Speed up startup on the Apple Mac, solve slow starting macOS

Some Apple Mac users have experienced slow startup times since upgrading to the latest version of macOS. What is causing it and what is the solution? Here are the fixes.

Many people find that their Mac starts up in around 20 seconds and they can get to work very quickly from a cold boot first thing in a morning. Unfortunately, not everyone is so lucky and since upgrading to macOS Mojave they have experienced startup times that run into several minutes. This is even on a recent Mac with an SSD.

Here is a collection of possible fixes for slow startup with macOS Mojave and hopefully one of them will fix the problem.

1 Check for startup apps

Applications that automatically start when you boot up and log in to macOS add to the workload. If the Mac is loading half a dozen apps in the background every time it starts, it will obviously take longer for it to settle down and get ready to work. Stop auto-starting apps, especially if you don’t use them very often.

  1. Go to System Preferences
  2. Click the Users & Groups icon
  3. Select the Login Items tab
  4. Select any apps that are listed and click the minus button to remove them

Startup Items in System Preferences in macOS on the Apple Mac

Aim to have a clear Login Items list and run apps only when you need them and not all the time.

2 Check for hidden startup items

There is more than one way to start an app automatically when the Mac starts using and there are system folders where lists of startup apps are held. Go to these folders in Finder:

  • home/Library
  • /Library
  • /System/Library

Look for these subfolders:

  • LaunchAgents
  • LaunchDaemons
  • StartupItems

Hidden startup items in macOS can be found in these folders

Look for anything that is not by Apple, in other words, third party applications. Deleting files from these folders can cause problems unless you are very careful and know what you are doing, so leave them alone.

View them and see what’s loading with macOS, they may provide clues as to what might be slowing down startup.

3 Stop auto-starting apps

Some apps have options within their preferences to choose whether to automatically start when you log in. Look for these options within apps and disable auto-starting.

Some apps on the Apple Mac can be set to automatically start

4 Don’t reopen windows

When the Mac is shut down, macOS provides an option to Reopen windows when logging back in. Is this useful? Not always and reopening all the apps you had open or forgot to close, slows down startup.

Shut down the Apple Mac

If you want to continue working next time, why not just put the Mac to sleep? Select Sleep on the Apple menu or just close the lid on a MacBook. There is rarely any need to reopen windows after shutting down. Clear the checkbox.

5 Stop menu bar items

Apps that add items to the menu bar will automatically start with macOS. Each item must be located on the drive, loaded and run. They might then do additional work that requires time and processing power.

An example of a menu bar item is Google Drive and Microsoft OneDrive. They start when you log in and spend time scanning for new files and folders and syncing with your online storage. It can take 10 minutes with very old Macs with mechanical disk drives, but usually less than a minute with new Macs with solid state drives.

Most menu bar tools are not as bad as these, but each one adds to the startup time, so unless you absolutely need them, set them not to auto-start. You might be able to live without them or manually start them if you need them.

6 Avoid antivirus

Do you need antivirus software on your Mac? Some people have it but others don’t and if you are fairly knowledgeable about the dangers of malware, adware and spyware, you can manage without security software. Your Mac will start up faster, run faster and MacBook’s battery will last longer.

Don’t put yourself at risk, but do ask yourself whether you can live without antivirus.

7 Turn off FileVault

Gigabytes of files and data can be read and written during startup and FileVault drive encryption can slow down some Macs. If your Mac is very old and if it has a mechanical disk drive, turn off FileVault for maximum speed. It may take hours or even days to completely disable, but you can continue to use the Mac while it decrypts.

  1. Open System Preferences
  2. Click the Security & Privacy icon
  3. Select the FileVault tab
  4. Turn off FileVault

FielVault disk encryption settings in macOS on the Apple Mac

On a new Mac with a solid state drive, fast processor, lots of RAM and so on, FileVault encryption may not be noticeable, so there may not be a a great benefit to removing it. Try it with and without and see for yourself.

8 Uninstall unused apps

Applications sometimes install items into macOS that can slow down startup. They may add extensions and plugins and other tools. Finder extensions, Safari extensions, and other items can all affect startup.

Some people have experienced problems with Little Snitch firewall, according to the developer, the latest release includes “Another attempt to tackle the ‘delay during system startup on macOS Mojave’ problem that some users are experiencing.” Do you have this application? Keep checking for updates.

Applications on the Apple Mac

This goes to show how software can affect startup times. Other applications could affect startup times, so go through the applications folder and uninstall anything you do not need.

9 Remove external devices

External devices might slow down the Mac’s startup. For example, printers, scanners, external drives and so on. The Mac might wait for them to start before macOS can finish starting.

Unplug external devices and see if it cures the problem.

10 Reset the System Management Controller

The System Management Controller (SMC) is a component in the Mac that controls many things. It sometimes gets in a muddle and needs resetting to fix various problems.

The exact procedure to do this varies with the Mac model – iMac, MacBook, new or old. Instructions are on the Apple website: support.apple.com/en-us/HT201295

Find your Mac model and follow the instructions to reset the SMC.