How to Speed Up your Mac

Years of continued and extensive use can slow a Mac down — sometimes to the point that you can barely do anything. If you neither have the funds nor the desire to replace your Mac with a new unit, you might want to try the following cost-free workarounds to help speed up your Mac.

1. Managing Your Startup Items

Startup items are programs and applications that automatically launch when you turn your Mac on — saving you the time and effort of launching programs and apps that you use on a regular basis one-by-one. However, when you install new programs on your Mac, some of them trick you into including them in your list of startup items even if you won’t be using them frequently. Over time, these items can multiply and compete for valuable resources with programs and applications that you actually need.

To prevent unwanted programs or applications from running on startup, do the following:

1. Open “System Preferences.”
2. Click on “Users & Groups.”
3. Choose your user account.
4. Click on the “Login items” tab.
5. Look for startup programs that you want to remove.
6. Press the “–” sign below.
7. Restart your Mac to save the changes that you recently made.

2. Killing Memory Consuming Programs and Applications

Each program and application running on your Mac eats up a certain amount of memory. Some consume a negligible amount; some are notorious for eating up large chunks of memory even while they’re simply idling in the background.

Internet browsers and media players are some of the worst offenders, so unless you absolutely need them to be constantly running, you may want to disable them when not in use to help speed up your Mac.

To do this:

1. Open “Finder.”
2. Click on “Applications.”
3. Click on the “Utilities” folder.
4. Open “Activity Monitor”
5. Click on “Memory.”
6. Check the list of running processes.
7. Click on a process that you don’t want to run in the background.
8. Click “Quit Process.”
9. Do this for every other process that you don’t want to run.

3. Using Your Mac’s Optimized Storage Feature

Your Mac has a nifty feature that allows you to customize how you store your files. This process allows you to free up as much disk space as possible and it helps speed up your Mac in the process.

To use this feature:

1. Go to the Apple Menu.
2. Click on “About this Mac.”
3. Click on “Storage.”
4. Click on “Manage Options.”
5. It will give you four ways to optimize your Mac’s storage.
6. First, click on “Store in iCloud.”
7. Tick the boxes that read:

a. Store files from desktop and documents in iCloud drive.
b. Store photos and videos in iCloud Photo Library.

8. Click on “Store in iCloud.”
9. Next, hover over the “Optimize Storage” option then click “Optimize.”
10. When asked if you want to optimize storage of iTunes files, click “Optimize” again.
11. Next, hover over the “Empty Trash Automatically” option then click “Turn On.”
12. Last, reduce clutter by hovering over the “Reduce Clutter” option and clicking on “Review Files.”
13. Your computer will show you a list of files stored on Your Mac sorted by category and file size.
14. Click on the files that you no longer wish to keep, press the “X” button, then click on “Remove.”

4. Disabling Unnecessary Plugins

Have you ever visited a website just to be pestered by random videos automatically playing? Not only are these annoying, but they slow page load times to a craw. The dastardly culprits are plugins like Flash Player and HTML5.

Don’t get us wrong. They are useful plugins. They’re there to enrich your web-viewing experience by allowing you to watch videos, load animations, or stream audio. But, when they automatically run without your permission, they can not only be a bit distracting, they can also slow your computer down.

To address this issue and help speed up your Mac, you can disable Flash Player and other unnecessary plugins on your browser’s menu.

If you’re using Mac’s own Safari browser:

1. Go to Safari.
2. Click on “Preferences”.
3. Click on “Security.”
4. Tick off the box that says “Allow Plugins” if you want to keep all plugins from running.
5. Click on “Manage Website Settings” if you want to set exceptions.
6. Take a look at the list of plugins frequently used by your Mac.
7. Highlight the plugin whose settings you want to customize.
8. Choose between any of the following options:

a. ask before running the plugin.
b. block the plugin from running.
c. allow the plugin to run.
d. always allow the plugin to run.

In the latest version of Safari, you can also prevent videos and sound from automatically playing by:

1. Going to the Safari menu.
2. Clicking on “Preferences”.
3. Clicking on “Websites.”
4. Clicking “Autoplay.”
5. From there you will see a list of websites that you visited that have autoplay enabled.
6. Click on a website the settings of which you want to adjust.
7. Choose if you want it to:

a. allow all autoplay,
b. stop media with sound,
c. never autoplay.

8. At the bottom of the menu, you will also see a box asking you if you also want to apply the same settings on other websites that you will visit.
9. Pick your preferred setting.
10. Done.

