How to Troubleshoot Common Mac Slowdowns?

Using a slow, sluggish MacBook can be extremely frustrating. It ends up disrupting your workflow and affecting your overall productivity. Luckily, you don't have to stay stuck with a slow-performing Mac because there are various approaches to help diagnose and fix the culprits causing slowdowns.

In this guide, you will be introduced to different troubleshooting methods that empower you to rejuvenate your system's performance and boost productivity. 

Are you ready? Let's go!

How do you identify the culprits impacting Mac's performance?

troubleshoot mac slowdowns

Before letting you know the different solutions that will help speed up your Mac's performance, it is essential to identify the culprits causing the slowdown. Some of the ways to monitor your Mac's performance are:

  • Open the Activity Monitor to get real-time information about memory, CPU, energy, network, and disk usage. This is the built-in tool that allows you to assess and monitor the processes that are consistently consuming the most resources carefully and consistently. Then, you can make informed decisions about pausing or quitting some of the programs that are consuming too much of your system's resources. 

  • Click About This Mac to get System Information. Here, you will get a comprehensive overview of your system's software versions and hardware specifications. Also, you will see the network settings. On closely analyzing these details, you will be able to identify the bottlenecks and make changes accordingly. 

  • Find the Console App in Utilities, and you can go through all the system activities and the errors that might be the reason for the sluggish performance of your system. Although technical expertise is required for in-depth assessment, you will get clues about specific problems and can make informed decisions. 

Common causes of slowdowns and troubleshooting tips

It is essential to understand the potential bottlenecks so you can easily solve them. Here's a list of some of the causes of slowdowns and the troubleshooting approaches you can implement to get your workflow on track. 

Delete cache

In order to speed up operations, macOS stores its cache files in various folders. Whether you use certain websites or apps regularly, the cache files will be stored so that you don't have to wait the next time you open the website or app. 

Clear cache data

Although this might seem like a good thing, cache files pile up with time. This ends up slowing things down. Hence, it is better to clear cache MacBook to speed things up. By clearing cache files, you will be reclaiming disk space, troubleshooting app problems, and ensuring your privacy isn't compromised. 

Manage login and startup items

You will notice that there are several applications that automatically launch the moment you turn on your Mac. If you need these applications regularly, it may seem like a good idea to have them launch automatically at login or startup. This saves you the trouble of logging in. However, this results in the consumption of a lot of system resources

The boot time might also get delayed because there are so many apps fighting to open. This might be the reason why your computer is working slowly. 

In most cases, users don't even need all the apps that launch automatically. The solution is to go to System Preferences or System Settings > Users & Groups > Login Items > uncheck all the boxes next to the applications you don't need to launch automatically. 

Along with this, you can go to General > Startup and disable all the programs you don't need at startup. 

Declutter the storage space

Is the storage space too cluttered? You may not realize this, but a cluttered hard drive can severely impact the performance of your Mac. Since there's not enough space for the apps to function properly, everything slows down. 

There's a simple workaround for this. You can go to About This Mac > Storage to check the disk space used. Here, you must carefully go through all the tabs to understand the apps and files taking up space.

This will help in the identification of unnecessary files so you can remove them. For instance, there might be old documents or large downloads you have forgotten about. These files might be taking up a lot of unnecessary storage space. Removing them will instantly free up disk space. 

empty trash

When you delete files, remember to clear the Trash or Bin. This is because all the deleted files are sent to the Bin. If you don't permanently delete the files, they continue taking up disk space. 

If you have old photos and videos on your Mac computer that you cannot delete, you can send them to iCloud or transfer them to an external drive. This will prevent your Mac's internal storage space from being full. 

Regularly update applications and macOS

Is your macOS software outdated? Have you not updated the applications in a long time? Software and app updates are released for a reason. They come packed with bug fixes, security patches, and performance enhancements. You must not wait too long to install the updates. Most of the performance issues you are experiencing will be solved by simply updating the macOS software and apps. 

To update macOS software, go to System Preferences or System Settings > Software Update. You can update apps by going to the App Store. You can also enable automatic updates, so you don't have to do this manually. 


SMC and PRAM/NVRAM manage important functions like memory access and power management. By resetting them, you might be able to solve performance issues. 

The instructions and steps for resetting NVRAM/PRAM and SMC differ depending on your Mac's model. To know the specific instructions, you must consult Apple's support or check the model's manual. 

Run Disk Utility to repair disk errors

System slowdowns might be caused due to disk inconsistencies or errors. The solution to get around this is to open Disk Utility and choose your primary drive. Then, select First Aid > run Repair Disk. 

The process will run on its own and check for potential disk problems. If there are any, it will solve the ones it can repair. 

Close all the unnecessary tabs and applications

System slowdowns are not always caused by something complicated. Sometimes, it might be something as simple as too many applications or browser tabs running in the background. You might have even forgotten about them, but they are constantly using memory and CPU in the background. This results in affecting the overall performance of your Mac. 

close all tabs

The solution to this problem is closing all the tabs and apps you don't need. This will instantly free up system resources. 

If some of the apps or tabs are unresponsive, you can force quit them by pressing Option + Command + Escape. 

Visual effects are visually attractive and can add flair to your Mac experience. However, they demand more resources and consume a lot of power. Not only does this drain the battery, but it also causes the system to perform slowly. 

You can disable visual effects by going to Accessibility > Display. Then, check the box next to Reduce Transparency and Reduce Motion. 

Are there any preventative measures?

Yes, there are some preventative measures you can adopt to prevent slowdowns in the future. 

  • Delete cache and temporary files regularly. You can manually delete them or use a cleaning application. 

  • Ensure the desktop is clutter-free and all the files are properly organized. 

  • If the applications are outdated or you don't use them anymore, delete them. 

  • Ensure backups are scheduled regularly so you can remove the backed-up files from your internal hard drive. 

  • Regularly scan your Mac for malware and use a reputed antivirus solution to protect your system. 

  • Do not let dust build up on your Mac, as this might impact heat dissipation and impact its performance. It is essential to clean the keyboard and the vents regularly. 

Advanced troubleshooting tips 

If the issue persists and the steps mentioned above do not offer relief, you can try the following advanced troubleshooting options:

  • Format the drive so that you can start fresh. 

  • Reinstall macOS to resolve deep-seated problems. 

The final step is to seek professional help. If you think you have exhausted all troubleshooting steps and your Mac system continues to experience slowdowns, it is time to seek professional help. Call Apple Support and consult the technicians.

Contact Apple support

Ensure that you give them all the necessary details so they can easily diagnose the issue and recommend the best ways to repair your system. They will also let you know if you need to make any hardware or software upgrades. 

The bottom line 

These are the main reasons for Mac slowdowns. If you want to troubleshoot this issue and get your workflow back on track, try the measures mentioned above. The steps mentioned here will help you diagnose the culprits and then solve them. This will restore the efficiency of your Mac and boost your productivity.

If you are unable to resolve this issue yourself, consult Apple's support team. The technicians will assist you with all the resources and guidance you need. 

About the Author Peter K.

Peter K. is an experienced digital marketer with a decade of expertise in driving business growth through innovative strategies. His data-driven approach and deep understanding of SEO, PPC, social media, and content marketing have propelled brands to new heights. With a client-centric mindset, Peter builds strong relationships and aligns strategies with business goals. A sought-after thought leader and speaker, his insights have helped professionals navigate the digital landscape. Trust Peter to elevate your brand and achieve success in the digital era.

Peter K.

April 4, 2024