dialog with Run highlighted.
  6. Disk Utility will scan your hard drive, and attempt to repair any issues it has.
    If you are prompted to complete the repairs yourself, or get an error about disk failure, reach out to Apple Support immediately.
  7. If the repairs complete successfully, select the Apple Menu > Restart to restart your Mac.
    Apple menu with Restart highlighted.
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