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Is your Mac taking forever to boot? Here’s how to speed it up.

We showed you how to speed up your Mac’s shut down process Does Your Mac Take Too Long To Shut Down? Try These Fixes Does Your Mac Take Too Long To Shut Down? Try These Fixes In rare instances the proper OS X kill processes go wrong, greatly increasing shutdown times. Here are a few potential fixes. Read More , but for some reason we’ve never provided a list of ways to speed up boot. It turns out there are a bunch of things you can do to potentially speed the process along, starting out simple and working up to bigger things.

The ultimate fix is to boot OS X from a solid state drive 101 Guide To Solid State Drives 101 Guide To Solid State Drives Solid State Drives (SSDs) have really taken the mid-range to high end computing world by storm. But what are they? Read More , commonly called an SSD. We’ll get to that later in this list, but first let’s go over some of the more immediate ways you can potentially speed up your boot time.

Most of what we have outlined here shouldn’t cause data loss, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. Make sure you have a backup system for your Mac The Ultimate Triple Backup Solution For Your Mac [Mac OSX] The Ultimate Triple Backup Solution For Your Mac [Mac OSX] As the developer here at MakeUseOf and as someone who earns their entire income from working online, it's fair to say my computer and data are quite important. They’re set up perfectly for productivity with... Read More , and that your backups are up-to-date, before trying anything outlined here.

Verify Your Hard Drive And Permissions

Scan for and fix hard drive issues that could be causing your boot to hang.

This is a simple thing to try first. Open Disk Utility, which you can find using Spotlight, or using the Finder by heading to Applications, then Utilities.

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mac-startup-repair-permissions

In the left panel you’ll see your hard drives. Click your boot partition, then click Verify Disk Partitions. If Disk Utility reports a problem, click Repair Disk Permissions. When that’s done, click Verify Disk to check for errors; again, if Disk Utility reports a problem, click “Repair Disk”.

Reset Your PRAM/NVRAM

Clear settings your Mac uses at startup, including incorrect ones that might be slowing you down.

If you hit “Mute” on your Mac and then restart it, you won’t hear the signature startup sound when it turns on.

How does your Mac know your Mac is muted, before the operating system starts up? Because of PRAM.

Your Mac has a special kind of memory called PRAM, or NVRAM on newer Macs. This memory is unlike other RAM as it is not cleared at power-off, and stores all kinds of settings like your system volume and designated startup disk.

Sometimes it’s looking for the wrong startup disk, however, and when that happens you should reset your Mac’s PRAM How To Reset Your Mac's SMC & PRAM – And Why How To Reset Your Mac's SMC & PRAM – And Why Sometimes your Mac will act strange for no apparent reason, and if a restart doesn't work, sometimes you'll need to reset the SMC and PRAM. Read More . Doing so is simple: first, turn off your Mac. Then, when you start it up, press Command, Option, P, and R keys at the same time.

Check Your Startup Apps & Login Items

Stop programs from automatically opening at boot, so they don’t slow down your startup.

Your Mac probably starts a few programs when you log in, which takes time. If you’d rather start these programs yourself later, head to System Preferences, click Users and Select your User, then hit the Login Items button.

mac-startup-items

Remove anything from this list that you don’t want to start at boot.

Some programs start before you log in – removing them takes a bit more work. Open Finder, then (in the menu bar at the top of the screen) click Go followed by Go To Folder. In the window that pops up, enter /Volumes/Macintosh HD/Library/StartupItems/

go-to-folder-finder

If your boot partition is called something besides “Macintosh HD”, use that instead.

mac-startup-before-login

You are now looking at the hidden folder that tells your Mac what applications to start at boot. If you recognize anything here you no longer have installed, delete the relevant folders.

There are a few programs that let you take control of your Mac’s startup items Take Control Of Your Mac's Startup Items With Startupizer Take Control Of Your Mac's Startup Items With Startupizer I recently wrote an article about how to automate your Mac so you can get more things done throughout the day, starting with auto login items you can set up in System Preferences. This classic... Read More , if you prefer a dedicated tool.

One last thing: by default, your Mac will re-open programs at boot that you had open at shutdown. You can turn this off before shutting down, with a simple checkmark:

reopen-windows

For a faster restart, make sure this box isn’t checked.

Free Up Space On Your Hard Drive

It’s unlikely, but insufficient free space on your boot drive can cause issues at boot. Delete a few things to speed things along.

If your startup disk is nearly full, it might be slowing down your boot time. We’ve outlined all kinds of space saving tips for your Mac Startup Disk Nearly Full? 6 Space-Saving Tips For Critically Encumbered Macs Startup Disk Nearly Full? 6 Space-Saving Tips For Critically Encumbered Macs Whether you're wondering if your full drive is affecting performance or just want some extra room, a few simple steps can free up a lot of space. It's a good idea to leave between five... Read More , including tools that show you where your biggest files are.

