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Google Chrome feeling slow or freezing on Mac? Here’s how to fix it

2023 March 28
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Chrome is my default web browser due to its versatile features, rich availability of extensions, and excellent performance. However, Google’s browser may sometimes feel unusable as it gets super slow, freezes randomly, and makes it a pain to browse the web.

If you’re facing such issues and are tired of Chrome lagging and feeling sluggish, this tutorial lists all the solutions to fix it and make your browsing snappy again!

1. Make sure your internet is fast

Chrome and everything else that needs internet will feel slow if your Wi-Fi or Ethernet connection is not fast enough. Therefore, run a quick speed test on your Mac to check the download and upload speeds.

If the internet is not working or is super slow, address this first. However, if your internet connection is fine and Chrome still doesn’t behave as it should, then the remaining solutions will help.

2. Restart your Wi-Fi router

Irrespective of how great or poor your internet connection is, take two minutes to turn off your Wi-Fi router and turn it back on.

3. Close Chrome tabs you don’t need

Every computer has limited RAM, CPU, and GPU power. Every new Chrome tab you open adds extra burden on your system resources, which leads to the browser feeling slow and unresponsive. To fix this, simply close the open browser tabs you don’t need. Besides, if you have another browser open, like Safari or Firefox, make sure unnecessary tabs are closed there too.

4. Pause background downloads and uploads

If you’re downloading a huge file in the background or uploading hundreds of files to Drive, that is bound to negatively affect the overall performance of your browser. One obvious way to fix this is by pausing those activities. You can resume downloading or uploading when your computer is left ideal, and you don’t need to use the browser for other things.

5. Stop 4K or 8K streaming

If you’re streaming YouTube, Netflix, or other videos in 4K or 8K, it can take up a lot of computer resources making things feel slow. Simply scale down the video quality to 1080p, and your browser performance will improve.

6. Force Quit and reopen Chrome

Make sure you have saved all your ongoing work. After that, click the Apple icon  > Force Quit > select Chrome and hit Force Quit. Now, wait for 10 seconds and reopen Chrome.

7. Close other Mac apps to free resources for Chrome

If you have opened a ton of apps on your Mac, all your computer resources are appropriated to all open apps, and thus little is available for Chrome. To address this, close other apps that you’re not using or don’t plan to use soon.

8. Restart your Mac

It’s possible that Chrome is appearing sluggish because your Mac itself isn’t doing that great. You can address this quickly by restarting your computer (Apple icon  > Restart).

9. Turn off Memory Saver and Power Saver modes in Chrome

Built-in memory and power-saver modes in Chrome show Google’s heart is in the right place when it comes to performance. However, at times, your browser may kill website tabs you have not visited in a while, forcing you to reload them or lose unsaved work. Other times, in a bid to use less power, it may make Chrome a bit slow.

If RAM and power aren’t a concern, you can turn off these efficiency modes to have Chrome function without holding itself back:

  1. Open Chrome Settings. You can do this by launching Chrome and clicking Chrome > Settings from the top menu bar. Or, hit the three-dots icon from the top right of the Chrome browser and pick Settings.
  2. Select Performance and turn off Memory Saver and Energy Saver.
  3. Quit and reopen Chrome.

10. Don’t use themes in Chrome

While Chrome themes look nice, they can add a bit of stress to your browser and make it feel slow, especially if you’re on an older Mac. To address this, simply stop using any fancy theme and use the default option:

  1. Open Chrome Settings and click Appearance.
  2. Hit Reset to default next to Theme.
  3. Quit and relaunch Chrome.

11. Use Incognito browsing

Incognito mode keeps no record of your browsing history, its session isn’t synced, and by default, extensions don’t run in Incognito tabs (unless you make them to). So, for fast random browsing, you can use Incognito tabs which can appear a bit more responsive. To do that, click File > New Incognito Window from the top menu bar.

12. Update Chrome on Mac

Chrome usually updates itself. However, if you have not closed and reopened Chrome in a long time or have not restarted your Mac, it might not have gotten a chance to update itself. In this case, you can check for updates manually and install the latest version.

13. Turn on Preload pages for faster browsing and searching

With page prefetch, Google Chrome can preload certain links it thinks you might open. This can make your experience appear faster. Here’s how to ensure this feature is turned on:

  1. Open Chrome Settings.
  2. Select Privacy and security.
  3. Hit Cookies and other site data.
  4. Turn on the switch for ‘Preload pages for faster browsing and searching.’

