Why Mac’s Browser is Running Slow and How to Fix It

Tips • March 2, 2023

mac browser slow

We have all been there. Just when you need to send that file fast or load that proposal template, your browser decides to freeze on you with the never-ending loading loop. This is frustrating and even worse, could land you in trouble. This article explores the reasons for this cause, how to avoid it, and how to fix it when it happens.

RELATED: How to Troubleshoot Your Slow macOS

Causes and fixes for slow browsing

Safari is generally the main browser for Mac. It comes pre-installed, as the default browser and is the fastest on the MacOS system.

Although Safari is the default browser for Mac, according to MacWorld, Google Chrome remains the most popular web browser in the world and will be the focus of this article. Despite being focused on Google Chrome, all of the information in this article will be applicable for Safari users.

I would warn that both of these are great but not flawless. They are both prone to different factors that cause downtimes and slow loading. These factors include unnecessary plugins and extensions, multiple running programs in the background, poor internet connections, full cache, and running multiple tabs at the same time, amongst others.

Poor Internet Connection

An obvious reason why your web pages are taking forever to load is a poor internet connection. Before start looking for complex ideas, it is wise to first check if your internet is working.

Usually, if you are trying to access a web page and the internet is slow, you will get an “error” code on your screen asking you to check your connection. If all you have is an infinite loading loop, you can use a speed checker to see your internet speed.

Here are some causes for slow networks.

  • Bad physical connection
  • ISP throttling
  • Wi-Fi network problems
  • Faulty routers

To fix and troubleshoot these issues, you can;

  • Restart your router
  • Check that your cables and wires are well connected
  • Update everything (your equipment and devices)
  • Contact your Internet Service Provider (ISP) if nothing you try works

Browser Extensions

Various browser extensions make work easy and improve productivity while surfing and working on the internet. However, they are also a notorious cause for slow browsing. This software helps complete tasks faster and with ease but they eat up more energy and RAM, causing your computer to slow down.

When you start using your browser, all extensions get activated. So you first want to disable or uninstall those that you are not using and only leave those that are necessary. To do this;

  • Open your browser
  • Hit “more options”, or the three dots at the top left corner of your page, just beside the search box
  • Scroll down to “More Tools”
  • Click on “Extensions”

This will open a new window with all your active extensions. Click on the ones you won’t use in that particular session and toggle the button to “turn them off” or deactivate them. If you have entirely no use for them, click “remove” or “uninstall” to get rid of them.

To activate the extension, just follow the above steps, only this time, push the button to activate it.

Multiple Apps and Programs

If your Mac is slow, you can’t expect your browsers to be any faster. Any programs running in the background use up RAM and cause your Mac to slow down. Check your activity monitor to track active apps and programs;

  • Open the Activity Monitor and check out the processes running in real-time
  • Click the “Memory Tab”
  • Click the “Memory Filter”
  • In the window that opens next, sorts out the program running with the amount of Ram they are using
  • At the top-left corner of the window, click the “x” icon to turn off the programs you are not using.
  • Be careful not to turn off anything you are not sure about. You don’t want to create another problem by removing a vital process

Outdated Browser Version

Safari is the default browser for Mac and runs the fastest on the Mac system. Just like with any other browser, it comes with regular updates to maintain the browser speed and improve the user experience. If you neglect to update it as routinely as the updates come, it could be a possible reason why your Mac is running slow.


The same goes for Chrome and any other browser you could be using. To update your browser;

  • Open the browser
  • Click “menu”
  • Select “settings”
  • Click “About Chrome”
  • You will see all the information about your browser
  • If there is a new update, click on “Update” to update to the latest version
  • If there isn’t a “New Update”, your browser is just fine

Browser Cache

Most web browsers cache different forms of data such as JavaScript code, images, and HTML files. This helps reduce loading times when you subsequently visit these sites.

