macOS Catalina Slow? Here’s How to Fix It!

Unable To Sync iPhone iPad With macOS Catalina

Having problems using your Mac because macOS Catalina is running slow? 

Recently, macOS Big Sur was released by Apple. However, there’s still a number of users who use Catalina since macOS Big Sur still has a lot of issues like updating problems, black screen, and installation errors

If you’ve been using macOS Catalina for a while, you might notice that it has started to slow down. Opening applications were not as fast as they were, and the user interface is not that responsive anymore. 

Although macOS Big Sur is said to be faster compared to Catalina, there are a few ways to improve its performance and hold back on updating to Big Sur until it is well optimized for most applications. 

Today, we are going to show you a few ways on how to address the problem with macOS Catalina running slow on your Mac computer. 

Let’s get started. 



1. Close Unnecessary Applications. 

The primary reason for any operating system to slow down is if it is running out of resources. Unlike Windows, applications on macOS continue to run in the background even if you hit the X button on the toolbar.

While this makes the launching of applications faster, it affects your system performance and eats up your system memory. 

To improve the performance of your Mac, try closing unused applications using the Activity Monitor. 

  1. On your Mac, click on the Search button at the top right corner of the screen. 
  2. On Spotlight Search, type Activity Monitor and open it. 


  1. Inside the Activity Monitor, click on the Memory tab
  2. Lastly, identify the applications that use a lot of memory and close them if you are not using them. 


Use your computer as usual afterward and observe if you would still experience slowdowns and performance dips. 



2. Optimize Your Storage. 

If you are running out of free storage on your drive, then it can also affect the performance of your computer. Thankfully, macOS has a native tool that optimizes your storage and removes junk and unnecessary files on your system. 

  1. First, click the Apple logo located at the top-left corner of your screen and click on ‘About This Mac’. 
  2. After that, click on Storage and hit the Manage button

macOS Catalina running slow


  1. Finally, click on the Optimize button under the ‘Optimize Storage’ tab. 

macOS Catalina running slow


Once done, turn on the ‘Empty Trash Automatically’ feature under the ‘Optimize Storage’ tab so that your junk files would be removed automatically from your system. 

On the other hand, if you have a lot of files, consider getting an external drive to save your files or replace your hard drive with a higher capacity. 



3. Review Your Login Items. 

Login Items are applications that are set to launch automatically when macOS boots up. If you are experiencing slow startups on your Mac, it is possible that you have a lot of Login Items. These applications launch all at the same time and use a lot of your system resources. 

To fix this, try narrowing down your Login Items and only enable the apps that you think you would need right away after opening your computer. 

  1. On your Mac, click on the Apple logo located at the top left corner of your screen and select System Preferences
  2. After that, click on User & Groups and click on your Username

macOS Catalina running slow


  1. Next, click on the Login Items tab. 
  2. Finally, uncheck the apps that you won’t be needing at startup. 

macOS Catalina running slow


Restart your computer and observe if it will startup faster compared to having a lot of Login Items. 



4. Disable Launch Agents. 

Similar to Login Items, launch agents are application extensions that also start up when you turn on your computer. These agents can also affect your system’s performance and you should disable it. 

You can try using third-party applications like CleanMyMac X, which is helpful not only in disabling launch agents but also in maintaining your system.


macOS Catalina running slow


It is available on the App Store and has a smart scan feature that gets rid of email attachments, junk files, and trash. 



5. Clear Your Cache. 

Temporary data from applications are stored on your hard drive, which helps in loading apps faster. These are called cache files and it can accumulate over time. As a result, instead of making your system faster, it becomes harder and slower to load which affects the performance of your system.

Check out the steps below on how to clear the cache on your Mac computer. 

  1. First, open Finder on your Mac and click the Go To Folder button. 
  2. After that, type /Library/Caches and hit Enter

macOS Catalina running slow


  1. Inside the Cache folder, navigate to each subfolder to check if there are files inside. 
  2. Lastly, delete the files inside the subfolder to clear your cache. 

macOS Catalina running slow


After clearing your system cache, give your Mac a restart and try to use it normally, and check if this improved the performance of mac OS Catalina. 



6. Turn Off Visual Enhancements. 

While screen transitions and transparency effects are pleasing to the eyes, it can also put an unwanted load on your system. In result, it can further decrease the overall performance of your computer.

