How to fix slow Mac after Monterey update

9 min read

Apple released macOS 12 Monterey in October 2021, which immediately became a lucrative offer for many Mac users. With all the great privacy enhancements and new features, including Shortcuts, SharePlay in FaceTime, and Focus Mode, Monterey is totally worth it. The possible downside is that your Mac might slow down after the update. In this article, we explain how to fix the problem of slow Mac so you can fully enjoy Monterey’s new bells and whistles. 

Why is my Mac slow after Monterey update? 

In most cases, if you notice your Mac running slower on a new system — it’s normal and easy to fix. Maybe some apps require more CPU on Monterey, you’ve spent a big chunk of your storage on the new update, or there’s some kind of bug that Apple will fix soon. Follow the steps below to speed up your Mac on macOS Monterey. 

Related: How to upgrade your Mac to macOS Monterey

Quick and easy fixes for a slow Mac

Before you start, make sure you’re all set with a Setapp membership. Fixing slow Mac requires a set of troubleshooting tools, all of which are available on Setapp — such as CleanMyMac X, Spotless, App Tamer, and more. If you’re not subscribed, you can get a free trial for 7 days. Let’s go. 

Declutter your desktop 

Your desktop is not limitless. It was designed to keep only the essential files and folders for quick access. So if you tend to throw all the new downloads on your desktop, it might soon become overly cluttered and therefore slow down your Mac. You probably know that simply moving the files to the Bin won’t help — you have to change the habit of dumping everything on desktop.

Spotless helps declutter your desktop, while also learning to run cleanups for you in the future. Simply create tasks — for example, if you have a problem with screenshots, set Spotless to automatically move all the new screenshots to a certain folder. You can also schedule to run regular cleanups every week or month. 

declutter your desktop

Free up disk space

If the desktop cleanup doesn’t help, you can go further by decluttering your Mac’s hard drive. CleanMyMac X is the most trusted cleanup utility that can automatically free up gigabytes of space on your drive by deleting all system clutter, old caches, duplicates, and so on. Just by running a Smart Scan every month, you could free up around 10 gigabytes. 

cleanup utility

Disable apps from launching at startup 

As soon as your Mac starts loading, it has to run a huge number of processes, including some apps that launch at startup. The purpose of that is to help you skip the hustle of manually opening every app that is essential to your workflow. Too many auto startup apps might slow down your Mac, though. Here’s how to check the list of startup items and disable them: 

  1. In the Apple menu, choose System Preferences > Users & Groups
  2. Select your user > Login items
  3. Click the lock and enter your admin password
  4. Select the item on the list and click the minus button to disable it. 

check the list of startup items and disable them

Quit background apps

Too many apps exhaust your Mac’s CPU, put a big pressure on memory, and — you guessed it — make your Mac slow down. Background apps are the trickiest. While you might not even notice them, they are sitting there, sipping your Mac’s resources. 

Quit All is a wonderful lightweight utility that shows all background apps in one list and lets you quit all of them in just a click. You can also use the app to quit all non-background apps to reset your workspace. Quit All sits in your menu bar, so it’s super easy to use. 

Quit all apps

Tame CPU-hungry apps 

Understandably, you can’t just quit some apps. If you notice some apps slow down your Mac but they are essential for your work — you can check the impact of every app on your CPU with Activity Monitor — the best solution is to tame them with App Tamer. 

App Tamer is an optimization tool that automatically disables idle CPU hogs and slows down the apps that eat up a huge chunk of your Mac’s resources. This will naturally make your Mac faster. And you don’t even have to do anything, just install App Tamer. 

disable idle CPU hogs

Update or uninstall apps 

It could happen so that after the macOS Monterey update many apps become unusable. This is due to incompatibility issues — most apps need to be updated to work with the new system. And sadly, some apps might stop working on your new system at all. CleanMyMac X can help you solve it in two ways. 

Update outdated software with CleanMyMac X: 

  1. In CleanMyMac X, open Updater
  2. Click "View Updates"
  3. Select the apps you want to update and hit the Update button. 

App updater

Uninstall outdated software with CleanMyMac X: 

  1. In CleanMyMac X, open Uninstaller
  2. Click "View All X Applications" 
  3. Select the apps you want to uninstall and hit the Uninstall button. 

Uninstall outdated software

Reduce visual effects

Every year, Apple brings enhancements to the look and feel of your display. While this should definitely please your inner aesthete, advanced visual effects could in fact slow down your Mac. This is particularly true for older Macs that have a hard time keeping up with new visual effects. This is why we recommend that you do the following: 

  1. Open System Preferences > Accessibility
  2. Choose Display 
  3. Enable "Reduce motion" and "Reduce transparency." 

Reduce visual effects

Close browser tabs 

Chrome and other browsers are the biggest CPU hogs, which means the more browser tabs you have open, the slower your Mac. Make it a habit to close the tabs you don’t need. 

Tab Finder is a useful utility that can help you declutter browsers. It brings tabs from all your open browsers — let’s say, Chrome and Safari — into one list, so you can quickly check which browser tabs can be closed. Tab Finder is also a great tool to navigate between tabs. 

check which browser tabs can be closed

Reset the SMC 

Sometimes, the slow Mac issue has to do with your Mac’s hardware components. Since it’s harder to investigate hardware problems, we recommend one universal fix — resetting the System Management Controller (SMC). It’s been proven to speed up Mac. Here’s how t do it: 

  1. Shut down your Mac
  2. Hold down Control + Option on the left side of the keyboard and Shift on the right side
  3. After 7 seconds, hold down the Power button, too
  4. Release all keys in another 7 seconds
  5. Turn on your Mac. 

Remove internet plugins

Plugins can be harmful in many ways. First of all, it’s recommended that you only install trusted plugins and extensions to avoid malware infection. What’s more, many plugins can slow down your web browsing. Here’s how to remove plugins with CleanMyMac X: 

  1. In CleanMyMac X, click Extensions
  2. Select items from the list of internet plugins and Safari extensions 
  3. Click Remove. 

manage internet plugins and Safari extensions

Check your WiFi connection 

There can be no good speed without good internet speed. If your Mac starts lagging whenever you browse the web or use apps that require stable network connection, you should check your WiFi. Internet speed tests don’t always help — and they are impossible to run with slow Mac — so we recommend scanning your WiFi with WiFi Explorer. 

WiFi Explorer is the most accurate WiFi analyzer that can scan all the WiFi hotspots around you, tell you which one works the best, identify channel conflicts and other problems that can hamper your network.  

scan all the WiFi hotspots around you

Clean install macOS Monterey 

If you’ve tried all the methods to speed up Mac and the speed is still not great, think about clean installing Monterey. A clean install means you’re removing all the personal files, account preferences, settings, and so on. Basically, you’re wiping your Mac clean and installing macOS 12 on a clean drive, so be sure to back up all your essential files in advance. You can read the full guide on how to clean install Monterey here

One toolkit to fix all Mac problems 

Setapp provides access to CleanMyMac X, App Tamer, Quit All, Tab Finder, WiFi Explorer, and Spotless with a single subscription. Once you get it on your Mac, you should no longer worry about fixing issues with macOS installations, Mac performance, sound, and more. 

That’s about it concerning Mac’s slow performance on macOS 12. As you’ve noticed, the most common reasons for Mac slowing down are old and incompatible apps, cluttered hard drive and desktop, and hardware issues. Hope you get it fixed fast! 

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