Slow start Mac? 7 Possible causes and corrective measures

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So, does your Mac take forever (or much longer) to boot? Studies show that when a slow start isn’t just a waste of time, it also affects your health.

There is nothing more frustrating than a slow MacBook Pro or iMac when you need it to get work done in the morning. Usually, a Mac takes 30 seconds (or less) to boot, depending on whether your computer has a hard drive (HDD) or an SSD (SSD).

But if it takes a lot longer (or forever) to reach the first screen, then something is wrong.

We’ve found seven possible causes responsible for the issue, along with some important adjustments to help you resolve it.

Hope that by doing this you can speed up the startup a bit and spend the time doing more work.

Note: Some of the tips below are from research we have done on the internet (especially Apple communities / forums), we also have experience consulting geeks on the Apple Genius Bar.

1. You have too many startup items

Nothing slows down a Mac more than launching many apps and services when you press the start button. If you can reduce the number of Autostart items, you’ll be sure to wait less time and your Mac will perform better too.

How To Fix: Remove Unnecessary Login Items

Login items are the apps that run automatically after you log in. To check and disable these unnecessary items, click the Apple icon> System Preferences> Users and Groups, now click on the Connection elements tab (it’s right next to the password). Then select the items that you do not need to open at startup and click on the minus “-” symbol.

That’s it. Easy, ugh?

In the meantime, don’t forget these launch agents (aka, application services that run automatically and appear in the Mac menu bar). For example, AmazonMusic, Adobe CreativeCloud Helper, etc. When you install an Amazon or Adobe app, its support services are often preinstalled as well. The worst part? They do not appear under connection items.

How to find and delete them? One of the best ways is to CleanMyMac. The app has a feature that allows you to quickly identify these launch agents and disable them.

2. The startup disk is full

Lack of storage is one of the main culprits for many computer performance issues, including slow startup. When your startup disk is almost full, the whole machine will run slowly. It is recommended to keep the free disk space at 20% (minimum).

If you can lighten Mac drive and remove those junk files, for example, system junk files, duplicate files, unused third-party apps, etc., it will help you get the best start of your Mac.

How To Fix: Clean Mac Drive

There are many manual fixes for this, at the cost of taking your time to think. Some may require technical skills during the process.

For example, you can uninstall Mac apps that are hardly used, remove duplicates and similar files, transfer large old data (especially movies and photos) to an external backup drive, clean up browser junk files Web and empty trash, etc.

If you are new to Mac, we also recommend using CleanMyMac for efficiency. It is a smart application mainly designed to quickly clean Mac disk so that you save time by doing it manually. You will be amazed at how many junk files it finds.

3. Third party device connections

Be honest, how many devices do you have on your Mac right now? If you use your iMac or MacBook as a hub for everything, chances are it is now surrounded by a number of peripherals like a USB-C hub, printer, scanner, portable SSD drive, iPhone charger, etc.

These third-party items can reduce your computer’s performance, especially when they are not functioning properly due to software issues.

Troubleshooting: Disconnect Unused Devices

So it’s best to only connect the device when you need it. Also, don’t forget to check the relevant settings and software related to the device you’re using, all to make sure they’re set up correctly and up to date.

4. NVRAM issues

NVRAM, short for “Non-volatile Random Access Memory,” stores a lot of information a Mac needs before loading Apple’s macOS operating system. If the values ​​in this memory don’t work for some reason, your Mac won’t start correctly – one of the typical symptoms is that your Mac takes forever to start.

Note: Older Mac machines use PRAM, which is similar to NVRAM.

How to Fix: Reset NVRAM

Here’s how to do it. First, shut down your Mac, press the start key (or button). Then quickly hold these combination keys: Command + Option + P + R, right after hearing the startup sound. Then release the keys when you hear the sound for the second time.

That’s it! You can also watch this video to find out how:

Tip: The video uses a MacBook Pro as an example. If you’re using an iMac or Mac Mini / Pro, the process is the same.

5. Macintosh Disk Problems

Sometimes errors can strike Macintosh HD (or SSD), especially when your Mac is showing its age (before 2012 models). If this applies to you, your Mac’s hard drive may work and the overall system performance is taxed. In this case, it is not surprising that the start time is affected.

How to Repair: Check and Repair the Disk Using Disk Utility

Go to Finder> Applications> Disk Utility.

  • If your Mac is running OS X Yosemite or earlier, under First Aid you will see two buttons located in the right corner: “Check Disk” and “Repair Disk”. First click on the first one to check if your Mac disk has any problems, then click on the later one to fix it;
  • If your Mac is running OS X El Capitan, macOS Sierra, High Sierra, or Mojave you won’t see both buttons, instead just click First Aid and it will tell you whether disk repair is needed or not.

6. macOS update

In my experience, when I upgrade from macOS, my Mac machine boots a little slower, although it doesn’t always. For example, it was super quiet when I upgraded from High Sierra to Mojave. However, my machine was excellent when upgrading from macOS 10.13.1 to 10.13.4. So, I’m guessing that a major macOS update will slow down the boot time.

Troubleshooting: restart multiple times

Unfortunately, it looks like we don’t have any working solutions here except restarting your Mac. Because a slow start is normal and expected after installing a new version of macOS. Later reboots will help bring your Mac up to medium speed.

7. Mac hard drive has failed

Every technology has its lifespan, and ultimately it will fail. Hard drives are no exception. If your Mac is not only slow on startup but slow on almost everything. More often than not, it is time to check Mac disk condition to get an idea of ​​disk corruption risks and assess the life of the disk.

How to Fix: Upgrade to SSD

Replacing the spinning hard drive with a new SSD (like the Samsung 860 Pro) is perhaps the best way to speed up an old Mac and dramatically improve boot time. There are many other advantages of using an SSD over a hard drive, we will not expand here as you can learn more in this SSD upgrade article that we have put together.

Alright, here are the seven possible reasons and fixes to fix Mac slow startup issue. Hope you tried some of them and got your Mac tuned up.

Let us know if you have anything to add or any questions about slow Mac startup, leave a comment below.

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