14. Use Chrome’s Task Manager to see and end processes slowing your browser

Some extensions and websites can take huge resources. You can see them all in Chrome’s built-in Task Manager and terminate them to make the browser faster:

  1. Open Chrome and click the three dots icon from the top right.
  2. Select More Tools > Task Manager.
  3. Select the unneeded website tab or extension that’s taking up the most Memory and CPU and hit End Process. It will kill that tab or extension (without saving the ongoing work).

15. Try ad and content blockers

Ads and trackers can increase a webpage overall size significantly, leading to slower load times and, not to forget, an extra burden on the browser to parse and make the ads viewable. You can try using an ad blocker to improve your loading speeds and trim the website page size.

16. Disable and remove unnecessary Chrome extensions

The huge library of extensions has a significant contribution in making Chrome the most used browser in the world. However, if you have installed and activated dozens of extensions, they all consume system resources making your browser feel slow and sluggish.

You can address this by removing Chrome extensions you don’t need. You can always redownload them for the Chrome Web Store.

17. Clear all browser data, cache, and cookies for now

If you have not deleted Chrome’s browsing data in a long time, the huge pile of data, often outdated, corrupted, and broken may make your browser lag behind. You can clear all temporary data (caches, cookies, files) from Chrome to fix it:

  1. Go to Chrome’s Settings and click Privacy and security > Clear browsing data.
  2. Go to the Advanced tab.
  3. Set the Time range to All time.
  4. Check all boxes except Passwords and other sign-in data.
  5. Finally, hit Clear data.
  6. Once done, Force Quit Chrome and restart your Mac.

Note: You will have to sign in again to all websites after clearing Chrome’s data.

Caution: Don’t clear Chrome’s data frequently. If you do, your browser will have to fetch all site content (including static content) every time you visit a site, thus making your experience even slower.

Besides, if you’re using an extension that clears all history upon closing Chrome, then disable that extension.

18. Reset all experimental features of Chrome

You can try out certain experimental features in Chrome. Usually, these are still being tested and may not be optimized to work well, leading to browser issues and poor performance. Here’s how to take care of it:

  1. Enter chrome://flags in Chrome’s address bar and hit the enter key.
  2. Click Reset All from the top.

19. Toggle Chrome’s hardware acceleration on or off

Google Chrome browser’s hardware acceleration moves a few graphics-intensive tasks like playing games or watching videos from CPU to GPU, thus helping improve performance. However, people have mixed opinions of this feature.

By default, it’s on, but you can toggle it off (or on) and see if you notice any improvement in your workflow inside Chrome:

  1. Go to Chrome Settings and click System.
  2. Turn on or off ‘Use hardware acceleration when available.’

20. Reset all Chrome settings to default

If you have changed several Chrome settings, chances are some of them may conflict or unknowingly make your browser work slowly. One way to fix this is by returning all Chrome settings to their default state, which also disables all extensions and clears temporary data like cookies. Here’s how to proceed:

  1. Open Chrome Settings and click Reset settings.
  2. Click Restore settings to their original defaults.
  3. Hit Reset settings, which will bring Chrome to its default settings.

21. Cleanly delete and reinstall Chrome

If none of the solutions above help, you can cleanly delete Chrome and all its data from your Mac, and then reinstall and set it up.

22. Try your hands with Chrome alternatives

Despite Google improving its browser significantly over the years, it’s a known fact that Chrome is a system hog. I’m sure you have come across memes and jokes related to it.

Now, if you’re kind of fed up with Chrome’s unresponsiveness or slowness, you can explore alternatives such as Apple’s Safari, which comes built-in on all Macs. You can also try Firefox or Opera.

23. Upgrade your Mac

At last, if nothing helps, and you see a pattern of slow speeds not only in Chrome but other browsers and apps, then it’s mostly due to your Mac’s weak processor, insufficient RAM, and such additional factors. Here are some options for you:

Switch from hard disk to SSD: If your old Mac has an old spinning hard disk, consider swapping it with a solid-state drive (SSD) which is almost certain to improve your Mac’s overall performance.

Increase RAM: Adding more RAM to your Mac (if it’s user upgradeable) can definitely help make Chrome and other macOS apps faster.

Keep your MacBook plugged into power: When your MacBook is on battery power or its Low Power Mode is on, then you may notice a slight drop in performance. To fix this, put your MacBook into charging and turn off its battery-saving mode.

Buy a newer Mac: At last, the obvious solution is to invest in a newer Mac with an SSD, more RAM, and a better processor, which is certain to improve your browser and all other app performance.

Other useful Chrome tips:

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