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How to speed up a slow Mac

Kenny Hemphill | March 10, 2016
Mac running too slow? Here are some great performance tips & free software to make Mac OS X run faster

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Step 1 of 20: Speed up a slow Mac

Is your Mac running slowly? Has it always been a little underpowered, or has it got slower with age? Macs generally run efficiently, but with an older Mac you might want to keep an eye on the performance. And don't worry - whether you've got an iMac, a MacBook (of any kind), a Mac mini or even a Mac Pro, our speed tips (updated for Mac OS X El Capitan) will help make your Mac run faster.

Spend a bit of time to clean up Mac OS X and it will pay you back by running software quickly and smoothly. These tips give you the confidence to clear out the clutter without losing any precious files. Follow these steps and Mac OS X will pelt ahead at full speed.

Step 2 of 20: Shut down unwanted apps

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It might sound obvious but the best place to start is to close down any unused programs. If you've got too many programs running at once your Mac may devote memory and CPU space to them instead of to the apps you want.

Right-click on programs in the Dock and choose Quit, or press Command-Tab to bring up the App Switcher and press Command-Q to quit unused programs.

Pro tip! Software like iStat Pro can be used to monitor your app performance in real-time.

Step 3 of 20: Ensure you can see open apps

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If you're worried about performance you should make sure you can see which apps are running. Open System Preferences and click Dock. Ensure there is a tick next to 'Show indicator lights for open applications'.

Step 4 of 20: Use Activity Monitor

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If you want to see what apps are using up your system resources, open the Activity Monitor in the Utilities folder.

Activity Monitor shows all the processes on your Mac (some of which you can't, or shouldn't, close) so click on View and Windowed Processes. Now click on the CPU button and the "%CPU" column to list all programs by the amount of CPU they are using. You can also use this to see what Memory, Disk and Network different processes are using.

A feature added in Mavericks was Energy, which enables you to see which apps and processes are using up the most amount of energy from your battery.

Step 5 of 20: Get rid of preference panes

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Open System Preferences and check in the row at the bottom. This is where custom items are added to your System Preferences and if you're not using them then they are taking up your CPU. Right-click on an item and choose Remove From Preference Pane.


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