Try disabling visual enhancements on macOS to see if it can improve the performance of your system. 

  1. On your Mac, click on the Apple logo on the top left corner of your screen and select System Preferences.
  2. After that, click on Accessibility.
  3. On the side menu, click on Display
  4. Lastly, enable Reduce Motion and Reduce Transparency

macOS Catalina running slow


Restart your computer afterward and observe if you would still experience random slowdowns on your Mac. 



7. Update Applications. 

If you are experiencing slow system performance on specific applications, the problem may be within the app you are using. Try checking for an update on the app to see if the developers rolled out a patch to address the issue. 

  1. First, open the App Store on your Mac
  2. Inside the App Store, click on the Updates tab from the side menu. 
  3. Finally, click on the Update button if an update is available for the problematic application. 

macOS Catalina running slow


Once done, try using the application once again to see if its performance has improved after the update. 



8. Update macOS. 

Apple continually releases updates to its operating systems to ensure that it is running at its best. If macOS Catalina is running slow on your computer, you can try checking for an update to see if Apple has released an update to address the problem. 

  1. First, click on the Apple logo at the top left corner of your screen and select System Preferences. 
  2. Next, click on Software Update
  3. Lastly, if an update is available, follow the on-screen prompts to download and install the update to your Mac computer. 

macOS Catalina running slow


After the update, restart your Mac again and try to use it normally to see if the issue with macOS Catalina slowing down is already fixed. 

However, if macOS Catalina is still running slow, proceed to the next method below to try to fix the problem.



9. Reset NVRAM and SMC. 

Sometimes your NVRAM and SMC get corrupted, and the reason behind these remains unexplained. If these components get corrupted, you would see a significant dip in the performance of your Mac. 

SMC or System Management Controller is the one responsible for controlling your hardware like fans, batteries, and keyboards. 

Corrupted SMC can cause the fans of your computer to not work which increases the operating temperature of your device. Now, your Mac has no choice but to throttle down to avoid damaging its components. 

On MacBooks, you can reset your SMC by doing the following. 

  1. First, turn off your MacBook and remove the power cable from your laptop. 
  2. Now, wait for 15 seconds, then plug the power cable back in. 
  3. After that, press the Left Shift + Left Option + Control key all at once and hold it for 10 seconds
  4. Finally, release the keys after 10 seconds and turn on your computer normally. 

On the other hand, if you are using an iMac, Mac Pro, Xserve, or Mac Mini, check out the steps below. 

  1. First, turn off your Mac and remove its power cable. 
  2. After that, wait for 15 seconds and plug back in the power cable. 
  3. Lastly, wait for another 5 seconds and turn on your Mac normally. 

Finally, to reset your computer’s NVRAM, check out the steps below. 

  1. First, turn off your computer. 
  2. Next, locate the Option + Command + P + R keys on your keyboard but don’t press it yet. 
  3. Lastly, press the Power button on your Mac and immediately hold the Option + Command + P + R keys on your keyboard and continue holding it for 20 seconds.

After resetting the NVRAM and SMC of your Mac, restart it once again and use it for a couple of minutes. Try to observe if you would still experience random slowdowns and performance dips on your Mac during use. 

If none of the methods above worked, it is unfortunate, but you might have to shell out a couple of bucks and upgrade your computer. If your system still uses traditional hard drives, consider getting an SSD to improve application loading times and the overall responsiveness of your system. 

On the other hand, check Apple’s official site to see if your iMac or MacBook supports RAM upgrades. If this is the case, get another stick of RAM and install it on your system. This can improve the multitasking capabilities of your Mac as well as handle memory-demanding applications better. 

This wraps up our guide on how to fix macOS Catalina if it is running slow. If you have other suggestions or solutions on how to address this issue on Mac, kindly share it in the comment section below. We would be glad to give you credit for the solution once we update this article in the future. 


If this guide helped you, please share it. 🙂



  • John Sixto

    John is a staff writer at Saint and comes from a SAP ABAP development background. He has a Bachelors in IT and has been writing since 2018, with over 500 posts published. He loves to build PCs and has a deep curiosity in understanding how different components and configurations work. John spends hundreds of hours at a time, researching and testing the software and apps, before he proceeds to write about it. LinkedIn Twitter

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