Q&A: How to speed up a slow Mac Mini without buying a new one?

Mac Mini running slow

I purchased a Mac Mini several months back. Now it's running painfully slow and freezes a lot more, though not all the times. But I'm still disappointed the performance. Any ideas why and how do I speed it up without buying a new one?

It's hard to figure out the culprits without a thorough diagnosis of your Mac Mini. The reasons causing a Mac Mini to run slowly range from hardware issues, software and OS X system problems, and user behaviors as well.

Besides, all digital devices have one thing in common — they'll fail eventually, so it's sometimes normal that a Mac Mini computer runs slightly slower over time.

That said, if your Mac Mini is extremely slow (or "painfully" as you said), then probably something is wrong out there. Here are a couple of quick speed tips we encourage you to try:

1. Make sure there are no malware issues

Though Mac OS X is considered less prone to virus infection compared to Windows, it's true to some extent. But recently many Mac users have reported that their Macs being "hijacked" by some annoying malware — adware and bundled software after downloading certain programs. Those malware usually don't cause severe damage, but tend to slow down the whole system.

To detect and remove such malicious programs, run Bitdefender Antivirus for Mac on your Mac Mini and see if it would find any hidden threats. If it does, have no mercy on them.

2. Are you having too many items on startup?

Needless to say that a clean startup helps tune up a Mac mini that's running slowly. Imagine a fast boot when you press the start button! No time wasted waiting for Safari, Mail, Calendar to load. Chances are your Mac mini could be loaded with some unnecessary apps or services. How to find it out? On your desktop, click Apple icon to the top left > System Preferences > Users & Groups > Login Items, check the apps have been enabled there. Then ask yourself, do you really need these services to automatically run on startup? If the answer is no, select them and click the minus "-" button to disable them.

Optimizing startup items is often the easiest way to help add more speed to your Mac Mini!

3. Take good care of your hard drive

If you want to see a big improvement in speed, cleaning your hard drive is the most effective and efficient way to tune up your Mac Mini (or any Macs). These days caches, apps, widgets, plugins, hidden junks, etc. can fill up your hard drive more quickly than you think. When it's getting 50% full or more, you'll sure experience more slowdowns and frozen times.

While there are many things you can do manually to clean up a Mac hard drive, it takes time and you have to know where to look. Fortunately, there are tools to help, one of the best options is — CleanMyMac, which makes it incredibly easy to scan all junks and clean them all in a few clicks.

Get CleanMyMac from MacPaw Official Site

4. Run the latest OS X

It has been several years since Apple made the decision to release new versions of OS X as free upgrades for we Mac users, so there is no reason not to upgrade if your Mac Mini is still running Mavericks or Yosemite while the latest one is already El Capitan. So go ahead and open Mac App Store, under Updates section, check if there is a newer version available for download. Yes, it would take you some time to complete the update, it's worth it considering your Mac would run safely and smoothly.

5. Upgrade RAM or get a new SSD

Not sure if your Mac Mini is equipped with an HDD (hard disk drive) or an SSD (solid state drive), and whether the RAM (random access memory) is adequate. To find them out, go to About This Mac > More Info > Storage. If your Mac is still with a 4GB RAM, or a spinning hard drive, consider upgrading. Seriously, you'll get a real performance boost if you often use your Mac Mini for heavy tasks like video editing, software testing, etc.

Kind tip: speaking from economical point of view, it's best that you only choose one option to go: either by adding more RAM or getting an SSD. And purchasing a RAM is cheaper. Anyway, whichever way you go, make sure you watch the video below before you put your hands on it.

Here is a video that shows you how to uncover your Mac Mini and upgrade RAM from 4GB to 16GB

Another great video tutorial that teaches you to replace your Mac Mini HDD with an SSD 


Most of the time it's reasonable for a Mac to run slightly slower than it used to, but if the sluggishness comes to a point when you can't tolerate, and you're tired of seeing the annoying beach ball on your cursor, then you'd better watch out. Because the situation could be worse later. Hope you find the above six Mac Mini speed up tips helpful.

Andreas Louis

Based in CA, Andreas is an Apple and Microsoft fanboy who works with his Mac and lives with a PC at home. He also has contributed to several other notable technology journals.

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 0 comments