How to Make a MacBook Faster

Top performance tips to speed up your MacBook

This article covers how to speed up your MacBook. This includes the original MacBook produced from 2006 to 2012 and the newer 12-inch MacBook produced from 2015 to 2020.

Why Is My MacBook So Slow?

There's many reasons why a MacBook might slow as it ages, but most issues can be divided into two categories: software and hardware.

Software issues may include an excessive number of open apps, apps that run when they're not needed, or buggy apps that consume more resources than they need. Demanding apps may slow your MacBook even when working as intended.

Hardware issues can include overheating, not enough RAM, or slow storage. These issues tend to become more common as a MacBook ages. The accumulation of dust can cause overheating by blocking ventilation in older MacBooks. New apps often have more demanding requirements than prior versions, which may exceed the RAM and storage you have installed.

How to Make a MacBook Faster

Here's how to speed up your MacBook. Follow these steps in order.

  1. Restart your MacBook. Aside from a macOS update, there's rarely a need to restart your MacBook. This can eventually lead to slower performance, however, as software conflicts arise or certain files have temporary issues which are easily cleared out by a restart.

    An Apple MacOS menu open and the Restart option selected.


  2. Close apps that don't need to be open. After some time, your may find your Mac has a number of apps open even after you restart the machine. You'll find these apps listed in the Dock as well as the menu bar's upper right corner.

    An app's menu open in MacOS with the Quit option shown.


  3. Stop apps from starting when your MacBook boots. Some programs start automatically when your MacBook boots. You can close them manually, as described in the prior step, but why not stop them before they start?. Turning off these apps, known as "Login Items," is a more permanent solution.

    A MacOS Users & Groups menu open with Login Items selected.


  4. Open Activity Monitor to track app performance and resource usage. It's possible your MacBook is slow because an app you have open is placing a heavy load on your Mac's hardware. Activity Monitor will help you locate apps using the most resources.

    The MacOS activity monitor.


  5. Check your MacBook's storage space and free up space if it's low. macOS needs some available storage space to perform well, so a mostly filled hard drive can cause your MacBook to slow down. Try deleting files you no longer need or moving some files to an external drive.

    Storage space on a MacBook running MacOS.


  6. Run First Aid on your MacBook's hard drive. First Aid, a function available in the macOS Disk Utility app, can repair disk errors and permissions issues. These normally should not cause performance problems but can pile up over time.

    The MacOS First Aid utility open on a MacBook.


  7. Update macOS if a new version is available. Outdated software can cause performance issues if it no longer works well with your hardware. macOS is regularly updated with bug fixes, new features, and more efficient ways of operating. An update could resolve your problem.

    This tip applies only to 12-inch MacBook models produced from 2015 to 2020. The original MacBook does not support the latest version of macOS.

  8. Disable visual effects in macOS. Apple has improved the look and feel of macOS with a variety of graphical effects. This can be a problem, as Apple's MacBook usually shipped with the least powerful graphics hardware available to any Mac of its era. Turning visual effects off can lessen the load on your MacBook.

    The Dock & Menu Bar menu in MacOS.


  9. Make sure your MacBook isn't overheating. An overheating MacBook will throttle its performance to reduce the amount of heat it creates. You can resolve overheating issues by cleaning your Mac's fan vents or improving ventilation near your MacBook.

    The 12-inch MacBook doesn't have cooling vents, so dust is not an issue. However, it can still overheat if placed on a surface that doesn't allow heat to dissipate, such as a couch or blanket.

  10. Downgrade macOS. macOS upgrades are usually worth installing, but in some cases an upgrade can cause problems for older MacBooks. Downgrading to a prior version of MacBook may isolate the issue.

    This tip is especially useful if you have an original MacBook released between 2006 and 2012. These aging MacBooks do not support the latest versions of macOS and will perform best with a version of macOS close to the version originally installed.

  11. Reinstall macOS. Reinstalling macOS from scratch is a last resort, but it may resolve lingering issues that persist even after a downgrade. Reinstalling macOS will let you begin again with a clean slate.

    The MacOS Utilities screen with the option to reinstall MacOS.


  12. Upgrade your MacBook's RAM and hard drive. This only applies to pretty old MacBooks. Increasing RAM will allow your MacBook to run more apps at once without slowing, and upgrading the hard drive can help apps load quickly.

    Most Macs can't have their RAM upgraded. The last MacBook to have user upgradable RAM came out in 2010.

  • How do I speed up a Mac?

    The same techniques that will speed up your MacBook will also work on a Mac. You can also try some commands in Terminal to improve performance.

  • What is "Other" in MacBook storage?

    If you're trying to speed up your MacBook by removing extra files, you might notice a large block of storage labeled "Other." You can delete some of this, since it's often iPhone and iPad backups and preferences files. You should be careful about what you remove here, however, as it may affect how your Mac operates.

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