Lags and slowdowns in your Mac can be bothersome to deal with, which is why you must try to figure out the issue behind the lag as soon as possible. Doing this can enable you to take all the necessary steps involved in solving the problem.
Through this comprehensive guide, we will take you through some potential causes that might be causing your Mac to lag.
Once you pinpoint the reason, you can then move on to the ways to fix your problem, whether that includes adjusting some settings, clearing up space and usage, downloading an external app, or seeking professional help.
Let’s get started.
Reasons behind Lagging
Let us now take a look at some reasons behind the lagging.
Operating System Issues
Older MacBooks might be able to keep upgrading to the latest operating systems (macOS) up to a certain extent, but might not be able to do so beyond that point. If this happens, it could definitely be a determining cause behind your Mac lagging or slowing down.
This could lead to issues with the drive, storage space, processor, permissions, and overall performance of the system. However, even though you can depend on newer operating systems to work better, they might still face occasional issues.
Dealing with this issue and upgrading to newer versions might be enough to solve the issue, particularly if your OS is completely outdated.
Software issues are another reason behind lags and slowdowns. Facing problems and barriers with the applications that you use on your Mac could indicate that these specific apps are taking up too much space and slowing down the overall efficiency of your Mac.
Other features on your desktop or graphics meant to improve interaction can be additional causes for this. Doing too many things at once on your Mac or not shutting it down frequently can lead to a bunch of software-related issues.
Fortunately, these software issues tend to have easy fixes that you will find out more about as you read further.
If parts of your hardware have stopped functioning as well as they once did, they could certainly slow your Mac down. Hard drives bring out-of-date, your Mac running out of enough memory and other failing elements could well cause lagging issues.
It might seem concerning if you need to fix hardware issues, but it’s not a very difficult process as you can take your own measures to solve these problems.
Now that you know about these broad causes, you can move on to figuring out how to fix these causes. Ideally, you should be able to undertake some manual steps that can help you sort it out or you can employ an external app or help to fix it for you.
How to Stop Mac From Lagging?
Let’s take a look at some ways in which you can stop your Mac from lagging, whether you are facing OS, software or hardware issues.
Backup and Restart
First and foremost, you should try to back all your important data up through multiple means. This can help you ensure that your data will remain intact in case anything goes wrong while you are trying to fix the issue.
For instance, corrupted files or drives could end up needing you to delete files, so it’s best to back everything up first so you don’t end up permanently losing necessary information. This could also happen in case your Mac suddenly stops working either due to the lagging or due to a snag in the fixing process.
In fact, it is a good idea to keep backing up your data on a regular basis to avoid any issues later on.
Once you are done backing everything up, you can try restarting your Mac so that all the processes that might be running unnecessarily can stop and the memory can clear up a bit.
Generally, this restarting process should not take more than a couple of minutes at most. If it does end up taking longer than that, then you should take that as an indicator that there is an issue with your Mac and that this issue is probably slowing your Mac down to a significant extent.
Make sure you remove any external connections from your Mac while restarting. This can help quicken up the process.
Update Your Operating System
A significant issue that might be causing your Mac to lag could be the fact that your operating system is out-of-date. This might be keeping it from staying updated and in sync with other functions and apps on your Mac.
For this reason, you must update your operating system whenever you find that an upgrade is available. After the upgrade is set up and installed, your Mac should start working much faster than it was before. It might take a short amount of time to get used to it, but once that is done, the lag should no longer be a concern.
However, before installing the upgrade, you must make sure that there is enough space on your Mac to support this upgrade. Further, if your Mac is an extremely old model, it might stop supporting updates after a certain point.
You must back your relevant data up at this point as well so that you don’t end up losing it permanently in case something goes wrong during the upgrade process.
Updating the OS can take up a bit of time, especially if the conditions of your Mac are not optimal for it or if there are space-related problems. However, regularly updating the system is something you must do so that the model can stay in tune with the changing functions and features.
This is also a great way for you to experience all the latest installments when they arrive with the update.
Clear Storage Space
A lack of storage space on your Mac can be a cause for concern as it implies a clustered drive that your system might not be able to handle. It is, therefore, important to clear out data that you do not have much need for.
As a result of insufficient storage space, your Mac will become limited in terms of storing newer data while also being unable to use the memory that it requires for running tasks. This could impede your Mac’s functioning severely.
In order to check and clear up your storage space, you will need to navigate to the Apple menu, click on ‘About This Mac’, and then on ‘Storage.’ This will allow you to see and check how much storage space is remaining on your Mac.
If there is diminishing space available, you can click on ‘Manage’ to figure out some ways to clear up excess storage space. This section will provide you with some suggestions that you can make use of to get rid of items you no longer need.
You can use any or all of the four mentioned suggestions. For instance, moving and storing files on iCloud will not only create a backup of your data but will also create space on your Mac. Similarly, optimizing storage will let you delete downloads that you have already accessed.
