Mac OS Sierra or El Capitan Slow? Here’s What You Should Do

Mac OS Sierra slow? Here's how you make Sierra Fast! was created to help Mac owners fight performance issues after updating to OS X El Capitan.  We are glad to let you know that many of the fixes that we provided last year and working just great now as well, to fix Mac OS Sierra slow problems!  Now, we hope to help with performance issues that you might face after updating to Mac OS Sierra. The following tips fix El Capitan slow problems just as well as they fix Mac OS Sierra slow problems.

Slow Mac OS Sierra to a Faster or Fast Mac OS Sierra – Here’s How!

1. Create more free memory on your OS X Partition


Freeing up space on your Mac OS Sierra partition will almost certainly help eliminate Sierra slow problems

This remains one of the most critical Mac performance tips ever! To understand how freeing up space on your Mac OS Sierra partition will help make Mac OS Sierra fast, you first need to understand how your Mac’s processor works.

You see,  your Mac’s processor doesn’t always only rely on RAM for memory. In times of dire need, when RAM is maxing out, your Mac’s processor will turn to the partition on which Mac OS Sierra is installed. If your Sierra partition is jam packed with unnecessary files and data, chances are that your Mac will surrender to a crawl, until memory queue backlogs are cleared and your RAM frees up again.

So, as a first step, clear up your Mac OS Sierra partition. You can do this and do it very, very easily with Clean My Mac 3, an acclaimed software that continues to impress just like its predecessors named Clean My Disk and Clean My Mac 2.

With Clean My Mac 3, you can use just two mouse clicks to redeem critical hard disk space on your Mac OS Sierra partition, allowing your Mac to breathe and get going again. Clean My Mac has helped thousands of people fix slow performance problems with Yosemite, Mavericks, El Capitan and now Mac OS Sierra as well. It has been downloaded and used over 3 Million times, with 1 Million every day users.

Clean My Mac 3 is available for a FREE download here.

2. Don’t interrupt indexing just after your Mac OS Sierra update!

This isn’t exactly a tweak that you can try to fix a Mac that is running sluggishly on Mac OS Sierra. Rather, it is something that you mustn’t do.

When you upgrade to Mac OS Sierra, Spotlight goes into overdrive, indexing your hard drive in a major way. It wants to know about everything on your hard drive, making it easier for you to find stuff when you have to.

The drawback is that the indexing process can take a rather long time, especially if you have a very large disk with a ton of data on it.  Mac OS Sierra also has an outstanding feature that lets you search people in photos, thanks to advanced facial recognition detection built into the OS. But again, this is possible only after OS Sierra is able to run through all your pictures and index them, a process that can take a very long time if you have a large photo library.

If you just upgraded to Mac OS Sierra and your Mac is acting slow because of all this indexing, we suggest that you just wait it out. Let your Mac do its thing while you work on a phone or maybe another computing device that you own. It is recommended that you don’t burden your Mac with laborious processes while this indexing completes.

P.S – Spotlight indexing and iPhotos indexing can heat up your Mac’s CPU as well, besides making it sluggish in terms of performance. You might also experience unusually hot fan movement as well. If this is the case, let your Mac sit on a nice cool surface with plenty of air circulating around and below it (if you using MacBook), so it can cool off. It is nothing to worry about.

3. Go easy on the user interface fanciness!

speeding up mac os sierra by tweaking display settings

Turning down display features in Mac OS Sierra can lead to fixing of Mac OS Sierra slow problems! Go to Apple Menu – System Preferences – Accessibility – Display to tone down the eye candy!

Every iteration of Mac’s operating system keeps introducing new transition or smooth scrolling or some similar eye candy effect that allows the user interface to look pristine. Mac OS Sierra is no different.

The new user interface (UI) looks extremely modern, giving the OS a brand new feel on the outside. But, if you can sacrifice the eye candy even a little, it can have a telling effect on your Mac OS Sierra problems, making Sierra noticeable faster.

4. Stop the message spam!

Mac Messages are awesome, allowing you to see all your iOS 10 phone or tablet messages on your Mac, as and when it happens. But, if you have that one annoying friend who bombards you with GIFs, videos, constant images and what not, it can eventually start to slow down your Mac, as your Mac Messages app has to keep up with all the buzz. It will be a shame to turn off this feature in Mac OS Sierra as it means not being able to see your phone’s messaging buzz on your Mac, but then, if your Sierra slow problems go away when you disable this, it might be well worth the sacrifice.

If you think your Mac may be slow because of this problem, you can easily check to see if it is indeed the case. Keep a few animated GIFs or videos open on your Mac Messages App and go to Activity Monitor. If Messages is using anything more than 20% of CPU resources, you have your culprit.

