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How to Speed Up Mac Mini

Mac mini is Apple’s the most affordable machine that enables easier transition for Windows desktop users or generally anyone who is trying to get into Mac experience. It also is a potent little computer that will effortlessly meet all of average user’s needs – from browsing the web, to studying and working with documents and photos, to watching Netflix.

While its specs were enough to meet Apple’s intentions 5 years back, stepping into 2018 your Mac mini doesn’t necessarily feel like a powerhouse in a small frame anymore. Read up on what can be the cause of performance troubles below.

What Makes Mac Mini Extremely Slow

You know that something is wrong when the daunting beach ball becomes your Mac’s second nature. Most heartfelt sympathies go out to you as it is super difficult to tolerate especially when attempting a new project or trying to get work done. Frankly speaking, dealing with the slowness is at no time convenient. And while these tips cannot wipe the unpleasant experience, they will serve as a shortcut to resolving your Mac mini troubles.

Note: These are not the only possible causes of the loss in performance, yet they have proven to be the most common once and make a noticeable difference when dealt with.

Insufficient Memory

Long story short, RAM is by far Mac mini’s weakest link and potential bottleneck of your entire system’s performance. On the hardware side of things, if your Mac is fitted with less than 8GBs of memory it is most likely to be the cause of disappointing performance.

However, before jumping to premature conclusions it is best to check how your current RAM is dealing with the tasks you throw at it. Open Finder > Applications, navigate to the Utilities folder and run Activity Monitor app. You will need to switch to the Memory tab and take a look at the Pressure graph below.

memory pressure mac mini

If you observe your memory being under a lot of pressure during day-to-day tasks – you’ve found your bottleneck. With the weak link spotted, head over to Apple Menu > About This Mac and click on System Report. Select Memory from the list to check how much RAM you have installed and whether your Mac mini has any room memory upgrades.

mac mini memory upgrade

MacOS loves it some RAM in general, not to mention that the system reserves a fair bit for the integrated graphics. The system allocates VRAM dynamically and the numbers can reach 1.5 GBs which is bonkers on 4GB systems. Installing additional memory should eliminate stutters and give your Mac mini additional breathing space.

Lack of Free Disk Space

Having sufficient free space on your startup disk is crucial for stable performance across any computer running macOS. When you’re topping off your main drive capacity, you’re taking away from system’s performance in many ways. MacOS utilizes available free space to store swap data, create temporary and cache files, run maintenance scripts etc. Many applications use drive space too. Therefore, stuffing your startup disk full of files has a direct impact on your entire Mac.

startup disk mac mini

Having sufficient free space on your startup disk is crucial for stable performance across any computer running macOS. When you’re topping off your main drive capacity, you’re taking away from system’s performance in many ways. MacOS utilizes available free space to store swap data, create temporary and cache files, run maintenance scripts etc. Many applications use drive space too. Therefore, stuffing your startup disk full of files has a direct impact on your entire Mac.

How to Clean Up a Mac Mini Drive

Good news for those of you stretching the limits of a startup disk as cleaning your drive is at the easier end of the spectrum of returning your Mac mini to its former glory. The quick fix that doubles as the first step to a cleaner Mac would be to Empty Trash and revise files sitting in your Downloads folder. You will be surprised how much space can be taken up by dmgs, documents, pictures, and other various files downloaded from the web that had been left collecting digital dust on the shelves of your drive.

remove downloads trash

For the sake of saving your time, it is recommended you grab a reliable Mac cleaning utility for the next steps. Consider getting MacFly Pro as it comes with a free trial and will be used in this guide.

Once you’ve dealt with all the outdated stuff in your Downloads and Trash, lets move on and deal with the apps. While this can be done manually, MacFly Pro not only makes the process quicker, but also more effective as it picks up leftover application support data and sweeps it along with the main app.

Launch the app and switch to Tools, select Apps module and hit Review. Check the boxes next to the apps you want to remove and proceed to Uninstall Selected.

uninstall apps macfly pro

Moving on, you’re getting to a more meticulous, but much needed occasional cleaning. Get back to MacFly Pro, yet this time navigate to Cleanup. You will need to run a scan for System, Leftovers, and Mail Attachments (if you’re using Apple’s built-in Mail client). Follow on-screen instructions to clear old caches, temporary files, unused localization files, leftover data, and cached attachments (you’re not deleting attachments from within your mail, just local cache to save disk space).

mac mini storage cleanup

To wrap up your cleaning extravaganza, use MacFly Pro’s duplicate finder, located in Tools > Duplicates, to find and remove identical files scattered all over your system (works for iTunes and Photos too). Just like before, run a Scan and check the boxes next to the files you want erased. Pay attention to file locations.

How to Reset Mac Mini to Factory Settings

Before you read any further – head back over to your Mac and backup your drive. You can even make a full clone of your startup disk on an external drive using third-party apps to be able to boot off that in case of emergency.

Resetting your Mac mini to factory settings will cure your software related issues and let you start with a clean slate. It’s the right route to take if you are unwilling to invest in a memory or drive upgrade, as fixing software based problems may as well boost your Mac’s overall snappiness. Don’t forget that you will lose all of your data in the process, therefore backing things up before the reset is an absolute must.

In brief, what you have to do next is sign out of all Apple services on your Mac mini – iTunes, iCloud, iMessage. With that out of the way, power off your Mac mini and then turn it back on and immediately hold down the combination of Option-cmd-R. This will prompt macOS Recovery that allows to wipe startup drive and reinstall macOS.

First, open Disk Utility, select your startup disk and Erase it. Follow onscreen instructions or cross-check your steps with Apple’s detailed guide. Afterwards, choose Reinstall macOS and follow onscreen instructions to download and install the latest version OS available for your Mac. Your system will restart when the installation is complete.

How to Improve Mac Mini Performance

Let’s face it, hardware that is approaching its 5-year anniversary (best case scenario), while still capable to an extent, is due for an upgrade. If you are willing to postpone the inevitable switch to a brand new computer by making a lesser investment into Mac mini upgrade, then memory and drive upgrade are your best bets. The recipe here is rather simple, if your Mac supports RAM upgrade and has below 8 GBs installed then opt for a memory upgrade first. If you are already running the solid 8 gigs, but still stuck with an HDD – moving to SSD will significantly improve your experience with the computer. You can consult Apple’s official guides for detailed explanation on how to manually perform the upgrade.

On the final note, Mac mini is Apple’s most affordable, yet least-capable lineup that has not been updated in ages. Investing in hardware upgrades can further prolong its relevance, however may not be your best option. If fixing software errors did not grant the much needed stability and performance improvement, then perhaps it’s time to consider a more recent machine, even if it’s a used one.

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