How to disable unnecessary processes/services on my Macbook Pro?

Discussion in 'Mac Basics and Help' started by villur, Feb 1, 2017.

  1. villur macrumors newbie

    Oct 5, 2014
    Not sure if this is the right sub-forum to post in but here goes:

    Im wondering if there are any resource hungry and just things I don't use like iCloud and etc I can turn off. Im an IT student, studying software development and I strictly do only school stuff on my mac.
    For security and performance reasons are there things I can do? I did some digging around on google and found threads that were from 2008 and 2009 with no useful information. I mean with every update they add things from iOS to macOS which seems like a lot of unnecessary clutter I'm never going to use anyway and they must be using some resources and associated services, right?
  2. keysofanxiety macrumors G3


    Nov 23, 2011
    Bad idea, you'll just do more damage and make things run slower. New OS features aren't just an app that can be turned on or off. They're built into the operating system and linked with lots of other bits and pieces. You'll just be playing Jenga with the system stability.

    If you're having issues with the system running slowly, upgrade to an SSD & max the RAM if you haven't already. Otherwise you can disable startup items through System Preferences> Users & Groups. Run volume verifications/repairs through Disk Utility or DiskWarrior. Even shutting down regularly would make a positive difference. Update to the latest version of macOS too.
  3. satcomer macrumors 603


    Feb 19, 2008
    The Finger Lakes Region
    Download the free application EtreCheck. Think of it as super system report that will show you old plugins and the path to them to delete them, then after deleting always reboot.
  4. robgendreau macrumors 68040

    Jul 13, 2008
    Seems like considerable work for almost no gain. Have you examined Activitiy Monitor? That should show you all you need to know...provided you understand it.
  5. kschendel macrumors 65816

    Dec 9, 2014
    You can turn off Spotlight indexing if you don't need it, and you've already mentioned iCloud. Other than that, there really aren't any services or daemons that use up much in the way of resources.
  6. Ebenezum macrumors 6502a

    Mar 31, 2015

    You can disable some services/background processes by following the instructions in


    1. You can't disable some processes at all.
    2. Following the instructions is a bad idea if you don't know what you are doing.

    I do agree that Apple has added much unnecessary clutter in the latest OS versions and its unfortunate that not all of it can be turned off.

    I disagree. I counted all the processes running on my clean 10.12.3 installation and there are about 25-30 processes (iCloud, Siri etc.) that I don't need that are consuming about 800Mb-1Gb of RAM which I could use for other purposes.
  7. ApfelKuchen macrumors 68030

    Aug 28, 2012
    Between the coasts
    Are all those processes active? There are often inactive processes loaded into RAM simply because nothing else has current need for the RAM they occupy. There's little point to flushing processes under those conditions - the inactive process may be needed again. It's faster to leave it there then to fetch it again. If a process is inactive and something else needs the space, it will get the space.
  8. Rok73 macrumors 65816


    Apr 21, 2015
    Planet Earth
    1) Let macOS do the memory management
    2) Get more RAM
    3) Don't worry about something completely pointless
  9. villur thread starter macrumors newbie

    Oct 5, 2014
    Some really interesting answers here. But a bit off-topic, is it really worth it to get sierra right now, none of the articles talk about whats changing under the hood, for example that PPTP vpn is being removed. Im still on El Capitan atm.
  10. Ebenezum macrumors 6502a

    Mar 31, 2015
    I don't see how the OS would need things I don't use at all such as iCloud, Siri, WIFI etc. I disabled all of them in the System Preferences but unfortunately that still leaves pointless processes running in the background.

    While I could add more RAM I'm not exactly impressed that Sierra needs more RAM than Mavericks for same functionality. I did some testing with both Mavericks and Sierra on my Mac Mini 2012 with 4 Gb of RAM. Using Mail with 3 accounts, Firexox with 10 tabs, Devonthink with one 4 Gb database open Memory pressure is constantly on the yellow. With Sierra it goes red and Mini is painfully slow. After comparing Activity Monitor memory tab with real RAM selected I'm fairly certain the reason is the extra processes added between Sierra and Mavericks, without them memory pressure would almost certainly stay in yellow and Mini would be usable.