Having had personal experience with this myself, a corrupted browser cache could result in slow browsing performance on the Mac. Outdated browser cookies could also impact the performance of your browser. If clearing the cache doesn’t help, you can try deleting cookies to see if the speed improves. Here is how to delete the cache on Safari;

  • Open your Safari browser
  • Click the menu bar
  • Go to “Advanced” settings
  • Click “Develop” to open the “Develop” menu bar
  • Click on the “Empty cache” option

To delete Cookies;

  • Open Safari
  • Hit the “Menu” bar
  • From the menu, select “History”
  • Click “Clear all history”
  • Hit the “Clear” button next

To Delete Cache and Cookies on Chrome browser;

  • Open Chrome
  • At the top right corner, open more (the three dots)
  • Click “More tools” from the drop-down menu
  • Click “Clear Browsing Data”
  • Check the box next to “Cookies and other site data”
  • Check the box next to “Cached Images and Files”
  • Check the box next to “Browsing History”
  • Click “Clear Data”


There’re some 3rd-party cache cleaning apps like CleanMyMac X can help you clear out your system’s cache and free up valuable storage space.

With their advanced cleaning technologies, they can quickly and effectively eliminate any unwanted files, allowing your Mac to run more smoothly and efficiently. In addition, they can help you optimize your settings to get the most out of your system.

Multiple Tabs

Browsers like Safari and Chrome are known to be efficient enough to handle a couple of tabs at the same time. However, sometimes it gets heavy on your browser when you open a dozen tabs, especially when you already have other issues like slow internet connections.

Running many tabs simultaneously takes a toll on your RAM and starts delaying the loading of new pages. A personal tip of mine is if you have been working on your computer for a long time and have multiple tabs running, close down the ones you are not using in that particular session. Even better, close down all the tabs to give your browser some room to reboot before you start browsing again.

Malware or Viruses

Malware and viruses affect the performance of various apps and programs on your PC. When your browser starts to run abnormally slow, it could be infected with a virus. Run a malware scan to detect any viruses present.

MacOS has an inbuilt virus scanner called Xprotect. This scans all programs and applications in your Mac to detect and remove viruses and malware that possess threats to your system. You can also opt for reputable third-party anti-virus programs to get rid of malware and viruses that are slowing down your browser.

Tips to speed up Safari on Mac

Smart Search settings

The Smart Search Setting feature on Safari is meant to make your experience better and browsing easy. However, it could also be a nuisance. If this is what is causing your browser to run slow, you can delete and prevent search suggestions from the Smart Search Field

  • Open the Safari browser
  • At the top menu bar, Click “Safari”
  • Select “System Preferences”
  • Delete the texts in the “Smart Search Field” to prevent search suggestions
  • From the settings, you can also click “Search” and turn off “Search Engine Suggestions”
Turn Off Dashboard

Dashboard on Mac is useful for safari users but it also uses up resources that may cause the browser to slow down, especially on the older versions. Disabling it may make a difference;

  • In the top menu bar, click on the Apple logo
  • Select “System Preferences”
  • Select “Mission Control”
  • Click “Dashboard”
  • Select “Off” from the pull-down menu to deactivate the dashboard

In case this was not the issue and doesn’t make any difference, you can follow the same steps above to reactivate it.

Turn Off Unused Network

If you have two networks on, say Ethernet and Wi-Fi, they may be competing to run your browsers, hence slowing down your browsing endeavors. Disable one of them for maximum performance.

  • From the top menu bar, click the Apple logo
  • Click “System Preferences”
  • Select “Network”
  • Select the unused network in the next window and click on the button beside it to turn off or disconnect
Switch DNS

If you notice a certain pattern in your browser’s performance, where your browser starts to get slow at specific times of the day, it could be that your ISP DNS servers are getting congested.

In this case, you can switch to OpenDNS or Public DNS from Google and see if it works.

  • Click the Apple Logo in the menu bar
  • select “System Preferences”
  • Click on the “Network” tab
  • Select the “Lock Icon”
  • Enter your username and password as prompted in the next window to unlock
  • Select your network
  • Click “Advanced”
  • Select “DNS”
  • Click the “plus” button
  • Enter and as your new DNS entries
  • Click the “- button” to remove the old DNS entries
  • Click “OK”

This will set up your Mac to use the free Google DNS and solve the DNS queries on your device.

