I know WindowServer manages all the windows on my system. I know that's going to scale with multiple monitors, etc.

At times though... it seems it's working a lot harder than it should if it's just watching all the tabs that I have open in chrome.

In any given top -o cpu command it's almost always the MVP.

So what is it doing? I assume window management is fairly event driven, and static windows should not be an issue. So can someone help demystify this hard working program, and help give it credit for it's work? (Because I really hope it's using all these cycles for something)

  • 1
    What do you mean by "working a lot harder"? If you're referring to CPU, how much CPU is it using? If you're referring to memory usage, then I suppose you've realized that WindowServer has had memory leaks for quite a while. May 5, 2022 at 15:59
  • Same here. On macOS Monterey 12.3.1, the WindowServer consistently occupies 15-40% of CPU and my MBP gets uncomfortably warm. All I have opened are a few tabs on Safari, a few textual PDF opened in Preview, Mail.app and one Page document. I tried turning off true tone and auto brightness but that makes no difference. Even if I stayed on the same desktop statically reading textual content and not needing the OS to redraw anything, WindowServer still takes up 10-15% of CPU. I really miss the MBPs back in mid to late 2000s then everything goes downhill with ever increasing nagging issues.
    – KMC
    May 12, 2022 at 3:42

2 Answers 2


These are what I've tried on my 16" 2019 MBP running the latest macOS Monterey 12.3.1:

  1. I followed all steps given here https://chromeisbad.com/ and the result so far was significant! When I switched between screens or tabs, WindowServer did occasionally jumps to 20-25% or beyond, but quickly settled to 8-11% within 3-5 seconds before the process either disappeared or stayed at around ~5-10%.

  2. Checked Accessibility>Display>Reduce Transparency. On average it drops WindowsServer usage for another 3-4%. It also speeds up the settling time of %CPU after scrolling between screens and applications.

  3. Display>Automatically adjust brightness <--- useless

  4. Display>True Tone <-- useless

  5. Restarting the MPB <-- useless

Finally the MPB doesn't torch my lap like it did and drain the battery to 60% in a couple hours...

  • So does it mean you stoped using Chrome as a browser?
    – Dror
    Jun 28, 2022 at 12:10
  • Unforunately Chrome occupies over 60% of the global browser market share at the moment, so if you're a web developer or designer, "just uninstall Chrome" is not really practical advice. If you are experiencing this issue and have the skill and time to share your experience and log files on this bug report, please do so: bugs.chromium.org/p/chromium/issues/detail?id=1158402 Sep 21, 2022 at 17:39
  • +1. It appears to have solved my problem, so Google Chrome is gone for me. Too bad Google seems to pretend the problem doesn't exist, so from now on I will pretend Google Chrome doesn't exist.
    – swineone
    Jan 26, 2023 at 12:40

If uninstalling Chrome and using a different browser is not an option for you:

Follow Google's instructions for disabling Chrome auto updates completely:

  • create the directory /Library/Managed Preferences if it does not exist already. Note that this is under the main hard drive root, not the /Users/yourusername/Library directory
  • create a new file called com.google.Keystone.plist in that location
  • add the following code to the file using TextEdit in plaintext mode or any code editor:
  • restart your computer

Note that 3 means it will turn off your automatic updates completely. You should now be extra sure to check for an perform updates manually on a regular basis to keep your system secure. I advise following this bug report and keeping track of when they resolve this so you can turn autoupdates back on afterwards. https://bugs.chromium.org/p/chromium/issues/detail?id=1158402

My personal setup with 2 external 4k monitors:

WindowServer CPU usage around 70%, with spikes up to 130%

WindowServer CPU usage around 10%, with spikes up to 30%

  • Unfortunately, it looks like newer versions of Chrome are regularly deleting this file, so this fix no longer is working for me. Oct 18, 2022 at 19:21
  • Chrome deletes com.google.Keystone.plist for me, as well. Even worse, mds_store started using so much CPU after that happened. I cannot imagine how much it's affecting my machine... Btw, did you find any other workaround?
    – noname
    Dec 26, 2022 at 16:08

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