How to speed up a slow Mac

As we explained above, adding more RAM isn’t the solution it used to be, because upgrading RAM in modern Macs – especially those with an M1 or M2 series chip (including the M1 Pro or M1 Max) is impossible.

But if you own an older Mac—especially if you have a 27-inch iMac—upgrading the RAM is relatively easy.

In the past, adding more RAM was the best solution to improving a Mac’s performance. Before you go ahead and spend money, though, it’s worth trying to figure out how much of a difference it will really make, if any.

The easiest way to do this is to turn on Activity Monitor (it’s in Applications/Utilities), click on the Memory tab, and keep an eye on the memory pressure gauge at the bottom of the window. If it’s permanently green, you probably won’t see much of a difference by upgrading. If it turns red regularly, it’s worth the money.

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How much RAM you add and how you add it depends on your Mac. But as a rule of thumb, the effort involved in doing the installation compared to the marginal cost of larger RAM modules means it’s worth maxing out your Mac’s RAM all at once.

This will often mean removing the existing modules and replacing them. It’s a good idea, but not essential, to buy all the RAM you have room for at the same time from the same manufacturer. If you decide to just fill in the blanks, the same applies. And you should pair RAM modules with the same capacity if possible.

The biggest obstacle will be whether it is possible to upgrade the RAM in your Mac, it is easy to add more RAM to a 27 inch iMac, but as we said above, many modern Macs are not user upgradeable at all, so our usual advice is to buy as much RAM as you can afford as a build-to-order option when you first buy your Mac.

We have a separate guide with more information on installing RAM in a Mac.


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