A central processing unit (CPU) lies at the core of all the diverse operations taking place on your Mac. Consequently, the greater the number of tasks and instructions concurrently executing on your Mac, the higher the utilization of its CPU.

While Macs are generally well-optimized and do not succumb easily, prolonged periods of high CPU usage can result in a multitude of complications. Overheating, diminished system performance, frequent application crashes, and reduced battery life are among the issues that may manifest when your Mac’s CPU is strained.

Yet, what specifically places stress on your Mac’s CPU? And how can you rectify excessive CPU usage on Macs? Allow us to elaborate.

What Can Exert Pressure on Your Mac’s CPU?

A Mac’s CPU can experience stress in various scenarios. However, frequently, it is due to one or a combination of the following factors:

  1. Simultaneously having multiple unused applications open.
  2. A particular application demanding the highest CPU power.
  3. Numerous processes running in the background.
  4. A surplus of startup programs configured on your Mac.
  5. Procrastination in restarting your Mac.
  6. The presence of corrupted or malware-infected files.
  7. Browser extensions and open tabs.
  8. The execution of a system update in the background.

How to Monitor Your Mac’s CPU Usage Using Activity Monitor

macOS includes a built-in utility called Activity Monitor, which aids in identifying and troubleshooting problematic applications and processes on your Mac. With Activity Monitor, you can easily determine the amount of CPU, memory, power, disk, and network resources consumed by an application or process.

To examine CPU usage in Activity Monitor, launch the application. Open Finder, navigate to Applications > Utilities > Activity Monitor, or use the Command + Space keyboard shortcut to summon Spotlight Search and search for Activity Monitor.

Select the CPU tab within Activity Monitor. Here, you will find a breakdown of the CPU usage for various applications and processes running on your Mac, with the overall CPU usage displayed at the bottom of the screen. Look for the value next to the process for which you wish to ascertain the CPU usage in the %CPU column.

How to Monitor CPU Usage Using Terminal

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

  1. Launch Terminal through Spotlight or Launchpad.
  2. Copy and execute the command: top -l 2 | grep -E “^CPU”
  3. The CPU usage will be displayed as a percentage.

However, this method only provides an overview of CPU utilization without specifying the process consuming the most CPU resources.

How to Reduce CPU Usage on Mac?

Once you have identified the cause of your Mac’s CPU running at full capacity, you can take appropriate measures to address the issue and restore normal operation. Consider the following steps:

  1. Quit unnecessary applications and processes running on your Mac.
  2. Review startup items and disable unnecessary ones.
  3. Uninstall unused applications.
  4. Restart your Mac.
  5. Complete pending macOS updates.
  6. Scan for malware, including potentially infected apps or documents, and remove them.

Reducing CPU Usage on Mac Using CleanMyMac

While the aforementioned methods can help alleviate CPU usage on your Mac, they can be time-consuming when performed manually. Those new to Mac may also struggle to determine where to begin. Luckily, MacPaw offers a solution called CleanMyMac. This application provides a comprehensive set of tools designed to simplify these operations and assist you in reducing CPU usage while optimizing overall performance.

class="wp-block-heading">Additional Solutions to Resolve High CPU Usage on Mac

While implementing the previously mentioned steps should alleviate CPU usage and enhance overall performance, if the issue persists, you can try the following approaches:

Close applications that are consuming excessive CPU power

Apologies for the interruption. Here is the continuation of the article:

Close applications that are consuming excessive CPU power. It is not uncommon for certain applications to consume a significant amount of CPU power, either due to their functionality or because they have not been updated or optimized to run on the latest version of macOS. It is important to identify such applications.

Launch Activity Monitor and navigate to the CPU tab. If you notice an application using an excessive amount of CPU, select it, click the Stop button at the top, and then choose Quit if prompted to terminate the process.

Check Your Mac’s Hardware

To examine your Mac’s hardware for CPU usage, you can run Apple Diagnostics. Follow these steps depending on your Mac’s architecture:

On an Intel Mac:

  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 on-screen prompts.

On an Apple Silicon Mac:

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

Apple Diagnostics will identify any obvious hardware issues. If the problem persists in recovery mode, there may be a hardware issue, and it is advisable to have your Mac diagnosed by an Apple Store or authorized service provider.

Clear Caches and Temporary Files

Clearing caches and temporary files can be an effective method to reduce CPU usage on a Mac. CleanMyMac X provides an easy way to accomplish this. Open CleanMyMac X, select the Maintenance module, click on “Flush DNS Cache,” and then click the “Run” button. Additionally, you can terminate processes that consume a significant amount of CPU by selecting the process in Task Manager and clicking the “End Process” button.

Moreover, you can utilize a Mac Cleaner program to minimize CPU usage and enhance your Mac’s performance. This program can eliminate viruses, adware, malware, system junk, caches, logs, old files, and other unwanted data, freeing up valuable space on your Mac. Furthermore, it can monitor your Mac’s status, including CPU, hard drive usage, battery, and memory.

Utilize Process-Management Apps

Process-management utilities can be immensely helpful in managing CPU usage on Mac computers. They offer a convenient way to monitor and track processes by providing real-time graphs and percentages for each process.

For instance, iStat Menus allows users to customize the utility according to their specific requirements and quickly check their Mac’s performance from the menu bar. App Tamer, on the other hand, can limit the CPU load of specific applications, ensuring they do not consume excessive system resources.

Additionally, you can open Chrome Task Manager to view memory and CPU usage for each tab and extension. This makes it easier to identify processes that are utilizing an excessive amount of CPU, allowing you to force quit unresponsive applications.

Restart Your Mac

Sometimes, a simple restart can resolve various issues you may encounter on your Mac. It closes all open applications and processes, clearing them from memory, and initiates a fresh start.

To restart your Mac, click on the Apple menu and select Restart. Confirm the action by clicking the Restart button, and your system will reboot.

Update macOS

While macOS updates are generally stable, there may be instances where issues arise. If you have not updated your system in a while and are experiencing problems, updating to a newer version of macOS, if available, can help resolve them.

To update your Mac, open System Preferences and navigate to General > Software Update. Click on the Check for Update button to search for new updates. If an update is available, click the Install Now button to initiate the installation on your Mac.

Remember to keep your Mac updated to ensure you have the latest features, bug fixes, and security patches.


Excessive CPU usage on your Mac can impact performance, cause overheating, and drain battery life. By monitoring CPU usage using Activity Monitor or Terminal, identifying resource-intensive applications and processes, and implementing the suggested solutions such as quitting unnecessary apps, clearing caches, updating macOS, and utilizing process-management tools, you can effectively reduce CPU usage and improve your Mac’s performance.