7 Fixes for Mac Running Slow after macOS Monterey Update

Although the new macOS 12 Monterey is a smaller update compared to Big Sur, it’s still packed with lots of amazing features. Upgraded FaceTime, Universal Control across devices with single mouse or trackpad, improved Safari browsing experience, privacy enhancements, the list go on.

We are all excited about the new macOS and hit the update button, only to find our Mac experiencing performance issues such as the machine runs slow after updating to macOS Monterey. Common symptoms include:

  • Apps are slow to open or keeps freezing.
  • The fan is constantly running and has high noise.
  • Internet becomes super slow and it’s impossible to watch YouTube videos.

If you are facing one of those macOS Monterey slow issues with your Mac (iMac, MacBook Pro, MacBook Air), read on to find out how to fix it. We are going to share with you some of the best tips and tricks. Let’s get started.

Note: there are many possible reasons behind a slow Mac, we’ll start with the basic fixes. If one particular fix doesn’t work, try another one.

1. Check Whether Your Mac is Compatible with Monterey

Technically speaking, this is not a fix but it’s worth checking as the first step. Every new macOS that Apple has released has a minimum requirement on hardware. If your Mac machine is showing its age, it’s going to have a difficult time running the latest operating system, or even not compatible with the latest version at all.

Click here to learn the list of macOS Monterey supported Macs and check whether your Mac is on the list or not. Also, the installer file of macOS Monterey is 12GB, but you’ll need at least 35GB of free storage on your Mac for the new system to run, preferably 50GB or even more.

If you find that your Mac is too old to run macOS Monterey, it’s probably a good idea to revert to an older version since you’ll encounter more performance issues after updating and there aren’t many tricks you can play around with to speed up your machine.

2. Disable Startup Items (Apps & Hidden Launch Agents)

Best for: When your Mac is slow to start up.

Take a look at what start-up applications you have running and stop as many of these from opening as possible. The fewer programs that run automatically on startup, the faster your Mac will be. To disable these startup items:

  1. Click on the Apple menu from the top left corner.
  2. Click on System Preferences > Users & Groups > Login Items
  3. Select these apps that you don’t need to auto startup and hit the minus “” option.
macOS Big Sur Users & Groups

Meanwhile, there might be some launch agents (i.e. hidden apps/services that keep running in the background) that slow down your Mac’s startup speed as well. And they are not that easy to be spotted out unless you use a tool such as CleanMyMac X.

Here’s how to remove them:

  1. Run CleanMyMac on your computer.
  2. Click on Optimization > View All Items > Launch Agents.
  3. You’ll see a list of small helper and service applications that automatically run after your Mac boots up. Select those you don’t want and hit the Remove button.

Then you’ll be all set. You should notice some speed gain when you reboot your Mac machine.

3. Find and Quit Resource-hungry Apps via Activity Monitor

Best for: When your Mac is slow when running specific applications.

Another reason for macOS Monterey running slow is that those resource-hungry applications are taking away too many system resources while running. Big programs like Photoshop, Camtasia, and Final Cut Pro tend to use much more power than smaller ones. It’s usually fine when these programs are working with a big photo or rendering a video effect, but if they are constantly taking more share than they should, something is probably wrong.

To find out which applications/services are over-consuming your system power, follow the steps below:

  1. Open Finder > Applications > Utilities.
  2. Locate this app called Activity Monitor and double click to open it.
  3. Look at the processes from the top of the list, see if there are any processes that are using much power, e.g. taking more than 50% CPU.
  4. If you spot any processes that seem to be resource-hungry, try quitting them by simply selecting and clicking on the “x” button from the toolbar on the top, and see what happens.
macos Big Sur Activity Monitor

Sometimes this might be all that you need to do and your Mac will run smoothly again.

Note: for those big photo/video editing applications that you often use, it’s also a good idea to check whether they have a newer version. If yes, you’d better update the apps to the latest version for optimal performance.

4. Clean up System Junk and App Junk

Best for: When macOS Monterey runs slow for no obvious reason.

Another quick method you can use to speed up your MacBook or iMac after updating to Monterey is by cleaning out system junk and app junk. Each time you update your Mac, there are some files written on the computer but you don’t need once a new macOS finishes installing but they might still be stored somewhere on your Mac. Same with third-party apps. Often times by cleaning those unnecessary files, your Mac with Monterey will run faster.

However, it’s not that easy to identify these junk files than it might sound, unless you are a computer person. For most of us (i.e. general Mac users), the best way is to use a third-party tool. Again, we like CleanMyMac and recommend it for this job because it’s easy and simple to use. Both a free version and a paid version are available. The free version will do an OK job of cleaning system junk and app junk but the paid version will actually prevent junk files from building up in the first place, which makes it worth considering.

