August 4, 2018

Curing slow Mac startup – take two

Have you noticed that after you have used your Mac for a while, starting it up and getting to a fully ready and responsive working environment takes much longer than it used to? There can be several reasons, most of which are fortunately easy to revert.

We have seen on our clients’ Macs that one of the culprits often are applications that (inadvertently) have been marked to auto-start at log-in. Stopping that is easy: In the dock, right-click (hold down CTRL while clicking on a one-button mouse or trackpad) on the application’s icon in the Dock (see header image), then from the appearing menu, go into ‘Options’ and deselect ‘Open at Login’. Done!

However, not all apps appear in the Dock, so you also want to check the System preferences pane Users & Groups for auto-starting background applications.

If you see anything there you do not recognise, simply highlight it and click the “-” (minus) button. Whatever that thing did, having it not start will not break anything fundamental, and if it did anything useful to you, you will anyway notice soon and re-install it.

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Many people use the Desktop as a primary storage area for files and folders. It gives you an instant and visual overview over your stuff, and is easy to navigate. The problem however is that the Mac has to draw it up, every icon, file and folder, whenever you log in. That is not a problem if you just have 10 or 20 or files there. But 100? 200? That can take a heavy toll on startup time, so it is better to try to find another way to organise your files and reduce Desktop clutter.

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The last tip is also important for your Mac’s general health: Make sure you have a bit of space free on your internal hard drive. If you fill up your drive to the brim so you only have 5 or less GB free, you will tax the drive and the Mac by a lot of extra work moving things around while working. Startup times will be longer, work slower, and it severely increases the chances of file and system corruption. You should really aim to have 20GB free or more, as a rule of thumb.

An easy way to keep an eye on how much space is free on your drive, is to enable Show Status Bar in the View menu in Finder. It will show the current amount of free space on the bottom of every Finder window

If you follow these simple tips, your Mac should retain its startup speed pretty much unaltered. And if you still find that it is slower than you think it should be, you know where to find us!

This article is a modified version of the original, which was published in October 2016.

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