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How to Fix Your Mac Running Slow After an Update: 12 Best Solutions

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Last updated: September 6, 2023

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It’s a familiar scenario for many Mac users: You’ve just completed an operating system update, excited about the new features and improvements, only to find that your computer is now moving at a snail’s pace.

If your Mac is running slow after an update, there are multiple methods to rectify this. In this guide, I’ve shared the best solutions to fix your Mac running slow after an update and regain its original speed.

Before We Begin

If you’re looking for a comprehensive solution to optimize your Mac’s performance and address the slowdown issues after an update, consider using MacKeeper. With its advanced features and powerful tools, MacKeeper can help you speed up your Mac and ensure it runs smoothly.

Why Does Your Mac Slow Down After An Update?

Many users notice their Mac’s performance lagging post an update. A few potential reasons for this could be the following:

  • 🚫 System Incompatibility: Some updates might not be fully compatible with your system’s existing hardware or software, resulting in slower performance, crashes, or other unusual behavior. Check if your system meets the minimum requirements before installing updates.
  • 🔄 Increased Resource Usage: New updates often introduce features and improvements that can consume more system resources. Increased CPU and memory usage might slow down older systems not designed to handle the extra load. This could result in a noticeable decrease in overall system speed and responsiveness.
  • 🕵️‍♂️ Background Processes: When you install an update, your Mac might start several background processes that could impact the overall system performance. While these processes are designed to minimize their impact on system performance, they can still slow down the system, especially if the system’s resources are already strained.
  • 🐞 Bugs and Glitches: New updates can sometimes introduce bugs and glitches that cause your Mac to slow down. These bugs impact the efficiency of the system or create conflicts with other software, resulting in reduced system speed. Usually, Apple fixes these issues with subsequent updates or patches.
  • 🗑️ Data Clutter: Over time, data accumulates on your system, and new updates can add to this. Cached files, logs, and redundant data can clutter your storage, slowing down the Mac. In some cases, the update process doesn’t complete cleanly, leaving behind junk data that impacts performance.
  • 🚀 Increased Startup Items: Some updates may add new startup items that launch when your Mac boots up. If these consume too many resources, this could result in slower system performance.

12 Top Solutions for a Mac Running Slow After An Update

If you’ve noticed your Mac running slow after an update, here are some proven solutions you can try to fix it:

1. Restart Your Mac

First and foremost, try restarting your Mac. It might sound too simple to be effective, but a sluggish Mac often needs a reboot. Restarting your Mac closes unresponsive apps, clears out temporary files, and resets your system’s memory, potentially resolving any performance issues.

To restart your Mac, you can follow these simple steps:

  1. Click the Apple menu in the top-left corner of the screen and select Restart.
click apple icon and select restart
  1. Alternatively, you can use the keyboard shortcut by pressing the Control ^+ Command ⌘ + Power buttons together.
macbook pro control command power
  1. A confirmation dialog will appear asking if you want to restart your Mac. Click the Restart button to proceed.

Once the restart is complete, your Mac will boot up again, and you can log in as usual.

If your Mac is unresponsive or frozen, you can force a restart by pressing and holding the Power button until your Mac shuts down. Then, press the Power button again to turn it back on.

2. Check Storage Space on Your Mac

If your storage space is almost full, it can significantly impact your Mac’s speed. You must have sufficient free storage space on your Mac to maintain optimal performance after a macOS update. 

To check the storage space on your Mac, you can follow these steps:

  1. Click the Apple menu in the top-left corner of the screen and select System Settings.
click apple icon and select system settings
  1. Click General and select the Storage tab.
click storage
  1. Here, you’ll see a visual representation of your storage space, divided into categories such as Apps, Bin, macOS, System Data, and Other Users. The colored sections will indicate how much space each category occupies on your Mac’s storage.
mac storage consumption
  1. If it’s getting near the limit, consider deleting unnecessary files or moving them to an external drive or cloud storage.

3. Clear Cache and Unwanted Files on Mac

Your Mac collects a lot of cache files over time, which could slow it down. Clearing cache and unwanted files can free up considerable space. You can clear the cache on your Mac manually or use third-party tools like MacKeeper.

