Why Is My Mac So Slow and How Can I Fix It?

If your Mac is running slow, here’s what may speed things up and some recommendations to keep your device functional and secure.
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Have you ever wondered, “Why is my Mac so slow?” There are many reasons your device may not function as well as it did when you first bought it.

The good news is that you can perform some easy steps to make your Mac run faster, like keeping it updated, using the best antivirus software to ensure security, and clearing unnecessary files.

Before giving up on your device and thinking it may be time for a new one, read our guide for expert tips on how to speed up your Mac.

In this article
Why is my Mac so slow?
Make sure there’s no malware
Clean up your files and apps
More ways to speed up your Mac
Slow Mac FAQs
Bottom line

Why is my Mac so slow?

There are some common reasons why your Mac is running slow. If any of these resonate with you, they may be causing performance problems.

  • Not enough storage space: You may have too many files on your device and need more room.
  • Certain apps require more memory: Some applications use more memory than others, which can eat away at disk space quickly.
  • The trash bin is full: You may have too many files in your trash bin that you need to delete.
  • Malware is present: Malware can slow down any device and sometimes make it unusable.
  • Too many processes running: If you keep numerous browser tabs open, you may want to close them and any apps you do not need that require memory.

These are some of the most common issues, but they are not the only ones. We will go over some steps you can take to check for these and other issues that can make your Mac slow.

Make sure there’s no malware

If your Mac is running slow, you should always check for malware. A slow or unresponsive device is one of the first signs that malware has infected your Mac.

A computer virus may run processes and malicious apps without your knowledge. These can take up significant memory and leave you with a slow machine. Keeping your device secure is crucial, which means using the best virus protection for Macs.

Here are some of your top options:

  • AVG: AVG gives users malware and ransomware protection for up to 10 devices. You also get webcam security and a secure VPN.

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  • Avast: Avast has high antivirus test scores and can protect up to 30 devices. It’s best for Mac users who don’t need parental controls or a firewall.

    Get Avast | Read Avast Review

Clean up your files and apps

It’s easy to accumulate numerous files and apps on your device. Sometimes, you may have excess items you don’t need or some that are still active and running in the background.

Clean up excess files

  1. Go to the Apple menu, select System Settings, then scroll to General.
  2. Click Storage.
  3. Select the category to view, such as Documents.
  4. Browse the files in the category and delete anything you don’t need by right-clicking and selecting Delete.

Mac Storage

Remove unnecessary apps

You may have more applications than you realize, and they can take up plenty of space. Here’s how to find and delete the files you no longer need.

  1. Go to your Finder icon in the dock, then select Applications in the sidebar on the left.
  2. You can filter them in several ways, including by the date last opened or size.
  3. Review the list of applications to check for any you don’t need. Right-click on any unnecessary app and select Move to trash or Move to bin.

Mac Applications

Shut down heavy processes

Processes, such as various apps or background processes, can take up considerable memory while running on your device.

  1. Go to Finder in your dock.
  2. Select Applications and choose Utilities.
  3. In the dropdown, click Activity Monitor.
  4. Mac activity monitor

  5. You can double-click on any process to see more information. If you want to quit a process, click the X on the top bar. If you sort them by memory, you can see which ones take up the most space.

Mac processes

Manage starting programs

Starting programs automatically open when you log into your Mac. Sometimes, this is for convenience, but these can drain your system’s resources. To keep an eye on these processes, follow these steps:

  1. Go to your System Settings and click General.
  2. Look for Login Items on the right.
  3. Here, you can remove any app, folder, document, or connection you don’t want to open at startup by clicking the minus (-) sign. You can also turn off what’s allowed to run in the background by toggling off those items.

Mac startup apps

More ways to speed up your Mac

If you’ve completed the above steps and still want to speed up your Mac, there are some extra options.

Restart your computer

This suggestion may seem like low-hanging fruit to some, but it’s often overlooked. When you restart your Mac, you can think of it as a reset. It quits processes and apps, thereby freeing up RAM. It can also install updates that have been waiting a while, and it only takes a few minutes to restart your device.

To restart your computer, go to the main Apple menu and click Restart.

Clear out your browser cache

Clearing your browser cache is a good habit for regular maintenance. These files can add up over time and bog down your device. They take up space and can make your Mac slow. Here’s how to clear the cache in Safari:

  1. Open Safari and click on Settings.
  2. Click on Advanced and check the Show Develop menu in bar box.
  3. Click Settings, then go to Develop, and select Empty Caches.

Mac empty cache

Reduce visual effects

Having tons of special visual effects can put a performance load on your Mac. If you reduce the processing power it takes for those, it could improve your Mac’s speed.

  1. Go to your System Settings and click Accessibility in the sidebar.
  2. Select Display on the right.
  3. Turn on “Reduce motion.”

Mac reduce motion setting

Check your internet speeds

Is your Mac or your internet slow? Slow upload or download internet speeds could significantly impact your browsing and working capabilities.

Depending on your internet provider, you may be able to check your speed using an app or the provider’s website. Alternatively, you can quickly search for “internet speed test” on Google.

Internet speed test results

Make sure your macOS is up to date

Apple releases updates that can fix bugs and increase app security. These can help your Mac function more efficiently. Here’s how to be sure your macOS is up to date:

  1. Go to System Settings from the Apple menu.
  2. Click General and then click Software Update.
  3. If there are updates available, click Update Now.

Mac software update

Install an SSD

Installing an SSD may be more work than you’d like. It’s not a task most would opt for unless they have some technical experience, but we wanted to include it as an option for those who might enjoy the challenge.

First, Macs from 2017 and later are almost impossible to swap out because of the design. Also, keep in mind that removing parts may void your warranty. If you still want to try installing an SSD, you should backup your hard drive to keep your data secure. You can get an SSD online or in stores with computer parts, such as Best Buy or Amazon. Apple has SSD upgrade kits specifically for Mac.

  • Remove the back panel of your Mac using a Phillips screwdriver and lift the lower panel.
  • Be sure you disconnect the battery and remove the hard drive screws. There is a black bar holding it in place.
  • Once you’ve done this, you can remove the hard drive and secure the new SSD with the screws that came with it.

There are lots of videos online that will give you step-by-step instructions to follow. Alternatively, your local Mac repair service has professionals who can do this for you.

Slow Mac FAQs


How do I make my Mac run faster?

There are numerous ways to make your Mac run faster. Some of the first things to try would be restarting your device, clearing your browser cache, and removing unnecessary apps.


Is my Mac slow because it has a virus?

Your Mac may be slow because it has a virus. One of the signs of malware is a slow or unresponsive computer. Running an antivirus scan should alert you to anything suspicious.

Bottom line

When you want to speed up your Mac, starting with the easiest steps is best. Try restarting your device and closing out processes running in the background. You can also clear your browser cache and remove apps that automatically start when you log in.

Sometimes, a slow Mac can mean a virus is present. Using a reliable antivirus is always a good idea to keep malicious software off your machine. You can keep your computer secure with the best virus protection for Mac.

You don’t have to live with a slow computer. Following the tips in this article, your Mac can be cleaner, faster, and perform better.

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Author Details
Patti Croft is a seasoned writer specializing in technology, with three years of experience. With a B.S. in Computer Science and a background as a technical analyst and security specialist, she covers a range of topics like data security and parental control software.