6 Tips for Optimizing Slow Startup on MacBook Pro

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In general, it takes between 10 and 30 seconds for a Mac machine to fully startup, depending on the hardware configuration and the number of auto-startup items. For example, Macs with flash storage (solid-state drive) will start up much faster than those with HDDs (hard disk drive).

Years back, ZolloTech did a comparison test on the startup time between an SSD-based MacBook Pro and an HDD-based one. The result? The MacBook with SSD only took 22 seconds to fully startup while the other was 49 seconds.

So, it’s pretty clear that a MacBook with an SSD is a lot faster than a traditional HDD. We thus highly recommend you upgrade the hard drive if your old MacBook is very slow on startup.

How to check if your Mac is with an HDD or SSD? Just click Apple logo > About This Mac > Storage.

Now let’s go back to the topic. If your MacBook Pro takes more than 30 seconds to boot, or even minutes, beware that your Mac may have performance issues.

We’ve found fix possible causes and related fixes to boost MacBook startup time. 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 best tune-up solution.

1. You just installed a new macOS

Image credit: Apple

If you just updated your MacBook Pro to the latest macOS, you probably have noticed that your Mac takes a bit longer to fully load up and respond to general tasks. This is 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.

Why this helps: apps like Spotlight and Photos usually need quite some time to re-index data. For example, Spotlight has to scan the internal disk drive and reindex all the files, likewise, Photos (formerly iPhoto) may update the while photos library as well. The process could take a significant amount of time to complete, and lots of system resources are required for the task. Once completed, your Mac’s overall performance would improve automatically.

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 loads of heavy items in the trunk. The same goes with a MacBook Pro. Your Mac will take longer to fully boot up if it has dozens of login items and auto launch agents (i.e. applications and services that automatically launch every time you press the start button on your Mac).

How to fix: remove unnecessary Login Items.

  1. Click the Apple logo on the top left corner, then select System Preferences (System Settings on macOS Ventura and above).
  2. Find Users & Groups and click on it.
  3. See the Login Items tab next to Password? Click it.
  4. Here you’ll see a list of apps that run when you turn on your Mac. Check the apps you don’t need, select the checkbox in the “Hide” column, then click the “-” icon.

You can also do so by using CleanMyMac X, via the “Login Items” and “Launch Agents” features. By the way, some auto-startup services may not show up on Login Items, but you can find and disable them via Launch Agents within CleanMyMac. Here’s a screenshot:

3. Your Mac’s hard drive is nearly full

Nothing slows down a MacBook Pro more than having an almost full disk, even if your Mac has a high-performance SSD. You’ll notice your Mac lags not only on startup, but during normal usage as well.

How to fix: clean up your MacBook drive until it has at least 20% free space.

The easiest way to get this done is to use a dedicated Mac cleaning software, which can save you quite some time locating those unused third-party programs, junk junks, and large old files that are safe for removal.

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.

Don’t forget the web browsers — Safari, Chrome, and Firefox. Clear the web caches, history, and outdated extensions. Last but not least, transferring big files to an external drive would help lighten your Mac too.

4. Disk permission issues

macOS system files are usually saved on a hard disk — primarily “Macintosh HD”.

Disk errors can occur due to poorly designed third-party applications/add-ons, and when those errors add up your Mac startup can slow down, even worse, unable to boot up.

How to fix: verify and repair disk permissions

If your MacBook runs macOS El Capitan or an older version, use the built-in Disk Utility. Learn the detailed step-by-step instructions from this Apple support guide.

For Macs with Big Sur or later versions, unfortunately, Apple has taken away the disk repair functionality. Fortunately, you can do so with CleanMyMac (open the app > Maintenance > Repair Disk Permissions)

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 are broken due to application crashes or hard drive corruption, your Mac will start up and run 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.

6. SMC and NVRAM need to be reset

If your MacBook is not only slow to boot, but together with some wonky issue such as trackpad doesn’t work (or not responding), can’t connect to Wifi, status light or battery acted 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

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

About Eric
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Eric currently uses a 15-inch MacBook Pro for both work and personal errands. He did all the research and testing to make sure all the fixes and optimization tips shared on the blog are relevant to Apple’s latest macOS updates as well as fact-checking.