Other tools, like the full version of CCleaner for Mac Full Version of CCleaner Now Released For The Mac Full Version of CCleaner Now Released For The Mac No matter how intuitive and reportedly "trouble free" Macs are to run, believe me, several months after you add hundreds of files, applications, and download thousands of webpages, your shiny new iMac or MacBook Air... Read More , can help you delete caches and other files you no longer need. And if you never speak any tongue but English, Monolingual can delete the extra languages on your Mac Monolingual - Remove Languages You Don't Use From Your Mac Monolingual - Remove Languages You Don't Use From Your Mac Free up some space on your Mac – delete languages you will never use. Monolingual is a simple Mac app that anyone looking for more hard drive space should check out. Modern hard drives are... Read More to free up space.

Delete Unused Fonts

Delete fonts you don’t use, so your Mac doesn’t need to initialise them at startup.

You can use Fontbook to manage fonts on your Mac Manage Your Fonts With The Fonts Panel & Font Book [Mac] Manage Your Fonts With The Fonts Panel & Font Book [Mac] Read More , and if your concerned about boot time it’s a good idea to clean this out from time to time.

Turn On Automatic Login

Login automatically, so you don’t have to type your password halfway through the startup process

This won’t necessarily speed up booting your Mac, but it does remove a step from the process. With automatic login turned on, you can walk away from your booting Mac until your system is completely ready to go, without the need to type your password halfway through the process. While there are security problems with this approach, it certainly speeds things up.

automatic-login

In System Preferences, click Users, then find the Login Options button at bottom-left. From here you can enable automatic login.

Reinstall OS X

If nothing seems to work, why not start over?

If nothing seems to speed up your startup time at all, this is the nuclear option: starting from scratch. Simon showed you how to reinstall OS X for a fast, squeaky-clean Mac How To Reinstall Mac OS X For A Fast, Squeaky-Clean Mac How To Reinstall Mac OS X For A Fast, Squeaky-Clean Mac Just like Windows, prolonged use of a Mac slows down the operating system. When you've been hoarding data and applications for over a year, the difference in performance starts to show. It just doesn't run... Read More . If you’re convinced your startup problems are software-related, this is the ultimate test. If your Mac still starts up slowly then the problem is your hardware.

Get An SSD For Really Fast Boot Times

The ultimate fix: replace your hard drive with a much faster SSD .

If you want your Mac to boot faster (and do just about everything else faster too), this is the single most powerful fix – a solid state drive.

All new MacBooks come with an SSD, and many newer iMacs and Mac mini also come with them (or a hybrid known as Fusion Drive What is Apple's Fusion Drive & How Does It Work? What is Apple's Fusion Drive & How Does It Work? Solid state drives are awesome. The only snag is that solid state storage is still prohibitively expensive for storing lots of data. The days of cheap SSDs are probably not that far away, but for... Read More ). If your Mac isn’t one of them, though, you can replace your current drive with an SSD. The catch? Unless you have infinite funds, you’ll probably end up with less hard drive space. If you’re interested, this thread on Apple’s support forums has all the information you could possibly need.

It’s possible, in some Macs, to use an SSD as your boot drive while also using a conventional hard drive for your data. James showed you how to swap your MacBook’s DVD drive with an SSD How To Swap Out Your Macbook's DVD Drive For An SSD How To Swap Out Your Macbook's DVD Drive For An SSD Is your old Apple laptop starting to struggle? Is the boot time so long that you can actually go out and buy a coffee? If so, perhaps it's time to think about upgrading your main... Read More . Newer MacBooks don’t come with optical drives to replace, of course, but if you’ve got a laptop that’s a couple of years old this is a solid option.

What Else Speeds Up Mac Boot Time?

I tried to think of everything for this guide, but it’s possible I missed something. So I turn to you, readers: what should be on this list, but isn’t? Let’s turn the comments section into the ultimate resource for faster-booting Macs!

What time-saving tips do you have to improve OS X startup times?

  1. Yuki J
    July 20, 2015 at 6:18 am

    Awesome guide. For the cleaning part, one tip to add - the free app MacClean can do most of the cleaning jobs well and fast. It works great for me. Maybe you can have a try as well.

  2. Deezy
    February 24, 2015 at 8:55 pm

    You pretty much covered all of them!
    Not a big fan of Reinstalling the OS, but we can let it slide .... ;)

    • Justin Pot
      February 25, 2015 at 3:59 pm

      It's far from the first thing I'd try, let's put it that way!

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