fixed : spinning beachball on extremely slow MacBook Pro from 2012

Question :

I have a MacBook Pro from 2012 (maybe 2011) and it has gotten slower and slower each year, and now it’s even so slow that I constantly shows a spinning rainbow-ball and apps keep bouncing in the Dock : everything from opening apps to opening files takes forever… the response time to what I type on the keyboard is extremely slow… even though I am sure I haven’t even used 50% of my hard disk space…

What can I do to resolve this ?

 

Answer :

If you have a MacBook Pro ‘late 2011’ or ‘mid 2012’, and you have never upgraded the RAM, your MacBook may only have 4GB of RAM. Compared to current standards, that’s very little… especially if you are running macOS 10.13 High_Sierra or newer (macOS 10.14 Mojave will not run on the ‘late 2011’ model, only on the ‘mid 2012’ model).

There are various possible causes for your Mac running slow, to name a few :

  1. your hard drive is too full (not in your case as you stated, but still worth mentioning)
  2. you have too many processes running at once, so you’re short on RAM
  3. over time some things have gotten messed up on your Mac

So, start tackling these potential problems one-by-one :

  1. check your free hard drive space and free it up if needed :
    • go to the Apple-icon (top-left in the main menu bar)
    • from the pulldown-menu choose About This Mac
    • in the window that opens, click on the Storage tab
    • an info bar shows up :
      • if you have more than 25% of space available, you’re okay
      • if you have less than 10% of space available, you should free up space as soon as possible
    • to free up space on your hard disk, you can :
      • move files you do not use regularly to an external drive
      • delete apps you never use (apps from the Mac App Store you can delete, since you can re-download them if you need them in the near future ; other apps you should backup to an external drive if you want to be sure you will be able to re-install them in the future)
      • click on the Manage-button in the window you were in (About this Mac -> Storage) and follow the suggestions to free up space on your internal hard disk
  2. check your available RAM and shut down background processes :
    • go to the Apple-icon (top-left in the main menu-bar)
    • from the pulldown-menu choose About This Mac
    • in the window that opens, click on the Memory tab
    • if you only have 4GB of RAM, it would be a good idea to upgrade your RAM (but if you do not use your MacBook intensively or intent to buy a new one within about a year, it’s not a very cost efficient solution, so you can choose not to)
    • if you want to upgrade your RAM, you could ask your local Apple-dealer to do so for you, or you could do it yourself if you are a little tech savvy and have the right tools :
      • for a Late 2011 MacBook Pro you need PC-10600 (1333 MHz) DDR3 SO-DIMM, either 2x4GB or 2x8GB
      • for a Mid 2012 MacBook Pro you need PC3-12800 (1600MHz) DDR3 SO-DIMM, either 2x4GB or 2x8GB
    • whether you upgrade your RAM or not, you should also open the Activity Monitor app (that is in the Utilities folder within the Applications folder)
    • in the window that opens, you can see which apps and background processes take up the available RAM capacity
    • if you encounter any app in top-10 of the list that is either running slow or that you don’t need, you can Force Quit the app by selecting it from the list and then clicking on the 8-sided-X-marked-button top-left ( NOTE : only do this with apps you know, do not do this to processes from the list that you do not recognize, or of which you do not exactly know of what they do… it’s far safer to keep one process too much running than one process too little ! )
    • then, go to the Apple-icon (top-left in the main menu-bar)
    • from the pulldown-menu choose System Preferences
    • in the window that opens, click on Users&Groups
    • in the window that opens, click on the current user in the list on the left
    • then click the Login Items tab
    • there, make sure to only leave iTunesHelper there, so delete all other background-apps listed by selecting them from the list and clicking on the Minus-button bottom-middle ( NOTE : background-apps that are known to slow down your Mac extremely if you have little RAM are SpotifyHelper and Dropbox (DropboxHelper), so make sure you delete both of them if you are not planning on using Spotify or Dropbox regularly )
    • then restart your MacBook Pro ( go to the Apple-icon top-left and select Restart from the pulldown-menu )
    • after the restart, check to see if the background-app you had just deleted are really gone from the Login Items list, if they haven’t, delete them again, restart & check again
  3. if your Mac is still slow after doing all of the above, reset the PRAM/NVRAM/SMC by doing the following :
    • disconnect all cables from your MacBook Pro ( also disconnect from all USB-devices )
    • restart your MacBook Pro ( go to the Apple-icon top-left and select Restart from the pulldown-menu ) to ‘zap the PRAM’ :
    • when the screen goes black, immediately press this key-combo on your keyboard : [P] + [R] + [ALT] + [CMD] and hold all of them until you hear the second startup chime (sound), then release
    • then also ‘reset the SMC (Software Management Controller)’ :
    • make sure your MacBook Pro’s power adapter is disconnected
    • restart your MacBook Pro ( go to the Apple-icon top-left and select Restart from the pulldown-menu )
    • when the screen goes black, immediately press this key-combo on your keyboard : [SHIFT-left] + [ALT-left] + [CMD-left] and press the [POWER]-button at the same time for 10 seconds or more, then release
    • then press the [POWER]-button again to start-up your MacBook Pro

