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

Last updated: Jun. 26, 2017

Mac Mini running slow

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

It's hard to conclude the culprits without a thorough diagnosis of your Mac Mini. The reasons that could cause a Mac to run slowly can range from hardware issues, software and macOS system issues, and user behaviors.

Besides, all digital devices have one thing in common — they'll fail eventually, so it's sometimes normal that your Mac Mini 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.

In this post, we're going to share a couple of general optimization tips.

1. Make sure there are no malware issues

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

To detect and remove potential malicious programs, run Bitdefender Antivirus for Mac on your Mac Mini and eliminate any hidden threats it would find.

2. Are you having too many items on startup?

Needless to say that a clean startup helps tune up a Mac machine that's running slow. Imagine a fast boot when you press the start button. No time is needed to wait for Safari, Mail, Calendar to load.

Therefore, 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 those and click the minus "-" button to disable them.

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

3. Clean up hard drive

If you want to see a big improvement in speed, cleaning the hard drive is definitely one of the most efficient ways. These days photos, caches, apps, widgets, plugins, hidden junks, etc. can fill up your Mac's hard drive more quickly than you think. When it's getting 50% full or more, you'll surely experience more slowdowns and frozen times.

While there are many things you can manually apply to clean up your Mac hard drive, it takes time and often you have to be a geek. Fortunately, there are smart tools out there to help. We like CleanMyMac, an app that makes it incredibly easy to find all kind of unnecessary files and clean them all in a few clicks.

Get CleanMyMac from MacPaw Official Site

4. Run the latest macOS

It has been several years since Apple made the decision to release new versions of OS X as free upgrades for we Mac users (the latest one is macOS Sierra), I can't see any reasons why shouldn't upgrade yours if your Mac Mini is still running Mavericks or Yosemite.

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, but it's worth it considering your Mac would run safer and smoother.

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's a video that shows 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 get worse later, for example, the hard drive would die all of a sudden. And if it happens, it could be a disaster in terms of the data you stored on the machine. Anyway, 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.

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