Here’s how to clear the cache on your Mac using MacKeeper:

  1. Download and install MacKeeper on your Mac.
  1. Once done, open MacKeeper and select Safe Cleanup in the left sidebar.
click safe cleanup under the cleaning section 3
  1. Click Start Scan.
click start scan in safe cleanup 2
  1. Select files from the scan results to remove unnecessary cache items from your system. You can also click the Check All checkbox.
select junk files to remove or click check all 3
  1. Click Clean Junk Files.
tap clean junk files 3
  1. You will receive confirmation that the cleaning process has been completed successfully. Click Rescan to scan your Mac again.
click rescan in safe cleanup 2

If you don’t have MacKeeper, you can manually clear the cache on your Mac. Here’s how:

    1. Open Finder, click Go in the top menu bar, and select Go to Folder.
    open finder click go menu and select go to folder 4
    1. A pop-up box will appear with an empty search bar. Type the following path into the search bar and press Enter:
    type library cache path in the search bar
    1. This will open the Caches folder. Here, select the folder for the system data you want to clear.
    2. Right-click the files and select Move to Bin.
    right click system folders and select move to bin
    1. Permanently delete the cache from your Mac by right-clicking the Bin icon and selecting Empty the Bin.
    right click the bin and select empty bin 3

    4. Disable Unnecessary Startup Items on Mac

    Startup items or login items are programs or processes set to launch automatically when you start up your Mac. They can include essential system processes and third-party applications.

    Too many applications launching at startup can slow down your Mac. These items consume significant system resources such as CPU, memory, or disk I/O when they launch.

    Here’s how to remove login items on your Mac using MacKeeper:

    1. Download MacKeeper and install it on your Mac.
    1. Open Login Items under Performance in MacKeeper.
    tap login items under performance 1
    1. Click Start Scan.
    tap start scan 1
    1. Select unnecessary items from the list and click Remove Selected Items.
    select the files you want to delete and tap remove selected items 1
    1. Tap the Remove button on the pop-up.
    tap remove on the pop up 1
    1. It will remove your selected items from the system startup list. You can click Rescan to repeat the process.
    tap rescan 1

    If you don’t have MacKeeper, you can use Mac System Settings to manage and remove login items. Follow these steps to remove login items in System Settings:

    1. Click the Apple icon and tap System Settings.
    click apple icon and select system settings
    1. Select General and click Login Items in the right menu.
    click general and select the login items tab
    1. Here, you’ll see the items that launch when you start up your Mac.
    2. Select the login item you want to remove and click the button at the bottom of the list to remove the login item.
    select the item you want to remove and click the minus button

    5. Free Up Your Mac’s RAM

    If your Mac is running slow, it might be due to insufficient RAM, particularly if you’re running several resource-intensive applications simultaneously. Quitting unnecessary apps, disabling memory-hogging browser extensions, and restarting your Mac can free up RAM.

    Here’s how to use MacKeeper’s Memory Cleaner to free up RAM on your Mac:

    1. Download and install MacKeeper on your Mac.
    1. Launch MacKeeper and click Memory Cleaner under the Performance tab.
    select memory cleaner under performance 4
    1. Click Open.
    click open in the memory cleaner 4
    1. Click Clean Memory.
    click clean memory 4
    1. It will clean your Mac and free up available memory. You can see how much memory it freed under Last Cleanup.
    memory cleaned after a cycle 2

    Alternatively, you can use Activity Monitor to free up RAM on your Mac. Here are the steps you can follow:

    1. Open the Activity Monitor by navigating to Finder Applications Utilities Activity Monitor.
    launch activity monitor from utilities
    1. Click the Memory tab to see the current usage of memory by all running applications.
    click memory in the top menu 1
    1. The processes are sorted by their memory usage by default. If not, you can sort the list by clicking the Memory column to see which applications are using the most memory.
    click memory to sort by memory usage
    1. If you see an application using a lot of memory you’re not currently using, you can force quit it by selecting it and clicking the X button in the top-left corner.
    click a process and tap the small x to close it

    6. Check for Incompatible Apps and Delete Them

    Post-update, certain apps may not be compatible with the new system version, leading to performance issues. Check the developer’s website or the Mac App Store to see if an update is available for these apps. If not, consider uninstalling them.

