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In Mac Last updated: March 10, 2023
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Do you know what your Mac CPU is? Chances are, you use your Mac every day without giving its internals a second thought. Most users are just like you, too!

But the CPU on your Mac is critical for its performance, both long and short-term. Modern Macs have advanced CPUs that can speed up when needed and idle at lower processing speeds when you’re performing simple tasks. Still, it’s possible to overwork your CPU without realizing it.

In this article, we’ll show you how to check with CPU your Mac uses, how to clear the CPU on your Mac, and why a system monitor might be the best app you can download for your Mac right now.

What is a CPU?

The CPU is your computer’s brain, essentially. CPU is acronymous for “central processing unit,” which might be how someone would describe the human brain!

The CPU is responsible for processing all the information a Mac needs to function normally when you use apps. When your Mac is doing – well, anything – your CPU is active. Even when you do something as simple as slide your cursor around the screen, your CPU is “thinking” in the background.

Why is your Mac’s CPU running at full capacity?

There are several reasons your CPU might be overworked. This can even happen when your Mac is idle, or you’re doing something as simple as browsing the web or checking emails. Here are a few common issues that can overwork your CPU:

Too many apps are open

When n app is open, your CPU is being asked by that app to help it operate. Even in the background, apps perform tasks or anticipate your input. Remember: your CPU, powerful as it may be, has a finite amount of resources to give.

When you have too many apps open, it’s like all those apps are taking small slices of a pie chart that makes up your Mac’s CPU capacity. Too many apps open simply whittles down how much processing power your Mac has.

Using an app requires more processing power than if it were idle. Having too many apps open means the app you want to use can’t get what it needs from the CPU.

One of your apps requires the most CPU power

Not all apps are created (or act) the same. Some apps – typically design and development apps – naturally need more processing power!

Even when you have these apps active in the background, they require a larger “slice of the CPU pie” than other apps. While a calendar app might need a few resources to stay active in the background, larger, more complex apps simply need more power.

This is especially true when you’re using a resource-heavy app and have several others open in the background. Larger apps needing more resources can also sap your Mac’s CPU when nothing else is open – they’re that power-hungry!

There are some background processes running

A background process is something an app does without notifying you to keep it performant and synced. A calendar app might update itself or sync with its companion app via iCloud to ensure all your appointments are showing across your devices.

Apps can do a variety of things in the background, including clearing cache, organizing files, syncing files, and much more. When this happens across several apps at the same time, CPUs can get overworked.

You didn’t restart your Mac in a while

Background processes and unclosed apps are often the main culprits for an overworked CPU. Just like your human brain, your Mac’s brain needs to rest, too.

Restarting your Mac forces all processes to stop. Even if it’s a quick power down before booting up again, shutting your Mac down now and then helps your CPU get a much-needed power nap so it can bounce back and focus.

When you restart your Mac, keep in mind that you’ll be able to better monitor which processes boot up at the login and run in the background. Apps that boot up at login are running background processes, and one (or more!) may be running your CPU ragged.

Your Mac has malware

While malware for Macs is rare, it’s possible to get malware on your Mac.

Malware is often designed to use your Mac’s CPU to perform tasks. Malware is also designed to be undetectable. You may not even be aware your Mac has malware because it’s difficult to detect without specific software designed to find it, and its tasks won’t be anything related to an app you are using.

How to clear CPU usage on Mac?

Don’t worry! You can easily clear the CPU on a Mac natively, but CleanMyMac X makes it all simpler and does a far more thorough job of keeping your Mac running smoothly than anything Apple built into its machines.

Use CleanMyMac X’s dashboard to clear the CPU in a click

Want to give your Mac a boost with one click? It’s really that easy when you use CleanMyMac X!

CleanMyMac X’s dashboard has a Smart Scan feature that searches your Mac for malware, unnecessary junk files, and optional performance improvements. Click “Run”, and CleanMyMac X gets to work. You might be surprised at how much it helps, too!


Check for malware using CleanMyMac X’s Malware Removal module

Smart scan does a check for malware that might be actively working, but you can do a much deeper scan on your Mac with CleanMyMac X’s Malware Removal module. It checks your entire system for malware!

Select the Malware Removal module in the CleanMyMac X dashboard, click “scan,” and watch CleanMyMac X go to work.


Check processes in Activity Monitor

Activity Monitor is a pre-loaded app on every Mac Apple sells. The app keeps tabs on everything running on your Mac, how much CPU each service or app is using, and lets you stop the process or get more info.

Open Activity Monitor on your Mac to see everything running in real-time and how much of your CPU each app or service is using. Keep in mind things fluctuate, so a service-hogging CPU one minute might not need as much of your processor a few seconds later.

Activity Monitor is a great way to get a real-time look at exactly what your Mac is doing.


Clear cache on macOS

Cache stores temporary files that can help your Mac remain speedy. A Mac’s cache can also become bogged down with old files no longer needed, so clearing the cache is a smart thing for all Mac owners to do now and then.

And it’s easy with CleanMyMac X. All you have to do is open CleanMyMac X, select the Maintenance module, click “Flush DNS Cache,” and tap the Run button.


Restart your Mac

Remember, your Mac needs a reset now and then, just like you! All you have to do is click the Apple logo on the top right of the menu bar, select “restart,” and let your Mac power down and back up again.


Update all of your apps

How many times have you read an app’s update log and seen “system performance and bug fixes” or something similar? Most app updates relate to performance gains, so keeping all the apps on your Mac updated is important.

Apps do a poor job of updating themselves, so use CleanMyMac X to keep them current! Just open the Updater module, choose the apps you want to update, and click the “Update” button. CleanMyMac X takes care of the rest.


Uninstall apps you don’t need

Apps that you no longer want or need simply take up room and resources on your Mac. Many of those apps also have files they load onto your Mac, which can linger long after you delete the app itself. CleanMyMac X gets rid of unwanted apps and the files they leave behind!

Open CleanMyMac X, choose the Uninstaller module, select the apps you want to remove, and tap the Uninstall button. CleanMyMac X gets rid of any app you want.


Prevent programs from running automatically

Many apps start automatically at login without you knowing it. When you download an app, chances are you breezed past all the popups asking for permissions, including the one that asked if the app could open at login. Every time you boot your Mac up, apps start working, too.

This is easy to monitor and fix in CleanMyMac X, though. Open CleanMyMac X, tap the Optimization module, and choose “Launch Agents.” Here you can choose to have all launch agents disabled or choose the ones you want to disable manually. You can even remove the services from your Mac if you want.

To disable a service, just tap the “Enabled” button next to each app that boots up at login. This will disable it. If you want to remove the services altogether, select each app and tap “Remove” at the bottom of the app window.


Update macOS

Like apps, your Mac’s operating system needs to be kept up to date, too. To update macOS, tap the Apple logo on the top right of the menu bar and select “About this Mac.” If your system needs an update, your Mac will notify you here.


Apps can improve your workflow and life dramatically, but they can also create headaches behind the scenes. Developers are all trying to build the best app experience possible, and sometimes that requires more resources. And when you start downloading so many great apps, your Mac may feel the pinch.

With CleanMyMac X, you will have ultimate peace of mind that your Mac is operating at its best. A computer should last years, and CleanMyMac X helps keep your Mac operating smoothly for a long time. It’s almost as if CleanMyMac X knows your Mac better than it knows itself!

Keep your Mac organized, performant, secure, and perfectly optimized with CleanMyMac X, and find out what so many others already know: CleanMyMac X is a must-have app for every Mac.

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