How to Fix MacBook Pro Running Slow After macOS Sonoma Update

Upgrading to the latest macOS can be very exciting. We usually look forward to checking out the new features and looking at the changes Apple has created. Part of me also always hopes to see improvements in processing speed and efficiency.

What if you have upgraded to Sonoma, and it is causing your system to run slow? It can be frustrating, but it can also be very disappointing. Thankfully, the slowness is only temporary in most cases, as there are ways to fix the issue depending on what’s happening.

My name is Eric, and as a software engineer and long-time computer enthusiast, I know that a slowdown after a significant operating system upgrade is nothing new. I also know that when this does happen, there are several things you can do to fix it, and I can show you how.

Keep on reading if you would like to find out why upgrading to a new macOS like Sonoma can slow your system down, and hear some tips and tricks that can help speed up your system after a major upgrade like this one.

Why Did the macOS Sonoma Update Slow Down My MacBook Pro?

It’s not uncommon for your MacBook Pro or any other Mac to run a little slow after a major macOS upgrade. It’s even possible to see more drastic slowdowns, which may leave you wondering why your system is running so slowly after an upgrade. It’s a new version. Shouldn’t it run faster?

Well, a variety of things happen during a major upgrade, like macOS Sonoma, and some of them may affect how your system runs. Some of these things may be temporary, and others may require you to take action to help speed your system up. 

In most cases, the solution, as you will see below, is quick and simple, but some situations can be more difficult, like system requirements, which is what we will get started with. 

System Requirements

Anytime you do a major system upgrade like macOS Sonoma, you’ll want to check to ensure your system fits the specs required for that upgrade. If your system does not fit the specifications, it doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t upgrade, but your system may have issues running the new macOS, and one of those issues could be that it runs slow.

Since the last major macOS release, Ventura, Apple has focused on their new M series chipsets (the M1 and M2), so Ventura and Sonoma have been optimized to work with them. If your MacBook Pro is an older one with an Intel processor, this could be the cause of your slowdown.

While Apple claims it will continue to support machines with Intel processors for the foreseeable future, the new Sonoma operating system is still optimized for Apple silicon. You will see the best performance with Apple’s M1 and M2 chips.

In general, if your system does not match the required specifications, you may have to live with the slowness or roll your system back to an older macOS. It’s not a great solution, but another may be purchasing a new MacBook Pro that fits the requirements and can be costly.

If you feel you are in this situation, don’t panic yet. One of the solutions I list below may speed your system up. It’s certainly worth trying them, especially if you’re not ready to go out and spend money on a new MacBook Pro.

1. Give your System a Chance

Major macOS updates are not simple. Although your experience installing the update may (or may not) have gone smoothly, numerous things occur in the background that you never see and may not know about.

In fact, once your MacBook Pro is restarted after the update and it says it is complete, there is a chance there are things still running, indexing, configuring, and optimizing on the system. Spotlight is often one culprit of system slowdowns that can take place after an update like this.

Since these processes are still running, your system can be slow because it is using processing time to finish some of the final activities of the installation.

I always recommend waiting at least a couple of hours and even a day or so to see how things pan out. Once the system is done indexing and optimizing, you may see a significant gain in speed. Multiple restarts can also help. Try restarting again after you have given it some time.

2. Stage Manager

Stage Manager is a newer feature that was released in the previous Ventura upgrade. Some users love this feature, while others can’t stand it. Either way, there were numerous reports after the Ventura release that this feature was really bogging systems down.

Many have thought that the issue is how this feature handles memory allocation. Apparently, it is inefficient and can affect your system’s speed. I’m sure there must have been some effort to fix or at least improve it by the Sonoma release, but it could still be a possible issue.

If you still have speed issues, I recommend disabling it for now and seeing if it makes any difference. It’s easy to disable and then turn back on if you find it is not the problem. Just follow the steps below.

Step 1: Open System Settings by clicking on the Apple symbol in the top left corner of the screen and then selecting System Settings.

Step 2: In the left side pane of the System Settings, select Desktop & Dock.

Step 3: Scroll down the page on the right side until you see Stage Manager. 

Step 4: Click the switch to turn Stage Manager off.

Check your system to see if there is an increase in speed. If you don’t see immediate results, it might be wise to reboot your system to ensure everything is reset, and any related processes have been cleared from memory.

3. Outdated Applications

One or more of your applications may also need an update if one is available. Many of the applications you were running have probably yet to be optimized for Sonoma, and hopefully, they will have an update on the way.

The culprit application may be running, and you might not even be aware. You may have started it, or it may have been started when your Mac started up. If this is the case, the best thing to do is find out which of the apps is causing the problem. 

One method of doing this is to look at what applications are running, and Force Quit all of them. Use the steps below to do this.

Step 1: Press the Option + Command + Esc keys at the same time. This will bring up the Force Quit Applications window.

Step 2: Select each application listed and click on the Force Quit button. You can select all the apps at once by holding down the shift key and clicking on each one.