    Here’s how to uninstall multiple apps on Mac in one go using MacKeeper:

    1. Download and install MacKeeper on your Mac.
    1. After installation, launch MacKeeper and click the Smart Uninstaller in the left-hand menu.
    click smart uninstaller in the left sidebar 2
    1. Click Start Scan.
    click start scan in smart uninstaller 1
    1. Select the applications you want to delete from the list and click Remove Selected.
    select the applications you want to remove and click remove selected
    1. Tap the Remove button on the pop-up to confirm the deletion.
    click remove on the pop up window in smart uninstaller 2
    1. MacKeeper will uninstall the apps and remove associated files and folders. You will get a Removal Completed notification. If you want to scan your Mac again, click Rescan.
    click rescan in smart uninstaller 3

    On the other hand, if you have one or two incompatible or corrupt apps, you can use Launchpad to uninstall an app on Mac. Here’s how:

    1. Click the Launchpad icon in the Dock, or use the Mac keyboard shortcut key: F4.
    click the launchpad icon in the dock
    1. Scroll through the list of apps in Launchpad until you find the app you want to uninstall.
    2. Click and hold the app icon until it starts shaking, and an X icon appears on the top-left corner of the app icon. Click the X icon to delete the app.
    click the x icon to delete the app in launchpad
    1. A pop-up window will ask you to confirm if you want to delete the app. Tap the Delete button to confirm, and it will move the app to the Bin in the Dock.
    tap the delete button to confirm
    1. After deleting the app, right-click the Bin icon in the Dock and select Empty Bin.
    right click the bin and select empty bin 5
    1. Restart your Mac to ensure that all changes are applied.

    7. Install App Updates on Mac

    Speaking of updates, make sure all your applications are up-to-date because outdated apps also lead to your Mac running slow after an update. Developers frequently release updates to improve app performance and resolve compatibility issues.

    Here’s how to quickly update multiple apps on your Mac using MacKeeper:

    1. Download and install MacKeeper on your Mac.
    1. Launch MacKeeper and click the Update Tracker tab in the left sidebar.
    click update tracker under performance 1
    1. Click Scan for Updates.
    click scan for updates 1
    1. MacKeeper will scan your Mac for outdated apps and display a list. To select an app, check the little box next to it or click Check All to select all apps.
    select individual apps or click check all 1
    1. Click Update All.
    click update all in update tracker 1
    1. Wait for the updates to complete. Depending on the number and size of updates, this can take a while.
    wait for the updates to complete
    1. You’ll get an Update Completed notification. Click Rescan if you want to update more apps.
    click rescan to run the scan again 1

    What Else Can MacKeeper Do?

    Besides cleaning junk files, removing login items, freeing up your Mac’s RAM, uninstalling unnecessary apps, and installing app updates, MacKeeper has plenty of other valuable features to optimize your Mac, like an Antivirus, ID Theft Guard, Adware Cleaner, and Duplicates Finder. Check out my detailed MacKeeper review to learn about these features.

    Alternatively, you can update apps on your Mac manually by following these steps:

    1. Click the Apple menu in the top left corner of the screen and select App Store.
    click apple icon and select app store 2
    1. Click the Updates tab in the App Store window.
    click updates in the left sidebar 2
    1. If updates are available, you will see a list of apps that can be updated.
    available app updates in app store 1
    1. Click the Update button next to each app that has an update available.
    click the update button next to an app 1
    1. This will update the app on your Mac. Now, follow the same steps for all apps to update them.

    8. Declutter Your Desktop on Mac

    A cluttered desktop can slow down your Mac after an update, as each icon takes up RAM. Decluttering your desktop on a Mac can improve productivity and make it easier to find the files and applications you need.

