Find and remove unwanted extensions on Apple Mac for speed

One of the reasons why computers slow down over time is because they accumulate software. It loads when you start up and runs in the background using memory and CPU time. Clean up, tune up!

There are many ways to clean up and tune up your Apple Mac and here I am going to focus on extensions. You are probably familiar with browser extensions and while Safari does not have as many as Chrome, there are some good ones. (This article contains affiliate links.)

Browser extensions are not the only type available and there are also extensions for Spotlight and System Preferences. It can be difficult digging down deep into the folders and files on the Mac’s drive, especially as some types of extensions are in hidden or system folders, so you may want to use a utility for this. I use CleanMyMac X. It is not free, but it is a multifunction toolkit that has many great features. Find out more about CleanMyMac X.

Explore macOS extensions

CleanMyMac X: View and remove macOS extensions

Let’s see how CleanMyMac X can be used to view and remove extensions. You start by selecting Extensions in the sidebar. It is way down a long list of functions and features in the app.

Spotlight plugins

Spotlight is a great tool on the Mac and pressing Cmd+spacebar opens a search feature in the middle of the screen. It is much more than a search tool and it can perform calculations, show web links, dictionary definitions, convert weights and distances and more.

At one time there were a lot of extensions to Spotlight and some people had several installed. These days there are few. In fact, it is hard to find any. If you have a new Mac, you probably will not have any Spotlight extensions, but if you have an old Mac, there may be several.

CleanMyMac X: View and remove macOS extensions

Select Spotlight Plugins in CleanMyMac X and if any are installed on the Mac, they will be listed. If there are any that you do not need, select them and then click the big Remove button at the bottom of the window. Spotlight plugins are easily removed. The effect on your Mac’s performance is very small, but all these little tweaks add up.

Remove Safari Extensions

Extensions in Safari can be seen by going to Safari > Preferences > Extensions. They actually browser look like apps in the Applications folder on the Mac, which is a bit strange, but that is the way Apple likes to do things these days.

CleanMyMac X: View and remove macOS extensions

If Safari Extensions is selected in CleanMyMac X, there are no checkboxes to select and remove them because they are like apps. Click the i button next to an extensions and a popup message tells you to Go to Uninstaller. Click it and the Uninstaller section of CleanMyMac X appears.

CleanMyMac X: View and remove macOS extensions

Here, unwanted extensions can be selected with a checkbox and uninstalled with the large button at the bottom of the window. However, Ctrl+click an extension and a small menu with two items appears. In addition to Uninstall, there is a Reset option. This could be useful if you are having problems with a Safari extension and want to reset everything and try it again.

Browser extensions use memory and CPU cycles, so they should be kept to a minimum for maximum performance. Remove rarely used extensions and only keep absolutely essential ones.

Remove panes in System Preferences

It is possible to add extensions, features and functions to System Preferences. There aren’t a lot of them, but they do exist and if they are not being used, they just add to system bloat and use CPU and RAM which could be better used for other things, like running applications.

CleanMyMac X: View and remove macOS extensions

Select Preference Panes in CleanMyMac X and anything that has been added to System Preferences by software you installed will be listed. Here I have macFUSE. Sometimes it is not clear whether an item that has been added is useful or can safely be removed.

What is macFUSE? You should search online with your favorite search engine and try to track down the unknown Preference Pane items. In this case, macFUSE was installed by a utility that needs to access disk filing systems other than the Mac’s, like Windows NTFS formatted disks or thumb drives. It is useful, at least for me.

CleanMyMac X: View and remove macOS extensions

If you are not sure about an item, Ctrl+click it and select Reveal in Finder to see where it is stored on the disk. You can then Ctrl+click the file and select Get Info to show a bit more information about it.

Don’t remove anything you need, obviously, but if you can track down the source of extra items in System Preferences and can live without them (maybe you uninstalled the app that used it), then there are memory and speed benefits.

Don’t expect a big performance boost with these clean-up and tune up tools. However, applying many small changes can have a significant effect, so they are worth doing.

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