A CPU is at the heart of all the various processes running on your Mac. As such, the higher the number of tasks and instructions running simultaneously on your Mac, the higher its CPU usage.

how to clear cpu usage on mac

Although Macs are generally well-optimized and don’t easily cripple down, leaving them running under high CPU usage for an extended time can often lead to multiple issues. Overheating, decreased system performance, frequent app crashes, and decreased battery life are some issues you may encounter when your Mac’s CPU is stressed.

But what exactly stresses your Mac’s CPU? And how can you fix high CPU usage on Macs? Allow us to explain.

What Can Stress Your Mac’s CPU?

A Mac’s CPU can come under stress in different scenarios. However, oftentimes, it’s due to one or a combination of the following reasons:

  • You have multiple unused apps open at once
  • One of your apps requires the most CPU power
  • There are too many processes running in the background
  • You’ve got too many startup programs configured on your Mac
  • You didn’t restart your Mac in a while
  • Corrupted or malware-infected files
  • Browser extensions and tabs
  • A system update is running in the background

How to Check Your CPU Usage on Mac with Activity Monitor

macOS comes with a built-in utility called Activity Monitor that helps you identify and troubleshoot problematic apps and processes on your Mac. With Activity Monitor, you can easily find out the amount of CPU, memory, power, disk, and network resources an app or process is consuming.

To check CPU usage in Activity Monitor, launch Activity Monitor. Open Finder and go to Applications > Utilities > Activity Monitor. Or bring up Spotlight Search using the Command + Space keyboard shortcut and search for Activity Monitor.

Click the CPU tab in Activity Monitor. Here you’ll see a breakdown of the CPU usage of various apps and processes running on your Mac, with the overall CPU usage displayed at the bottom of the screen. Look at the value adjacent to the process whose CPU usage you want to find out in the %CPU column.

cpu usage in activity monitor

How to Check CPU Usage with Terminal

You can also check the CPU utilization with a few simple Terminal commands. Here’s a step-by-step guide to checking your CPU usage on a Mac with Terminal.

  • Open Terminal via Spotlight or Launchpad.
  • Paste and run the command: top -l 2 | grep -E "^CPU"
  • You will see the CPU usage in percentage.

The downside is that you can only see the CPU utilization, but you don’t know which process consumes the most CPU resources.

How to Clear CPU Usage on Mac?

Once you’ve identified what’s causing your Mac’s CPU to run at full capacity, you can carry out the following operations accordingly to fix it and restore it to its normal state:

  • Quit unnecessary apps and processes running on your Mac
  • Check startup items and disable the ones you don’t need
  • Uninstall unused apps
  • Restart your Mac
  • Finish installing pending macOS updates
  • Check for malware, perhaps in the form of apps or documents, and get rid of it

Related Read: 10 Ways to Fix Disk Not Ejected Properly Error on Mac

How to Clear CPU Usage on Mac Using CleanMyMac

All the measures we’ve mentioned above can help you clear your Mac’s CPU usage. However, these can be time-consuming if performed manually, and those new to Mac may even struggle with where to begin.

MacPaw has a solution to this. It’s called CleanMyMac, and it’s essentially an app that offers a bunch of tools under one roof that simplify performing these operations on your Mac to help you clear its CPU usage and optimize the overall performance.

Reduce CPU usage with CleanMyMac X
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To quickly and efficiently resolve the issue with the high CPU, you can rely on the Apple notarized tool CleanMyMac X. It enables you to monitor CPU usage on your Mac in real-time, remove unnecessary launch agents, and terminate hung applications and heavy consumers.

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More Ways to Fix Heavy CPU Usage on Mac

Although carrying out the above tasks should clear CPU usage on your Mac and improve its overall performance, if the issue persists, here are a couple of ways you can try to fix that:

Close the App Using More CPU Power

It’s no surprise that certain apps consume a lot of CPU power, perhaps due to the functionality they offer or because they haven’t been updated or optimized to run on a newer version of macOS. Whatever the case, though, it’s important to identify such apps.

Launch Activity Monitor and go to the CPU tab. If there’s an app that’s using too much CPU, select it, hit the Stop button at the top, and hit Quit. In case this doesn’t quit the app, go over the same steps, and this time, choose Fore Quit when prompted to quit the process.

Check Your Mac’s Hardware

To check your Mac’s hardware for CPU usage, you should run Apple Diagnostics.

On an Intel Mac, follow these steps:

  1. Start your Mac.
  2. Immediately press and hold the D key on the keyboard.
  3. Release the key when a progress bar appears.
  4. Follow the prompts.

On an Apple Silicon Mac, follow these steps:

  1. Start your Mac and continue to hold the Power button.
  2. Release Power when the startup options screen appears.
  3. Press Cmd + D
  4. Follow the prompts.

Apple Diagnostics will identify any obvious hardware issues. If the issue persists in recovery mode, you may have a hardware issue and should have your Mac diagnosed by an Apple Store or service provider.

Clear Caches and Temporary Files

Clearing caches and temporary files can be an effective way to reduce the usage of the CPU on a Mac. CleanMyMac X is an easy way to do this: open CleanMyMac X, select the Maintenance module, click “Flush DNS Cache,” and tap the “Run” button. Also, you can kill processes that consume a lot of CPU by highlighting the process in Task Manager and clicking the “End Process” button.

Besides, you can use a Mac Cleaner program to reduce the usage of CPU and improve your Mac’s performance. This program can delete viruses, adware, malware, system junk, caches, logs, old files, and other unwanted data to free up Mac space. Besides, it can monitor Mac status, such as CPU, hard drive usage, battery, and memory.

Use Process-Management Apps

Process management utilities can be incredibly helpful in managing the use of CPU on Mac computers. They provide an easy way to monitor and track the processes running on the Mac by displaying real-time graphs and percentages for each process.

With iStat Menus, users can customize the utility to their specific needs and quickly glance at the menu bar to check their Mac’s performance.

App Tamer can even limit the CPU load of a particular app so that it does not take up more of the computer’s resources than necessary.

In addition, users can open Chrome Task Manager to see the memory and CPU usage for each tab and extension. This makes it easier to identify processes that are consuming too much CPU, and the user can then force kill the app if it becomes unresponsive.

Restart Mac

Sometimes, a simple restart can fix many issues you could be facing on your Mac. It closes all the open apps or processes running on your system to clear them from memory and reboots into a fresh state.

To restart your Mac, click on the Apple menu and select Restart. When asked to confirm the action, hit the Restart button, and it’ll reboot the system.

Update macOS

Although macOS updates are generally stable, there are times when this may not be the case. For instance, if you haven’t updated your system in a while and have started experiencing problems lately, updating to a newer macOS version—if one’s available—should help fix that.

To update your Mac, open System Settings and go into General > Software Update. Click on the Check for Update button to look for new updates. If one’s available, hit the Install Now button to install it on your Mac.

Keep Your Mac’s CPU Usage Under Check

Keeping track of your CPU performance is essential to maintaining a healthy and efficient Mac. It is possible to increase the speed of your computer by shutting down processes that are consuming large amounts of resources.

CleanMyMac is a handy tool to clean and tune your Mac. It has a neat and intuitive interface and includes all the essential tools to help fix problems like CPU overuse, excessive RAM usage, and slow performance, to name a few.

By following the steps outlined in this article, you can ensure your Mac remains fast and efficient.

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