    Here’s how to declutter your Mac desktop:

    1. 📁 Create Folders: Start by creating folders on your desktop to organize your files on Mac. Right-click the desktop and select New Folder. Give the folder a name representing the type of files you’ll place inside.
    2. 🗂️ Sort Files: Go through the files on your desktop and sort them into the appropriate folders you created. Drag and drop files into the corresponding folders. You can sort them by file type, project, or any other system that makes sense to you.
    3. 🗑️ Remove Unnecessary Files: Identify files you no longer need and delete them. You can select multiple files by holding the Command key while clicking them. Once selected, right-click and choose Move to Bin or press Command + Delete.
    4. 📥 Clear Downloads Folder: Often, the Downloads folder can become cluttered with unnecessary files. Open the Downloads folder, review the files, and delete unnecessary items or move important files to appropriate folders.
    5. ⚓ Organize Dock: The Dock is a convenient place to access frequently used applications. Remove any unused or infrequently used applications from the Dock by clicking and dragging them out of the Dock.
    6. 📚 Utilize Stacks: Mac has a feature called Stacks that automatically organizes files on the desktop into groups based on file type or date. To enable Stacks, right-click the desktop and select Use Stacks. This will help keep your desktop tidy by automatically grouping files.

    9. Reset the SMC

    The System Management Controller (SMC) controls various hardware functions of your Mac. If you’ve tried everything and your Mac is still slow after an update, you might need to reset the SMC.

    Below, I’ve shared how to reset the SMC on Mac for different models.

    a. With a Removable Battery

    1. Shut down your Mac.
    click apple icon and select shut down
    1. Remove your MacBook’s battery.
    remove mac s battery
    1. Press and hold the Power button for 5 seconds while the battery is removed.
    press and hold the power button on your mac
    1. Release the Power button and reinstall the battery.
    reinstall macs battery 1
    1. Turn on your Mac by pressing the Power button.
    press and hold the power button on your mac

    b. With Non-Removable Battery

    1. Tap the Apple icon and select Shut Down from the drop-down menu.
    click apple icon and select shut down 2
    1. Press and hold the Shift ⇧ + Control ^ + Option ⌥ keys with the power button for 10 seconds.
    macbook air power shift control option keys
    1. Release all the keys and press the power button to turn on your MacBook.

    c. With M1/M2 Chip

    Unlike Intel-based Macs, Apple Silicon Macs don’t have a System Management Controller (SMC). Since there is no SMC, you cannot perform an SMC reset.

    You can always consult Apple Support if you’re unsure whether your Mac has an Apple Silicon chip.

    10. Reset the PRAM or NVRAM

    If all else fails, resetting your Parameter RAM (PRAM) or Non-Volatile RAM (NVRAM) can help. PRAM/NVRAM stores settings related to volume, display, and other features. If your Mac is acting strange after an update, resetting the PRAM/NVRAM might help.

    Here’s how to reset the PRAM/NVRAM on your Mac:

    1. Turn off your Mac.
    1. Press the Power button to turn on your Mac.
    macbook air touch id
    1. Press and hold the Option ⌥ + Command ⌘ + P + R keys simultaneously before the gray screen appears.
    macbook air option command p r keys
    1. Hold the keys until your Mac restarts and you hear the startup chime twice. If you have a Mac with the T2 Security Chip, keep holding the keys until the Apple logo appears and disappears twice.
    2. Release the keys and let your Mac start up normally.

    You cannot manually reset NVRAM or PRAM on Macs with an Apple Silicon chip. If a reset is needed, your M1 or M2 Mac will make it happen automatically during a restart.

    11. Reinstall macOS

    If none of the above solutions work, consider re-installing macOS. It might seem like an extreme step, but a fresh installation can often resolve persistent performance issues.

    Remember to back up your data on Mac first, as this process wipes everything.

