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How to Fix Slow Mac After macOS Monterey Update

Tips • Aug. 8, 2021

Apple’s new release of macOS Monterey Beta has brought a lot of new features that have taken the users by storm. However, not everyone is satisfied, and Beta updates have generally been buggy or slow. macOS Monterey is a little different. People running the latest gen M1 Macbooks are loving the update, but people with older Intel devices can feel that their overall experience with macOS is slower than before.

So is Monterey slow for you, as well? Well, if you’re still here reading about it, then the answer is most likely “Yes”, and here you are looking for solutions. There can be many reasons that your Macbook is feeling slow, and here are some solutions to get you back on track and improve your experience with your loved laptop or desktop.

Before fixing

Before you get on to the fixes below, let’s do a little troubleshooting first and get to the root of the issue and make some smart choices to keep your data and device safe. So, the first thing you should be on the lookout for is:

Hardware issues –  If your device is having issues with the hard drive or heating issues that cause the performance to drop rapidly, we recommend you take it to an Apple Store to get some regular maintenance done. This is not something that you would be able to fix on your own or with software, and hence, taking it to someone who knows what they’re doing is the best possible solution.

Sofware problems – The next thing that you should be on the lookout for is whether an app or some other software is the central cause for the slowdowns. Is there an incompatible app that is bugging your system, or is macOS having problems or bugs with its features? If this is the case, you should read below to check out all the best possible fixes on the market.

Make a Backup – After identifying the main issue, you can go ahead and fix the problem with the solutions below. However, before you do that, you should always make a backup, so if something does go wrong, you can just use the backup and restore your device to the original condition. You can make a backup by going into Time Machine settings and configure and schedule a backup.

Quick and easy fixes for a slow Mac

Now that you have identified the problem and made a backup for extra security, then let us get started with the ten easy and quick solutions to improving your Mac’s performance.

1. macOS slow right after an update

If this is the case for you and your Mac is feeling slow right after you completed the installation and updated the OS, then the best and quick fix you can try is to restart your Mac. Most apps and services can still keep on running and start hogging up all the resources, leading to slowdowns and lag. So try the following:

  • Click on the Apple button and bring up the drop-down box
  • Now, click on the “Restart” button and let your device restart.

Note: You can also just hold down the power button for a few seconds for a hard restart. However, if this doesn’t work, you can always look at the other following fixes below.

2. Use Activity Monitor to kill apps and background tasks

The following fix is not as easy as the first one, but it does help when you need that extra bit of performance. Most apps run in the background for better access, but they end up taking a whole lot of RAM and CPU usage. This can slow down your computer and if you’re not using the latest and greatest M1 Mac, expect to see some lags due to this. The system monitoring solution is quite effective, and you can do this by:

  • Head on to your Applications folder and then on Utilities
  • Next double click on “Activity Monitor” to get it running
  • After your screen looks something like the screenshot above, go to the CPU tab. Here you will see a list of running applications in the background and click on any that you want to kill.
  • Finally, select all the apps you want to kill and click on the “X” button to kill the apps and free up some extra performance. You can also kill any misbehaving apps that are taking up too much performance.

Note: You can also access “Activity Monitor” through Spotlight. Just press down Command + Spacebar, type in “Activity Monitor”, and hit the Return key. You can check the percentage amount of CPU/Memory an app is using, and if something looks unnatural such as 60% use, then kill it to increase performance.

3. Clean up your cluttered home screen

This fix is quite simple. All you need to do is remove clutter from your home screen. Apps and Widgets can take up a lot of performance if you’re not careful, so go ahead and remove all the unnecessary app icons and widgets from your home screen and keep it clean. The result should look something like the screenshot above. Finally, after you remove all the clutter, bring in all the apps that you use regularly and add those to the home screen for quick access. However, remember to keep it minimal and don’t clutter your home screen again.

