How to speed up your Mac running OS X Yosemite

MacBook Air

OS X Yosemite comes with a lot of new features, including an all new design, improved Safari, Messages and Mail app, Continuity and more. If you feel that your Mac has become slower after updating to OS X Yosemite, here are some tips to speed it up.

Disable Transparency

Just like iOS, OS X Yosemite adds transparency to window bezels, that reveal a blurred view of the content beneath the window. Now while the latest Macs pull off this effect with no performance hit, older Macs might see some slow downs. The good news is you can disable transparency:

  • Open System Preferences by clicking on the  Apple menu > System Preferences.
  • Click on Accessibility and enable the “Reduce transparency” checkbox.
reduce transparency yosemite

Check Activity Monitor to find out apps slowing your Mac

Activity Monitor is a great tool to see how apps and processes are consuming your system resources like RAM, CPU, network etc. To open Activity Monitor, press ⌘ + Space to bring up Spotlight search, type in “Activity Monitor” and open the first result. Now see the CPU and Memory tabs to ensure that the infrequently used applications aren’t the top consumers. If so, just quit that application.

activity monitor

Reduce Auto start applications

There are many apps that startup when you login to your Mac. This not only slows up startup time, but could potentially continue consuming resources in the background, further deteriorating performance. You can check what opens at Login by going to System Preferences > Users and Groups > Login Items. Uncheck the items that you don’t think are necessary:

Update: As pointed out in the comments, checking items just hides the app. To stop it completely, select an application in the list and click on the “-” button at the bottom. (Thanks pandacookie and Jerry!)

Screenshot 2014-10-29 23.58.57

Restart your Mac

My MacBook goes without a proper shut down for weeks, and if I find that it becomes slow over time, I restart it, and almost always, the problem goes away. So if you feel that your Mac has become sluggish, try restarting it.

Speed Up Finder

Since a few releases, Finder now defaults to the “All My Files” window, that shows you all files on your Mac. While this might be useful, it also slows down Finder quite a bit. So you can change the default Finder window to your Home or Desktop folder.

  • Just open Finder, click on Finder > Preferences in the menu bar
  • Click on General.
  • Change the “New Finder windows show” setting to Desktop, Documents or your Home folder.
finder preferences

Clean Your Desktop

Although this isn’t likely to have a major impact on performance, but if your desktop is too cluttered with files and folders you don’t use often, try to move it from the Desktop folder to a different folder.

Free Up Disk Space

If you have less than a GB of space on your disk, it might be a good idea to clean it up, and delete files and applications you no longer need. If photos and videos are consuming a lot of space, you could move them to an external hard drive.

Clean Reinstall

If you’ve exhausted all options, then you could consider doing a clean reinstall of OS X Yosemite.

Let us know how has your experience been after updating to OS X Yosemite.

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  • midi :D

    Thanks 🙂

  • pandacookie

    Re: reduce auto start applications. Just an FYI, if you just uncheck the items listed, it will only “unhide” the items that auto start, meaning that you will see the programs start at start up, and they will not load in the background. To properly make certain these apps will not load at start up, click on the item listed to highlight it, then click on the minus sign on the lower left. This will take the app out of the auto start list completely, thus assuring that the app will not load.

    • Jerry Suppan

      Exactly! I was going to say the same but beat me to the punch. Perhaps Jason did not understand that unchecking does NOT remove the app from loading when starting up. The apps must actually be deleted from the auto start list by clicking the minus sign for each app not needed / wanted. Unchecking merely hides the app’s startup launch screen.

    • Gautam

      Thanks for pointing it out, we’ve updated the post.

      • pandacookie

        Thanks for the props!

  • Zach

    Is there anyway I can clean install/downgrade back to Mavericks? I don’t have any time machine backups that were on Mavericks so I can’t revert that way. And I can’t find where to download the Mavericks installer.

    • Ahmed Reda Ahmed

      Have you tried using the App Store?

  • key

    anyone having an issue when loading the Image Capture app and using a GoPro? for some reason it eats my system memory up, locks up, and becomes unusable. never had this issue on previous versions……

  • Rob Bowers

    Reduce Transparency did wonders for my 09 Mini. Thanks!

  • Dean Lovet

    I used these tips to speed up my Mac but unfortunately I couldn’t be able to
    uninstall one of the program completely. Then, Stellar SpeedUp Mac utility had
    not only uninstall the program but also cleans all the junk files associated
    with that program.

    • tompatricka

      I second that!!!

  • 60hz

    gotta love the fact that upgrade means slow down… yes there are more features but the OS should run the same or FASTER if you are not using those features… NOT SLOWER… if i didn’t know any better it would seem like a ploy to force you to buy a new mac even though the only thing you’d gain by doing so would be the new OS…

  • Donald Kepler

    I faced different issues during installing OS X Yosemite like others; but now it’s good to work with my MacBook Pro. It doesn’t show any spinning beachball and love to access files and apps within a second. In short, to get the speed up Mac like before, I tried to repair file permission, created a new Network Location to manage WiFi connection, Re-Organized Spotlight’s index and few more small activities.

  • Ah Kla Toch

    how can i reinstall os x Yosemite? because i think my computer is very slow. could i restore of this mac if it slowly ?

  • As you state, freeing up hard drive space is one of the most important steps in speeding up a slow Mac product. However, it’s also one of the hardest. Your post reminds me of the detox that http://WWW.MACBOOKHELPERS.COM does – the detox includes all 6 tips you mention here, plus some 🙂 Hopefully this will help your users! Thanks for the awesome share once again, iPhoneHacks!