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I'm a recent Mac user (MBP) and the booting time really surprises me.

Within few seconds, from complete power down, the OS prompts you to log in, then the rest just flies!

And even faster recovery from sleep mode.

I believe Mac OS is based on Unix BSD, so I'm wondering why we havent see such thing on Unix/Linux with similar hardware?

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    Actually many modern Linux distros have a faster boot time than OSX. At least they are much faster than my 2011 MBP.
    – Conner
    Aug 21, 2012 at 19:46
  • Go to the Apple Menu and select About This Mac. Click on the Storage tab at the top. If Macintosh HD is listed as a Fusion Drive, then the boot-up and login speed is the result of the SSD portion of the fused SSD/HDD.
    – IconDaemon
    Sep 5, 2016 at 12:04
  • Control over hardware. (1) Apple even uses their own EFI — and not Intel's UEFI implementation — to initialize hardware. (2) Limited hardware support, the current OS X doesn't even support single core x86_64.
    – Pro Backup
    Nov 22, 2017 at 17:51

2 Answers 2

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There are many factors that go into booting speed (age of computer, processor, hard drive type and speed). The biggest factor is that Apple has a closed environment and it's OS knows what to expect in terms of hardware and is optimized for that hardware. With Linux and Windows, there are many factors that the OS has to take into account driver-wise in order to optimize itself.

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5 top factors in this.

The biggest single factor is the primary hard drive. If your MBPro has an Solid State Drive shipped by Apple as stock (or an option), then it should boot in seconds because the OS and apps are essentially in flash memory (like RAM). I have a MacPro tower 1.1 optimised with an SSD running OS 10.6 Snow Leopard that boots in 7 seconds (and its 9 years old). If your Mac has a traditional Apple SATA or PATA spinning platter drive, then it will be significantly slower (20+ seconds to boot is common) because Apple pitch these for longevity not performance - typically Apple none SSD drives run slow at 5400 RPM and don't have major cache (its the first thing I change when I get a new Mac) and makes a huge difference to boot speed.

Second factor is what you have installed application wise and set to launch at startup (preferences / startup applications). A new Mac will be relatively light as there wont be a lot of bloatware on there initially. All applications in the Startup panel WILL launch before your desktop settles down, many in the background so you wont see them. Some apps are sneaky and pre-launch without asking you like Adobe's AIM software check which runs in the background ALL THE TIME. You can take control and disable these making them a manual operation once a month v much quicker boot. Use Utilities / Activity Monitor (its free on the Mac) - you will be shocked at what is running all the time and how much RAM and processor it is hogging.

Third factor is your desktop - if you have a very untidy Mac Finder (desktop level) with 50+ alias folders and files on it, your boot will slow down significantly as the Mac will look at these paths FIRST to make sure they are still active / accessible. Ditto any network drives and external hard drives you have connected. For example, if your external HDD is slow to wake up the OS boot can stall for 5 to 7 seconds waiting for it. So keep a clear desktop (set up your alias in the Dock using stacks) and disconnect external drives unless you are using them.

The fourth factor (whilst not directly a boot issue) is Fonts / Language Kits / Printer Drivers. By default Apple overloads these in the root OS to help novices (so the Mac just works everywhere) but they bloat the system - especially loading 300+ fonts before it opens any app. Take out the printer drivers and languages you don't need (about 10GB) and use a Font Manager like Lintotype Font Explorer Pro which will reduce pre-loaded fonts to just 30 ish core system fonts - it will then load fonts only when an app needs them (I have 10,000 fonts on my system as a graphic designer - probably only 150 open at any one time). Significant boost.

Fifth factor - max the RAM. Most Macs ship with the minimum e.g. 4GB. This is simply not enough and you will have slow boot and the spinning ball often. Max it and everything will run smoother.

Footnote: from experience, I can advise you that any portable is slower than a desktop. This is not a myth. I invested in a top line MacBookPro QuadCore i7 17" 8GB Ram and 1GB graphics card, the original Apple workstation MBPro circa 2012. Initially I was very disappointed as it was slow compared to my lesser QuadCore i5 iMac, 4Gb Ram, 512MB graphics. Why? Because inevitably, portable is synonymous with BATTERY LIFE, WEIGHT and HEAT / NOISE so the laptop is nobbled in several areas to favour these - there is no room inside a MBPro for two big fans on-board the graphics card so it has to be limited or it would overheat the first time you played COD on a plane and burn your knees. So, although not advertised as such, laptops are not equivalent to desktops in terms of like for like performance. On the MBPro I mention, it does tell you this in the detail and has two states - desktop (powered) and battery to offset this performance drop. Desktop mode is still limited compared to a Mac tower or iMac.

Hope this helps answer the question and to optimise your next Mac purchase.

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