4. Update to the latest build

macOS Monterey is still in the beta version, and it has a lot of bugs that you have to deal with. Not to mention all the performance hits that you can expect with lags and stutters. So, constantly update the version with new updated builds and the stable version when Apple releases it. You can check for possible updates by:

  • Click on the Apple icon on the top left corner and select “System Preferences” from the list
  • Now, choose “Software Update” and let it check for available updates
  • If you see something like the screenshot above, then click on the “Software Update…” button
  • This will start the update process, and once that is completed, you will be greeted with the latest build

Note: You can expect more performance and better optimization as Apple is still working with the new OS. Increasing performance and decreasing the required amount of power needed will help improve the overall experience with all their compatible devices.

5. Reduce transparency and motion

The transparency and motion visual effects are pretty to look at and make the macOS experience much better. However, they take up some performance that can be used for other apps and make your laptop much faster. Hence, one way to make your apps run more quickly and your experience seamless is by disabling the Reduce Motion and Reduce Transparency options, and you can do this by:

  • Click on the “Apple” button on the top left corner of the screen and select the “System Preferences” option
  • Next, choose “Accessibility” and then “Display”, as shown in the screenshot above
  • Finally, check the Reduce Motion and Reduce Transparency checkboxes and close the Accessibility panel

Note: This will remove all transparency and motion animations which may feel a little weird at first, but you should get used to it reasonably soon. Hence, the result uses fewer system resources as there are fewer things to render, and often makes your Mac faster.

6. Check storage space

Another critical issue that can degrade your Macs performance is the storage space available on the drive. As you can see from the screenshot above, only 20GB of total space is left, and hence the system is experiencing some random errors and lags. If you have the same problem, we recommend you get rid of unnecessary system files by using CleanMyMac X or get an external drive to store some of the data. The minimum amount of free storage should be somewhere in the neighbourhood of 60-70GB of free space for smooth and seamless operation. You can check your Macs storage by:

  • Click on the Apple Menu icon on the top left and then on the “About this Mac” button
  • Now select the “Storage” tab, and you will be greeted with a pop-up panel similar to the screenshot above

Note: You can also click on the “Manage” button and use the “Optimized Storage” option that Apple provides to clear your Mac of any unwanted junk files.

7. Remove startup apps

Startup apps are helpful, but they take up a lot of performance. If you can live with starting apps yourself every time you boot into the OS and don’t need them to automatically startup, you can go ahead and disable those to get that extra bit of performance and have faster booting times. This will also fix your slow Mac and make your experience with macOS Monterey much better. You can remove the startup apps by:

  • Head on to “System Preferences” by clicking on the Apple icon and selecting the respective tab
  • Next, click on “Users and Groups”, select your User and finally on the “Login Items” tab
  • Now, you’ll be able to see a list of startup apps as shown in the screenshot above, and you can simply remove those by selecting an app and clicking on the “-” button

Note: You can also add startup apps by clicking on the “+” button and then selecting an app. However, if you want the best performance, then remove all the apps from the startup list.

8. Clear cache

The term cache is something that most you must be familiar with. Most people have heard the word for their phones, but the cache is also a big part of macOS. This is usually used to speed up processes and apps by storing some app data in cache. Still, if the files exceed a lot of storage, it can gradually decrease the system’s overall performance. There are three types of cache used by macOS: System Cache, Browser Cache, and User Cache. We do not recommend you to delete System Cache as it messes with the applications, but you can go ahead and delete the browser cache to free up memory and improve performance. To do so:

  • Go to Finder and click on “Go”, and choose the “Go to Folder” option
  • Now, enter the following path ~/Library/Caches and hit enter
  • Next, you will be greeted with the folders as shown in the screenshot above, and all you have to do is select the cache files and delete them.

Note: Do remember to not mess with any of the system cache files as it can bring many bugs and issues, which will make your experience a lot worse. Oh, and don’t delete the folders, just the files, and you can head on to Chrome or Safari’s settings to clear the browser cache. You could also approach a dedicated Mac optimizer software – with the right expectations (and a bit of circumspection) – to easily detoxing the unwanted caches from the operating system, e.g. System Junk module in CleanMyMac X allows you to easily remove temporary files, outdated caches, and application residue.

