Bring A Slow MacBook Back To Peak Performance With These 5 Tips

How to Boost Your Computer Productivity

Over time, as you’re working on your MacBook, you may notice that it’s getting slower than when you first got it. It’s annoying that you can’t work as fast as you used to, and you may see frequent hangs or crashes. The specs haven’t changed since you purchased your MacBook, so what could be making it run slower?

There’s no reason to panic; we can fix this. With one or more of the tips below, you can restore your macOS to its original speed with a few cleaning steps.

time-lapsed of street lights signifying speed
Photo by Marc Sendra Martorell

Just like your home or car, your computer needs to be cleaned to remain healthy and productive.

Below we describe five steps you can take today to help improve your macOS computer or laptop’s performance.

Let’s discover the main reasons that make your device slow and see possible solutions for each.

1. Outdated Software and Security Updates

Problem

Thanks to Apple, you can update your Mac regularly for free. The operating system notifies you about OS and Apple app updates and lets you pick when you would like to install them. Other software downloaded outside of the Apple Store will also notify you when updates and patches are available.

We know that it’s not always convenient to stop what you’re doing to install updates, but they are essential for keeping your device secure and performant.

person wearing brown and white watch waiting for MacBook
Photo by Brad Neathery

Updates improve software and fix critical errors before they happen. Do not put off updates for too long.

Sometimes hackers find holes in macOS or Mac software/apps to use in a “zero-day” exploit. A zero-day exploit is where the security hole is published to the hacker community and will work until Apple fixes it several days or weeks later.

So, if you have already missed several updates, it could be the reason that your Mac is running slower than usual.

For example, the Big Sur update caused several apps to open significantly slower than usual due to their Online Certificate Status Protocol (OCSP). Some apps were opening in minutes, not seconds.

The problem was related to the way Apple checks for properly signed security certificates in apps. These checks are designed to prevent bad actors from installing malware on your computer, but there was a problem with the server that checks the certificates.

If you don’t frequently read about Mac news, you probably assumed that the Big Sur update was too “big” and caused your computer to run slower. In reality, it was a mistake that they corrected reasonably quickly and pushed out as a software update.

Solution

When your Mac notifies you of software updates, plan to install them as soon as possible. You can leave all of your apps and browsers open in most cases, and your Mac will restore them after it reboots.

If possible, you should save your work and close all of your open apps so that you get a “clean” update.

2. Junk Files Inside The Operating System (OS)

Problem

When you opened your new Mac for the first time, you probably started installing all of your favorite apps, including some you haven’t used in years. Or, you migrated everything from your old Mac.

As a result, you have a pile of unused and unnecessary applications on your computer, taking up space and regularly “calling home” to see if there are any updates.

And each time you upgrade to the latest Mac or MacBook, you drag those apps and data with you to your next computer or laptop.

person using black laptop computer to migrate to MacBook
Photo by freestocks

Eventually, you have a bunch of apps and data that need to be stored, backed up regularly (you are doing regular off-site backups, right?), and patched with software updates.

While apps like Firefox only take up memory when you use them, other apps sit in your system tray and use resources that slow down your computer.

For example, apps like Dropbox, OneDrive, Skype, WhatsApp, Backblaze, and 1Password will constantly run unless you adjust their settings. If you’re not using these apps regularly, you should consider turning them off or deleting them.

You can check all of your folders to find unnecessary programs and uninstall them manually. Of course, it sounds very time-consuming, but fortunately, there is another way.

Solution

Discover a wide assortment of automatic cleaning apps and install the one to keep your files in order. These automatic cleaners will help you scan your hard drive and find all the apps you don’t use.

You can delete these files without damaging your system. If you go this route, scanning and cleaning your Mac’s system will take just several minutes.

3. Too Many Widgets And Icons

Problem

When did you check your Mac desktop last? Is it so cluttered with images and files that it seems daunting to try and figure out which ones you need?

If you have too many unnecessary widgets and icons on your desktop, this may slow down your computer. It’s a common reason for many users who experience freezes and slowness.

Solution

You need to spend some time at the computer and delete all icons and widgets from the desktop you do not use anymore.

We recommend removing the heaviest widgets that can decrease the speed of your Mac. Your desktop will look different after cleaning, and of course, it will also help boost your computer to its normal speed.

4. Too Many Temporary And Duplicate Documents

Problem

Did someone send you a picture via iMessage? Did you download it? Now you have two copies. Did you copy it to your Dropbox folder? Now you have three copies. Did you back it up to off-site storage? Now you have four copies. That single 3 MB image now takes 12 MB of space because of all of the copies.

The same thing happens with email attachments. You have the attachment in your mailbox plus a copy or two on your hard drive, taking up space.

Solution

We suggest checking the iPhoto and Mail apps to find and delete duplicate and unnecessary documents and files. Your Desktop and Downloads folder store lots of copies too.

Remove these unnecessary files to improve your Mac’s performance. We like to delete duplicate files and images while watching television – it’s mindless work that you can do while relaxing with your family.

5. Corrupted Documents

Problem

Corrupted documents are difficult to spot until you try to open or use them. These could be system files, documents, images, or apps.

If you installed an app that doesn’t work right, be sure to delete it. It’s not likely to automatically “fix itself”. If it’s an app that you need, set a reminder to visit the vendor’s website in the future to see if they fixed the issue.

Solution

Delete damaged and broken files from your Mac as soon as possible. If you need the file, restore it from your backups.

If you are not sure how many corrupted files you have, install a reliable cleaner to do it automatically.

Summary

Improving performance comes down to two main things: resources and updates.

Your computer has limited resources. Pushing them to the upper limit will slow down your Mac.

Your computer requires care and maintenance to be an effective tool. Keep your computer up to date with the latest software and security patches.

Lastly, check out the Mac cleaners mentioned above to help make these tasks easier so you can spend time on productive tasks instead of mindless cleaning.

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