That should do it !

enjoy 😉

test : Albert Heijn (a.k.a. iClever) Apple-imitation bluetooth keyboard

The official Apple Bluetooth keyboard looks really cool and works smoothly, but it’s expensive… a little too expensive for most purposes people say…

Of course there have been lots of alternative wireless keyboards available, but none really got the looks of a genuine Apple one (for some that is a must). That’s probably the reason why some unknown asian company has made an un-branded ‘white label’ all-plastic knock-off imitation which – at first glance – looks nearly identical to the aluminum Apple bluetooth keyboard. This imitation keyboard is available under a wide variety of brands, like the iClever-brand in most of the world, but for instance also under the dutch supermarket Albert Heijn’s own private label.

The iClever wireless keyboard can be purchased from Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk when you want a regular QWERTY-layout, and from Amazon.de if you want a german QWERTZ-layout.

Anyway, the main question is : is it any good ?

Simple answer : Yes, but…

Let me clarify : Yes, it’s a really nice keyboard to have and to use, with an interesting price tag below € 25 (sometimes even in the € 15 region). But it comes with a few flaws, so to quickly round up the verdict :

It’s an ideal low-budget wireless secondary keyboard for use with any Apple device that has a primary keyboard built-in.

To be more specific :

it’s a great low-budget wireless keyboard for use with an AppleTV

it’s a very nice low-budget wireless keyboard for use with an iPad or iPhone (but there might be quite a few handier options, like a iPad-cover with built-in keyboard)

it’s a good low-budget secondary keyboard for use with a MacBook (Air/Pro), for instance when your MacBook is closed and connected to a bigger screen

it’s a handy, but slightly tricky keyboard for use with a Mac mini, iMac or Mac Pro (for these Macs I would advice to keep an regular USB-keyboard at hand for emergencies)

Why ?

NOTE (*) : the top-left key (the one with the open square) on this keyboard is the [HOME] key

– it doesn’t have an Escape (ESC) key, so when any program on your Mac hangs, you will not be able to Force Quit the application with this keyboard…

UPDATE (*) : to [ESC], use this key-combo : [FN] + [HOME]

so, to Force Quit, use this key-combo : [CMD] + [ALT] + [FN] + [HOME]

– it doesn’t have an Eject key for the DVD/CD-drive, so when this is your only keyboard, you will not be able to get any CD or DVD out of your Mac easily… you will need to do the annoying drag-to-the-trash move using your mouse each and every time…

UPDATE (*) : to Eject, use this key (not a key-combo) : [F5]

– it doesn’t have any option to set the (energy saving) auto-disconnect function to a longer interval… which means that when your Mac also goes into (energy saving) sleep mode, the  keyboard has a lot of problems waking your Mac… (e.g. you will need to press any button for a prolonged time, but doing so also makes your Mac see that as input for any application that was still open… you might mess up your open Word-document with an enormous line of spaces in doing so…)

UPDATE (*) : to Wake From Sleep, use this key (not a key combo) : [HOME]

– the keyboard is often recognized too late when starting up your Mac, so you can’t use it to type your password during login, so you can’t start using your Mac… this is possibly only a problem for older Macs and/or older versions of MacOSX, but still…

I have tested this keyboard with Apple devices only, so I can’t tell about the compatibility with other devices, but I would think it will be similar : good to great for use with smartphones and tablets running Android and Windows Mobile, but rather troublesome for use with a Windows-PC…

😉

(*) special thanks to Arjan de Boer for these not-so-obvious, but very useful key-combos