How to Speed Up a Mac

Introduction

Over time, you may notice your Mac is slowing down. Keeping it up to date and running smoothly is a relatively simple task when you know what to do. This guide aims to walk you through several ways to maintain your system.

In this guide we'll cover:

  • Enabling Automatic Updates
  • Checking for Updates
  • Use iCloud to optimize storage
  • Storage Cleanup
  • Removing a program
  • Run First Aid
macOS.

1 Automatic Updates

  1. Click on the Apple Menu and click on System Preferences.
    Apple Menu open with system preferances highlighted
  2. Click App Store.
    System Preferences with App Store highlighted
  3. Ensure all items in this section are checked. This will allow for Automatic updates to happen and for them to install automatically.
    App Store settings with update options highlighted

MacBook, MacBook Pro, and MacBook Air must have the power adapter plugged in to automatically download updates.

2 Software Updates

There are two areas to check for updates for your Mac, the System Software and the Apps installed from the App Store.

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.

3 iCloud Storage Setup

iCloud securely stores your photos, videos, documents, music, apps, and more. iCloud can also be used to manage your storage.

First, we need to log into iCloud.

  1. Click on the Apple Menu and click on System Preferences.
    Apple menu with System Preferences
  2. Click on iCloud.
    System Preferences with iCloud highlighted
  3. If you are not already signed into iCloud, enter your Apple ID and password, and then click Sign In.
    iCloud settings with sign in highlighted
  4. Ensure to check the box that says "Use iCloud for your documents and data" and choose whether or not you want to use iCloud to locate your device. Click Next to continue.
    use icloud for your documents and data box is highlighted with the next button highlighted
  5. Now we will pick what you wish to sync with iCloud. We want to be sure that iCloud Drive and Photos are both checked.
    list of items that you can sync with iCloud with icloud drive and photos highlighted
  6. Open the Apple menu and click About This Mac.
    Apple menu highlighted with about this mac highlighted
  7. Click on Storage.
    about this mac page with storage tab highlighted
  8. Click on Manage.
    storage tab with the manage button highlighted
  9. Click Store in iCloud and choose from the options below.
    Storage options with store in icloud button highlighted
    Desktop and Documents Will store all files in these locations in iCloud. If you get low in storage, only recently used items will remain on the computer. You can download any file back to the computer by clicking the cloud icon.
    Photos Will store full resolution images and videos in iCloud. When space is needed, only optimized versions remain on the computer. You can download the original item by opening it.

Storing files in iCloud uses the storage space in your iCloud storage plan.

4 Storage Cleanup

  1. Open the Apple Menu and click About This Mac.
    Apple menu icon highlighted with about this mac highlighted in the menu below.
  2. Click on Storage.
    macOS about window with storage button highlighted.
  3. Click on Manage.
    macOS about window displaying the storage tab with manage button highlighted.

Optimize Storage

  1. Click on Optimize.
    macOS manage storage window highlighting the optimize button.

    When storage space is needed, iTunes movies or TV shows that you already watched are removed from your Mac. Click the cloud icon next to a movie or TV show to download it again.

Empty Trash Automatically

  1. To automatically delete your trash, click Turn On.
    macOS manage storage window highlighting the turn on button.

    Enabling this feature will permanently delete any items that have been in the trash for 30 days.

Reduce Clutter

  1. Click the Review Files button, then choose any of the categories in the sidebar, such as Applications, Documents, GarageBand, iOS Files, iTunes, or Trash.
    macOS manage storage window highlighting the review files button.

    You can delete files or programs by either clicking on the "x" when hovering over the item or by right clicking and choosing delete.

5 Uninstall a Program

If there's a program installed that you don't use anymore, it's best to uninstall it to save space.

  1. Select Finder, then select Go > Applications.
    Finder
    Finder Go menu with Applications highlighted
  2. Look through your list of programs for any you do not use anymore.
    Applications in Finder.
Uninstall a Program
  1. Make sure the program you want to uninstall is closed.
    Running Program
    There is a Dot • below the program's icon on your Dock.Program running on Dock
    Closed Program
    There's no Dot • below the program's icon on your Dock.Program not running on Dock
    Close a Program

    There are two ways to close a program on your Mac.

    Close a Program Using the Menu
    Select the program on your Dock, then select the program's name at the top, and select Quit.Program selected on Dock, with Program's main menu open with Quit highlighted.
    Close A Program Using the Right-Click Menu
    Using your Right mouse button, right-click on the program's icon on your dock, and select Quit from the menu.Right-click menu with Quit highlighted.
  2. Select Finder, then select Go > Applications.
    Finder
    Finder Go menu with Applications highlighted
  3. Drag the app you want to uninstall to the Trash.
    Finder showing dragging an app to the Trash
  4. Some apps have a little clean up to perform; carefully read and follow the directions on screen to complete removing the app.
    macOS will not allow you to remove apps deemed necessary by Apple from your computer.

6 First Aid

  1. In the Spotlight Search, type in Disk Utility & click on Disk Utility.
    spotlight highlighted with the disk utility application highlighted
  2. Select the Drive to check and then click on First Aid.
    Disk utility with the hard drive selected and then the first aid button is selected
  3. Click on Run.
    Would you like to run first aid notification box with the run button highlighted
  4. If you are checking a drive with files in use (such as your boot drive), then you will be prompted to temporarily lock the drive. Click Continue.
    First aid needs to temporarly lock the boot volume notification with the continue button highlighted

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Over time, you may notice your Mac is slowing down. Keeping it up to date and running smoothly is a relatively simple task when you know what to do. This guide aims to walk you through several ways to maintain your system.

