I have an early 2009 13" MacBook Pro. I have used it a lot and at the moment and for a while now it is quite slow. I need to use various applications like Mathematica (for which it is quite slow if I use it now), Latex, web browsers, and a few other programs. Right now compiling Latex documents or running easy Mathematica code takes a long time and sometimes even will crash the computer for a couple of minutes.

I don't want to buy a new one since my University will buy me one when I begin my PhD next Fall but I still need to do work. Would adding RAM (I have 4GB DDR2 now) help any? What other steps could I take to improve its performance (except for standards like clean up).

UPDATE: Some other symptoms:

  1. Mac struggles to open and quit apps
  2. Mac struggles to scroll up/down on various "heavy" websties.
  3. Mac shows up very often the little colored disc (instead of the pointer of the mouse) signifying it is loading stuff.
  4. Mac struggles to open the Finder and when it is open it needs some time to load the applications folder.
  • 1
    Can you add some screenshots of Activity Monitor showing CPU and memory usage during heavy load usage?
    – nohillside
    Mar 19, 2015 at 13:19
  • When capturing the CPU and memory usage, run one of the compute-intensive apps (Mathematica, say) doing something that usually drags the Mac down.
    – IconDaemon
    Mar 19, 2015 at 17:27
  • Thanks a lot, I will try to do it. The thing is that these applications are not that intensive in reality. Another example is that if I want to open Pages, the Apple software, it takes 3 minutes till my computer can do it. Anyway, I ll upload the screenshot.
    – Marion
    Mar 19, 2015 at 22:33
  • Ok, I have tried to run something like some Mathematica code and it seems that a lot of my computers CPU remains unused! Why would that be?
    – Marion
    Mar 19, 2015 at 22:55

1 Answer 1


Upgrading to 8GB will give your more memory-intensive applications a bit more headroom and allow them to avoid unnecessary swap-file usage. Upgrading to an SSD will give a more substantial speed boost overall - apart from dramatically improved OS and application startup times, any applications writing to and reading from a swap-file will also see considerable speed improvements. Your Mac only supports SATA II but the speed improvement will still make the investment worthwhile.

  • SSD FTW! :) I had Macbook Pro mid 2010 and after upgrading Hard Drive to SSD I got 100x faster computer. If it didn't have problems with GFX I'd still be using it. Mar 19, 2015 at 13:50
  • So, is it possible to upgrade to a SSD my 2009 MacBook Pro? I did not even know this. I will try to look for prices though.
    – Marion
    Mar 19, 2015 at 22:34

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