Apple Apps & Software How-To News

How-To: Make Your Mac 10x Faster on macOS Sierra in Three Steps

With the release of macOS Sierra just two days ago, Apple has granted Mac owners a fresh OS to work off of for the next year or so. This means you’re getting the most up-to-date security patches, bug fixes, and features. And obviously, with each Mac software upgrade, there’s bound to be added speed and fluidity throughout the OS. Of course, this may be the story with newer Macs, however since Sierra 10.12 supports Macs dating back all the way to 2009, your desktop or laptop computer may not be operating as smoothly as it once did. Therefore, you may be looking for some simple ways to speed things up around your Mac. And while I’m sure plenty of you have thought about adding more RAM, wiping the OS and starting clean, and/or even upgrading and replacing your hard drive with an SSD or two. Sure, all this stuff works, but it’s definitely not necessary, because at some point, your Mac was the bomb.

Seriously, think about it. The hardware within your Mac was once awesome, right? Remember the day you bought it? Nice and speedy, super clean – and guess what? Chances are if you took care of your computer, it’s stayed that way. So why must your Mac just now begin slowing down? Well, at least according to my experience, it’s probably the software.

Yes, the last place you were gonna check on your Mac, the OS itself. See, recent versions of OS X and now macOS have included many visual tweaks and improvements like transparent effects and animations that while all are great, definitely take a tole on older hardware as it requires more horse power, hence the Macs we have nowadays include 2016 Intel Core i7s and 16GB of RAM with 512GB SSDs. Of course, you could always downgrade to a version of OS X that worked well with your Mac, but then you’d miss out on all the latest features and added security. Besides, downgrading an OS is kinda tricky if you don’t know what you’re doing. But what do you do now? Do you just suffer on an old Mac with software too powerful for it’s hardware? No, reader, that’s not it at all. In fact, there’s a few check boxes you can check off to actually make your Mac faster, regardless whether it’s from 2009 or 2016. And guess what? It works. As a matter of fact, it works so well that I’ve been able to practically bring my old 2010 MacBook Pro back to life from it’s constant struggle around macOS Sierra.

Let me shut up now. Here’s three tweaks you can make to your Mac on macOS Sierra to make it almost 10x faster than it is currently.

Author’s note: I can verify these steps work on not only macOS Sierra 10.12 but OS X Yosemite 10.10 and El Capitan 10.11. Previous versions of OS X may not be able to take advantage of these tweaks.


  1. Reduce transparency

screen-shot-2016-09-22-at-10-15-56-am

Some of you probably saw this coming, but I can’t go through this article without bringing it up. First introduced in OS X Yosemite, Apple’s transparent UI throughout the Mac operating system is definitely pretty with it’s reflections and different color tones throughout, but it takes a major tole on your computer’s performance. Besides, this feature’s not really necessary whatsoever. As a matter of fact, it’s pretty insignificant. It’s just basically curb appeal. I like to say by flicking this feature on and off, it’s like turning your speed on or off. It’s that effective.

If you’re on the non-transparent bandwagon now, here’s the steps you need to take to turn off transparency on your Mac.

  1. Click open System Preferences
  2. Navigate to Accessibility
  3. In the side menu, click Display
  4. Check the ‘Reduce transparency’ box

Immediately, you’ll notice the menu bar and Dock go solid in terms of transparency. This is the result of reducing the amount of transparency around the Mac OS. Windows, menus, and animations won’t be transparent either.

Another thing you’ll notice about your Mac after making this change is how fast and fluid it becomes. Transparency bogs down any computer on the planet if the right speed from the hardware isn’t present, so by turning this visual aid off, you’ll be getting some pretty stellar speeds from your Mac (you know, until you decide to turn it back on).

Side note: Since the menu bar and Dock are now solid, the bright white colors glaring off these elements of macOS may look at bit distracting to you. To help with this, I recommend visiting System Preferences > General and checking the ‘Use dark menu bar and Dock’ box. This will give both the menu bar and Dock a deep gray tone that won’t look as out of place as the brighter menu bar and Dock do when transparency is off.


2. Reduce motion

screen-shot-2016-09-22-at-10-16-02-am

This tweak is a lot like reducing the motion from an iOS device. Rather having all those crazy animations around OS X or macOS, you’ll instead have simple fade-in’s and fade-out’s when accessing things like Launchpad and Mission Control. This also helps in the overall performance from whatever OS you’re currently on.

To reduce the motion from your Mac,

  1. Access the Display menu again via System Preferences > Accessibility > Display
  2. Check the ‘Reduce motion’ box

From the get-go, plenty of visual differences will be seen throughout macOS as almost zero animations will be present. Of course, animations aren’t always everything even though they are nice to look at. Nevertheless, this trick has worked miracles for me when paired with the transparency tweak mentioned above.


3. Tweak the Dock

screen-shot-2016-09-22-at-10-16-11-am

The Dock is one of the central hubs of macOS where users go to access all their frequently used apps. Yes, I’ll admit, having plenty of visual aids within this element is very appealing, but at the same time it can hog your performance. Hence, here’s a list of tweaks you should make to the Mac’s Dock to get the most speed from your machine.

To access all these settings, head to System Preferences > Dock

  1. Uncheck ‘Magnification’
  2. Change minimizing animation to ‘Scale effect’ (“Minimize windows using: Scale effect”)
  3. Check ‘Minimize windows into application icon’
  4. Uncheck ‘Animate opening windows’

Regarding the first tweak, this will shut off a very performance-heavy animation that tends to only work well on newer Macs. The second tweak will activate a lighter animation when you minimize a window rather the heavy Genie effect. The third tweak will create a much smaller and lighter Dock since all apps will minimize to their appropriate icons and not a separate space next to the trash can. Finally, the fourth tweak won’t allow your apps to open with that famous zoom animation anymore, creating a lighter app launching experience resulting in less crashes and more power.


As I never tend to write about anything I can’t at least try to confirm myself, I firmly believe in these tweaks anyone can make to macOS to deliver faster performance from their machines. I’ve tried each one combined and have been met with great pleasure. I hope you guys can take advantage of these tweaks as well as I promise you’ll get much faster speeds from your Mac. Or, if you’re like me, 10x faster speeds.

Do you have any tips on how to speed up your Mac? Let me know in the comments!

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Max Buondonno is a technology enthusiast who has been working as a journalist in this industry for more than a year. He has grown up in the age where everyone has a smartphone which has influenced his decision to become a professional technology writer, his passion in life. He's dipped his toes in the development of websites, while you can ask him anything about Apple, Google, or Microsoft and he's bond to give you an answer. He's reachable on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, and email.

2 comments on “How-To: Make Your Mac 10x Faster on macOS Sierra in Three Steps

  1. David Barton

    After upgrading to Mack OS on my 27 inch iMac I noticed that every time I wake up my computer I have to re-check my Wi-Fi connection because it automatically disables every time it goes to sleep. Is this a common problem?

    Like

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