    I'm not against Apple adding more features to OS but I would very much prefer Apple to provide a way to turn them of for those who don't need the features. For example turning Siri, iCloud etc. off from the System Preferences isn't going to turn all of related processes off and they will still pointlessly run in the background.

    I wouldn't if you are using PDF files, Preview and PDFKit are still buggy in Sierra. Maybe the bugs will be fixed in 10.12.4. Disk Utility is slightly better, other than that I haven't found any real improvements when compared to El Capitan.
  11. Fishrrman macrumors P6


    Feb 20, 2009
    I condiser Spotlight one of the least-necessary "processes" of all.

    I immediately DISABLE it on ALL my Macs.

    They run better without it.
  12. Toutou macrumors 6502a


    Jan 6, 2015
    Prague, Czech Republic
    And I use Spotlight more often than anything else, to launch apps and open files :D
  13. rshrugged, Feb 6, 2017
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2017

    rshrugged macrumors 6502a

    Oct 11, 2015
    Do you know if there are either/or (or both) specific files or quantities of files that cause Spotlight to use an excess of resources?
  14. ApfelKuchen macrumors 68030

    Aug 28, 2012
    Between the coasts
    Spotlight uses resources because it is constantly indexing the contents of the Mac for search purposes (similar to the way Google crawls the web to index its contents). If you don't care to have your Mac indexed for search purposes (i.e., you're willing to put up with slower/less efficient searches), then you'll save resources by not having it running constantly in the background.

    There are several situation in particular when Spotlight uses a lot of resources: when you've migrated data to a new Mac, after an erase/reinstall, after a major MacOS upgrade, or after forcing Spotlight to re-index due to poor search results.

    I don't know the inner workings of Spotlight well enough to know whether specific files/file types would make Spotlight work harder. It's easy to understand that re-indexing the entire contents of your drive is going to be more resource-intensive than indexing just the handful of new files you may be adding/modifying on a moment-to-moment basis.

    Spotlight and Siri work together - if you want Siri's help finding things on your computer, Siri's going to use Spotlight to find it.

    If you want "smarter" results from your computer, you're going to be consuming resources to get those results (over time, one can hope the engineers find more efficient ways to manage the same task, but you rarely reach maximum efficiency in early versions of a feature). Spotlight is one of those "smarter" tasks. Another is the "Faces" and "Memories" features in the Photos app in iOS 10 and MacOS Sierra - after upgrading from older versions of those operating systems there will be an initial period where the iOS device/Mac is going to be consuming resources to go back through the existing library to perform those functions. Like it or not, since there aren't any preferences for disabling them.
  15. rshrugged, Feb 6, 2017
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2017

    rshrugged macrumors 6502a

    Oct 11, 2015
    Thank you. I did know most of your answer, but your explanation is appreciated. I'm curious as to why @Fishrrman would disable Spotlight. I'm wondering if there's something specific to his use-case that would cause it to use an excess of resources. If there is, it'd be useful to know.

    On my machine, I've seldom used Spotlight. I've intermittently monitored it using Activity Monitor and haven't seen it use more than 10 MB of memory, and it's usually at 0 to 2% of CPU.

    EDIT for clarity -- My last sentence doesn't include the total resources, which I should've included, potentially used by Spotlight. While still, on my machine the usage is negligible, I should've included the mds and mdworker processes. At least some of the resources they use can be attributed to Spotlight. How to apportion them, I don't know.
  16. Fishrrman macrumors P6


    Feb 20, 2009
    "I'm curious as to why Fishrrman would disable Spotlight"

    I don't use it, I don't need it, I don't care for un-needed processes "running in the background". So I disabled it.

    I've actually disabled VM disk swapping on this Mac, as well.
    Runs GREAT. NO crashes. NONE.

    I turn off as much un-needed stuff as possible. I wish I could completely disable ALL communication with iCloud (again, something I have no use for). If anyone knows how to do this, let me know!