If your MacBook Pro speeds up after this, it will tell you that one of your running applications might be causing the problem. Start each one up again, one by one, and see which one causes it to start slowing. 

If an application is causing the problem, you will need to stop using that application or wait for an update that will fix the problem. It may be possible to contact the application creator to let them know it is having issues, and they may have a solution for you.

4. Disk Optimization

Your hard drive can fill up fast, and installing a new macOS such as Sonoma can eat up even more space. MacBook Pros need a lot of free space to run efficiently, and if space is low, it can often affect the system’s speed. 

If you are experiencing slowness, it is a good idea to go through and clean up your disk drive. Empty the trash and remove junk and unwanted files. This can be done manually or with the help of a third-party tool like CleanMyMac X.

Use System Settings to look at the current state of your hard drive. Open System Settings, then select General on the left side and select Storage from the list of settings on the right side.

It helps you see what type and size of files are on your system. It also lets you empty the trash, move files to the cloud and optimize your storage space by having the system automatically remove movies and TV shows that you have already watched.

Try using this feature to help you clean up your disk drive, and hopefully, that will help speed things up for you.

5. Sonoma Updates

Just about all major upgrades are going to have some bugs, glitches, and inefficiencies. This is especially true if you have installed the beta version. Usually, these types of issues are reported soon after a release, so they start working on updates to fix them rather quickly.

After you do the Sonoma upgrade, especially if you are installing a beta version, you should keep an eye out for updates and install them as soon as they are available. Fixes to many bugs and slow-down issues should be addressed in future versions of Sonoma.

By default, most systems are set to notify you of new updates, but you can always check for them by clicking on the Apple Symbol in the upper left corner of your screen and then clicking on About this Mac.

This will show information about your Mac and what macOS version you are running. If an update is available, it will be shown here with a button indicating that a new update is ready to be installed.

If there is one available, click the button to install the update, which can possibly take care of some of the slowness issues you are having.

6. Coincidental Issues

While major upgrades are often known to slow down a computer, other factors can cause this, and it could just be a coincidence that it is happening now. It could also be that the problem was there and more subtle, and the upgrade has magnified the problem. 

Let’s look at some possible problems and solutions that may not really be the fault of the Sonoma upgrade but are now showing up. 

Bad Applications

I discussed this above, talking about applications that may not be up to date for Sonoma. It could also be that you have an application that does not run efficiently in general and may not have anything to do with Sonoma.

Use the same methods as above to Force Quit all your applications and then start them up individually to detect which one is causing the problem. 

If you find one is a problem, it may be necessary to stop using it and either get an update from the developers of that app or find an alternative application that works better.

WiFi Network

WiFi networks can often be the source of a slowdown problem. Check your internet connection and ensure you can access the websites you normally visit. You can also get another computer, phone, or tablet, connect to your network, and see if it has problems.

Try connecting your MacBook Pro to another WiFi network and see if you experience the same issues. If you can reach all your normal websites, other computers work fine on the network, and your Mac still has issues on other networks, you might rule out network issues.


Resetting SMC and/or PRAM/NVRAM often fixed issues on older MacBook Pros. Most newer systems now reset this anytime that you reboot. See the instructions below on how to do this, and maybe it can make a difference in your system speed.


There are different methods of doing this depending on the type of Mac you are using. Take a look at the recommendations from Apple Support to see how to do this with your system.

If you have a Mac with Apple Silicone (M1 or M2 chips), this reset is done automatically every time you shut your system down and start it back up.


Macs with Apple Silicone also reset this on normal reboots. Other MacBooks can be reset with the steps below.

  • Step 1: Shut down your Mac.
  • Step 2: Turn it back on and immediately press and hold down the Option + Command + P + R keys all at the same time until you hear the startup sound.

7. Start with a Clean Slate

If there is no improvement after trying all of the above suggestions, it might be time to think about doing a clean install. This may be a last resort, but a factory reset with a clean install of Sonoma will give your Mac a clean slate to start from.

Doing this will completely wipe out your current macOS and everything on your computer, so ensure you have all your personal data backed up somewhere. Once the process is complete, you must download all of your apps again.

There’s no guarantee this will fix the problem, especially if you have an older Mac that might be on the edge of the system requirements, but for some, it might be worth the time and risk to do it. Just follow these instructions on how to reset your MacBook to factory settings.

Final Words

It’s usually fun and exciting to upgrade to a new macOS version like Sonoma. We all look forward to new features, new looks, and fixes for old issues, but it can be extremely frustrating when you upgrade and find that your system is running much slower afterward.

You’ll want to make sure that your MacBook Pro meets the given requirements for Sonoma, and if it does, there are other things I have described above that you can try to speed up your system. In many cases, it is just a matter of waiting until the installation completely finishes and indexing is complete.

I hope the information provided above can help you to get your system back up to speed. How has your upgrade to Sonoma gone? I would love to hear about your experience with it and what you think about the new operating system. 

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