Tips to speed up Chrome browser on Mac

Update Chrome

Chrome updates in the background. If your browser didn’t update automatically, you will notice when you open it;

  • Open Chrome and hit the more icon “3 dots at the top-right corner of the window”
  • If the icon is red, you have pending updates over a week. If it is Orange, it means you have at least 4-days pending updates. If it is green, you have updates released a day ago.

To update;

  • Open Chrome
  • Hit the “More” icon
  • Click “Help”
  • Hit “About Chrome”
  • Click “Update Google Chrome”
  • If you can’t find the “Update Google Chrome” button, it means our browser is up to date
Open Pages Faster with Chrome

You can let Chrome do the work for you by turning on the “Network Action Prediction”. This action, also called “Page Prefetch”, allows the browser to open web pages faster, by preloading the links Chrome thinks you might open.

To turn it on;

  • Open Chrome
  • Click “More”
  • Click “Settings”
  • Select “Privacy and Security”
  • Select “Cookies and other Site  Data”
  • Click “Preload Pages for Faster Browsing and Searching”


Avoid Using Too Many Tabs Simultaneously

The more tabs you are using, the harder your browser has to work, and the more RAM you are taking up. Closing tabs you aren’t using eases the pressure on your browser, hence improving the speed. Just click the “x” on the specific tab you want to close.

Delete Dormant Extensions

Extensions are programs you add to your browser to improve productivity and make your work easier. Since these programs run on your browser, they may also cause it to slow down. If you are not using all of them, we recommend turning them off.

  • Open Chrome
  • Click “More”
  • Click “More Tools”
  • Click “Extensions”
  • Click “Turn Off” to deactivate or “Remove” to uninstall the extensions you are not using
Stop Unwanted Tasks

This refers to the programs running in the background. To stop them on Chrome browser;

  • Open Chrome
  • Click “More”
  • Select “More Tools”
  • Select “Task Manager”
  • Click “Memory”
  • Sort and Choose the tasks you want to close
  • Click “End Process”

Before you go through with this process, keep in mind that any tasks you haven’t saved will be lost, and you wouldn’t be able to recover them even from “Trash”.

Run Malware Scans

Chrome can scan your PC for Malware and remove them for you;

  • Open Chrome
  • Click “More”
  • Select “Settings”
  • Select “Reset and Cleanup”
  • Click “Clean up Computer”
  • Click “Find” to start scanning
  • Chrome will find any present malware and offer to remove them for you. Just click “Remove”


Tips to speed up Firefox browser on Mac

Use Firefox Quantum

You can use your PC’s GPU to browse faster with Firefox Quantum. This is also called Hardware Acceleration. Typically, it is not a default setting so you have to set it up manually. Here is how;

  • Open Firefox
  • In the search box, enter “about: preferences”
  • In the next window, scroll down to “Performance”
  • Besides the “Use Recommended Performance Settings”, uncheck the box
  • Check the box beside “Use Hardware Acceleration when available”
Turn Off Data Collection

When browsing, Firefox collects data and transmits it to the Mozilla Foundation. This takes up more energy and resources, hence slowing down your browser. Luckily, there is an option to turn it off;

  • Open Firefox
  • enter “about: preferences” in the search box and click enter
  • Select “Privacy and Security”
  • Select “Firefox Data Collection & Use” from the drop-down menu
  • Uncheck all boxes
  • Restart Firefox

Final words

In most cases, problems with your internet is what causes Mac browsers to run slow. As discussed in this article, there are many different ways to deal with network issues.

However, when the network is not the problem, it could be your PC or your activities. Make sure your Mac computer is up to date with updates and maintenance and observe your browsing habits. If none of the fixes above work, it is probably time to seek professional help. You can contact Apple, your ISP, or seek help from an IT professional.

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