Key Tips to Optimize Your Mac’s Performance

Posted on by Larry

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The Mac is all about speed and cool features that add a zing to the user experience. Its unified chip design and powerful apps and functions make it a top choice for media professionals. But there are times when you may find that it’s not working as fast as usual.

This could be due to technical problems, an older operating system, or incorrect settings. However, there are simple techniques to help you tackle these problems easily.

(Photo by Karolina Grabowska)

Clear cache on your Mac

Cache files accumulate over time and slow down the system’s performance. Clearing cache files will free up valuable storage space and improve the overall processing speed. You can use third-party tools or perform manual cache clearance to keep your system running optimally.

To locate cache files, go to the NLE settings. NLEs usually stash caches in hidden system directories. Search for terms like “media_cache” or your NLE’s name. To decide which cache files you need to keep, consult your NLE’s documentation for specific cache types and then delete those that can be deleted.

Reduce visual effects

macOS provides visually appealing animations and effects. But they are also known to contribute to system slowdown, especially on older Mac models. To overcome this issue, go to the System Settings > Accessibility > Display and check the “Reduce Motion” option to minimize visual effects. This will make your Mac faster.

Speed up startup time: Manage startup programs

It’s frustrating to switch on the Mac and then wait endlessly for it to boot. An unnecessarily extended startup time can be a significant contributor to reduced Mac performance. To tackle this, you should manage startup programs through the System Settings menu.

To fix Mac startup time, there are different ways you can fix the problem. First, go to Users & Groups > Login Items. Here, disable any apps that launch at startup that are not necessary. It could be anything from cloud storage to media players.

Next, go to General > Startup Disk. Make sure that you are using the correct disk for booting. Finally, go to System Settings > Bluetooth. Although Bluetooth is used to pair many things these days, turn it off if it is not being actively used.

To know what’s essential and what’s non-essential startup apps, keep essential system functions and security software. Delay the non-critical apps with tools like LaunchControl.

Use special apps to optimize Mac’s performance

There are several third-party applications that are designed to enhance Mac performance. These tools offer features such as disk cleanup, file organization, and system maintenance. Choose one of the apps that can streamline the optimization process to make the computer user-friendly and efficient.

Run a macOS system update

There is a of discussion on what makes your system more productive – sticking to the current OS or upgrading to the latest. The reality is that upgrading to the latest operating system can really help but still, only upgrade when you are between projects and after the OS has had one or more upgrades after initial release. macOS Sonoma had several issues initially related to system slowdowns and other bugs, but it’s being improved with time. It’s always a good idea to wait before upgrading.

Regularly updating your macOS will ensure that your Mac benefits from the latest features, security patches, and bug fixes. Go to the Apple menu, select “About This Mac,” and click “Software Update.” Install any available updates to keep the Mac running smoothly.

Detect & kill demanding processes

IMPORTANT NOTE FROM LARRY: While killing processes is a technique you need to know about, a much better first step is to simply restart your computer. That, by definition, kills all running processes. If slow-downs persist, use Activity Monitor to see what processes are running. If the same process keeps recurring, follow the steps below to kill it. But always try restarting first.

A hidden step in optimizing your Mac’s performance is identifying and terminating resource-intensive processes. Utilize Utilities > Activity Monitor, a built-in tool on macOS, to monitor CPU, memory, energy, disk, and network usage. Identify processes that consume excessive resources and terminate them to free up system capacity.
It’s easy to identify the resource-consuming apps on your Mac. Here’s how:

The first is to use Activity Monitor. Open this tool, then check the “CPU” and “Memory” columns to see which processes are consuming the most resources. To make it easy, click the column headers to sort by usage. For an even deeper understanding, you can use the “Kind” column and see if the process belongs to an app, system, or kernel extension.

To get rid of these essential processes and ensure that you are not killing an important process, research unfamiliar names. Before killing a process, right-click the process and choose “Show in Finder.” Check the app’s location and name and find its purpose by searching online. Do not touch processes that are named “System,” “kernel,” or “launchd.” Killing them can cause instability on your Mac.

NOTE: If, by accident, you kill an important process, restarting your Mac will reset all processes.

Last but not the least, decipher cryptic names, copy the process name and search online with terms like “what is [process name] Mac?”. There are plenty of technical forums and resources that will throw light on this.

If you are working on a desktop, which most of the creative workers do, you may not worry much (unless you care about wasting a bit of power). But if it’s a laptop on a battery, these processes can consume a lot of memory and battery power. This is why it is important to take care of it before it creates a situation where you have to buy a new battery. So if you observe fast battery drain, immediately look for a solution to get rid of the processes that take up a lot of memory space or also slow down the laptop speed.

Swap your HDD for an SSD

Finally, upgrading your storage from a Hard Disk Drive (HDD) to a Solid-State Drive (SSD) is a popular way to boost your Mac’s performance. SSDs offer faster data access speeds and improved system responsiveness. But for the most speed and power, look for NVMe SSDs. They can be pricey, though, so a less expensive – but slower – option are SATA SSDs. Any form of SSD will be fast enough for any single-camera editing.


Mac provides top performance to make your editing work easier when it delivers the power which it is known for and that happens when you know how to handle the technical issues that are often associated with it. Like any other computer, Macs can develop problems that make it slow down from its expected performance. These tips can help bring it back to full life.

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