I have a Mac book air 2017 running Catalina. I have noticed my admin account being a little slow. Safari launching slower and some other apps slower

I did a test and made a new admin user. I logged out of my account and logged in as that user. Everything is faster. Safari launches and renders pages faster and just feels snappier

I am not saying my computer is un-usable just not as fast as it could be

In order to try to fix problem I have tried the following

  • remove all launch agents in my user library folder
  • only Startup necessary software and remove any login items not neceassy
  • Deleted preferences folder in user library folder
  • reset safari cache and disable extensions
  • boot into recovery mode and repair disk
  • Boot into safe mode and test
  • Cleaning up hard drive and removing apps and files. I have 150gb free storage out of 500gb

Do you have any other ideas or is it reformat and rebuild time? I haven’t done a fresh install in 10 years and really want to avoid this

  • 2
    If a new admin account is faster than an old admin account then migrate what you need to the new account and delete the old one. Aug 22, 2020 at 12:44
  • I am trying to avoid doing all that work. Just looking for other suggestions Aug 22, 2020 at 13:22
  • Is this limited to Safari or is there slowness across the board? You may have something corrupted and the time it takes to track it down and “fix it” may be much more than simply creating new account and migrating things over. However, the fact that you haven’t done a fresh install in 10 years is concerning - who know what old artifacts are floating around that could be conflicting with newer things - I would wipe and do a clean install.
    – Allan
    Aug 24, 2020 at 16:48
  • It is pretty much all applications. I am going to do a clean install. I have 2 computers; should I do it on one computer and then time machine backup to other (Formatting between then). OR should I do reformats on both and install on each Aug 24, 2020 at 18:15
  • I love clean install, I’ve added the minimal erase we do quite regularly at work, we have people with 10 year old and 20 year old Mac home folders. At some point we need to delete them and Migrate back from a backup.
    – bmike
    Aug 29, 2020 at 14:30

5 Answers 5


"Do you have any other ideas or is it reformat and rebuild time? I haven’t done a fresh install in 10 years and really want to avoid this."

If the problem does not appear in a brand new user account, then there is absolutely no need to erase the disk and reinstall the OS. The OS works fine: only the user account is affected.

Some may suggest packing up and moving to a new user account. The trouble is that if you keep doing this every time you come up with a user-account problem, you'll have a succession of different user accounts, which may cause problems with backups, file ownership attributions, etc. And you'll be none the wiser.

The cause is something in the user's Library folder. It could be third-party software that's set to launch at startup, so test by disabling ALL of that. Don't leave any 'necessary' stuff.

You've deleted the entire user Preference folder, which is overkill. I would test whether things improve after you remove the folder, and then restore it if they don't. Move on to the next folder.


Create all new accounts and transfer carefully files you really need. If I was you I would reinstall the Mac entirely and restart on a clean device. Upload things on Google Drive/iCloud/... and your life will be easier to manage.

  • Thats what I ended up doing. I already used dropbox so it wasn't too bad Aug 28, 2020 at 17:19
  • @ChrisMuench Answering you own question is OK here, as the information can be useful to others without regard to who posts it. If this solved your Mac's issues, put the information in an Answer using the "Your Answer" box. Aug 29, 2020 at 14:01

It’s a lot of work to declutter preferences and history and plug in in browsers, let alone all the other cruft you accumulate.

The best tool I have to save all that work is Time Machine. I like to back up everything (I do exclude the system folder and all things Apple skips when you exclude system) and then take the plunge.

Delete your slow account and choose to delete the folder. Then restore from Migration Assistant. This process is low risk and you could make it even lower if you have enough disk space to hold both the deleted copy of your account and the restored one from Migration Assistant.

The alternative is back up and then erase install and skip the migration of the account. Hand migrating back only the documents you need would get the tabula rasa / clean start you have accurately determined is the next step to a faster experience.

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You would deselect everything except the user account “John Appleseed” in the sample image since you’re only deleting (or renaming) and importing the user, not the system.

Good Luck! This is doable and you’ll know you can back up and restore once it’s done.