Shut down your Messages app or at leas restrict keeping the window open, to save your CPU from constantly refreshing all messages, as and when you receive them.

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5. Make sure your Mac is compatible first!

Not all Macs can run Mac OS Sierra, at least not as well. The more recently purchased your Mac computer is, the better the chances of it running Mac OS Sierra fast. The reason for this is more and more functionality is added to Mac OS versions and they need more and more memory and minimum processor requirements.

This however doesn’t mean that you have to upgrade your Mac’s hardware. But, just make sure that your Mac falls under one of the following categories.

iMac Bought in Late 2009 or later
MacBook Air Bought in 2010 or later
MacBook Pro Bought in 2010 or later
Mac Mini Bought in 2010 or later
Mac Pro Bought in 2010 or later
MacBook Bought in 2009 or later

If you jumped the gun and installed Mac OS Sierra on a particular model of Mac that was bought earlier than the corresponding date mentioned above, you don’t have much of a choice than to roll back your OS upgrade, to your previously used Mac OS.

If you have wrongly installed Mac OS Sierra on a Mac that isn’t compatible, there is unfortunately not a lot you can do to fix Sierra slow problems. You just have to roll back to an older OS that your Mac’s hardware can handle.

If your Mac with OS Sierra should run properly according to the table, try Clean My Mac 3 as suggested in the first point. If that didn’t work for whatever strange reason, try applying some of the more advanced tips mentioned below. They are more technical in nature and not recommended for the amateur Mac user though.

Resource Mention – We have to mention a new resource site we came across here. It is continually updated with Mac OS Sierra fixes for small bugs. It is a very simple site with just text and not a lot of pictures but it will help you find quick solutions to common Mac OS Sierra bugs and anomalies.

6. Enable the Optimized Storage function that Mac OS Sierra offers

Mac OS Sierra comes with a bit of disk space optimization features of its own. Though it doesn’t compare to what Clean My Mac 3 can offer, it can help in some cases.

To access this feature, go to About this Mac-> Storage -> Manage. Once there, you will see a few options to optimize storage space. Here, you will find various optimization features such as iCloud optimization. Enabling this will mean that your Mac only keeps recently accessed large files like photos and folders on your Mac’s hard drive, while archives are uploaded to the cloud, thereby freeing up disk space.


Use Mac OS Sierra’s optimized storage options to fix Sierra slow problems

The option called optimize storage will also do something similar to iCloud optimization in the sense that it will clean up your iTunes a lot. Using an algorithm, it will help you delete downloaded shows and audio that you do not access anymore.

The optimize trash option is just a over complicated way to make emptying your trash a choice. When you enable this option, trash that is older than 30 days old will be permanently deleted from your Mac, thereby allowing Mac OS Sierra slow problems to abate a bit.

On a side note, Sierra allows you to set an option in such a way that trash is automatically deleted after 30 days in the bin. To enable this option, go to Finder -> Preferences -> Advanced -> Check the box that says “Remove items from Trash after 30 days”.

Reduce clutter, the fourth option, is a more labor intensive option that will allow you to manually review large old files that have been on your Mac for a while. As you review these files, you can delete what you think you will never use, to free up disk space along the way. Depending on how long you have had your Mac and how much of a pack rat you are when it comes to storing things digital, this is a process that can free up quite a large amount of disk space, thereby helping your Mac OS Sierra run faster.

Using the above tweak can essentially mean that you fix Sierra performance problems with a new feature that Mac OS Sierra itself provides! It makes great sense to use this in-built tool to make Mac OS Sierra fast.

7. Optimize the way Mac OS Sierra Dock works

There are a few little things you can do to Dock settings, to try to speed up Mac OS Sierra. These tips will particularly help with multi-tasking, when you are toggling between various apps, to get your work done. So, if you are facing Sierra slow problems when you are particularly multitasking, by all means apply the fixes below.

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Go to System Preferences – Dock, Once there, change the prefer tabs when opening documents to the Always option. What this will do is open up a new document in an application like pages as a tabbed document inside of Pages, if it is already open. Previously, Pages would open up as a separate desktop when you wanted a new document. Opening a separate desktop version of Pages means more memory usage. Tabbed versions use less memory.

A small tweak but worth using, if you want to get that little extra while switching between various documents. You can also turn off the genie like effect that you get when an app is opened up and you can also choose to turn off animations that accompany opening of apps. Reduced eye candy is a little less fun, but it can compromise with a little extra speed when multitasking.

