How to Speed up a Slow Mac Mini

I have been using a Mac Mini for years. Recently it’s running painfully slow and freezes now and then. I’m disappointed about its performance. Any ideas why my Mac Mini can run slowly and how do I speed it up without buying a new Mac?

It’s hard to say the causes without a thorough diagnosis of your Mac Mini. Reasons behind it can range from hardware malfunction, software and macOS system issues, and improper using behaviors.

All digital devices including computers will 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 described), then probably something is wrong out there.

In this post, we are 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 some Mac users reported that their Macs were “hijacked” by annoying malware, adware, and bundled software downloaded from third-party sites.

Not all malware will cause severe damage but tend to slow down your Mac system.

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

2. Optimize Login Items

Chances are your Mac Mini has been loaded with some unnecessary apps or services when the machine boots up. How to find it out?

On your desktop, click the Apple icon to the top left > System Preferences > Users & Groups > Login Items, check the apps that are enabled there.

Ask yourself, do you really need these apps/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 Mac hard drive is one of the most efficient solutions especially if your Mac Mini hard drive is almost full.

These days photos, caches, apps, widgets, plugins, hidden junks, etc. can fill up your Mac’s hard drive more quickly than ever.

When it’s getting 50% full or more, you’ll surely experience more slowdowns and Mac frozen issues.

While there are many manual actions you can take to clean up your Mac hard drive, it takes time and often requires a certain level of technical skills. Fortunately, there are cleaning apps out there to help.

We like CleanMyMac, an app that makes it incredibly easy to find all kinds of unnecessary files and clean them all in just a few clicks.

4. Update to The Latest macOS

It has been quite a few years since Apple made the decision to release new versions of macOS as free upgrades, I can’t see any reasons why you shouldn’t upgrade your Mac Mini to the latest macOS (i.e. Catalina) if your Mac machine is still running Mavericks or Sierra.

Open the Mac App Store, under the Updates section, check if there is a newer version available to download. If yes, take some time to complete the update.

5. Upgrade RAM or Get A New SSD

Not sure if your Mac Mini is loaded 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 Mini is still with 4GB RAM, or a spinning hard drive, consider upgrading especially if you use your Mac Mini for heavy tasks like video editing, software testing, etc.

You don’t have to do both, instead, either add more RAM or replace your Mac Mini hard drive with an SSD.

Here’s a video that shows how to uncover your Mac Mini and upgrade RAM from 4GB to 16GB:

Here’s another great video tutorial that teaches you to replace your Mac Mini HDD with an SSD:

Anyway, I hope the above tips have helped your Mac Mini run a bit faster.

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    This article fails to mention that 2014 Mac mini cannot have its memory upgraded.

  • Bernie Cole

    Where did you get the new RAM ?

  • Tami OConnor

    How do I purchase more RAM for for Mac mini?

  • Alfonso

    Thank you, Andreas. It was really useful.