9. Reset SMC/NVRAM

If nothing else has worked for you and you are still looking for a fix, you should try this. Resetting SMC and NVRAM is not something that you should often do, as it is one of the most crucial components of your device. All new Macs run on NVRAM or Non-Volatile RAM and are maintained by an SMC or System Management Controller. This help manages everything from power delivery to the fans and is an integral part of your device. So, only do this if nothing is working and you are comfortable with the process. You can follow the instructions below to reset SMC and NVRAM for your device.

Reset SMC for MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, or MacBook:

  • Turn off your MacBook and remove the charging cable if attached
  • Wait for 15 to 20 seconds and plug the charging cable back in
  • Now turn your Macbook around by holding the left shift + Option + Control and Power keys for at least 10 seconds and release the keys as soon as your MacBook turns on

Reset SMC for iMac, Mac Pro, or Mac Mini:

  • Turn off your Mac and remove the power cord from the back of the device
  • Wait for at least 15 to 20 seconds and plug the power cable back in
  • Finally, wait for another 5 seconds and power on your Mac as you usually would.

Reset NVRAM (works for PRAM as well):

  • Turn off your MacBook or Mac and wait for around 30 to 50 seconds
  • Now, Turn on your Mac or MacBook by holding down the Option + Command + P and R keys simultaneously until your device restarts and you hear a beeping sound

Note: Do follow the steps as listed and don’t make a mistake as you can boot into the recovery mode, which can be an issue if you don’t know what you are doing.

10. Revert to macOS Big Sur or clean install macOS Monterey

The final option to improve your device performance is to either entirely revert back to macOS Big Sur or do a fresh and clean install for macOS Monterey. This will help clean your device thoroughly, and you can do this by:

Revert back to Big Sur:

  • Firstly, restart your device and hold down the Shift + Option + Command and R keys
  • Next, from the “Recovery Mode” click on the “Reinstall macOS Big Sur” button, and you can downgrade macOS back to Big Sur through it

Clean install macOS Monterey:

  • Once you’re back in Big Sur, go to the “System Preferences” panel and select “Software Update”. You will be able to see the Monterey update there
  • Finally, click on “Update…” and let it do a clean install on your Mac

Note: This process will erase all your data, so do make a backup before proceeding with the steps listed above.

Finally, if nothing worked for you and even after reinstalling Monterey with a clean install didn’t solve the issue, then you are left with two other options. These fixes can take days and money, so make sure that you are ready. So, the solutions are:

Take it to an Apple Store – Taking your Mac to an Apple store will ensure that you will receive the best fix for your device. The Store can check for any hardware and software issues and remove any problems or replace faulty parts. However, do note that it can cost you some money and time.

Get a cleaning service – If your Mac is facing issues with heat and is lagging due to the CPU being throttled down, you can take it to a cleaning service and get it cleaned out. The fans tend to gather dust and get clogged up, which raises the internal temperature, and if you have an older model, it can seriously hamper your device’s performance. Here is a good repair and cleaning service.

FAQs

Why is my Mac slow after Monterey update?

Updating your Mac to the latest macOS Monterey build can slow down the performance as the new build is in Beta and has some bugs and other issues. Apps and services are still being optimized for the new OS, and hence, your system might be having performance issues. You can look for some of the fixes above and try to improve your Mac’s performance.

Should I clear the cache on my Mac?

Generally No, but if your Mac is experiencing a lot of lag and performance issues, you can clear your cache to help improve the device’s overall responsiveness. However, removing all the files is not the way to go, and we suggest you only clear the browser or junk data cache as not to bring compatibility issues with the system or the apps.

How do you reset the PRAM on a Mac?

Resetting PRAM can be challenging, but it is the same process as clearing your NVRAM. You can either follow the detailed steps above or use this quick and easy process:

  • Turn off your device and wait for 30 seconds. Now, turn on your device and hold down the following keys, Option + Command + P and R, until you hear a beeping sound.

Note: If you boot back to the macOS Monterey home screen, you have successfully reset the PRAM.

Final words

It can feel challenging to fix lags and performance issues, but if you follow the steps and fixes stated in the guide, you can be sure that you’ll end up with a fast and smooth device. With that said, we expect that the guide helped you get the performance back in your life.