Fix Mac Running Slow After macOS Catalina Update

Is your Mac running slow after Catalina Update? Do not worry, this post provides several troubleshooting steps to speed up Mac performance on Catalina. Perform each step one by one and check if it has improved the performance on Catalina or not. Let’s start with a practical scenario.

Scenario 1: iMac Slow After Catalina Install

I installed Catalina 2 days ago and now my 2019 iMac is very slow, click to open an app, wait 4 or 5 seconds and nothing happens, then the spinning rainbow wheel of death appears for a few more seconds, then the app opens. This even happens when opening System Preferences or Activity Monitor. I have restarted multiple times and the iMac has been left shut down for a few hours before restarting.

Source: Apple Community

Scenario 2: Performance Issue on MacBook Air After Catalina Update

I did the latest OS 10.15 Catalina update and after that, I have extremely poor performance, my MacBook has become very slow, its takes forever to log in on and load the desktop, switching between users is painful it’s like I am using the windows laptop all over again. I checked there are no programs that are running in the background, I still have 70GB of free disc space. Cleared temp files, cache but it’s just very slow. Even the initial boot-up takes a very long time, earlier my MacBook used to boot within 10-12 secs but now it’s just like watching windows to load. Not happy with the new update and not sure if apple will help.

Source: Apple Community

Like the above two Catalina users, many Mac users have reported that the system is running slow after installing macOS Catalina. Follow the steps provided below to fix the performance.

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Fix Mac Running Slow After Catalina Update

Restart Mac

If you have not restarted your Mac for a long time then restarting your Mac will take care of a lot of issues. Restarting your mac will close all the running programs and clear memory in your system. Go to the Apple menu and click on Restart.

Restart Mac from Apple Menu

After the restart, check the Mac performance, move on to the next step if the issue still persists.

Force Quit Apps/Programs Running in the Background

Multiple apps and programs running in the background which can result in slow performance on your Mac. There are many apps that may not be running but utilizes RAM, CPU and other resources. You can check all this in the Activity monitor.

  • To close an application using Activity Monitor press Command + Space, or click on Spotlight in the top-right corner of your screen.
  • Type Activity Monitor in the Spotlight Search window and when Activity Monitor is highlighted, press the Enter key.
  • You will see a list of processes running in Activity Monitor, look for apps and programs that are utilizing maximum CPU. Select those applications and click on Force a process to quit in the left corner.

Close apps from activity monitor

Delete System Cache

Corrupt cache accumulated on your Mac may result in slow performance. To clear cache on your Mac, do the following:

  • From the top menu on your Mac screen, click on Go to Folder.
  • Type in ~/Library/Caches and press enter. Highlight everything here and copy it to some other folder just in case something happens, you can paste everything back here.
  • Now delete everything and restart your Mac. Now check the performance.

Disable Startup Items

Whenever you start your mac, many programs start automatically even if you are not using it. These application keeps running in the background and utilize RAM, CPU and other resources and hence making your MAC slow. To disable Mac startup programs, follow the steps provided below:

  • Launch System Preferences.
  • Go to Users & Groups.
  • Select your username on the left.
  • Select the Login Items tab.
  • Put a check on all the startup programs and click on the “” sign below.

Disable startup items mac

Disabling Startup apps and programs should help to fix mac running slow after Catalina update.

Get Rid Of 32 Bits Apps If You Can

By now you must be aware that older apps that are 32-bit will no longer work under macOS Catalina. Update your Apps to 64 bits, contact app manufacturer and get the 64 bit or try replacing that software. In case you do not need 32-bit apps then it’s better to remove them. This may improve the performance of your Mac on Catalina.

Steps to identify your 32-bit apps:

  • Go to the Apple Menu and select About This Mac.
  • On the bottom, click on the System Report button.
  • Choose Software > then Applications. It may take some time.
  • Once you have the list, check the column of 64-bit on the right side that shows whether the apps are 64-bit or not with Yes or No sign.

Identify 32 bits apps Mac

Clean Hard Drive

  • Go to the Apple menu and select About This Mac.
  • Choose Storage and then click on Manage.
  • Now click on Optimize in front of Optimize Storage.

This will get rid of unwanted junk files from your Mac and may speed up your Mac.

Remove all the Adobe and Creative Cloud Processes Running in the Background

Many users were able to fix the performance issue with Catalina after closing Adobe products from the Activity monitor. So make sure that Adobe products are not running in the background. You can also disable it from startup program – steps are provided under Disable Startup Items heading.

