We all want our Macs to run fast and hate it if the machine keeps freezing (or completely frozen, sometimes). When that happens, frustration sets in. In this article, you’ll learn some common Mac freezing scenarios, along with practical fixes that work!
To save you time reading, we break down the scenarios into five sections. Just navigate to the right section based on the scenario that fits your situation.
Why Does My Mac Keep Freezing?
Your Mac can freeze while running certain apps that are resource-hungry. Other times, macOS may hang up while you surf the Internet on Safari or Chrome. Or your Mac is super slow to start up, as you may have too many login items auto-launching.
Your Mac may also run slowly, hang up, or become totally frozen when the computer runs out of memory and it has to use the disk instead of RAM.
You can use iStats Menus to check real-time memory usage and other key performance metrics of your Mac. It’s also an app we recommend for diagnosing Mac issues.
Normally, the easiest fixes include reducing the number of login items, force quitting those frozen applications, updating your Mac to the latest macOS, etc.
Read on for how to unfreeze your Mac under different scenarios.
Scenario 1: Your Mac Freezes Randomly
If your Mac freezes from time to time even if it’s not running any third-party apps at all, or you feel there’s always a delay in responding to certain requests, it’s possible your Mac startup disk is almost full.
Another reason could be System Management Controller (SMC) needs to reset, as Apple says:
“These symptoms might mean that an SMC reset is necessary: … your Mac performs unusually slowly, even though its CPU isn’t under an abnormally heavy load.”
How to fix: clean up a disk drive, reset SMC
The best way to clean up your Mac drive is to use a Mac cleaner app, which can help you detect all types of system junk and unnecessary files. By doing so, you can quickly free up gigabytes of disk space.
As for resetting SMC, just follow the step-by-step instructions from this Apple guide or watch this YouTube video:
Scenario 2: Mac Freezes When Opening Certain Apps
It’s quite common that Mac freezes on certain apps, especially those poorly developed ones that demand more substantial system resources than they should.
macOS usually indicates the situation by popping up a notification saying the Application is not responding. This usually happens when your Mac is running heavy image or video editing software.
How to fix: force quit and keep the app up to date
The first yet no-brainer solution is: to keep waiting until the app unfreezes by itself. If it’s still unresponsive after a few minutes, try to force quit the application.
To do this, move your cursor to the application icon on the dock (normally located at the bottom of your screen). Then right-click on the app icon. Wait until a pop-up menu displays. macOS will then present the option for you to Quit.
Alternatively, you can click on the Apple logo, select Force Quit, then highlight the app you want to exit, and hit the blue “Force Quit” button.
Next, check whether the app has a newer version. For example, if you are using Photoshop, go to Adobe’s official website to check if the version you’re using is the latest one.
Those of you who are used to downloading programs from the Mac App Store can also go to Software Update to check if there’s a new update.
Bottom line: always keep your apps up-to-update because a newer version usually fixes bugs and errors that could eliminate app frozen issues.
Scenario 3: Web Browser Keeps Freezing on Mac
According to Apple Support Community threads, some users have been experiencing difficulties with Safari after updating their Macs to the latest macOS, such as web browser crashes or keeps freezing.
How to Fix It?
First, remove third-party extensions you recently installed. Because those plug-ins/extensions might be incompatible with the web browser you use.
Open Safari, on the top, click Safari Menu and select Preferences. Under the Extensions tab, select and uninstall the ones you recently installed.
If that doesn’t solve the problem, you’ll need to reset Safari. It’s also quite simple. Watch this video tutorial:
If the web browser continues to freeze, update your macOS. Make sure to back up your data before you do this. Updating macOS is a fairly simple process. Simply click on the Apple logo, the App Store option, and you’ll see the number of updates available.
Once updated, it should fix the browser’s freezing issues as well as other problems.
Scenario 4: Mac Keeps Freezing on Startup
If your Mac often freezes upon startup, chances are you have too many login items or launch agents. Those are usually applications, services, or server connections that run automatically when your Mac starts.
Another possible cause is the Non-Volatile Random-Access Memory (NVRAM) issue, as Apple puts in this article:
“…if your Mac starts up from a disk other than the one selected in Startup Disk preferences, or a question mark icon briefly appears before your Mac starts up, you might need to reset NVRAM.”
How to fix: optimize login items and reset NVRAM
Disabling unnecessary startup items is simple, just do a Spotlight search for “Users & Groups” (alternatively, click on the Apple icon, then System Settings, and click on Users & Groups).
See the Login Items tab? Here, you’ll find a list of applications and auto-start programs, feel free to remove those you rarely use.
Note: there may be some launch agents that do not show under Login Items, but they still run on startup. You can find and disable them via CleanMyMac (via Optimization > Launch Agents, as shown below).
Resetting NVRAM is easy and risk-free. Simply shut down your Mac and press the four combination keys as shown in this guide.
Scenario 5: Mac is Frozen Completely
If the entire system of your Mac is frozen and you can’t even move the cursor around. Your last option is to force reboot the Mac manually.
If you are on a MacBook Pro or MacBook Air, hold down the Power button (located on the keyboard for newer MacBooks) for 5 seconds or so, until the system shuts down completely. Then press it again to start.
If you are on an iMac, the Power button is on the back of the monitor. Press it for a few seconds and release it when your Mac shuts down.
It’s annoying to see Mac keeps freezing or frozen to death, and that happens from time to time. Reasons vary from case to case. But there are things you can do to fix the issue, though it depends on what kind of “freeze” situations you’re facing.
One more thing: don’t forget to back up your Mac on a regular basis. Because when your Mac is totally frozen, you’ll have to force quit apps or reboot, during the process you may lose some files. A backup is the best protection plan for data disasters.
Have you managed to fix the Mac freezing issue? Or do you happen to discover a new solution? Leave a comment and let us know.