8. Miscellaneous tweaks for a little faster Mac OS Sierra

using iCloud to fix sierra slow problems

Save your documents in iCloud and delete copies on your Mac OS partition. It can help fix Sierra slow problems!

Take advantage of iCloud to reduce the Mac OS Sierra partition burden – As we mentioned earlier itself, freeing up disk space on the partition where Mac OS Sierra is installed will give your Mac breathing space that might allow it to work faster or at least normally.

Turn off the screensaver option – That animation coming on and off might save your screen but it doesn’t exactly allow you to jump back with guns blazing, thanks to the little memory lag that your RAM will have, when it is shutting down the graphics. You can change this in System Preferences -> Screen Saver. To save your screen, turn on Display Sleep in system preferences. This will mean that just your screen will sleep, while your processor remains awake and nimble, ready to get back to work.

Optimize the sleep setting – Sleep is good when you are going to be away from your Mac for a long time. This is particularly helpful when you are a MacBook or MacBook Air running on batteries. But, going in and out of sleep often will take a toll on your Mac’s memory, as all plugins and apps loaded in the memory have to be refreshed each time you awake your Mac, causing it to stutter and fumble when you want to get back to work. You can use sleep, but don’t allow your Mac to sleep after every 15 minutes. As a general rule of thumb, don’t let your Mac sleep unless you are going to be gone for more than 1 hour. You can change this option in System Preferences as well.

Trim your login startup items – This is a very important tip, particularly if you think Sierra is very slow to get off the mark when you start up your Mac. Go to Users and then Login Items to see the list of apps that start up automatically, as your Mac starts up. Disable as many apps as you can here. Any app can be called up with just a click. So, be brutal and keep the absolute bare minimum here. Your Mac and Mac OS Sierra will thank you for this when you start your Mac up. Boot up times will be significantly diminished with this trick, particularly if you have a ton of apps starting up automatically.

Disable automatic updated from the App store! – In System Preferences, go to the Software Update option and disable automatic updates for apps and your Mac OS. While updates are great, you don’t want your Mac to sync up for upgrades at the wrong time, when your Mac is already struggling to keep up with a memory hogging video editing software.

The downside to this tweak however is that you must remember to manually check for updates every now and then, by enabling above mentioned options once in a while. Enable them. Install whatever updates are offered. Then disable the option again. Rinse and repeat.

9. Optimize Finder Settings

Finder is a powerful tool in that it helps you find just about anything on your Mac. This is because it always knows where what is. But then, sometimes you just don’t need to know where everything is. For example, did you know that Finder will scan your DVD drive and archive its contents, to help you find a file on it, even if you decide to seek out such a find all of a sudden. Great feature. But, if you are not going to use it, you might as well turn it off.

Go to Finder -> Preferences -> Sidebar and see where you can lighten Finder’s work load. Depending on what you do with your Mac, you will find at least a handful of options that you can disable, without affecting your Mac’s user experience.

6 thoughts on “Mac OS Sierra or El Capitan Slow? Here’s What You Should Do

  1. Jeanne

    Was really frustrated after the upgrade to Mac OS Sierra, from OS X Mavericks. Yes, I skipped Yosemite. After trying a few things on my own, I was ready to roll back. Almost did it before I came here. Used the tip that talked about reducing UI fanciness and whoa, what a difference. I can’t believe small animation settings being turned off can make an OS run smoothly. Anyways, am grateful for the tip!

    1. elcapitan Post author

      Why thank you! We are glad tweaking UI fixed the problem for you. It actually is one of the minor fixes that will only help speeding up Sierra just a little. I am surprised, much like you, that it fixed ALL your performance issues. In any case, all is well that ends well 🙂

  2. Neil_+

    I bought my iMac in August 2009. Does that qualify as late 2009 or later? It is really frustrating that Apple would only say “Late 2009”. I mean, there has be to a more definitive way!

    1. elcapitan Post author

      Hi Neil. Interesting question. I am guessing you still haven’t upgraded to Sierra and are waiting for confirmation whether it is compatible. Here’s one way to tell. Go to “About this Mac” from the Apple Menu and find the model number for your iMac. If it says iMac10,1, you have a late 2009 model. If it says iMac9,1, you have a early 2009 iMac. Hope that helps!

      1. Neil_+

        Wow. Looks like I just missed the bus. Mine say iMac 9,1 and not 10,1. Should I still upgrade? What do you think. Will my Sierra be slow or won’t it run at all?

        1. elcapitan Post author

          I am guessing your iMac is running on 4 GB of RAM. If that is the case, I would hold off. But, if you had an upgrade done and have 8 GB, you can probably go for it.


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