I was using a friend’s Macbook the other day and they complained to me that it seemed to be running slower than usual.  It was a fairly new computer, so I felt it was more likely there was a program running heavily on the computer rather than just the normal slowdown that comes over years of using a computer.

Macs in general do not get rebooted as often as PCs do, so it is common that you will find a bunch of programs open at the same time.  The more programs that are open and running, the more processing power and memory is getting used up.  This can cause some slowness problems.

One way to check what all is open and using up resources is to check the Activity Monitor.  The Activity Monitor will show a list of processes that are running on the computer, along with the percentage of the CPU they are using and memory amount that are taking up.

To access the Activity Monitor, from your desktop click on Go then Utilities.  From there select the program Activity Monitor.  Once opened, you can see the list of running processes.  Look for any that are taking up a particularly large CPU%.  If you find one that is taking up considerably more resources than others, you can choose to end the process by clicking on the process name, then the Quit Process red button at the top of the screen.  A note – only quit processes that you are certain what they are.  If in doubt, leave it alone and instead try restarting the computer.

In my friend’s case, they had a particular program open that was using up a lot of computer resources.  Ending that program resulted in the computer running more smoothly, as was usual.

Activity Monitor is not a perfect speed troubleshooting tool, but it is a good way to see in a pinch if there is an obvious culprit program causing your computer to hang or run slowly.

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