How to use activity monitor to troubleshoot problems on a Mac?

All Macs begin to slow down with age — MacBook Pro, iMac, it doesn’t matter. Performing several heavy tasks at a time, your Mac may get slower, and it’s okay. Although, when you’re facing unresponsive windows and slow load time more often these days, your Mac definitely needs a boost. In this article, we’ll explain why your Mac gets slow and tell you, what you can do to fix it.

Modern browsers are getting more memory-demanding. Chrome alone is a planetary wormhole that recycles tons of user data per second. The second cause is apps and our increasing app usage. These shiny new tools want a chunk of your Mac’s memory (which, in the end, is finite). And finally, our hard drives are getting full as we create more videos and photos. In a shell, the reason for any Mac getting slow is data overload.

Some work better than others (depending on your Mac) but we’ll show you all of them and you can decide for yourself how to make your slow Mac faster.

1. Hard drive is getting full

Nothing slows down a Mac more than having too much on your hard drive. If you can lighten the load on your Mac, you’re sure to see an increase in speed.

How to fix it: Clean up your hard drive

Cleaning up old movie files, organizing your Desktop, and searching your Mac for old files you don’t need is the easy part. However, the hard part is cleaning up your system, and figuring out all the stuff that can be safely removed for more space. The best option is to use a Mac clean-up tool, like CleanMyMac X. It cleans up your entire Mac, the easy stuff and the hard stuff. It knows what to clean and where to clean and is incredibly safe to use. It removes caches, logs, language packs, and more to help you speed up your Mac.

Hard drive is getting full

2. System storage is not optimized

Apple developers have already anticipated the problem with slow-running Macs. You can easily find their helpful recommendations on managing and optimizing your Mac’s storage. Here’s how you can reveal some useful advice:

  • Click the Apple menu and select About This Mac. 
  • Here choose the Storage tab and select Manage.
  • In the new window that opens, you will see some suggestions.

How to fix it: Manage your files and data

You can transfer your files and data to iCloud to save up some space on your Mac. Just click Store in iCloud and choose files you want to save to iCloud storage. Another helpful tip is to optimize storage on your Mac by removing large files such as Apple TV films and TV shows. To make sure your Trash is not cluttered with old junk, you can set up Empty Trash Automatically. You could also give a swift look at your documents and remove the items that are piling up. You can do this by clicking Review Files.

3. Outdated macOS

Your Mac’s OS is extremely important to how it performs. An older OS typically runs slower — that’s why Apple releases new macOS every year or so.

How to fix it: Update your macOS

Having the latest macOS version is good practice (the latest version right now is macOS Big Sur). Don’t think of it as adding more junk to your already slow Mac — think of it as new software that makes your Mac run more smoothly. So, to update your macOS and speed up your Mac, go to the Apple menu and click About This Mac. Then click Software Update. If a new version is available, update the software, and you’re good to go!

4. Slow down the Start-up 

When you start your Mac, a lot of things load up in the background. Not only do they slow down your startup, but they continue to do so the whole time you’re on your Mac

Slow down the Start-up 

How to fix it: Manage your start-up items

Give your Mac a clean start and make macOS run faster. When you don't manage your startup items, it's like making your Mac run a sprint with a gigantic, book-filled backpack — it's going to take a bit longer for it to get moving, right? Lighten the load on your Mac.

You can do all the routine action we'll discuss below yourself, or just download CleanMyMac X and get a faster Mac in a couple of minutes.

Get a fast Mac startup by removing unnecessary apps. To turn off, Login Items, go to your System Preferences > Users & Groups and then click on your username. Now, click on Login Items, click on the name of an application you don't need to launch during startup, and then click the "-" symbol located below the list to the left; this will remove the application from the list — the fewer applications on the list, the better. This should help out a ton with speeding up your slow Mac.

5. Too much running in the background

When you’ve got too much running in the background, your Mac can’t even handle simple tasks.

Too much running in the background

How to fix it: End processes with Activity Monitor

Activity Monitor will show you what processes are using up your system resources. Quitting an app that’s taking up a lot of processing power could make a huge difference in speeding up your slow Mac. Open your Applications folder and then your Utility folder. Here you’ll find the Activity Monitor, open it. Check out the list of apps and processes that are happening on your Mac in real-time. Pretty complex, eh?

From here, you can see what’s causing trouble with your Mac. Click on the Memory tab at the top, then the Memory filter at the top of the list; this sorts the programs by the amount of space they’re taking up on your Mac RAM. The higher the number, the more power they need. Stop an app from operating by clicking on the app in the list and then clicking the gray “x” icon located at the top-left corner of the window. Don’t remove anything you don’t know!

6. You’ve got old hardware

Your Mac may just be too old to fix. When your Mac hardware gets too old, your speed drops drastically and you can do little to fix it without taking some serious measures.

You’ve got old hardware

How to Fix Upgrade your hardware

You’ve done all the stuff above, and your Mac is still running slowly. It’s time to look into upgrading your hardware. Unfortunately, this can be a bit pricey, and some Macs are beyond help (kidding… some just can’t be upgraded). 

The most straightforward way is to replace your current hard drive with an SSD disk. You should aim for at least 240-256 GB of storage space. You will need to open your MacBook bottom case and replace it with the newly bought SSD drive.

7. You have too many unused apps

As your Mac may be behaving slowly due to storage issues, it’s good to check whether you have some free space left. Unused apps are the biggest space-wasters. All of us download applications that seem helpful and exciting at first but turn to clutter up our disk instead of being used frequently.

How to fix: Uninstall unused apps

So, it’s time to get rid of those or at least honestly tell yourself which ones you don’t use anymore.

  • Open Finder and navigate to the Go menu.
  • From the drop-down list, select Applications. 
  • You will see all applications installed on your Mac. Organize the list by size to reveal the largest apps. 
  • Right-click on the app and select Move to Bin. 
  • Mind the fact that if you delete the apps, the chances are that some leftover files will remain on your Mac. That’s why it’s a good idea to clean your machine of such remnants with dedicated tools like CleanMyMac X. Its Uninstaller module shows how many apps you have and gathers all leftovers in one tab – so you can quickly delete them.

You have too many unused apps

If you don’t want to delete apps, you can quit them and therefore stop your CPU from wasting the resources on this app. 

1. Open Activity Monitor (Finder > Applications > Utilities)

2. Click %CPU to sort processes in descending order

You have too many unused apps on Macbook

1. Select the app you don’t use.

2. To quit the apps or processes, press the “X” sign in the top left corner of the window.

3. Click Force Quit. 

8. You are out of free RAM

RAM stands for Random Access Memory. This memory is like fuel for all your apps. That is the reason you often get a “Your system is out application memory” message. One solution is to physically upgrade your RAM — a good idea if you have no more than 4 GB of RAM. But that is a time-consuming operation that will chip a few bucks off your wallet. Luckily, there is a shortcut.

You are out of free RAM

How to fix it: Flush your RAM using Terminal

You can perform this operation if your system urgently needs a fresh memory. This is often the case with media converters and video editors that consume all the RAM they can get. A native macOS tool, Terminal has a special command to release your available RAM.

1. Go to Applications > Utilities > Terminal.
2. Now copy-paste the following command into the Terminal window: sudo purge
3. Enter your user password to confirm.

Hopefully, you’ll immediately see the results.

Leave a comment

Looking For A Fast & Reliable Repair Service

Get instant repair prices in just a few clicks

Request Quote