Mac Freezes - How to Stop your Mac Freezing Randomly
Does Your Mac Freeze Randomly or at Startup?
It’s every Mac user’s biggest fear: the spinning wheel of death. Once you see that spinning rainbow circle, you know something is wrong. You could have been trying to open a file, to play a game, browse photos, or simply boot up your computer. You never know when it might happen.
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If your computer freezes a lot, you might also notice that it’s running pretty sluggishly - that even simple applications and processes can take much longer to run than they did previously.
If this sounds familiar, then read on to find out some quick and easy steps you can take to optimize your computer’s performance and prevent it from freezing again. This article will go over some common causes for a freeze and offer some simple fixes that will get your computer back in shape in no time.
Why Does My Mac Freeze Randomly?
There could be a number of reasons that your Mac freezes. Most people think it’s because they don’t have enough memory and that they have to purchase more RAM. However, there could be simpler reasons that your computer slows down or freezes.
Two of the most common reasons are:
- You have a corrupted file or program or an application that’s sucking up all the computer’s memory
- Your computer doesn’t have enough storage space.
What to Do When Your Mac Freezes or Slows Down
Option 1: Fix the Problem Through the "Activity Monitor."
Sometimes a program you’re running will take up a large amount of your computer’s resources. In that case, you’ll likely want to shut the program or application down. If you’re computer hasn’t frozen and is just running sluggishly, you can identify and shut down the offending program in your Activity Monitor. You can find the Activity Monitor by going to the Utilities subfolder in your “Applications."
At the very top of the window, click “CPU,” which will sort all of your running programs according to the percentage of CPU power that each is using. Programs with a high percentage of CPU may be the reason behind your computer’s slow down.
Once you’ve identified the offending program, you can select it from the list and then click the “X” on the top left of the window bar to quit the program. Your screen should look like the picture below.
Just remember that you’ll lose any unsaved work by closing the application.
Option 2: Force Quit the Frozen Program
Most often a computer freezes when a program runs incorrectly and locks up your system. There are two ways to force quit a program. The first is to press Command + Option + Esc. Select the unresponsive program from the list and click Force Quit. Alternatively, hover your mouse over the application’s icon in the dock at the bottom of your desktop and “right click.” Doing so will cause a menu to pop up that will likewise allow you to force quit.
Option 3: Restart Your Computer
If you can’t move the mouse at all and none of the commands you input onto the keyboard appear to work, you’ll have to physically reboot your Mac in order to get it working again. Since you won’t be able access the shut down menu, you’ll want to press and hold the power button on your computer for several seconds. Once the computer has shut off, wait a minute or two and then turn it on as normal.
Prevent Your Mac from Freezing
How to Prevent Your Mac from Freezing
1. Make more space on your hard drive. If you have less than 10 gigabytes of space, you are likely to experience significant slowdowns. The less free space you have, the likelier you are to see the spinning color wheel of death.
2. See if your program is corrupted. If your computer always freezes when opening a particular program or document, then that file may be corrupted. Try to avoid opening the file and, if at all possible, delete and reinstall it.
3. Verify and repair your hard disk. There could be some errors on your hard drive that cause your computer to freeze up and become unresponsive. One easy way to check for these is to use the Disk Utility program to run a diagnostic check on your hardware. You an find the Disk Utility application under “Utilities” in the Applications folder.
- Open up the Disk Utility application.
- Select your hard drive in the left menu. Select the “First Aid” tab in the center of the window and then click the “Verify Disk” button.
- If any errors are detected, you’ll be given the option to repair the disk.
4. Update your software. Make sure your operating system and any frequently used applications are up-to-date, because a recent update may have fixed or patched a bug responsible for the crashes. To check for updates, select “Software Update” from the Apple menu, which will check for updates to the operating system and any programs downloaded from the App Store.
5. Disconnect peripheral devices. If you connected any new hardware to your computer through the USB drive, try disconnecting it. Restart the computer and see if the problem persists. If the problem goes away, there may be a problem with the device, or it may require updates to its software.
6. Try a safe boot. A safe boot may will disable certain software upon startup and run cleanup processes that may fix random bugs responsible for your computer freezing up. To do a safe boot, restart your mac and, immediately after hearing the startup sound, press and hold the Shift key until the Apple logo appears on the screen. If the problem goes away, restart your computer in the normal way.
7. Delete duplicate files. On average, more than 30% of disk space on an average Mac is taken up by unnecessary and junk files. When you download (or uninstall) programs on Mac, some files are always leftover. If your Mac freezes because there’s not enough storage space, then you may want to install and run some cleanup software. A good Mac clean-up tool such as Mackeeper will find all these unwanted temporary, duplicate files and remove them. Running Mackeeper will reduce your complete disk usage, increase space and help make sure your Mac doesn't freeze or crash anymore. It will also significantly speed up your Mac and improve its performance.
Slow Mac? Tips to Speed up Your Mac
- Get rid of unnecessary programs at startup. Removing the number of auto start-up programs reduces boot up time and will speed up your Mac.
- Remove unneeded desktop files. Every time your Mac boots, it needs to index, create an icon and catalog the contents of each folder on your desktop. This takes time, reducing boot-up time and Mac speed.
- Shutdown your Mac - Don't keep it on for weeks on end! Shutdown or restart your Mac on a regular basis to clear out defunct processes.
- Increase Storage Space - Nothing slows a Mac more than having too much on a hard drive.
- Outdated OS X - Every year or so Apple releases a new OS X. One of the reasons why Apple encourages users to upgrade is that the new system is faster overall.