iMac Running Very Slow? Here’s 6 Ways to Improve iMac Performance

Last updated: Jun. 6, 2017

iMac running slow

Over time, your iMac can slow down for a number of reasons.

It may be due to a cluttered hard drive, outdated macOS, too many applications running the background, etc. The slowness might also be attributed to under-performing RAM (random access memory), which is critical in processing application requests. Moreover, certain apps could be draining your iMac CPU more than they should.

No matter what the cause is, it's often annoying and frustrating to see our productivity going down because of a slow iMac. In this article, we're going to show you six different fixes to speed up your iMac performance.

We'll start with the easiest to the hardest, so you decide which techniques best fit your situation. Don't forget to let us know how they work out for you.

1. Reduce iMac Startup Items

If your iMac takes much longer to boot up and load to the first screen, chances are you're having too many login items. In other words, upon start up too many applications or services may open automatically once you press the start button on your iMac. If the list of login items is long, it's not surprising that your Mac can take minutes (if not forever) to start up.

Fortunately, removing unnecessary login items is relatively easy. Simply click on the Apple logo on top left, click System Preferences > User & Groups > Login Items. Here, you select any items you don't want and click the minus sign "-" to disable them.

2. Close Programs Running in the Background

Note: for some applications, even if you have clicked the red sign "x" located on the upper left corner, they may be still running in the background (to your surprise). If you have too many such processes running at once, your iMac speed can be significantly affected, worse yet, the whole Mac system can freeze to death. If that happens, you'll have to force quit apps or have a hard reboot.

To see what apps and services are consuming lots of system resources (CPU, memory, battery, etc.), use Activity Monitor to find them out. Apple has a support article that teaches us how to properly use this utility. If you prefer a visual tutorial, view this YouTube video: 

3. Clean up iMac Hard Drive

Any Mac will run slowly for having an almost full hard drive. MacOS might not even function as efficiently as it should under low storage. Also, lack of free space can also result in more frequent hangs, freezes, even app crashes.

To clear out space on your iMac hard drive, first, get an overview of the storage. To do so, click on the Apple icon, then About This Mac. Under the Storage section, you can see how much space is available on current disk. Different blocks of color indicate different file types, such as movies, photos, or apps.

To clean up those unnecessary files such as system junks, unused apps, large old duplicates, etc. try this intelligent app called CleanMyMac -- it helps you determine what specific files are taking up the most space and then indicate those are safe to remove or transfer.

Get CleanMyMac to Clean up Your iMac Hard Drive Now

4. Run the Right macOS Version

Depending on the iMac model you are using, you may need to double check whether the OS X your iMac loads is the best. Note: the latest OS X (i.e. Sierra) does not always guarantee better performance, especially if your iMac hardware is a bit behind. For example, El Capitan requires at least 4GB in RAM and some free disk space in order to run smoothly. Many iMac users who rush to update to El Capitan actually reported slow performance.

As a result, know your iMac and run the right macOS. To check what OS X version your iMac is with, click Apple logo > About This Mac, here you'll see the information. Then you may want to upgrade to a newer OS X or download to a lower one

5. Add More RAM

RAM (random access memory) plays a significant role in processing app requests. If you are a designer or developer who uses an iMac to run big programs for projects, chances are RAM may be inadequate. You can also check how much RAM is being used in the Activity Monitor.

If many times the RAM is used up and your iMac has to switch to use hard disk virtual memory, it's time to consider adding an extra memory, as this is the best way to avoid iMac slow issues.

If you decide to do so, be sure to confirm how many GBs your iMac is able to be added. Figure it out by going to Crucial website. Also, don't forget to check out this video before you open your iMac mainframe and install additional RAM. 

6. Upgrade to an SSD

For older iMacs, replacing the current hard drive or fusion drive with an SSD (solid state drive) can significantly improve your Mac's speed and performance. Similar to adding more RAM, it's also recommended that you check which SSDs are compatible with your iMac beforehand. This useful video shows everything you'll need to watch out during the process of replacement.

That's all what I wanted to share. Out of the six solutions, which one(s) do you find most useful in tuning up your iMac performance? I'd like to hear from you.

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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