- by Lorena
Every time my Mac runs slowly, I typically find myself doing the same things over and over again, all to get the speed to a point that I am satisfied with.
Today I decide to write a checklist for how to speed up a Macbook Pro. This list covers dozens of things to consider when it comes to improving your Macbook’s performance.
There’s one thing I want to state before you embark on your journey: there is no single tactic that magically works. For example, upgrading hardware would help if you are using an old 2009 Macbook (though it’d cost a ton); if you are using a shiny 2016 Macbook Pro, you may find cleaning up hard drive most useful.
If you can do everything on this list, that’s great. If you want to skip some, that’s okay too. After all, the goal is to speed up your Macbook by making the most of time, cost, and effectiveness. But in general, it’s very unlikely that you’ll be able to do all these things.
The Checklist to Speed up Macbook Pro
Check off items as you go along. Not all of these may apply to your Mac.
Basic (require little time or money)
- Have you restarted your Macbook lately? Doing so on a regular basis helps clear system caches and shuts down applications, which often results in better performance.
- Slow startup? It’s time to manage Login Items. Try to remove those apps & services you don’t want to automatically launch on startup. See how to do via this CultofMac post.
- Have you cleaned up your hard drive? This is the best yet easiest way to speed up a Mac. You can save time by using a tool like CleanMyMac.
- Have you quit unneeded applications or services? Clicking the red “X” button sometimes does not quit an application — it just closes the window. Right-click and select “Quit”.
- Does your Macbook lag all of a sudden? Open Activity Monitor to figure out the culprit (resource-hungry application or process) — and kill it. Check out this Apple article for more.
- Have you closed unneeded tabs and windows on Safari, Chrome or Firefox? This helps lighten your web browsers, thus making Internet surfing much smoother.
- Have you disabled FileVault? Doing so usually resolves slow boot issues. Note: we do not recommend to disable if data encryption is more important than performance.
- Have you turned off visual effects? You may be impressed by the Magnification and Genie Effect, but the entertainment is a tradeoff for performance. Go to “System Preferences” and “Dock” to change.
- Do you like saving files and folders directly on Desktop? If so, clear off the desktop clutters as it could result in your Macbook Pro running sluggishly.
- Have you uninstalled applications you don’t really use? You can quickly identify and remove them by using MacBooster.
- Have you emptied the trash bin on your Macbook Pro? It could free valuable disk space and give the hard drive performance a boost.
- Do you regularly clean up web browser cookies, caches, histories, and plugins? Over time these files may take up gigabytes (GBs) and slow down your Mac.
- Have you removed duplicate files on your Mac? You may have saved multiple copies of media items (photos, movies, songs, etc). Getting rid of them can release significant amount of free disk space. You can use Gemini to quickly locate and delete these duplicates.
- Have you removed unneeded Widgets from Dashboard? Those widgets can take up quite a bit of system memory (RAM). Learn how to do from this article.
- Have you disabled notifications you don’t need? Constant notifications tax your system performance — plus, they are big distractions. This Apple support explains how to disable them.
- Have you removed unused system preference panes? They can take up some valuable system resources, and make it harder for you to find those you often use.
- Have you changed “New Finder windows” setting from “All My Files” to a specific folder? The new folder can be “Desktop” or “Documents”. This trick can speed up the generation of a new Finder window. Learn how to do here.
- Do you perform software updates for all the Mac applications installed? An update tends to mitigate risk of the application freezing.
- Have you tested your wireless network? Sometimes your Wi-Fi is the bottleneck rather than your Macbook. Read this MacWorld article and learn how to speed up Wi-Fi on your Mac.
Advanced (require some time, money or technical skills)
- Is your Macbook Pro running the latest Mac OS X? Not only does a new version tends to be faster, it’s usually more secure and reliable. To date, the latest is macOS Sierra.
- Have you waited til Spotlight finish indexing? After a system upgrade, Spotlight indexing can take 24-48 hours. If you use your Macbook Pro during the time, it tends to run slowly.
- Do you regularly verify and repair disk permissions with Disk Utility? This makes sure your Macbook hard disk is error-free and runs dynamically. Note: this option is only available on OS X Yosemite or earlier. There’s no need to do so if your MacBook has updated to El Capitan or macOS Sierra.
- Have you fixed corrupted preferences files? A broken preference file can cause an application run abnormally — e.g. unable to open, application crash/freezing.
- Have you reset SMC and/or NVRAM? This would help speed up your Macbook Pro’s overall performance, especially when hardware (battery, keyboard, etc.) issues keep showing up.
- Have you tried to add more memory (RAM) to your old Macbook Pro? You’ll likely see your Mac performance be taken to the next level–though you’d have to spend some money. Read this Apple support article first!
- Have you replaced your HDD with an SSD? A solid state drive (SSD) is much faster and more reliable than a normal hard disk drive (HDD). Of course, it’s more expensive as well. Follow this guide if you’ve decided to do so.