11 things that could be slowing your Mac down

Having a slow computer is a frustrating experience.

But your machine slowing to a crawl isn’t necessarily a sign that you need a new computer. There are many reasons apps may fail to open.

Here are nearly a dozen things that could be slowing down your Mac, and how to fix them.

Useless animations

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Bogging down an old machine with unnecessary animations -- we're looking at you auto-hiding Dock -- can affect the whole experience as valuable resources that could be dedicated to other tasks, such as opening a programme, are taken up.

To fix this head to System Preferences > Dock and switch off the relevant options, such as 'Magnification,' the effect that minimising a window has and hiding the Dock.

Extra load on the graphics processor unit

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Older machines -- especially those made before 2012 -- can become overwhelmed when too many things are happening. Unfortunately, OS X is full of animations that can clogg up your Mac.

Turning off transparency is an easy way to lighten the load and ensure that the experience remains smooth.

To do this, head to Settings > Accessibility and tick the box that says 'Reduce Transparency.'

Safari being bogged down by web data

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Without really trying, Safari can hoard a lot of data. Much of it is useless after being deposited onto your machine by websites you visit once and then never again. All of this excess data can make the browsing experience feel sluggish.

To increase the speed of Safari, open the app, click 'Safari' in the menu bar and select 'Clear History and Website Data.' While this will remove your saved passwords for sites, it will make the experience much faster as there are less bulky files holding Safari back.

Not enough RAM


Upgrading the memory in your Mac (known as RAM) is a drastic solution -- especially if you have a MacBook Air -- but it's worth considering if you want to seriously reanimate your machine.

Various guides can be found -- both on and off Apple's websites -- to upgrade the RAM in whatever Mac you own and, while expensive, it can give a computer a whole new lease of life.

Caveats do apply: RAM is expensive -- especially when bought from Apple -- and buying the wrong type (desktop instead of laptop, for example) can break your Mac. Upgrading the RAM in newer MacBooks is also very tricky if you don't have the right tools (although iFixit do provide stellar guides).

Trying the other points in this guide may be as well before replacing RAM.

Unwanted processes using up central processing unit resources

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While the activity monitor may seem daunting, it's actually a very simple way to speed up your Mac on the fly.

If your computer starts to move slow, head to the Activity Monitor and a list of all the things your Mac is doing will appear. From here, you can select each individual 'process' (the name given to the tasks your Mac does) and kill it.

Take the utmost care when killing processes, however, as stopping a crucial task can break your Mac. Stopping a rogue programme -- such as Chrome -- will be fine and will speed up your computer in the process.

Corrupted hard drives

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Hard drive problems are invisible and could be the cause of your Mac-related woes.

Apple includes a programme called 'Disk Utility' with OS X that can scan your drive and check it for issues. If a serious issue is detected, Disk Utility can then advise on what to do.

Apple's Support page has a whole article on what Disk Utility can help with.

An over-tired Mac

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Computers, like humans, hate being tired -- and leaving your Mac on for days does is no good.

If your Mac is being slow, the first course of action should be to restart it.

Out of date apps

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Using old versions of software is never advisable and one of the best ways to keep your Mac feeling fresh is to regularly check and install software updates.

The Mac App Store, introduced in OS X 10.6, is an easy way to check if apps (both third party and from Apple) are up-to-date, and OS X 10.10 saw the inclusion of system updates in the Mac App Store, too.

While OS X does give notifications when updates become available, they can sometimes be at awkward times and thus get ignored. Installing them is a surefire way of keeping your machine up to speed.

Too many log-in items

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Another way that your Mac could become slow is by trying to do too many things on startup. While restarting the machine is all very well, having 10 different programmes automatically load when the Mac switches back on doesn't help the problem.

To solve this, head into Settings > Users & Accounts > Login Items and untick any programmes that you don't want to load at launch.

Alternatively, right click on applications in the Dock, go to Options and untick 'Open at Login.'

Unwanted apps

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If you have an older Mac with a spinning hard drive then you should definitely consider deleting apps to free up space.

Due to the mechanics of a spinning hard drive (a needle searches the drive for information constantly), the space that apps take up could be the difference between a fast load time and a sluggish experience.

To delete apps, head to Finder > Applications and move any unwanted apps to the Trash (which should then be emptied). It's important not to remove key apps, however.

Unused widgets

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Widgets can, if left unchecked, silently run in the background, eating up valuable resources.

To switch them off, or remove unused ones, go to the widgets panel, click the minus and remove any that are no longer needed. This should free up resources for other tasks.

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