My 2012 MacBook Pro 15", OS X 10.9.5, 2.6 GHz i7, 16 GB RAM, 750 GB HDD, has been acting very slow recently. Starting up takes a long time, not only for the login screen to show (if starting up from being turned off), but once logged in it takes about 10-15 mins to become responsive to the point were the Finder or any of the programs are responsive enough to be used.

Then during normal use the machine can be running fine, but flicking between finder windows, quick previewing an image in the finder using space bar, move files can cause it to hang when ill then have to wait, or force reboot the finder, using force quit. Generally though everything seems quite lethargic.

The first thing I did was to check Activity Monitor, where as far as I can tell the Mac has got more that plenty of resources available (see below screenshots.) Although these are obviously taken at a set point in time they are pretty indicative of whats normally shown in the activity monitor.

I've checked to see if the machine's indexing, which it isn't. I've also noticed that the when I first open the machine, Dropbox is starting up which seems to make everything quite slow, but I don't believe it's the only culprit.

I suppose I could upgrade to an SSD, but dont particularly want to as they are quite expensive for 750GB and the machine as far as I can remember wasn't always this slow and I've always been running the same tasks on it.

Is there anything else that I might have missed in trying to troubleshoot and resolve these issues?

activity monitor - memory activity monitor - cpu

4 Answers 4


The three simplest things to do to troubleshoot slowness is to write down what specifically you wish to optimize and then measure it. When you have a good baseline and preferably can reliably reproduce the conditions when it's slow.

  1. Make a new empty user and set the Mac to not auto log in. Reboot and repeat the test with the new account.
  2. Look in the console logs for storage errors and boot into recovery mode to run Disk Utility to check for catalog or other errors.
  3. Install a clean OS onto a USB drive and boot from that. As long as the drive is reasonably fast, you should be a bit slower on the external drive and could even point a user home folder there back to the home folder on the internal drive to see if it's a system issue.

Unfortunately, I don't have a silver bullet, but once you narrow down things to user level slowness or system slowness or hardware errors/degradation then you can dig into Activity Monitor and see if CPU or RAM or storage is constrained when your slowness arrives. From your snapshots, you have plenty of RAM and the system should only get faster with use as files needed get cached in RAM. Your CPU doesn't look loaded at all, so I'm guessing network or storage issues from the data you have provided.

  • Thanks @bmike, what do you think of this approach : 1) upgrade to Yosemite see if that resolves any of the issues, 2) If that fails install clean version of Yosemite. The reason im thinking of going down this route is that it could take a long time to do variable testing to troubleshoot the issue, were as a OS install would be much more of a setup & leave to run operation. Also just a note on network and storage - Ive got c. 200gb free on the hdd so i dont think thats the issue and although the browsing the net can be slow sometimes its down to connection, and i guess this wouldnt slow the OS
    – sam
    Commented May 13, 2015 at 10:13
  • 1
    The benefit of variable testing is you'll know what fixed the issue. I recommend people install Yosemite on an external first and migrate data from the internal to the external and test if they are worried. As long as you have a backup, your plan seems a good one to compromise between figuring out the problem and moving forward. Also, keep in mind - when storage is failing, an OS install is often unrecoverable so most people are forced to deal with storage issues at upgrade time. It's worth spending 10 minutes to check your backup has the files you need before proceeding. good luck!
    – bmike
    Commented May 13, 2015 at 11:50
  • Thanks, +1 for the idea of installing it on an external drive first, ill give that a shot then i think
    – sam
    Commented May 13, 2015 at 13:01

I eventually solved the issue, it seemed to be nothing to do with Finder at all, the issue was being caused by Dropbox indexing and starting up, I checked in the activity monitor if this was causing a lack of memory and cpu space, but it wasnt, which is strange.

I uninstalled dropbox, then re installed it (do this still kept the dropbox files on my machine in a folder called dropbox) so when i installed a clean version it just started using the same folder again, although the dropbox app did have to index the folder for about 10 hours (ive got about 95gb in the dropbox folder). But not the whole machine runs allot faster even when dropbox is starting up or indexing.


I solved my issue! Click the apple. Click "force quit". Adobe reader updater was running. I force quit it. I also force quit my browsers and relaunched finder. Now, finder is super fast!


here iMovie was updating very, very slowly. It appears the update caused ping time-outs and fronzen web pages in both Safari and Chrome. I killed the iMovie update and deleted the iMovie app. Now the mac is happy. OS X Version 10.9.5 Processor 2.3 GHz Intel Core i7, 4 GB 1600 MHz DDR3, network not the zippiest, being an old DSL line, but perfectly fine for watching one movie at a time (not using iMovie of course....)

  • This seems to be specific to you and (given that nothing is showing in activity monitor) not a correct solution. Also, this issue has already long since been solved.
    – JMY1000
    Commented Mar 8, 2016 at 9:20

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