On average, each person in the world generates 1.7 MB of data every second. That’s 6.12 GB in an hour or a whopping 147 GB of data every day! As you can imagine, most data gets produced by computers, including your Mac.
For starters, your Mac creates temporary data every time you execute a task on it. These pieces of information then go into its RAM for provisional storage.
The thing is, most Macs only have 2 to 8 GB of RAM. Once you deplete this “short-term” memory, you’ll end up with a slow Mac.
Don’t worry, though, as there are ways to recover your Mac’s speed and optimal performance. We’ll let you in on all the top tricks to optimize your Apple computer, so be sure to read on!
- Check Your Random Access Memory (RAM) Usage
Since your Mac has limited RAM, it won’t be able to “think” fast enough once its memory capacity gets depleted. This translates to sluggish performance and frequent encounters with the spinning beachball. Severe RAM depletion can cause your Mac to freeze, shut down on its own, or even trigger a kernel panic.
The entire RAM can get used up if you always have simultaneous active apps. Rogue software, especially malware, can also run in the background and consume memory.
As such, the first thing to do to recover lost Mac speed is to check RAM usage and then free up some of its memory. Do this by opening “Activity Monitor,” either through Spotlight or System Preferences. Once open, click on the “Memory” tab to see all active tasks and services, as well as the amount of used and available RAM.
- Quit Non-Essential but Active Applications
Go through the list populating the Activity Monitor’s Memory window. You should see the most RAM-intensive tasks and services at the very top. Double click on each item that you don’t really need at the moment, and then hit the “Quit” button to close them.
- Verify the Legitimacy of Unfamiliar Task or Service Names
If you see items in the Memory list you don’t recognize, do a quick Google search on them first. Whether it’s a malware or not, the Web should have information about it. Do note that malware detections in Macs have grown by 400% from 2018 to 2019.
If it’s a potentially unwanted program (PUP), quit it and then uninstall it from your Mac. Close any legit active apps that you don’t need at the moment to free up RAM, too. If it’s a potential or established threat, uninstall it right away.
- Upgrade Your Mac’s RAM
Most Mac Pro and MacBook Pro 17-inch models allow for RAM upgrades. The same goes for 2008 to 2011 MacBooks, 2009 to 2012 13-inch MacBook Pro, and 2008 to 2012 15-inch MacBook Pro units. If you own any of these Mac models, you can replace its existing RAM with a higher-spec one.
However, upgrading RAM in a MacBook requires removing its back panel. So, consider this approach only if you’re confident with your DIY mech and tech skills. Moreover, Macs require Mac-specific RAM cards, so be sure to get a compatible one.
If you do have an upgradable Mac, your device should provide you an option to do so. Access this by clicking the Apple logo (upper left-hand corner), and then choose “About This Mac.” Select “Memory” and click on “Memory Upgrade Instructions.”
The “Memory Upgrade Instructions” option won’t show up if you can’t upgrade your Mac’s RAM.
Non-upgradable Macs include retina display-equipped units, such as MacBook Air. The 12-inch MacBook and Touch Bar-equipped MacBook Pro also have soldered RAM. In these models, DIY RAM upgrades aren’t an option.
- Clean and Clear and Your Drive
Whenever your Mac’s RAM runs out, it relies on the storage drive to store temporary data. Over time, all those drive-stored temporary files add up, leading to high storage use. Once your entire storage drive gets used up, your Mac won’t have any space for both temp and permanent data.
The good news is that optimizing a Mac HD is easy with its built-in storage management tool. You can access this by clicking the Apple menu and then choosing “About This Mac.” Select the “Storage” tab and then “Manage” to bring up the storage management tool.
Once open, you should see four recommendations, including “Optimize Storage” and “Reduce Clutter.” It’s best to follow all these Apple recommendations so you can free up as much storage (and RAM). You may also want to check out https://setapp.com/how-to/clean-up-and-optimize-your-mac for a complete list of steps on how to optimize a Mac.
- Stop Log-In Items from Launching
Too many enabled log-in items can contribute to RAM usage and poor Mac productivity. That’s because these apps automatically consume memory upon start-up. They also continue to use your Mac’s RAM unless you perform a manual quit or force quit on them.
To stop these apps from launching in the first place, go to your “Systems Preferences.” Select “Users & Groups” and then hit the tab labeled “Login Items.” Highlight all “non-essential” items on the list, and then click the “-” button to disable them.
- Disable or Uninstall Non-Essential Browser Extensions
The more active browser extensions you have, the more RAM your browser consumes. Like log-in items, these extensions also use memory while the browser itself is active.
As if that’s not enough, some browser extensions can also infect your Mac. In fact, Google removed 106 malicious extensions from Chrome back in June 2020. Big G also reported taking out more than 500 of these harmful add-ons in February 2020 due to malware.
So, for your own safety and security, uninstall all unfamiliar extensions. Disable those that you don’t use all the time, and then simply enable them once you need them. This way, they won’t consume RAM on the get-go.
Make Your Slow Mac a Speed Monster Once Again
Always remember that high RAM usage is the most common culprit behind a slow Mac. So, this is the first thing you should check when your Apple computer runs at a snail’s pace. From there, follow the rest of the tips in this guide to optimize your Mac and bring back its speedy performance.
Ready for more DIY tips and tricks? Feel free to browse the rest of our site then!