How to clean it?

  1. Open the CleanMyMac app and click on the System Junk from the left panel.
  2. Click the yellow “Grant Access” button to allow the app to find more junk.
  3. Hit the Scan button to get started.
  4. Soon you’ll see a list of junk files that are safe for removal.
  5. Don’t forget to navigate to Photo Junk, iTunes Junk to clean app junk.

5. Enable Optimize Storage with Your Mac

Best for: When your Mac is running out of storage after updating to macOS Monterey.

In general, the more storage space you have for your Mac machine, the faster it will run. The question is how to quickly free up some storage? Optimize Storage is a cool feature that you can take advantage of. It saves space by automatically removing your watched movies and TV shows from this Mac.

  1. Click on the Apple logo.
  2. From the drop-down menu, select About This Mac > Storage > Manage.
  3. You’ll see a window like below, click on the “Optimize” button for Optimize Storage.
  4. Wait until it’s completed.
macOS Big Sur Optimize Storage feature

6. Reset SMC and NVRAM

Best for: When your Mac fan or sound is running loud, battery and power drain fast, etc.

According to Apple, resetting the system management controller (SMC) can resolve certain issues related to fans, battery, power, and some other features. Similarly resetting NVRAM on your Mac can help address issues related to display resolution, sound volume, startup-disk selection, and recent kernel panic information. If you feel your Mac is acting after updating to the latest macOS Monterey, it’s probably a good time to reset SMC and NVRAM.

Resetting SMC and NVRAM are harmless operations and they are easy to be done. You can follow the guides linked above from Apple, or watch this YouTube video for step-by-step instructions.

7. Clean Install (Re-install) macOS Monterey

Best for: When you’ve tried all the above techniques and your Mac is still slow.

macOS Monterey is a great operating system, but it’s not perfect. That’s why Apple has been fine-tuning it since it was first released in June 2021 at the WWDC. If you’ve tried all the fixes above and your Mac still lags, then re-installing might be your last resort.

A clean install will erase all the data on your Mac hard drive so you have no customization, no third-party apps, no user data, etc. just like you are having a new computer that should be quite fast. Check out this article for more information.

Important: make sure to back up your Mac before you start the clean install.

Why iMac or MacBook Pro Can Run Slowly after Updating to macOS Monterey

There can be quite a few causes. The first one is if your computer is not actually compatible with the latest macOS. Apple has made a list of devices supported by Monterey, they are:

  • MacBook: 2016 or newer.
  • MacBook Air: 2015 or newer.
  • MacBook Pro: 2015 or newer.
  • iMac: Late 2015 or newer.
  • iMac Pro.
  • Mac Mini: 2014 or newer.
  • Mac Pro: 2013 or newer.

As you can see, MacBooks needs to be a model made in 2015 or later to even run macOS Monterey. If you are using a model made in 2014 or before, you are not going to be able to run the new macOS, unfortunately. Even if your Mac is compatible but it’s showing its age, there isn’t much you can do to speed it up either. Your best option is not to upgrade at all.

Other reasons can be categorized into two types. One is hardware-related, and the other is software. If your Mac is running with a spinning hard drive other than flash storage (SSD), it’s going to be slow in general because SSDs (solid-state drives) are much faster than HDDs (hard disk drives). Software could be the culprit as well as outlined above, and we’ve shown you the best solutions accordingly.

Final Words

The newest Apple operating system, macOS Monterey, is definitely powerful, beautiful, and exciting to install for Mac users. But sometimes when new software is released, even by tech giants like Apple, there are glitches that can cause frustration. One such glitch is that it can cause some Macs to slow down after updating. There are some fixes for speeding up macOS Monterey as we introduced above.

So, back to you now, did your MacBook Pro or iMac run slower after updating to the latest macOS? And did you manage to fix it? Leave a comment below and we’ll try our best to help you out.

18 thoughts on “7 Fixes for Mac Running Slow after macOS Monterey Update”

    • Same experience on the topped out macbook pro from 2019 with 64 GB of RAM.
      App launches take forever (Whatsapp, Telegram and others).

      Reply
      • All versions of Mac OS are bug-filled beta crud until they reach revision 6. Update at your own risk… or wait until version 11.6

        Reply
  1. I have 1 mac mini, 1 imac 27″ and a macbook pro i7 all are slower since I updated to Big Sur.
    Nice recommandations but tried them all, spend hours on 3 macs no result.

    Reply
  2. Is you internet slow after updating to Big Sur? Maybe you need to flush the DNS on your machine.

