Your Mac probably takes longer to go from the logon screen to a usable state than it does for macOS on cold boot, but it doesn’t have to be. Here are some ways you can get your Mac up and running quickly.
Use sleep instead of stopping
Shutting down your computer and going to sleep are not the same. A shutdown first closes all running processes, including the operating system, and then cuts power to your machine. When you restart it, everything should be loaded into RAM. macOS also takes a long time to boot, and any software that starts with your machine must restart as well.
Sleep is a much faster process. Depending on whether you have a desktop or a laptop, sleep mode works a little differently. On desktops, like the iMac or Mac Pro, RAM stays on in sleep mode, while other components are turned off to save power.
When you resume your session, your machine wakes up quickly, because everything you left in memory is still there and ready to go.
For laptops, the process includes additional protection. The contents of memory are left in RAM and the RAM stays on, but your Mac also copies whatever is stored in RAM to the startup drive. If the power is interrupted (that is, you disconnect from the power supply long enough), the memory stored in RAM is lost, but it can be restored from the drive when you resume.
You can put your Mac to sleep by clicking on the Apple logo (as you would to shut it down), then clicking “Sleep”. You can also set your Mac to automatically go to sleep under System Preferences> Power Saving.
Are you sleeping on your MacBook? Stay connected to power
As noted above, when you turn off the power to your MacBook, the contents of RAM are lost. This means that it will take a little longer to get back to where you were before, as your machine will have to copy the data to RAM. It can take much longer on older machines, especially those with little free space.
To work around this problem, leave your MacBook connected to power as much as possible.
Remove unnecessary startup and login items
Sometimes you need to restart or shut down your Mac. If your computer takes a long time to go from the login screen to a usable desktop, you can remove everything unnecessary startup items because these slow down your machine.
Go to System Preferences> Users & Groups. With your username highlighted, click on the “Login Items” tab. You will see a list of apps that start every time you log in. Highlight the ones you don’t need, then click the minus sign (-) to remove them from the list.
You can also check the “Hide” box for each item you want to start in the background without disturbing yourself.
In addition to login items, you can have system-wide startup items that start whenever someone logs in. These are stored in a hidden folder. To access it, open a new Finder window, click Go> Go to Folder. . . , then type (or paste): / Macintosh HD / Library / StartupItems /.
This folder might be empty, but feel free to delete anything you don’t want to start when your Mac does.
Maintain a reasonable buffer of free space
macOS needs room to breathe for normal operation. Routine operations, such as downloading and unpacking system updates, or copying the contents of RAM to drive memory, may temporarily take up more space than you have available. When that happens, things slow down dramatically.
There is no magic number for how much space you should try to free up, but about 10% of your total disk space is a good place to start. When you start to see macOS warnings that your drive is reaching capacity, it’s it’s time to start freeing up space.
Disable “Reopen Windows” when shutting down
When you choose to restart or shut down your Mac, you have the option of reopening your windows when you log back in. It’s a useful feature, but a lot of people can probably do without it.
As long as your apps are cleanly closed (which macOS supports every time you power off), you shouldn’t lose any data. For example, if you close a Safari window full of open tabs, but choose not to reopen them upon login, your tabs will still be there; you just need to launch Safari manually when you return to the desktop.
If you don’t need to see all the apps and windows that you opened the last time you used your computer, you can turn this option off. You can turn it on or off under System Preferences> Users & Groups> Connection Options; just click on the padlock and enter your administrator password to make changes.
If you haven’t reinstalled macOS for a few years, you might be surprised at how quickly a perfectly clean install can be. By removing all third-party software, you can start with a clean slate. It’s a great way to remove outdated kernel extensions and other apps you’ve forgotten.
First, back up your personal data with Time Machine. Write down any software or apps that you rely on that you will need to download again after the process is complete. Now you can reboot in recovery mode and reinstall macOS from scratch.
When you are finished, you can restore your Time Machine backup, which copies your personal files to your Mac.
Still on a hard drive? Upgrade to SSD
If your Mac is particularly old, you may still have a mechanical hard drive. To find out, click on the Apple menu, then “About this Mac”. Click on the “Storage” tab and search for “Flash Storage” under the drive capacity.
If “Flash Storage” isn’t listed, your Mac probably has an older drive. In this case, click on the “Presentation” tab, then choose “System report”. Select the boot drive under “SATA / SATA Express” and find “Medium type” in the bottom panel.
If it doesn’t say “Solid State”, your computer has a mechanical hard drive. You can dramatically speed up your computer’s startup time, as well as the time it takes for software launch and file transfer to complete, by install an SSD.
Finally: think about automatic connection
Another way to speed up the time between when you press the power button and being able to use your Mac is to streamline the connection process. If you’re the only person using your Mac, you can turn on automatic sign-in under System Preferences> Users & Groups> Sign-in Options.
If you encrypt your disk with FileVault, this option will not be available. You’ll need to turn off FileVault first under System Preferences> Security & Privacy> FileVault, which we don’t recommend, especially on a MacBook you take out of your home or office.
If you have a Mac desktop in a secure location and aren’t worried about anyone using it (or stealing it and examining your files), auto-login is an option for you.
The obvious danger here is that, because a password is not required to log on, anyone can start and use your computer. Your files, browsing history, any websites you’re logged into and more are immediately at risk.
A safer option is to activate automatic connection with your Apple Watch (if you have one). This way, you will need to be physically present for your machine to automatically log you in.