MacBook Air Bleg

A long time ago I ran Windows 98 and at least every 24 hours, though often more often I had to cold reboot it to make it work properly. Now, nearly twenty years after this was largely fixed in the Windows world, I have the same problem with my MacBook Air. I bought a new one about 18 months ago and rebuilt the hard disc about six months ago. I think it may have something to do with running Chrome which is very resource hungry. Anyway, I haven’t found running Safari helps much, and I’m much more used to Chrome. I downloaded CleanMyMac on someone’s recommendation that it was a good free app, but it’s not free. It keeps panhandling – asking for an upgrade without having completed it’s job.

I’d love some suggestions for I can simply fix this.

All helpful suggestions will receive imaginary prizes and the best suggestion will receive an imaginary first prize of hitherto unimagined munificence – imaginary munificence.

Troppo®, where too much pretend is barely enough.

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15 Responses to MacBook Air Bleg

  1. suburbanite says:

    Perhaps a bit more detail might help. I’m assuming you have enough harddrive space free. At least 20Gb? Are you running more than 8Gb of RAM? A machine with less than either of those is not going to be running that well.

    You could try firefox, I went back to it after problems with Safari and found it reasonably stable. Is the machine doing anything particular when it needs restarting – spinning ball of death, white screen, unresponsive mouse or just degraded performance?

    The Activity monitor can be a good place to start. Are there any unexplained processes hogging resources. There are some nasty 3rd party extras that can be lurking in the system.

  2. Nicholas Gruen says:

    Thanks very much for responding Sub,

    Plenty of hard drive space. 148 Gigs to be precise – 10 of them ‘purgeable’ whatever that means – let me know if the computer needs some cod-liver oil!

    Here’s a read out of the system report. I thought I had 8 Gigs of RAM, but it seems only 4, though perhaps the true measure is L2, L3 caches plus Memory below which is nearly 8 Gigs.

    Model Name: MacBook Air
    Model Identifier: MacBookAir6,2
    Processor Name: Intel Core i5
    Processor Speed: 1.4 GHz
    Number of Processors: 1
    Total Number of Cores: 2
    L2 Cache (per Core): 256 KB
    L3 Cache: 3 MB
    Memory: 4 GB
    Boot ROM Version: MBA61.0099.B33
    SMC Version (system): 2.13f15

    I thought it was impossible to get RAM upgraded on an Air even at the start, but I’ve always known that RAM was probably the problem, since people with MacBook Pros seem to be able to open a gazillion Chrome tabs without any problems. So I should have couched my bleg by saying all that. The thing is, even if this was the problem – and assuming it was I’ve simply managed to keep the number of Chrome tabs open down to about ten most of the time – you’d think that it would spring properly back into action once the demands on RAM were reduced – but it seems to degrade the system which becomes sluggish until I do a cold reboot.

  3. suburbanite says:

    A RAM upgrade is not really an option then. Which version of OSX are you running? Mavericks introduced a new memory management approach, but I’m not sure if subsequent system upgrades have added more resources to reduce the benefit. Has it slowed since upgrading the OS? You could try a system downgrade, but that might be more hassle than it’s worth.

    I would try running Firefox and see if that handles multiple tabs any better. Maybe google is expending too many resources making sure it’s offering ever-more finely targetted web-content to make your world a better place.

  4. Applications that run in the background are often culprits.

    Here are some that could be problematic:
    – any anti-virus software (an incredible resource hog that is rarely needed)
    – Skype
    – Dropbox
    – downloaded printer software
    – Slack (or any kind of messaging application)

    Best bet is to check your application monitor and see what applications might be hogging resources.

  5. Nicholas Gruen says:


  6. Nicholas Gruen says:

    I’m running the latest Software it uploaded – Sierra 10.12.4

    Do you think from what I’ve told you I should say I have 4 or nearly 8 Gigs of RAM?

    • Nicholas

      If its Chrome ( rather than Finder) that is freezing, you should be able to go to the apple menu and click on force quit ” which will bring up a list of all applications that are open, if any of them are labeled ” not responding ” ( there might be more than one app that is frozen)then select them and then press the force quit button.

  7. Chris says:

    Too much RAM is never enough! I have 16GB and use Chrome a lot – one window for work and one for personal. Having 20 tabs open will use most of the available RAM.

    I recommend CleanMy Mac for my non-tech savvy colleagues. It’s worth the investment and it can free up RAM from the control panel without opening the app. Whenever my mac gets sluggish I run the maintenance scripts which clears out old cache files and repairs disk permissions.

    Onyx is a free utility which can do all that and more, but it’s less user-friendly than CMM. However, it has a useful collection of Scripts under Maintenance that keep things running smoothly.

  8. Duncan says:

    Purging some of the software running in the background (as mentioned above) is an obvious choice but ultimately Chrome is your killer, it was for my last Macbook Pro (running 8gb of RAM).

    Have you considered running Firefox? I know it’s old school but you can customize it to appear mostly like Chrome and get similar plugins for it, presuming that’s one of the reasons you like Chrome. No matter how much Google claims they’re fixing Chrome’s memory leaks they never have and it kills OSX/macOS, I use to have to force reboot my MBP every day when I used Chrome, running Firefox meant it happened maybe once a month as it’s simply that much less memory hungry.

    • Duncan
      Our IT bloke also regards Firefox as being more secure, what do you think?

      • Phil Clark says:

        Its hard to say, when Heartbleed hit the OS community Firefox was one of the first to respond if that means anything. I use most of the main browsers, Edge, IE, Safari, Firefox, Chrome and Opera and have found Firefox to be the most responsive to security issues and it also comes in PE (Portable Edition) so you can run it of a USB stick preconfigured for what ever you want to do. I am running Chrome on a Windows 10 Pro box at home and it works fine with Edge and Firefox. I’m a bit surprised that Nicholas is using Chrome on a Mac given Safari’s integration with the Mac OS.

  9. Chris says:

    Chrome is a necessity if you rely on G-Suite. The other browsers are OK, but often break when Google does an update.

  10. aidee says:

    I think a check whether 4Gb memory is the issue, is to open Activity Monitor and have a look at the base of the window on the Memory tab, to see if Swap Used is registering i.e. writing to disk when running a number of apps. Caveat that with modern memory management, not sure whether this is still a thing.

    Re the Chrome/Firefox option, I use Firefox 53.0 on a macmini but with the luxury of 16Gb. I’m reticient moving given its history, plugins and customisation. Seems quite stable with a ton of tabs open, have been using versions since forever.

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