    Here are the steps to reinstall macOS using the Recovery Mode:

    1. Connect your MacBook to the internet.
    1. Turn off your Mac and turn it back on while holding down the Command ⌘ + R keys on your keyboard. Keep holding the keys until the Apple logo appears.
    press Command R
      1. This will boot your Mac into the Recovery Mode. Once it loads, select Reinstall macOS and click Continue.
      click reinstall macos in macos utilities
      1. Follow the on-screen instructions to select your startup disk and begin the reinstallation process.
      1. After the installation, your Mac will restart and display the Setup Assistant. Follow the on-screen instructions to set up your Mac.
      2. Once the setup process completes, you should have a fresh macOS installation.

      If this method doesn’t work, you can try other methods to reinstall macOS mentioned here.

      12. Downgrade to an Older macOS Version

      As a last resort, if the latest macOS update is not working out for you, consider downgrading to an older version.

      Downgrading to an older macOS version is a complex process that should be cautiously undertaken. You might also lose access to some features and security updates available in the newer version.

      Follow these steps to downgrade macOS to an older version:

      Create a Time Machine backup before proceeding with the steps below.

      For Macs with Intel processors:

      1. Shut down your Mac and initiate the Recovery Mode by pressing Shift + Option + Command + R keys together during the booting.
      2. Find and choose the bootable disk marked as Macintosh HD.
      3. Provide your password and proceed by clicking Continue.
      4. In the Recovery Mode, navigate to Disk Utility, select your desired drive, and click Erase.
      5. Make sure to pick the GUID Partition Map and format it as APFS.
      6. Lastly, navigate back to Recovery and click reinstall macOS.

        For Macs with Apple Silicon:

        1. Switch off your Mac and hold the Power key until the Loading startup options notification appears.
        2. Select Options and press Continue.
        3. You’ll need to enter your administrator account’s password at this point.
        4. Navigate to Recovery Mode, find the Macintosh HD drive, and click the Erase option.
        5. An option to Reinstall macOS should become visible. Choose this, press Continue, and follow the on-screen instructions.

        Downgrading macOS takes time, so be patient while the process completes.

        Enhance Your Mac’s Speed With Regular Maintenance

        Experiencing a slow Mac after an update can be frustrating. However, with the right knowledge and tools, you can restore its performance. Remember, regular maintenance is key to a smooth and efficient Mac. Some Mac maintenance tips are as follows:

        Frequently Asked Questions

        1. Why does my Mac take longer to boot after an update?

          Your Mac may take longer to boot after an update due to system processes adjusting to the update, an increased number of startup items, or an issue with the update itself. Give your Mac some time after an update and check for follow-up updates from Apple.

        2. Can an outdated Mac slow down after an update?

          Yes, an outdated Mac can slow down after an update. macOS compatibility is crucial, so if your Mac is older and doesn’t fully meet the system requirements of the new update, it can experience performance issues post-update.

        3. What if I don’t want to update my Mac?

          If you don’t want to update your Mac, that’s up to you. Keeping your Mac up-to-date for the best performance and security is recommended but not mandatory. However, skipping updates means you won’t benefit from the latest features and security patches.

        4. Does a slow Mac mean I need to buy a new one?

          A slow Mac does not necessarily mean you need to buy a new one. You can improve its performance with maintenance and troubleshooting steps. If these measures don’t improve your Mac’s performance, get it checked by an Apple Authorized Service Provider before purchasing a new one.

        Hashir Ibrahim


        I'm Hashir, a tech journalist with a decade of experience. My work has been featured in some of the top tech publications like MakeUseOf and MakeTechEasier. I have a bachelor's degree in IT, a master's in cybersecurity, and extensive knowledge of Apple hardware, specifically MacBooks. As the senior writer at MacBook Journal, I write in depth guides that help you solve any issues you have with your mac and unbiased reviews that help you make the right buying decisions.



        Hi there! I'm Ojash, a tech journalist with over a decade of experience in the industry. I've had the privilege of contributing to some of the world's largest tech publications, making my mark as a respected Mac expert. My passion lies in exploring, using, and writing about MacBooks, and I enjoy sharing my expertise to help others make informed decisions and get the most out of their MacBook experience. Join me as we delve into the fascinating world of MacBooks together!

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