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How to Make Your Laptop Work Faster

Laptops execute tasks slowly for a variety of reasons—you may simply have too many tabs and programs open or there may be several programs running in the background that you are unaware of. Every method of speeding up your laptop involves freeing up more memory. Even disabling animations can speed up your laptop significantly!

METHOD 1 (All laptops):

Quit programs and apps you’re not currently using. Running multiple programs and apps at once uses a significant amount of your laptop’s memory, causing it to run slowly. Reducing the number of programs and apps you have open may improve your laptop’s speed.

  • Look for programs that you've minimized but haven't actually closed.

Close unnecessary browser tabs. Each tab in your web browser requires a small amount of memory to run. The more tabs you have open, the more memory your laptop is required to devote to running the web browser. Limiting the number of tabs you have open at a time can enhance the speed of your laptop.

  • After you’re finished with a tab, close it.
  • If you are keeping it open as a “reminder” to do something, write yourself a note or send yourself an email instead.

Restart your laptop. Laptops benefit from regular (~1x/week) restarts. Restarting may significantly improve your laptop’s speed.

Delete unnecessary programs, apps, and files. Removing programs, apps, and files you no longer use will free up space on your laptop’s hard drive.

  • Try looking in your applications folder for old or unused programs to delete or uninstall.

METHOD 2 (Mac):

Click the Apple menu to check for software updates. Select "App Store" from the Apple menu in the top left the corner of your screen and check for software updates. Keeping your software up to date helps keep your laptop running fast.

Limit the number of programs that open automatically under “System Preferences”.Click on the Apple menu in the top left corner of your screen and select “System Preferences”. Select “Users and Groups” followed by “Login Items”. Check the box next to each program you no longer want to open automatically at startup and then click “-” to delete the items from the list. Preventing programs and apps from opening automatically at startup is another great way to increase your laptop’s speed.

End unnecessary background processes with the "Activity Monitor". Your laptop runs a variety of programs in the background. These background processes can monopolize your laptop’s memory, causing it to run slowly. Ending the background processes will improve the speed of your laptop. Open the "Applications" folder, then launch "Utilities". Open “Activity Monitor”, click on the “Memory” tab, then the “Memory” filter. Double-click on a program you want to quit and then click "Quit”. To end the program, click “Quit” again.

  • Only close programs that you are familiar with.
  • The memory filter will sort the programs by the amount of memory they are using. The program using the most memory will appear at the top of the list.

Disable your laptop’s visual effects through the "System Preferences". Visual effects, such as the way your laptop minimizes windows, can also slow down your laptop. To turn these off, click on the Apple menu in the top left corner of your screen and select “System Preferences”.

  • Select “Dock”. Change the “Minimize windows using” preference from the “Genie effect” to “Scale effect”.
  • Return to “System Preferences” main menu and open “Accessibility”. Check the box next to “Reduce transparency”. This will decrease the transparency of drop-down menus, the dock, etc.

METHOD 3 (Windows):

Check for updates. Windows releases updates on the second Tuesday of each month. Updating your laptop regularly will fix bugs, allowing your laptop to run smoother and faster. Select “Start”, followed by “Settings”. Click “Update and Security”. Select “Windows Update”, then “Check for Updates”. Windows will automatically download all available updates.

Limit the number of programs that open at startup with the "Task Manager". When you turn on your computer, some programs and applications launch automatically. You can improve your laptop’s startup performance by decreasing the number of programs and apps that open automatically.

  • Right-click in the lower right corner of your screen and select “Task Manager” to open.
  • Click “More Details”.
  • Open the “Startup” tab.
  • Right-click on a program or app and select "Disable". This will not delete the program. It will only prevent the program or app from launching when you turn on your computer.

Run a Performance Report. Windows 10’s Performance Monitor tool provides users with a comprehensive report about their laptop. The report identifies problems and suggests fixes.

  • Click “Start” then type “perform/report” in the search box. Hit ↵ Enter. This will launch the Performance Monitor. It will take the program a few minutes to compile a report.
  • Read through the report and fix problems. Take time to peruse the report. Follow the instructions to fix any issues it identifies.

Turn off background apps. In addition to the programs you can see, your laptop also runs a variety of programs in the background. These background processes continue to receive information (and use memory) even when you are not using them. Turning off these programs can help speed up your laptop.

  • Select “Start”, then “Settings”.
  • Click “Privacy” and select “Background Apps”.
  • Identify the apps you don’t want to run and slide the toggle switch to “off”. If you want to use these programs, you can open them manually.

Defragment your hard drive. Over time, the files stored on your hard drive become fragmented—instead of storing all of a file’s components together, the parts are stored in non-contiguous clusters. When you open a fragmented file, the hard drive must search for all of the parts, which can reduce the speed of your computer. Your hard drive is automatically defragmented on a set schedule. However, you can also manually defragment your hard drive.

  • Click the Start button and type “Defragment and Optimize Drives” in the search bar. Launch the tool.
  • Select your hard drive and hit “Analyze”.
  • Select “Optimize” to defragment your hard drive. Do not use your computer while the hard drive is being defragmented.

Clean your disks.Running Windows’ Disk Cleaner tool allows users to easily find and remove unnecessary files, programs, and apps from their disks. Removing these files will free up more memory, allowing your computer to run faster.

  • Click the Start button and type “Disk Cleanup” in the search bar. Launch the program from the results list.
  • Select the drive you want to clean.
  • Check the boxes next to the types of files you would like to delete. You can read a brief description of the file type by clicking on the item.
  • Click “Ok” to clean up your disks.[

Disable visual effects. Windows 10 comes with a variety of animations that are enabled by default. Disabling these animations can improve the speed of your laptop.

  • Press ⊞ Win+R to open the run command.
  • Type “sysdm.cpl” in the command prompt and press ↵ Enter.
  • Select the “Advanced” tab.
  • Under “Performance,” select “Settings” then “Custom”.
  • Uncheck the boxes next to each animation option and click “Apply”.

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