Before we get started
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With Macs getting more and more powerful all the time, it’s becoming far too easy to minimise an application window, and then forget about it – but the apps, processes and software that’s running on your Mac has a huge impact on your laptop’s overall performance.
Even if you haven’t noticed a drop in your Mac’s speed, or how long a single charge cycle lasts, closing unnecessary software and processes will improve your Mac’s overall performance.
In this article, I’ll look at the different ways that you can take stock of exactly what’s running on your Mac, and how to boost your Mac’s performance by closing all the apps, processes, and other miscellaneous software that you don’t currently need.
The Force Quit menu is of the quickest and easiest ways to see all the applications that are currently running on your Mac.
To display this menu, either:
- Select the ‘Apple’ logo from your Mac’s menu bar, followed by ‘Force Quit.’
- Use the ‘Command + Alt + Escape’ keyboard shortcut.
This menu displays a list of all the applications that are running on your Mac. You can quit these applications normally, by bringing the app into the foreground and then closing the application window. Alternatively, you can force the app to close by selecting it in the Force Quit window, and then clicking the ‘Force Quit’ button. Note that when you force quit an application, you’ll typically lose any unsaved work.
The Force Quit menu may be the easiest way to check what’s running on your Mac, but it only lists traditional apps that run in application windows. If you want to see everything that’s running on your Mac, then you’ll need to dig a little deeper, and use the Activity Monitor.
To launch the Activity Monitor app, navigate to ‘Applications > Utilities > Activity Monitor.’ By default, Activity Monitor lists all currently-running applications and processes in alphabetical order, but you can also organise these items based on other factors, such as CPU load, by clicking the different category headers.
To quit any application or process, select it in the Activity Monitor and then click the little ‘Quit’ button in the window’s upper-left corner. Just make sure you thoroughly understand what a process does, before you force it to close, as quitting a crucial system process can result in some strange behaviour. If in doubt, then entering the processes’ name into your favourite Internet search engine will usually bring up all the information you need to make an informed decision about whether it’s safe to quit this particular process.
Are too many apps launching at startup?
If you’re concerned about the number of apps that are running on your Mac, then it’s also worth taking stock of the applications that are set to launch at startup.
Removing the startup privileges from one or more applications, is one of the most effective ways of gaining control over the number of apps that are running on your Mac.
- Select the ‘Apple’ logo from your Mac’s menu bar.
- Navigate to ‘System Preferences… > Users and Groups.’
- Click the little padlock icon in the bottom-left corner, enter your admin password and then click ‘Unlock.’
- In the left-hand menu, select your user account.
- Click the ‘Login items’ tab.
This window lists all the applications that are set to launch at startup. To prevent an application from launching automatically, select it from the list and then give the little ‘-’ button a click.