Emptying trash automatically will clear out your bin every 30 days on its own if it is enabled while reviewing clutter will ask you to manually look through suggested files so that you can delete or move them if you don’t need them anymore.
Clear Your Desktop
While this might seem similar to the purpose of the previous method, it is not entirely the same thing. It does aim to reduce the clutter on your Mac, but the main purpose of this method is to ensure that fewer and fewer resources are used each time your start your Mac up.
Every time you turn your Mac on, your operating system will consider your desktop files, apps, and shortcuts as tasks that it needs to allocate resources to so that they can easily load. If there are too many of these files on your desktop, your system will need to utilize more resources to load your opening screen when the Mac starts up.
For this purpose, you should delete the files and shortcuts that you do not need to keep on your desktop. You can move some of these to other folders of yours or you can delete apps that you think are a waste of space.
Only keep those items that you require to be a click away so that you can easily access them, such as your browser and other important apps and files.
This also equally applies to your widgets such as clocks, calendars, and more that you don’t need or use. To get rid of these, you can simply select the cross (‘x’) above each widget in the dashboard.
Undertaking these steps will simplify and quicken the process of starting up the Mac.
Reduce Resource Usage
It is entirely possible that there might be certain apps on your Mac that could be utilizing too many resources of your operating system. These could either be in-built apps or external third-party apps that you may have downloaded.
Web browsers such as Chrome tend to be major resource users, more often than not. This is why leaving multiple tabs open or multitasking using Chrome can sap more energy from your operating system than other apps.
In order to check the resource usage of your OS, you can go to your Activity Monitor by clicking on ‘Applications’ and then selecting ‘Utilities.’ Through this monitor, you will be able to go through all the active processes in your CPU, Memory, Energy, Disk, and Network.
Since your Mac is constantly running processes, these will keep showing up in this Activity Monitor with continuous shuffling based on which processes are currently using the most memory and CPU power.
Usually, the apps or processes that are taking up a significant amount of usage will stay on top. Once you identify this process, you can choose to quit that app by forcing it to close. This will reduce usage to a great extent, thereby decreasing the level of lagging as well.
You can simply switch to another efficient app as a good alternative. For instance, if Chrome is using up too much of the CPU and memory, you can make the switch to Safari.
Reduce Login Items
Another potential cause behind your lagging Mac could be the fact that there are too many login items that start loading whenever you start or restart your Mac. These login items refer to apps or processes that automatically begin to run whenever you turn your Mac on.
This is because this is their default setting. Therefore, whenever your Mac is switched on, your operating system will inevitably allocate and provide resources to these apps so that they can run and load efficiently.
This can sometimes be unnecessary and could be the reason behind the slow laptop speed every time you boot it. In order to reduce these login items, you can go to your ‘System Preferences’ on the Mac and select ‘Users & Groups.’ This will take you to a window containing two sections, including ‘Passwords’ and ‘Login Items.’
Click on ‘Login Items’ and see which applications open up automatically upon login. You can then select the apps that you do not require for this kind of immediate running. This will prevent them from opening up each time, thus saving resources.
You can repair any hardware disks that you think might be making your Mac lag. This can happen due to several reasons. For instance, as you go on downloading apps, you are also giving way to permissions that can make changes to your disks.
These permissions can end up changing several settings and running processes that can lead to lagging. If you want to sort out this issue, you can easily do so by using an inbuilt tool called Disk Utility that you can access through your Mac’s ‘Applications’ and then ‘Utilities.’
Through this tool’s ‘First Aid’ option, you can run, check and repair the drives on your Mac so that you can solve the relevant issues. If, however, this does not help, you will be notified of the issue that you will have to repair in another way.
This simple solution is extremely helpful when it comes to repairing disk-related issues. Further, Apple has also updated its protection levels for permissions, adding an extra layer of security for your Mac.
Ease Browser Usage
More often than not, your browser is the main problem behind the constant lagging. This is because it requires multiple resources in order to function effectively and efficiently. We have already seen how resource utilization can work on your Mac.
You will notice this as the issue whenever your browser hangs up or freezes, thus becoming unresponsive and unusable for a few minutes. If this happens, you should try to ease the way in which you use your browser.
For this, you must make sure that you do not open too many tabs at once. Close the tabs you don’t need or save them as bookmarks so that you can get back to them easily whenever required.
Further, there might be plenty of cookies and caches that you can clear out from your browser. Delete your history, plug-ins, pop-ups, and more to stop your browser from slowing down every few minutes.
If you think that won’t be enough, you might want to shift your browsers. Chrome is known to be a high-resource-consuming browser, so you can move to Safari or Edge to save on the resources of your operating system. If not, simply uninstalling and reinstalling your browser might also work out. You can also explore firewall working as well.
Perform Hardware Upgrades
If all the changes that you have made to your software or OS are not proving to be fruitful and successful, the issue might be with your hardware disk or random access memory (RAM).
For this, the best course of action might be for you to replace or upgrade your disk or RAM. You must first consult a professional for this so that they can advise you better after taking a careful look at your Mac and whether or not this would be a good idea.
