While the MacBook Air or MacBook Pro may be a pretty solid piece of kit, as it gets older, it tends to slow down. It will take longer to do anything on it and you will get more and more frustrated. But why does this happen in the first place? There are lots of reasons and we’re going to look at some of the more common ones, including how to fix your Mac issues. The following steps also apply to when your iMac is slowing down.
1. The Hard Disk (or SSD) is Getting Full
This is the most common reason for a MacBook to slow down after some time. As you work away, the hard disk gradually gets filled up. When there is insufficient hard disk space, the OS cannot work properly and, eventually, the MacBook will just become unresponsive.
The Mac OS uses space for saving temporary files, cache files, etc. Any data or programs you use take up RAM. Old data and any background tasks are cached or saved temporarily on the hard drive too.
To find out how much space is left on yours, go to: Apple Menu > About This Mac > More Info > Storage.
Delete any unused apps, files, downloads and any installer files that have an extension of .pkg or .dmg. Put photos, movies, music, etc. onto a separate storage source and remove the originals from the hard drive. Then empty your trashcan!
If your free space is 2GB or less, your MacBook is going to struggle. You should have a minimum of three times the RAM. So, if your RAM is 4GB you should have at least 12GB free space. If you still can’t free up enough, you can get a new hard drive and/or move some file to cloud-based storage.
2. Disk Directory Needs Rebuilding and Caches Are Full
The disk directory is a list of stored files and their disk locations and, on occasion, the list comes out of sync with the real files on the disk. This happens when a file is not saved correctly or a program crashes and you may also get a buildup of read/write errors on the disk.
Cache files are temporary storage places for information that is always changing, and these can also be corrupted through errors and crashes in programs.
The easiest way to fix them is to use Safe Boot, a built-in mac system. It will scan your hard drive thoroughly and fix any disk directory problems it finds along the way. The process will also clear the cache of any old data.
3. Too Many Startup Programs and Internet Plugins
When you start your Mac, there may be a lot of background programs or frequently used programs that start up right alongside it. Add to that the processes that get loaded to support other applications and these that automatically configure themselves to start and you have a slow Mac on your hands.
First, go to System Preferences > Users and Accounts > Login. This shows you everything that starts when your Mac starts. Go through the list and disable anything that is not needed, like out of date software, Skype, Mail, etc.
Second, there are internet plugins that can cause a lot of slow issues and many of these have been automatically installed without your knowledge. Check these two folders and remove anything that is not required: Macintosh HD > Library > Internet Plug-Ins and Macintosh HD > Users > Your Home Folder > Library > Internet Plug-Ins. Reboot your Mac for these changes to take effect.
4. Consider Upgrading RAM
The final thing to check is your RAM – if you only have 2GB, for example, it may not be enough. Upgrade to as much RAM as your setup can comfortably take. You can do your computer upgrade at a local computer and Mac repair service center.