    Open the terminal and try this:

    sudo dscacheutil -flushcache; sudo killall -HUP mDNSResponder

    Reply
  3. I have a none supported Mac mini 6.1 actually big sur is as slow as Catalina what is amazing is I use Photoshop and illustrator just to launch these apps on my Mac system takes 55 secs an eternity on my windows 10 partition illustrator 15 secs Photoshop 10 secs and big sur is now just to play around any serious work I use windows 10 I keep the MAC partition for now but will surely format and keep as additional storage .

    Its sad to see this apple upgrades their system so often that software developers do not bother to do likewise on my 15 yr old if not more Toshiba nb1000 I am still able to crank up illustrator in less time than it takes on my Mac and the little PC has 1gb if ram

    I believe this new system if to spruce up their iPhone sales because there is no valid reason for apple to bluntly discontinue a Mac I bought 7 years ago

    They did the same with my Mac cube in early 2000 but my HP presario still runs on windows 7 and bought in sane year

    I used to be a Mac man since the first Mac 128k using floppy disk I still have the USB floppy disk the difference now is windows sells their software systems and wants users to take advantage of all PC I have a webcam Logitech 4000 Pro that windows can automatically find driver on my Mac all I am able get is the microphone and the list goes on and on .

    A prime example of apple”s disregard for their clients I still have a 17” apple studio pro on my Mac there is no brightness adjustments yet windows supports more apple products than apple does

    Word of advice to future PC buyers get a windows supporting PC it will last you 2 decades Mac surely not 5 yrs if that and macs are 2 times more expensive there used to be a reason for this because older macs in my case never crashed and the ram Mac could manage ram brilliantly these days are gone now most of your ram is used on eye candy

    From a defunt Mac man

    P.s. taking Mac logo off my car 🙁

    Reply
  4. I used to LOVE macOS (Mac OS X on). Then came Catalina and Big Sur and the focus on OVERLY restrictive flexibility-killing System Integrity Protection (SIP) program.

    I can not help but believe that there would have been ways to improve protections without restricting capabilities – using reasonable authentication…

    Reply
  5. Just a terrible OS Big Sur is. Both my 2018 Mac mini and my Intel 2020 MacBook Air boots up slower then previous releases. Safari 14 is awful and has forced me to consider other browsers on my Mac’s for the first time ever. Apple says Safari is faster, yeah when it actually loads the web page. Sometimes it only half loads a web page or doesn’t load it at all. Is anyone at Apple remotely capable of good quality control anymore?? It certainly has given me pause to even consider ever buying a Apple silicon Mac.

    Reply
  6. Not only is my Macbook Air Mid 2013 running slower with Big Sur but this last update to 13.3.1 relly slowed it down.

    Also I have problems opening web sites from an open site. I have and old pc running Windows 10 and it has no problems opening the sites. Go figure!!

    Reply
  7. Poor. Very poor update. My 2019 iMac 24 with 32meg ram runs sluggish since upgrade. Crashed ALL THE TIME. Adobe products unstable. Chrome is. No other way to put it. It was bad move to upgrade in March/April 2021. Fix it Apple.

    Reply
  8. Big Sur problem solved:  The problem isn’t with the memory. The problem is with the heat. Your mac is overheating because the fans are not spinning in proportion to use.
    1. Open activity monitor. You’ll probably see the CPU LOAD is idling at 20-30%. The culprit is the kernal_task, which is probably running over 1000 percent of CPU LOAD.
    2. Now take a look at the Memory Pressure. The pressure should be relatively low.
    3. Solution:
    1. Reset the SMC on startup. https://www.howtogeek.com/312086/how-and-when-to-reset-the-smc-on-your-mac/
    2. If problem still persists, download Macs Fan Control (MFC) from App Store, which is free.
    3. After downloading, launch it. Make sure the icon shows in the upper right corner.
    4. Make sure you have the disk utility showing on your desktop. You’re monitoring the CPU LOAD.
    5. Now open the MFC and press the first thing you see ( show MFC).
    6. Now press “Full Blast” for about 30 seconds to a minute.
    7. Now make sure to press “AUTO” for Left Side Fan and Right Side Fan. Do not mess with the “Custom” feature.
    8. Also, make sure in the MFC window — make sure “Active Preset” to Automatic.
    9. And voila. Check the CPU LOAD and you should now see consistently an idling pressure above 90%.
    4. I hope this works. It took me four months to figure it out, which includes 4 repair shop visits and a half dozen Apple workers.
    5. Any questions, let me know. Ignore the system junk idea or clearing your caches.
    6. Lastly, your kernel_task should fall below 100, rather than having it run at over 1000.
    7. BTW, I did the fixes on a 2020 MBP w/16 gigs of RAM and 1T hard drive.

    Reply

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