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  • Avatar

    Tracy

    I have a 2019 MacBook desktop – i7, 32gb etc. that is taking 1.30 seconds to get to login screen.
    I have spent hours on the phone with apple. Out of the box, I have had nothing but trouble. We have addressed the smc and the nvram, gone back to factory settings twice, and I have nothing logging in start-up. I am simply trying to decide if I need to take this brand new computer into the shop.

    Reply
  • Avatar

    Anthony

    I have a 2017 iMac (Desktop) 2.3 GHz Intel Core, 8 GB 2133 MHz DDR4. It takes, on average, 1 minute and six seconds for the login screen to appear AFTER the Apple logo appears when I turn on my computer.

    I’ve called Apple support several times and spoken to ‘supervisors’, to no avail; they even had me reinstall the operating system, which did NOTHING EXCEPT MAKING THE START UP TIME EVEN LONGER at first (went up to 1 minute 30 seconds; then went back down to 1 minute 6 seconds after a few restarts).

    I don’t have any login items during start up except for Adobe Flash Player

    The Hard drive is nearly empty.

    Did SMC and NVRAM reset, and even reinstalled the Operating System.

    What do you think is wrong?

    Reply
  • Avatar

    Nick N.

    I have a 2018 MacBook Pro, only 2 things on startup (Dropbox and Bettertouchtool), yet it takes 30 seconds to start up after logging in. Used to be instantaneous, I reckon the addition of bootcamp has been the culprit. (600 GB of 909 GB available on Mac HD, 3.34 GB of 91 GB on Bootcamp)

    Reply
  • Avatar

    Ashley

    My Mac used to work superb however recently I’ve updated to Mojave. Now it takes approx 2 min to start up fully. Applications take a long time to start as well. Around 40-60 sec.
    I’ve done clean ups (latest cleanmymac)
    Fully updated software
    Ran repair disk utility
    Deleted unwanted files
    No malware found

    My applications like Final Cut Pro, Logic Pro x and adobe after effects run horribly. Some applications quit unexpectedly.
    Would love an affordable solution other than upgrading hardware because my RAM usage is still in the Green.

    Appreciate any help I can get.

    Thanks

    Reply
  • Avatar

    Thomas

    Hi Loren,

    what should i do? my macbook takes too long start

    Reply
  • Avatar

    Andrew

    My mac refuses to boot up. It has been on the boot up screen for the past 3 hours and I have tried just about every restart known to man. I have a presentation on there I need for class tomorrow and I am loosing patience. Please advise

    Reply
  • Avatar

    Tom

    I downloaded Mac OS sierra on my Macbook Pro recently, and after working fine for a few weeks, it suddenly takes forever start, it goes to about 7% then stops loading. I even left it like that for over 6 hours, and it’s not opening, I tried closing and reopening, but it just doesn’t work. I can’t even configure settings or anything like that, because it doesn’t start to begin with!

    Reply
  • Avatar

    Carol B. Ros

    The power on button takes forever to activate. My old Mac powers on instantly. why?

    Reply
  • Avatar

    Samuel

    Hi, I just updated the OS, and I collected some videos and musics from another windows system, everything working all well for a day, and then the next day my system was slow so I shut it down, try to turn the system on again, but when it’s gets to the Apple logo it goes off again
    Tried it 3 times still same result.
    Please any suggestions?
    Thank you.

    Reply
  • Avatar

    Daniel

    Hi,

    I have only one problem after the lat updating the OS Sierra: it open very slowly; the rest works fine; any suggestions please? thank you

    Reply
    • Avatarwp-user-avatar wp-user-avatar-60 alignnone photo

      Lorena

      You’ll need to enable the TRIM, see the video for how to do that in the content above (under Guide #1).

      Reply
      • Avatar

        Billy

        When the video starts the dialog box where he typed in enable trim is already open behind where he showed us that system preferences stuff. How do I get to that page?

        Reply
    • Avatar

      Philip

      Same problem for me.

      Reply
  • Avatar

    Celestine

    My macbook pro is working fine if am charging it but once I remove my charger it will be very slow what is the problem of the mac system

    Reply
    • Avatarwp-user-avatar wp-user-avatar-60 alignnone photo

      Lorena

      I’d suggest have a SMC reset first. If the issue still persists, the MagSafe connector could have a problem. It’s best to bring your MacBook to Apple Genius Bar (or a local computer repair shop) for a quick check.

      Reply
    • Avatar

      Riaz

      thi i the problem with battery sensors and you have to replace the mother board or try talking to the apple.

      Reply