In this guide we'll cover:

  • Enabling Automatic Updates
  • Checking for Updates
  • Use iCloud to optimize storage
  • Storage Cleanup
  • Removing a program
  • Run First Aid
macOS.
  1. Click on the Apple Menu and click on System Preferences.
    Apple Menu open with system preferances highlighted
  2. Click App Store.
    System Preferences with App Store highlighted
  3. Ensure all items in this section are checked. This will allow for Automatic updates to happen and for them to install automatically.
    App Store settings with update options highlighted

MacBook, MacBook Pro, and MacBook Air must have the power adapter plugged in to automatically download updates.

There are two areas to check for updates for your Mac, the System Software and the Apps installed from the App Store.

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.

iCloud securely stores your photos, videos, documents, music, apps, and more. iCloud can also be used to manage your storage.

First, we need to log into iCloud.

  1. Click on the Apple Menu and click on System Preferences.
    Apple menu with System Preferences
  2. Click on iCloud.
    System Preferences with iCloud highlighted
  3. If you are not already signed into iCloud, enter your Apple ID and password, and then click Sign In.
    iCloud settings with sign in highlighted
  4. Ensure to check the box that says "Use iCloud for your documents and data" and choose whether or not you want to use iCloud to locate your device. Click Next to continue.
    use icloud for your documents and data box is highlighted with the next button highlighted
  5. Now we will pick what you wish to sync with iCloud. We want to be sure that iCloud Drive and Photos are both checked.
    list of items that you can sync with iCloud with icloud drive and photos highlighted
  6. Open the Apple menu and click About This Mac.
    Apple menu highlighted with about this mac highlighted
  7. Click on Storage.
    about this mac page with storage tab highlighted
  8. Click on Manage.
    storage tab with the manage button highlighted
  9. Click Store in iCloud and choose from the options below.
    Storage options with store in icloud button highlighted
    Desktop and Documents Will store all files in these locations in iCloud. If you get low in storage, only recently used items will remain on the computer. You can download any file back to the computer by clicking the cloud icon.
    Photos Will store full resolution images and videos in iCloud. When space is needed, only optimized versions remain on the computer. You can download the original item by opening it.

Storing files in iCloud uses the storage space in your iCloud storage plan.

  1. Open the Apple Menu and click About This Mac.
    Apple menu icon highlighted with about this mac highlighted in the menu below.
  2. Click on Storage.
    macOS about window with storage button highlighted.
  3. Click on Manage.
    macOS about window displaying the storage tab with manage button highlighted.

Optimize Storage

  1. Click on Optimize.
    macOS manage storage window highlighting the optimize button.

    When storage space is needed, iTunes movies or TV shows that you already watched are removed from your Mac. Click the cloud icon next to a movie or TV show to download it again.

Empty Trash Automatically

  1. To automatically delete your trash, click Turn On.
    macOS manage storage window highlighting the turn on button.

    Enabling this feature will permanently delete any items that have been in the trash for 30 days.

Reduce Clutter

  1. Click the Review Files button, then choose any of the categories in the sidebar, such as Applications, Documents, GarageBand, iOS Files, iTunes, or Trash.
    macOS manage storage window highlighting the review files button.

    You can delete files or programs by either clicking on the "x" when hovering over the item or by right clicking and choosing delete.

If there's a program installed that you don't use anymore, it's best to uninstall it to save space.

  1. Select Finder, then select Go > Applications.
    Finder
    Finder Go menu with Applications highlighted
  2. Look through your list of programs for any you do not use anymore.
    Applications in Finder.
Uninstall a Program
  1. Make sure the program you want to uninstall is closed.
    Running Program
    There is a Dot • below the program's icon on your Dock.Program running on Dock
    Closed Program
    There's no Dot • below the program's icon on your Dock.Program not running on Dock
    Close a Program

    There are two ways to close a program on your Mac.

    Close a Program Using the Menu
    Select the program on your Dock, then select the program's name at the top, and select Quit.Program selected on Dock, with Program's main menu open with Quit highlighted.
    Close A Program Using the Right-Click Menu
    Using your Right mouse button, right-click on the program's icon on your dock, and select Quit from the menu.Right-click menu with Quit highlighted.
  2. Select Finder, then select Go > Applications.
    Finder
    Finder Go menu with Applications highlighted
  3. Drag the app you want to uninstall to the Trash.
    Finder showing dragging an app to the Trash
  4. Some apps have a little clean up to perform; carefully read and follow the directions on screen to complete removing the app.
    macOS will not allow you to remove apps deemed necessary by Apple from your computer.
  1. In the Spotlight Search, type in Disk Utility & click on Disk Utility.
    spotlight highlighted with the disk utility application highlighted
  2. Select the Drive to check and then click on First Aid.
    Disk utility with the hard drive selected and then the first aid button is selected
  3. Click on Run.
    Would you like to run first aid notification box with the run button highlighted
  4. If you are checking a drive with files in use (such as your boot drive), then you will be prompted to temporarily lock the drive. Click Continue.
    First aid needs to temporarly lock the boot volume notification with the continue button highlighted
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