How To Make Your Mac Start Up Faster

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, 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, 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, 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. 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/

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

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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, 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, including tools that show you where your biggest files are.

Other tools, like the full version of CCleaner for Mac, 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 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, 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.

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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. 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). 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. 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?

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