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After waking from a long sleep Big Sur's UI is practically unusable. It's slow, apps don't draw properly, there's lots of redraws happening. It's like garbage collection isn't happening for UI elements.

Examples include:

  • Various things won't draw unless you scroll over it with the mouse
  • When mousing over it, only part of it draws
  • Animations flicker (badly), like activating the hidden dock
  • If the menu bar is usually hidden, it's completely blurred when mousing over it
  • Text boxes don't appear properly. There's no blinking cursor (even though I can type into it)
  • app switching can't be focused properly via the keyboard. Mousing over it sort of works. But the app doesn't actually come to the foreground... again unless you can somehow scroll over it.

I've tried the following unsuccessfully

  1. Enabling/Disabling Touch ID
  2. Putting the computer to sleep and waking it back up again (even the login screen is confused, still drawing logged in content in part)
  3. Logging out and back in again
  4. Quitting all apps.
  5. Adding new desktop screens
  6. Unplugging a USB hard-drive, putting the computer to sleep and awaking again

The only thing that works which I'd like to avoid is to restart the machine. The UI is usable enough to show the Apple menu and select Restart..., even though the menu highlighting is flakey.

NB: I've tried all the suggested solutions at Big Sur - unable to focus any app or make mouse/keyboard inputs after waking from sleep?. Whilst it seems like a possible duplicate question, the accepted answer has had no effect.

Edit: my system details:

  • MacBook Pro (15-inch, 2019)
  • Processor: 2.4 GHz 8-Core Intel Core i9
  • Memory: 32 GB 2400 MHz DDR4
  • Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 630 1536 MB
  • Macintosh HD: 536.44 GB available of 1TB.

Edit: 23rd Feb 2021 Tried the following without success:

  • Turning Screen Mirroring on/off via TV with AnyCast
  • Going to System Preferences and changing resolution
  • Changing From Dark to Light to Dark theme
  • Selecting Blurry Screen-saver and previewing it

Still finding the only solution is to restart the machine :-(. It seems to be related to the GPU somehow.

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  • What Mac model do you have? I am also on BigSur and haven't been experiencing any issues with it so far. I often leave my MacBook sleep overnight, no problem. Can you check Activity monitor if there is some background process using a lot of CPU/GPU/RAM/...?
    – X_841
    Feb 17, 2021 at 7:33
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    @X_841 I've added my system details above. Activity Monitor has processes like Window Server, find, kernel_task, etc. But nothing I can pinpoint that's causing the entire UI to go out of whack... yet.
    – ldeck
    Feb 17, 2021 at 10:28
  • Have the same problem for a few years. I'm on mojave. If you download IntelPowerGadget you'll notice that GFX is too low compared to what you get after a reboot. If you open a youtube video in the background, everything starts working as it used to. Close the video and it's back :/
    – kirqe
    Mar 19, 2022 at 9:21

2 Answers 2

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Curious if you found a solution to this problem without erasing and installing an older OS as that’s all I could do to “solve” a very similar situation.

I was having some of the same issues with my MacBook Air (13-inch, early 2014). I ended up having to wipe the whole drive clean, back to bone with OS X Yosemite. I updated it to install Catalina, not going to risk trying to get Big Sur again as I don't think it's worth the hassle.

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  • Good you could at least wrangle an older OS.
    – bmike
    Feb 23, 2022 at 2:21
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    I believe in the end it was a hardware problem, as eventually the machine died internally and its logic board was replaced under warranty and I didn't see the problem again.
    – ldeck
    Feb 23, 2022 at 21:50
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I'm on MacOS 11.6.2 Still having the very same problem. About to try disabling unlock with TouchID; hoping that helps.

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