You can also prevent them from launching during login by deleting all Adobe launchers in HD/Library/LaunchDaemons, HD/Library/LaunchAgents, and usr/Library/LaunchAgents.

Turn Off Siri, Remove Extensions and Turn Off Notifications

If you don’t use extensions and do not use Siri then you can disable it to improve the performance.

Steps to uninstall or remove Safari Extensions:

  • Launch Safari.
  • Go to Safari > Preferences
  • Select the Extensions tab.
  • You can now switch off all extensions or click on Uninstall

Steps to Remove plugins in Firefox:

  • Launch Firefox.
  • Click on the menu in the top-right corner.
  • Select Add-ons.
  • You can now see Extensions and Plugins tabs on the left. Here you can disable or remove them.

Steps to remove Chrome extensions:

  • Launch Chrome.
  • Click on three-dot in the top-right corner.
  • Go to More tools > click on Extensions.
  • Here you will see the list of Chrome extensions.
  • You can either turn off or remove them.

Also if you don’t use Siri, you can turn off Siri:

  • Go to the Apple menu and select System Preferences.
  • Select Siri from the control panel options.
  • Uncheck the box next to Enable Siri to turn off Siri.

To Stop notifications:

Go to the Apple menu > select System Preferences, then click Notifications.

In Notifications preferences, select the app on the left, then uncheck the Allow Notifications option for the app.

Disable or Uninstall Antivirus Program

Many antivirus software is causing slow performance issue on Catalina. To fix this uninstall Antivirus program from your Mac then restart your PC. Many Catalina users saw an instant improvement in the performance after uninstalling antivirus software. Few of the problematic antivirus programs are listed below:

  • AVG
  • Avira
  • Trend Micro
  • Malwarebytes

The list may not be complete, just try uninstalling the antivirus program which you are using and then check the difference.


Reset SMC

  • Go to the Apple menu and select Shut down.
  • After shuts down, press and hold the Shift-Control-Option on the keyboard and then press the power button together. Hold all the keys and the power button for 10-15 seconds.
  • Release all keys after 10-15 seconds.
  • Now press the power button again to start your Mac.


  • Shut down your Mac.
  • Start your Mac and immediately press and hold Option, Command, P and R keys on the keyboard together.
  • Hold the keys down till the Mac restarts and you hear a beeping sound.

Do not worry about the data loss as this process do not erase data from your Mac.

Start Mac in Safe Mode

  • Go to the Apple menu and click on Restart.Apple menu restart
  • Press and hold the Shift key on the keyboard while Mac is restarting.

Safe mode provides a restricted environment and allows only necessary files to load up. Third-party programs which may be the cause of slow performance will stop working in safe mode. Now you can isolate the apps which may be responsible for slow performance and remove them.

Create a New Admin Account

Sometimes due to corrupt profiles, you may face performance issue so creating a new admin account may help you to improve the system performance.

To create a new admin account:

Go to the Apple menu and select System Preferences.

System preference mac

Click on User & Groups.

System preference mac

Now select the lock icon, enter the user name and password of an existing admin account and open preference panel.

Lock icon mac

Click on the + plus icon to create a new account.

Plus icon mac

Bring down the drop-down menu next to New Account and select Administrator

Admin mac

Enter all the necessary details required for the new Administrator account such as complete name, user name, password, and a password hint, click on Create User to create a new Administrator account.

Create new admin mac

Once a new account is created, restart your Mac and log in to the new administrator account and check the performance.

Perform Clean Installation of macOS Catalina Using USB flash drive

In case the issue still persists then going for a clean install should fix slow performance on Catalina. Doing so will erase all the data on your Mac so please create a backup before going for a clean installation. Visit this Apple link to know How to create a bootable installer for macOS.

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Bonus Tip: Number One Mac Data Recovery Program

If you lose your valuable data during a clean installation of macOS Catalina then you can use Mac Data Recovery that can help you to recover your lost data in case you do not have a backup.

Download and install the Mac Data Recovery tool. Launch Mac Data Recovery tool, select the drive where you lost the data.


Select drive on mac

Scan the drive to find your lost files on your Mac.

Scan drive on Mac

Preview the lost files after the scan is complete. Click on Recover and recover the lost files on your Mac. Please make sure that you select the external hard drive or select a different location to recover as saving the files to the same location may overwrite the data.

Recover lost files on mac

Wrap Things Up

We provided enough troubleshooting steps to fix Mac running slow After Catalina Update. In case none of the steps helped you to speed up the performance on Catalina then please contact Apple Support for further assistance.

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