  • For bonus points, after you delete the account, reboot to recovery and run Disk Utility to repair the container and the disk. This will TRIM free blocks on the SSD before you boot back and import the user account from your backup. May not help a lot, but it surely can not hurt and better to fix any directory issues before a restore.
    – bmike
    Aug 29, 2020 at 14:32

Oh yeah, you could also run an Etrecheck report, it’s free, then post the results here on forum. It’s a very much loved app among the developers, it gives a no-nonsense insight into what’s going on and where potential issues might hide.

https://etrecheck.com/ https://apps.apple.com/gb/app/etrecheck/id1423715984?mt=12

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    – nohillside
    Aug 29, 2020 at 14:54

Being slow refers to memory (CPU), not so much to storage or disk errors. Mac is a CPU-intensive OS because of Apple’s belief that ‘unused CPU is wasted CPU’. CPU is gobbled up by running apps, processes, agents, and utilities, especially by pesky 3rd party software (how I hate Adobe! It’s been eating at my CPU even after uninstalling their software, until I manually removed all Adobe’s hidden agents). Therefore, it’s only reasonable that a new account you created is faster - it has less apps, less processes running, less legacy agents and cache stored away in hidden folders.

You can hardly fix this without erasing stuff, but try at least uninstalling apps you don’t use, remove all but necessary browser extensions, don’t run more than one or two apps at a time without quitting them before you open other apps.

Try some tricks from the following article, such as removing all Desktop files, disabling dock animation, removing all but main apps from your dock and using launchpad instead. https://uk.crucial.com/articles/mac-users/how-to-speed-up-your-mac-system

Use Activity Monitor to track CPU-intensive processes. Quit unresponsive or processes that are using too much of your CPU, and be generally aware of what your system is doing. For example, if Siri is re-indexing your drive, you can write off a few hours - it’s a very CPU-intensive process and it’s best to just let it run (don’t lock the screen or power off) than to battle with it. If there are some agents that you don’t recognize and don’t need (always double check by googling so that you don’t quit essential native Apple agents), not only quit, but find them in your Library and bin them for good (like I did with multiple Adobe agents). https://support.apple.com/en-gb/guide/activity-monitor/welcome/mac

I’ve had the same issue and I also dreaded erasing my disk clean and reinstalling, but it’s not as painful as it seems when you store all your files in the cloud and so you only have to resync them once you reinstall. You could use a backup drive and this free app to easily back up your user folder, then fully erase your disk and reinstall macOS. Then you could transfer your user folder from your backup drive onto your newly installed drive, either all or only select folders (only applications to avoid finding and reinstalling your apps, or only library to preserve your settings). https://macdaddy.io/duplicate/

But I wouldn’t advice to backup anything. I would only use cloud (Dropbox or OneDrive) or an external drive to sync your files, everything else, start from a clean slate. What helped me is changing my thinking from “what I have to remove” to “what I have to keep”. Instead of going through all my files and deciding what to remove, I thought and selected what I absolutely have to keep. If I didn’t think about it, or if it’s been sitting there for two years but I never touched it, I don’t need it.

Slow Mac is a struggle. Stay strong!

  • 2
    There's a lot to dispute in your comments about CPU. A new account doesn't have less apps. Apps aren't in the user account. And advising against backing up locally is odd. Cloud servers have outages and restoring 200 GB over the internet can take forever.
    – benwiggy
    Aug 29, 2020 at 14:15
  • @benwiggy Do dispute, I only give my opinion that is based on my experience. You’re right, older accounts won’t always have more apps, as apps are generally stored in a system folder, but I have some 3rd party apps stored in my user account only. (1/2)
    – Pavel
    Aug 29, 2020 at 15:06
  • My backup advice is an unpopular opinion, but my reasoning is that by restoring from backup you also restore some old crap that was slowing down your Mac. Set up preferences from scratch, doesn’t take long, plus you get to tour new features of upgraded OS. My files are split between external drives (just plug those in) and the cloud (sync select folders, access others when needed). This strategy won’t be as good for all, but @Chris has an old Mac and dreads doing a clean install. I’ve been there with my Mac mini 2014 taking 15min to launch Chrome, and these steps helped me. (2/2)
    – Pavel
    Aug 29, 2020 at 15:17

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