To do the same thing if using Google Chrome:

1. Go to the top right menu and look for the three vertical dots.
2. Click on “Settings”
3. Scroll down and click on the “Advanced” section at the bottom
4. Select “Privacy and Security”
5. Click on “Content Settings”
6. Select “Flash.”
7. Choose between any of the following options:

a. allow sites to run Flash (applies to all websites)
b. ask first,
c. block,
d. allow (applies to a list of websites that you included on a whitelist).

5. Disabling Unnecessary Extensions

Aside from disabling unnecessary plugins, you can also help speed up your Mac by disabling unnecessary browser extensions.
As the case with plugins, browser extensions can be pretty useful. They add certain functionalities to your browser (for instance, a spelling or grammar checker that automatically checks what you’re writing on a document), but this only works great if you actually wanted them to do that for you.
In some cases, browser extensions that you downloaded for a specific purpose alone come with bundled features that you don’t really need and slow your computer down.

To stop browser extensions from eating up resources:

1. In Safari, go to the Safari Menu.
2. Click on ‘Preferences.”
3. Click on “Extensions.”
4. Tick of the box next to the extension that you wish to disable.
5. Do the same thing for other extensions that you don’t need.

If you’re using Google Chrome:

1. Go to the top right menu and look for the three vertical dots.
2. Click on “More Tools.”
3. Click on “Extensions.”
4. Tick off the box that says “Enabled.”
5. Do the same thing for other extensions that you don’t need.

6. Getting Ad Blockers

Most computer users already know better not to click on random advertisements on the websites that they visit (unless they actually are interested in the product that they are advertising), but there are websites that automatically pop-up advertisements as soon as you visit.

Worse still, some of them pop up so quickly, that unless you were paying close attention to the screen, you’re likely to miss them and leave them running in the background without your knowledge.
To prevent such ads from sneaking in and slowing your Mac down, try to install Ad blockers on your computer. There are many Ad Blockers out there that promise to do a lot of different things so take the time to read product descriptions and customer feedback to see which ones will be good for you.

7. Customizing Your Spotlight Preferences

Spotlight is very helpful if you need to find certain things on your Mac, but it will be even more helpful if you customize your spotlight preferences and tell the program exactly where to look.

To do this:

1. Open Spotlight.
2. Go to “System Preferences.”
3. Click on the “Privacy tab.”
4. Drag folders or volumes that you don’t need to search on to the window.

By doing this, you are telling Spotlight to skip locations that it doesn’t need to search — freeing up valuable time and resources and helping with speeding up your Mac.

8. Clearing Your Cache

A cache is a storage area that stores temporary data that your Mac or browser thinks it’s going to need again sometime in the future. This allows easier and faster ways to retrieve that data next time.

The problem is, the more you browse websites or use certain applications on your Mac, the more space your cache will occupy. Once the size of the contents of your cache become too large, your Mac may start exhibiting noticeable lagging.

To help speed up your Mac again, you can clear both your browser’s cache as well as your Mac’s cache itself.

Clearing Your Mac’s cache

To clear your Mac’s cache:

1. Open a “Finder” window.
2. Select “Go to Folder” in the “Go” menu.
3. Type in ~/Library/Caches and press “Enter.”
4. Check each folder and delete items you no longer need. (NOTE: Only delete items that you are sure that you no longer need. Some contents of the cache are vital to running some applications smoothly, so if you’re not sure whether a certain file is important or not, try to research exactly what it does first).
5. When you’re done, repeat the same steps but change ~/Library/Caches to /Library/Caches.
6. After you’ve deleted everything you no longer need, Control-click on the Trash icon in the dock.
7. Select “Empty Trash.”
8. Restart your Mac.

Clearing Your Browser’s Cache

To clear your browser’s cache in Mac’s Safari:

1. Go to the Safari Menu.
2. Click on “Preferences.”
3. Select “Privacy.”
4. Click on “Manage Website Data.”
5. Choose “Remove All” then click on “Remove Now.”

To clear browser cache in Google Chrome:

1. Go to the top right menu and look for the three vertical dots.
2. Click on “Settings.”
3. Click on “History.”
4. Click on “Clear browsing data.”
5. Deselect all except for “Cached images and files.”
6. Click the box that says “Clear the following items from”
7. Select from “The beginning of time.”
8. Click on “Clear browsing data.”

If you’ve already done all of the tips discussed above, but your Mac is still acting a little too slow for your liking, you might want to start considering reinstalling your Operating System, upgrading your RAM, or buying a dedicated graphics card (applies to certain Mac models only). If you’re not sure how to go about it, give one of our Mac Experts a call at 888-769-7629.

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