This kind of hardware disk or RAM upgrade can prove to be quite helpful for the efficiency of your Mac. It can give you more storage space while also significantly improving the way that your Mac performs after replacement.
When you go about doing this, however, you must do enough research to make sure that the disk or RAM model you buy is compatible enough with your MacBook. The incompatibility will end up causing even more issues along with a high expense.
While this will certainly enhance the performance of your Mac, you should keep in mind that this can be a bit expensive in terms of buying the new model and having the older one replaced. Best done by a professional, you must also consider the cost of installation.
Disable Extra Features
Another small step that you can take to stop your Mac from lagging could be to disable all the extra features that are taking up space and resources on your Mac. If you don’t require these features, you can simply disable them so that they clear out.
These features might include elaborate graphics and visuals that are meant to enhance the visibility and appearance of your pages. These can also comprise widgets, animations, notifications, fonts, panels, effects, and more.
In order to get rid of these features, you can simply locate their settings on your Mac and turn them off. For instance, you can make your way to the ‘System Preferences’ on your Mac that will highlight some of these effects. They might also have their own settings, such as in the ‘Display’ section.
You can disable certain notifications either through the notifications bar or by navigating to the individual app or notification settings. Additionally, you can delete widgets through your desktop itself.
This way, you will be able to clear up some resources on your Mac to prevent it from lagging. While it might not be enough on its own, you can combine it with other methods to notice the change.
A more generalized way of figuring out where the issue lies and how to fix it is by running diagnostics on the whole system. This software will perform a system check across your hardware so that you can pinpoint the exact issue.
Locate the Apple Diagnostics on your Mac and run it. Once you do, the diagnostics will scan your system and come back to you with data about the problem. Through this, you will also be able to figure out the steps that you can take to solve the problem and through which method.
This will include minute parts and aspects of the Mac as well that you might otherwise miss out on. For example, if there is some error in your RAM, the diagnostic software will identify it and inform you of it along with potential solutions to fix it.
Similarly, if there is a problem with your browser or with security, you will be able to find out. This also applies to parts such as the fan of your Mac in case it is not functioning well.
Use CleanMyMac X
This method is a lot quicker and efficient and can help you identify and fix the issue within a matter of minutes. CleanMyMac X is an app that allows you to clean up your system smoothly, thereby getting rid of the lagging problem.
In fact, it has been specifically designed for slow Mac laptops. By running a test across your system, it will pinpoint the issue such as malware, trash, unnecessary processes and apps, cache, speed, and more.
Once it scans everything and tells you where the snag is, you can simply click on the ‘Clean’ button to get it to clear out these problems. All your large and excess files, unwanted photos and videos, junk, extensions, and malware can be done away with just through a simple click.
Its tools and resources can help you maintain and optimize your system very conveniently.
You can easily buy this app. You will first get a free version to try out all its features, after which you can convert to a paid version that will enable you to keep using all these features. Further, you can also ask for a refund within 30 days if you are not satisfied with the software.
By buying and installing this app for your Mac, you can remove the hassle of the long time period that the other manual cleaning methods use.
Go to an Apple Store
If you find that none of these steps are working for your Mac, it would be best to visit an Apple Store or any other authorized store. By entailing this kind of professional help, the staff will be able to look through your Mac in order to clearly determine where the problem lies.
They can then either provide you with some advice or fix the problem for you. You can also simply try calling the support helpline first to figure out your next steps. Make sure you check the warranty period so that you can take advantage of that if your Mac still falls under that period. This will help reduce your costs of repair.
If your Mac falls outside the warranty period, it might be a lot more expensive for you to get your laptop fixed, but it might also be a good solution for the long term so that this kind of problem does not arise again. You might also need to buy a new MacBook for yourself.
No matter what the solution is, you must try to keep your Mac in an optimal state by reducing clutter and clearing up unnecessary data on a regular basis while also shutting it down whenever required. This will help prevent major lagging issues later on. You can also check for the guide to fix lag on your PS5 for further help.
That brings us to the end of this detailed guide about the best ways to stop your Mac from lagging. While it can be concerning to experience lagging in your Mac, it is, fortunately, a quick and easy fix.
All you need to do is start out by figuring out what the problem is and where it is coming from. Once you confirm whether the issue is due to a snag in the hardware, software or operating system, you can take the next relevant step to get rid of this issue.
The steps that you can take have been covered with ample description in this guide. Simply try a few of these methods out once you know what the problem is.
You can also install external apps such as CleanMyMac X that will almost immediately identify and help you solve the problem. If nothing works, it might be time for you to visit a store to seek professional help and advice.
Now that you know what to do, you can try these aforementioned steps out and finally stop your Mac from lagging.
Maryam has been teaching IT as a school teacher for over a decade, and her main subject of choice is Internet safety, especially helping parents keep their families safe and secure online. When Maryam is not teaching or writing she is a big fan of the outdoors, the complete opposite of staring at a computer screen for hours.