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The Impact of macOS Updates on MacBook Performance

The Impact of macOS Updates on MacBook Performance


Welcome to our article on the impact of macOS updates on MacBook performance! In this post, we’ll be taking an in-depth look at how software updates for Apple’s Mac operating system can affect the speed and responsiveness of your MacBook laptop.

First, let’s provide some background context. MacBooks come in several models, including the MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, and the MacBook. Under the hood, they all run some version of Apple’s proprietary MacOS operating system. Periodically, Apple releases major updates to MacOS with new features, security patches, and performance enhancements.

These updates are usually free for Mac users and appear as a notification on your Mac. While they offer important improvements, some users have noticed occasional dips in performance after installing the latest MacOS. In this post, we’ll explore the relationship between software updates and laptop performance.

In the sections ahead, we’ll cover the purpose of MacOS updates, look at real-world examples of how they impact speed and responsiveness, and provide tips for dealing with any potential performance problems. By the end, you’ll have a solid understanding of how to balance the benefits of staying up-to-date with potential drawbacks to your MacBook’s speed.

Understanding MacOS Updates

MacOS updates are periodic software updates released by Apple for the macOS operating system. They contain a variety of enhancements and fixes aimed at improving performance, security, and adding new features to Macs.

Purpose of MacOS Updates

There are several key reasons why Apple issues macOS updates:

  • Security patches – Fixes security vulnerabilities and protects Macs against malware and hacking attempts.
  • Bug fixes – Squashes bugs in the operating system code to improve stability.
  • Performance improvements – Optimizes system performance and speeds up operations.
  • New features – Introduces new capabilities to the OS such as new apps, APIs, user interface changes etc.

Typically, updates bring a mix of all these enhancements. Major updates like macOS Catalina could introduce hundreds of new features while minor ones may just have a few bug fixes or security patches.

Frequency of MacOS Updates

Apple aims to release major macOS versions annually with point updates in between. For instance, macOS Catalina was released in 2019 followed by multiple incremental updates like 10.15.1, 10.15.2 etc. Users can expect to see a major update about once a year with smaller updates every 1-2 months.

Users are notified of available updates via pop-up messages and can check manually by going to System Preferences > Software Update. It’s recommended to install updates as soon as possible to take advantage of the latest improvements.

Keeping the MacOS version up-to-date is key to getting the best performance and security protections. Avoiding updates can expose systems to bugs and vulnerabilities.

Importance of macOS Updates

Keeping your Mac’s operating system up-to-date through regular macOS updates is crucial for maintaining optimal performance and security. Here are some of the key reasons why installing the latest macOS updates is so important:

Enhanced Security

Apple consistently rolls out security patches and improvements as part of macOS updates. By updating frequently, you ensure your Mac is protected against the latest malware, viruses, and other cyber threats. macOS updates may patch vulnerabilities, strengthen firewalls, or make other enhancements to keep your data safe.

Bug Fixes

Over time, bugs and glitches can develop in any operating system. Apple uses macOS updates to address these bugs, which may cause crashes, freezes, or other performance issues if left unresolved. Installing the latest updates can improve stability and prevent frustrating system errors.

New Features

Updating your Mac’s OS allows you to take advantage of all the newest features Apple has to offer. macOS updates often introduce interface improvements, faster performance, expanded functionality, and optimizations. Staying current enables you to get the most out of your Mac.


Running an outdated version of macOS may cause compatibility problems with newer software and peripherals. Updates help maximise compatibility with the latest apps, drivers, printers, and other devices. An outdated OS can result in slowdowns and connection issues.


Over time, any operating system can become cluttered with old files and settings that degrade performance. macOS updates include under-the-hood optimizations that free up disk space, speed up workflows, and keep your Mac running smoothly.

In summary, installing macOS updates should be part of any Mac user’s regular maintenance routine. The enhancements keep your device secure, stable, and operating at peak efficiency while giving you access to the latest features. Don’t ignore available updates – keeping your OS current is essential for protecting your Mac’s health.

Impact of macOS Updates on Performance

MacOS updates can have a noticeable impact on the performance of Mac devices like the MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, iMac, and Mac Mini. This impact can be either positive or negative, depending on the specific update.

Improved Performance

Many MacOS updates include under-the-hood enhancements that are aimed at improving overall system performance. For example, macOS High Sierra introduced new file systems and graphics technologies to speed up read/write operations and graphics rendering. Similarly, macOS Mojave brought improved memory compression to allow apps to launch faster.

These performance boosts may not always be directly observable, but can result in a snappier and more responsive Mac over time. Benchmark tests often show measurable improvements in operations like app launching, file copying, and graphics rendering after major macOS updates.

Degraded Performance

However, some MacOS updates have also been known to temporarily degrade performance right after installation. This is often because the Mac is re-optimizing itself and indexing new files after a major update, which can slow things down initially.

Additionally, bugs or compatibility issues with a new update can also hamper performance until they are addressed in a follow-up patch. For example, macOS Catalina was reported to cause slowdowns for some users right after release, which were fixed in subsequent updates.

Real-World Examples

Here are some real-world examples of how major macOS updates impacted MacBook performance:

  • The release of macOS Mojave in 2018 resulted in 2x faster app launch times for many users due to improved memory compression.
  • After updating to macOS Catalina in 2019, some users experienced sluggish performance for a few days until a supplemental update fixed underlying bugs.
  • Tests show that macOS Big Sur provides up to 50% faster wake from sleep compared to the prior macOS version due to power optimization.

In summary, while macOS updates aim to improve performance, real-world impacts depend on the specific update, hardware configuration, and user workflow. Monitoring Mac performance before and after updates can reveal observable changes.

Dealing with Potential Performance Issues Post Update

If you notice your MacBook running slower or acting glitchy after installing a macOS update, don’t panic. There are several troubleshooting steps you can take to get your machine back up to speed.

Restart Your MacBook

The first and simplest step is to restart your MacBook. This will clear any memory caches and restart processes that may have been disrupted during the update. Restarting gives the macOS update a fresh start and often resolves minor performance issues.

Check Activity Monitor

Open up Activity Monitor in the Utilities folder and take a look at what apps and processes are using high CPU or memory. An update may have caused a particular app to start misbehaving and consuming more resources. Quitting the problematic app could help.

Update Apps

Check if any of your third-party apps need to be updated. Developers often release compatibility updates after a new macOS version comes out. Updating apps can fix incompatibility issues that lead to crashes or slowdowns.

Reset SMC and PRAM

Resetting the SMC (System Management Controller) and PRAM (Parameter RAM) can help clear any lingering issues caused by an update. To reset the SMC, shut down your MacBook and press Shift + Control + Option + Power button. For PRAM, shut down then press Command + Option + P + R until you hear the startup chime a second time.

Repair Disk Permissions

Use Disk Utility to repair disk permissions, which can become altered during an OS update. Open Disk Utility, select your startup disk, click First Aid, then click Repair Disk Permissions. This may take a while but can resolve software conflicts.

Check for Malware

Use malware removal software like Malwarebytes to scan for viruses, spyware, and other malicious programs that may have been inadvertently installed during the update process. Removing malware can significantly improve MacBook performance.

Erase and Reinstall macOS

If all else fails, completely erase the hard drive and reinstall a fresh copy of the current macOS version. Backup your data first, then boot into Recovery mode and reinstall the OS. This will wipe any lingering issues and give you a clean slate.

With some targeted troubleshooting, you should be able to get your MacBook running smoothly again after a macOS update. Don’t hesitate to contact My Computer Works if you have issues with trying these steps yourself, or if you tried everything and were still unable to speed your MacBook back up.

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