April 20, 2017

6 Simple Guides to Optimizing Slow Startup on MacBook Pro

guide optimizing Macbook slow startup

Last update: Nov 23, 2017

In general it takes 20-30 seconds for a Mac machine to fully start up, depending on the hardware configuration though. For example, Macs with SSDs (solid state drive) load faster than those with HDDs (hard disk drive).

Seriously, a MacBook with an SSD is a lot faster than a traditional HDD. I highly recommend you upgrade it if your old MacBook is slow on startup as well as handling general tasks. For SSD upgrades, consider Crucial MX 300 or Samsung 850 EVO. How to check if a Mac is with an HDD or SSD? Just click Apple logo > About This Mac > Storage.

Now let’s go to the topic of this post. If your MacBook Pro takes more than 40 seconds to boot, or even minutes, beware that your Mac could have some problems.

We’ve found 6 possible causes and the best fix solutions to boost MacBook startup times. Some fixes work better than others. We’ll show you all of them so you can determine why your Mac is slow on startup and figure out the the best tune-up solution.

1. You just installed a newer macOS

If you just updated your MacBook Pro to latest High Sierra (learn how if you haven’t done so), you probably have noticed that your Mac takes longer to fully start up and respond to general tasks. This is quite normal because some apps (especially Spotlight, and Photos) need to re-index or update its data.

How to fix: keep your Mac on for 24-48 hours, and restart several times after that. If that still doesn’t help, you may need to enable TRIM (more below).

Why this helps: apps like Spotlight and Photos usually need quite some time to re-index everything — e.g. Spotlight has to scan the internal hard drive and reindex all the files, likewise, Photos (previously called iPhoto) often needs to update the photos library as well. The process could take a significant amount of time to complete, and a lot of system resources are required for the task. Once completed, your Mac startup time and overall performance would improve automatically.

If your MacBook is still slow on startup, consider enabling TRIM and the whole process takes only a minute or so. This video has more:

2. Your Mac has too many login items

Like a car, it can be much slower to take off to 60 MPH if you’ve got many heavy items in the trunk. The same principle goes with a MacBook Pro. A slow startup is expected if you have dozens of login items (i.e. applications and services that automatically launch every time your Mac starts up).

How to fix: remove unnecessary Login Items.

  1. Click the Apple logo on the top left corner, then click “System Preferences”.
  2. Find “Users & Groups” and click on it.
  3. See the “Login Items” tab next to the “Password”? Click it.Remove Login Items Macbook Pro
  4. Here you’ll see a list of applications or services that auto-open when you turn on your Mac. To disable an item you don’t often use, select the checkbox in the “Hide” column, then click the “-” icon.

3. Your Mac’s hard drive is nearly full

Nothing slows down a MacBook Pro more than having an almost full hard drive, even if your Mac is with a powerful SSD (which’s faster than an HDD). You’ll notice your Mac lags not only on startup, but during normal usage as well.

How to fix: clean up your MacBook hard drive until it has at least 30% free space.

The easiest way to get this done is to use a cleaning app such as CleanMyMac 3 (or IObit MacBooster, an alternative). It can save you tons of time locating unused third-party programs, web browser junks, and large old files that are safe for removal.

Meanwhile, if your feel MacBook Pro is stuffed with copies of backups and pictures, chances are you’ve got many duplicate or similar files. Try Gemini 2 to find those duplicates and delete them in a few clicks.

If you prefer to do this manually, start with checking those folders where you tend to save your pictures and movies. Then go to the “Applications” folder, sort apps based on last modified or used, remove those you no longer use. Also, don’t forget the web browsers — Safari, Chrome, and Firefox. Clear the web caches, history, and dated extensions. Last but not least, transferring big files to your external hard drive would help lighten your Mac too.

4. Disk permission issues

MacOS system files are usually saved on a hard disk — primarily “Macintosh HD”. If the disk has errors that caused by poor third-party applications/add-ons, your Mac startup can be slowed down as well, even worse, unable to boot up.

How to fix: verify and repair disk permissions

If your MacBook runs OS X Yosemite or an older version, you can do so using Disk Utility. Learn the steps from this Apple support guide. For Macs with El Capitan or latest Sierra, unfortunately Apple has taken away the disk repair functionality. However, you can rely on Terminal commands to get it done. See more from this OSXDaily post.

5. Corrupted preferences files

The preferences files on a Mac are those files that keep the parameters — i.e. rules that define how applications behave. If they get broken due to application crashes or hard drive corruption, it can make your Mac start up slowly.

How to fix: find and update those broken preferences files

They are usually stored in the ~/Library/Preferences folder. To fix them, you’ll have to delete them first and create new up-to-date preference files. Learn more from this MacObserver article on how to get started.

6. SMC and NVRAM need to be reset

If your MacBook is not only slow to boot, but some wonky issues also show up — such as trackpad doesn’t work, can’t connect to Wifi, battery or status lights act abnormally. Then something is probably wrong with your Mac’s system management controller (SMC) or non-volatile random-access memory (NVRAM).

How to fix: resetting SMC and NVRAM

Your feedback?

Do you find the above diagnoses and solutions helpful? Did you manage to speed up the startup time on your MacBook Pro? If so, kindly let us know by leaving a comment below.

Happy using your Mac!

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