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One of the simple joys macOS offers is how quickly it starts up and shuts down. This normally takes just a few seconds, especially with the solid state flash storage in modern Mac computers.
But it’s not always perfect. Sometimes your Mac might become slow to shut down. When this happens, there are a number of tricks you can try to speed it up again.
Here are the best fixes for a Mac that takes forever to shut down.
1. Turn Off the Window Reopen Feature
macOS has a nifty feature that lets you save your current session (all your open apps, and the windows within those apps) when you shut down. It then reopens them automatically next time you log in. It’s great when you’ve finished working for the day and want to pick up where you left off tomorrow.
In order to do this, the operating system must save the session data to your hard drive. This takes time and can make your Mac shut down much slower, especially if you’re using an older Mac with a slow mechanical hard drive.
To speed up your shutdown, turn off this feature. Shut down as normal, but when the confirmation dialog box appears, make sure the option labeled Reopen windows when logging back in is not checked. If you’ve used the feature in the past, you might need a couple of restart cycles to see the full benefits.
2. Check for Stalled Print Jobs
Printers are notorious for causing computer problems. The most annoying of all is the stalled print job. You’ll try to print a document, but it won’t work for some reason. This proceeds to cause other computer tasks to grind to a halt.
If you use a printer and your Mac won’t shut down, double-check you haven’t got a stalled print job holding your system up. This can easily be the cause of the problem.
Go to Apple Menu > System Preferences > Printers & Scanners. Select your printer on the left, then click the Open Print Queue button. Delete any jobs that are left over and see if shutdown speed improves.
3. Close Down Apps More Quickly
Hanging software is another common reason why your Mac takes too long to shut down.
macOS attempts to close all open apps when it starts to shut down. But occasionally apps won’t comply, especially if you’ve been pushing your computer hard by using all the available memory.
The first fix to try for this is to close your apps manually (Cmd + Q, or right-click their Dock icon and choose Quit). If some refuse to close, you can force-quit them instead.
To do this, go to Apple Menu > Force Quit, or press Cmd + Option + Esc, and select the misbehaving app from the list. Click Force Quit to close it. Make sure you’ve saved your work before you force quit apps.
If the problem persists, you can try to speed up the time macOS takes to close apps when it’s shutting down.
By default, the system gives apps 20 seconds to close, after which it will attempt to force-quit them. You can reduce this from 20 seconds to five seconds by copying and pasting the following commands into the Terminal app:
sudo defaults write /System/Library/LaunchDaemons/com.apple.coreservices.appleevents ExitTimeOut -int 5
sudo defaults write /System/Library/LaunchDaemons/com.apple.securityd ExitTimeOut -int 5
sudo defaults write /System/Library/LaunchDaemons/com.apple.mDNSResponder ExitTimeOut -int 5
sudo defaults write /System/Library/LaunchDaemons/com.apple.diskarbitrationd ExitTimeOut -int 5
sudo defaults write /System/Library/LaunchAgents/com.apple.coreservices.appleid.authentication ExitTimeOut -int 5
You’ll have to provide your admin password when you enter the first command. After that, you can enter the rest unhindered as long as you don’t close and re-open Terminal.
Obviously, this is a more advanced solution to try. Give it a pass if you aren’t comfortable changing system settings in the Terminal.
4. Free Up Some Disk Space
This is a simple tip, but one worth pursuing. All computers will start to run into problems when they’re very low on disk space. They need free space to store temporary data.
A lack of free space can cause shutdown problems, particularly if you have open apps trying to save their state during the process. If you have less than 15 percent of your disk capacity free, try freeing up space on your Mac and see if that helps.
5. Check Your Disk Health
Poor hard drive performance can cause a slow shutdown. Thankfully, this easy to check and fix in macOS. Just open the built-in Disk Utility app, select your drive in the left column, and click First Aid.
Next, click through the next two confirmation screens. While scanning, your computer will remain on, but it’s best to leave it alone while the job runs its course. This will detect and repair any disk problems you’ve got.
Disk repair advice for Macs once commonly recommended repairing permissions. However, while this was an option in older versions of Disk Utility, you no longer need to repair permissions on macOS. It hasn’t been necessary since the release of El Capitan in 2015.
6. Delete Your Caches
Your Mac caches a lot of data that it needs to access quickly and regularly. This helps to improve overall performance. However, caches tend to become bloated over time and can, in some cases, start to have the opposite effect.
Cache issues can even cause slow shutdowns. Clearing these macOS caches may solve the problem.
Delete the Kernel Cache
The first cache to delete is the kernel cache. macOS uses this to help it boot up quickly and safely. Purging the kernel cache from time to time can solve various problems, including making your Mac shut down more quickly.
To clear your kernel cache, you’ll need to restart your Mac in Safe Mode.
To do this, dold down the Shift key when pressing the power button to turn on your system. Keep it held until you see the Login window. This may take longer than for a normal boot.
Starting Safe Mode performs a few tasks along the way, including deleting the kernel cache. Once it loads, restart your Mac normally again and you’re done.
Delete App and System Caches
The next caches to delete are the system and app caches. You can do this quickly with an app like Disk Care from the App Store. If you prefer to save some money, you can instead do it manually.
First, open Spotlight with Cmd + Space. In the search bar, type (or paste) ~/Library/Caches. You can now delete the contents of this cache folder. As a general rule, it’s better to delete just the contents of each subfolder rather than simply selecting and deleting everything.
Next, in Spotlight type /Library/Caches (the same as before, but without the preceding tilde). Delete what’s here as well, then empty your Trash and restart.
7. Reset NVRAM, PRAM, and SMC
Macs have two special attributes called NVRAM (or PRAM on older systems) and SMC (system management controller) that handle certain core system functions, like the backlight brightness and speaker volume. Problems with PRAM or SMC can cause slow shutdowns or startups.
To reset PRAM or NVRAM, you need to turn off your Mac and then turn it back on. Immediately press and hold the Cmd, Option, P, and R keys simultaneously. Continue holding these keys until you hear a second startup sound, or see the Apple logo appear and disappear for the second time. Then release.
The process to reset the SMC differs depending on what Mac you’re using. See our guide on how to reset your Mac’s SMC for full details.
Solve Mac Startup Problems
It can be tough to isolate the exact cause of a problem like your Mac taking too long to shut down. But if you work through the steps above, you should hopefully get it back to working as fast as the day you bought it.
Some of these tips can help solve startup issues, too. But if you need more help with that, check out our guide to fixing Mac boot problems for the answers. Also, take a look at some of the worst MacBook problems and fixes for them.