Deep Dive: Slowness

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If you have noticed that your device has been running slow, or that you have been receiving the spinning color wheel more frequently than usual, there are a few easy steps you can try in an attempt to resolve this issue at home.

If your device is still relatively new, and you begin to notice either applications taking a long time to respond, or your machine taking longer than usual to power on or start up, then the first step to try is a restart of your machine. Restarting your device can refresh the hardware and operating system, particularly if your device has been turned on, or only in sleep mode, for a long period of time. To restart your device, select the Apple logo in the top right corner, and from the drop down menu select “restart.”

Your machine will ask you to confirm the restart, and then the machine will power down before automatically turning back on.

Included in this pop up window asking you to confirm whether you would like to restart your device is a small check box titled “Reopen windows when logging back in.” If you are restarting your device because it is running slow, we recommend making sure that this box is not checked, as it prompts all previous applications and windows that are currently open to repopulate once the device restarts, which can slow down the restart process.

If your device is still running slow after restarting, then your disk storage may be almost full. To check the storage levels of your start up disk, follow these steps:

Select the Apple logo in the upper right corner of your screen, from the drop down menu select “About this Mac.”

In the window that appears, select the “storage” tab.

The next screen will show all available storage for your device, if you notice that you do not have a lot of room left on your drive, then your machine may be running slow because it is almost out of space.

If your storage is almost full, you will need to either delete items that are taking up a significant amount of room, or migrate them to an external drive. The storage bar in the storage section of “About This Mac” will automatically label sections of the contents on the drive, so you can use this window to determine what needs to be deleted. These can either be photos, applications, or files and folders.

Alternatively, if your drive has plenty of space, then you may be using an application that requires more memory or processing than your device is capable of. To determine if an application is slowing your machine, follow these steps:

Select the Apple logo in the upper right corner of your machine, then select “About this Mac” from the drop down menu.

In the “Overview” tab, your device’s specifications, including memory and processing, will be listed. You can compare these specifications to the system requirements of the applications that you are using, these can typically be found on the application’s website.

If the specifications of your device do not meet the requirements of the application, then the program you are using may be slowing down your machine. Try closing the application and using your device, if you notice that the slowness has stopped, then you may need to update your machine to use the application, or find another program that your machine can support.

Alternatively, your device may be eligible for a memory upgrade. To determine your device’s eligibility, navigate back to the “About this Mac” window, and select the “Memory” tab. On the next screen select the “Memory Upgrade Instructions” in the lower left corner. Please note that this feature is only available on certain mac products, so if it is unavailable contact Apple directly for assistance, or take your machine into your nearest Apple Service Provider.

Lastly, you can use the Activity Monitor feature on your device to check which applications are using the most memory on your device. To access your Activity Monitor, select the magnifying glass icon in the top left of your screen.

In the search bar type “activity monitor.” Select the first result.

A window will appear showing all currently open applications, they will be listed by the amount of memory and battery capacity that they are using. You are able to toggle between the CPU and memory usage by selecting the tabs in the top right corner of the window. Pay attention to the applications with the most activity, and try closing these applications to see if the slowness stops.

If none of these steps resolve our issues, your drive may be starting to fail. Slowness is considered the first symptom of drive failure, particularly if your device is over or around 6 years of age, and you have not had the drive replaced. So, if your device is around this age, or the previous steps did not help your slowness  be sure to back up your device and take it to an Apple Authorized Service Provider or Apple store for diagnostics.