    I do the things I do… because, it's just me...
  17. huperniketes macrumors regular


    Jun 26, 2007
    (0, 0, 0)
    Good for you! You're right, of course. There's so much junk in the OS now, and the ineptitude of Apple's developers has increased over need new Macs every few years just to match the performance of Tiger back in the day!
  18. rshrugged macrumors 6502a

    Oct 11, 2015
    Thanks for the explanation.

    I haven't found any way to disable all communication with iCloud. The reasoning always points to what @keysofanxiety said earlier -- it's too intertwined.
  19. pkkrusty macrumors member

    Dec 8, 2002
    Could you tell us how you perform those two things? I'd like to try some time without spotlight and VM disk swapping to see what I think.

  20. Fishrrman macrumors P6


    Feb 20, 2009
    RE post 19 above:

    How to disable Spotlight:
    Open terminal and enter:
    sudo mdutil -a -i off
    (password is required)

    You may even be able to hide the (now useless) Spotlight icon:
    sudo chmod 600 /System/Library/CoreServices/Search.bundle/Contents/MacOS/Search

    ...but after running this, you also need to kill and restart the menu bar to see the change:
    killall -KILL SystemUIServer

    To disable VM disk swapping, you can try this (again in terminal):
    sudo launchctl unload -wF /System/Library/LaunchDaemons/
    (I think you need to reboot after doing this)

    To remove swap files, try:
    rm /var/vm/swapfile*

    If this is causing you problems (it might if you don't have enough memory) you can re-enable VM disk swapping with this:
    sudo launchctl load -wF /System/Library/LaunchDaemons/

    The above commands work for me using 10.8.5 and 11.8.6; not sure if they work with Sierra.
  21. huperniketes macrumors regular


    Jun 26, 2007
    (0, 0, 0)
    I wish I knew what system "functionality" results in a degradation of performance on older hardware for each new system upgrade.
  22. gnasher729 macrumors P6


    Nov 25, 2005
    If I want to browse, I type command-space, s, return. Command-space goes to spotlight, s finds Safari, return launches it. Three keys to start the browser. And when you need to find a document that you've written two years ago and you know it's _somewhere_ on your drive, it's magic.
  23. Ebenezum macrumors 6502a

    Mar 31, 2015
    While I agree in principle its unfortunate that Spotlight indexing is buggy in the latest OS versions 10.10-10.12. It worked reasonable well in Mavericks but afterwards its been downhill.

    Maybe its because I have more information and more drives on my Mac than average (3 drives, about 1,5 T of information) but I cant get Spotlight to find all the files without indexing everything about 2-3 times a month. This is one of the reasons I have kept using Mavericks despite testing newer OS. I have reported this bug to Apple multiple times (first time was when 10.10 went public) but for some reason it still hasn't been fixed in Sierra. I suspect that Apple has simply added too many features to Spotlight and it has become too hard identify the bugs.

    Fortunately EasyFind works very well.
  24. KALLT macrumors 601

    Sep 23, 2008
    Disabling paging/swap takes the cake among these ‘recommendations’. If you want processes to crash, the system to force you to close applications or to experience slowdowns – be my guest.
  25. Fishrrman macrumors P6


    Feb 20, 2009
    KALLT wrote above:
    "Disabling paging/swap takes the cake among these ‘recommendations’. If you want processes to crash, the system to force you to close applications or to experience slowdowns – be my guest."

    I've had VM swap disabled on my late-2012 Mac Mini for at least a year now (probably longer).

    It has 10gb of RAM and it NEVER crashes. In fact, it runs snappy and fine.

    But unlike others, I don't keep opening and "cramming up" what memory I have with more and more Safari pages and unneeded apps.

    When I finish with an app, I close it.

    I routinely "clean out" Safari each day.

    And I shut down each night and reboot in the morning.

    Again, this Mac NEVER crashes. No "out of memory" messages.

    So long as one has enough RAM (for his/her personal usage), and so long as one properly manages that RAM, this hasn't proved to be a problem, at least in my experience.

    You can believe me, or choose not to. Nuthin' I can do about that!

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31 February 1, 2017