Easy Tips to Manage High CPU Usage on macOS Catalina


If you are facing the spinning pinwheel of death in your macOS 10.15 (Catalina), you must be experiencing frequent slow-downs and performance issues. High CPU usage can be one major reason behind the cause and you will need to fix the problem to boost your Mac performance and stay productive.

This article explains the reasons that affect CPU usage and the tips to fix this problem.

Adjust Security Updates & Upgrades

On receiving updates, particularly security updates, macOS Catalina results in high CPU usage during installation. These updates produce a lot of heat and degrade the performance of your system, making it sluggish. It usually happens when the system installs security updates or other extensions important for the system.

You may fix this problem by practicing the following tricks.

Reset SMC: Shut down your system and disconnect the power cord for a few seconds (20 seconds minimum) and then reattach the power cord back to the Mac. Now hold Option, Shift, Power, and Control keys for up to 10 seconds. Next, release all these keys (after 10 seconds) and turn on your system normally.

Reset PRAM/ NVRAM: Restart your system, when you hear the startup chime, press and hold down Option + Command + P + R keys altogether until the MAC starts.

Lower WindowServer CPU Usage

When you notice that your Mac system is running slowly, that’s because several processes remain active in the background and hamper your system performance. When background activity is higher than usual you need to keep track of the WindowServer process, as it might be taking up a noticeable percentage of your usage. So, you will need to ensure that it consumes less RAM and CPU resources.

To track the WindowServer CPU usage, go to Applications, click Utilities, and then select Activity Monitor. Search for WindowServer under the CPU tab. Examine the CPU percentage that each running process is using. You may choose all unnecessary applications or close processes that you do not use frequently. For more information on WindowServer usage, read this link https://setapp.com/how-to/windowserver-mac and manage your processes accordingly.

Disable Background and Startup Apps

 When you install an app on macOS 10.15, especially third-party apps, it adds to the startup items list. Each time you turn your Mac on, these startup items get activated, load with your OS, and consume CPU resources. Since all these apps and programs run at the same time, they cause congestion resulting in a slowdown.

You can disable these programs and apps by navigating the Apple menu, available in the top left section of your screen. Go to the System Preferences, select Users & Groups, pick your user account, and then click on the Login Items tab. To remove a login item, click on the name of the item that you want to stop from opening automatically, and click the – (minus) button available in the bottom section of the window.

Control Visuals Effects

Macs use animation to enhance the user experience throughout the interface. While these visuals add to the appearance of the system, they depreciate your Mac’s functionality as these motions consume high CPU usage. To control visual effects, you can reduce motion to and all additional effects will be turned off.

Select the Apple icon displayed in the top left section of the screen. Go to System Preferences and click the Accessibility option. Next, select the Display tab in the left pane and tick the checkbox associated with Reduce motion. Apart from this, you can also tick the checkbox available with Reduce transparency for controlling the visualization.

Set Graphics Performance in Catalina

Macs usually come with two graphic systems that include a discrete graphics processor and an integrated graphics processor. The graphic performance between these two processors is managed and optimized by a software feature. To deliver the best graphics for various applications, Automatic graphics switching is enabled by default, so that your system can switch automatically to the optimal graphical settings.

For adjusting these graphics-related settings, choose the Apple menu and go to Energy Saver Preferences, click Battery and click the Battery tab. Next, untick the Automatic graphics switching checkbox and you may also tick the checkbox that says Slightly dim the display while on battery power. In other macOS versions, this setting is in System Preferences.

Wrapping Up!

Launching graphic designing and animation applications such as Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Premier, or Illustrator altogether at the same time puts a load on the CPU. These resource-hungry apps result in high CPU usage, so, you need to stop them from running automatically when the system starts.

In addition to these, there are this-party extensions that might be consuming high CPU usage or causing errors. So, try deleting them permanently from your system if you do not need them. In case you need these extensions, search for an alternate option with better system compatibility. If you frequently work with graphic design and video editing software, consider managing your startup items to prevent a number of video editors from simultaneously loading at boot, optimizing your Mac’s performance for a smoother workflow. All these practices, when implemented carefully, may help optimize your Mac’s productivity multifold.

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