How to Maximize macOS Gaming Performance: Tips and Tricks

Picture a fluid, non-stressful, and relaxing gaming session. Then the perfect dream-like experience hits a snag. Your computer suddenly can’t handle everything on the screen, and the game becomes unplayable.
It can happen much too often—you buy a game and your specs just don’t match up with the exact requirements. It doesn’t seem fair to have to suffer freezing, FPS drops, or performance dips. Why not fix this situation with some stress-relieving optimization?
If you want to play games on a macOS device without frustration, it just takes a little time and knowledge. Here are some tips and tricks to speed up macOS performance when gaming.
1. Learn to Use macOS Activity Monitor
When first learning to manage your system for gaming, it comes down to knowing your system. Gaming tends to be more CPU-bound nowadays, and it can be useful to keep track of it up close and take control. As a result, macOS’s Activity Monitor works out as an extremely useful addition.
Activity Monitor provides you with access to your CPU, memory, energy, disk, and network usage. For gaming, CPU and memory usage serve as the most fundamentally important categories. The other categories provide additional information, but we won’t be discussing them here as they aren’t crucial. With this note in mind, let’s talk about what you really need to know.
Opening Activity Monitor
To access Activity Monitor, we’ll discuss two different approaches. You can open the program by navigating to the Go menu in the Finder and selecting Utilities. You can also open Utilities via the shortcut combination of Command, Shift, and U. Once the list of utility programs appear, click Activity Monitor.
Spotlight also opens Activity Monitor. Click the magnifying glass in the upper right-hand corner of the Finder to bring up the Spotlight search. Type in Activity Monitor to bring the program up as a result and then open it.
Once the software launches by either approach, you’re able to see the current state of your live computer.
Examining CPU Usage
When looking at the usage of your CPU, Activity Monitor breaks it down by percentage. When seeking to improve your computer’s speed, you’ll want to close the biggest resource hogs. If you see any unneeded processes, close them. Simply highlight the process and click the small x in the upper-left corner of Activity Monitor.
If you’re nervous about closing from the lost list of active items, note the user on the far right of the processes list. If the user of the process shares your username then it’s safe to close. By following this rule of thumb, you can close any programs eating too much CPU without concern about your system destabilizing or logging you out.
For quick reference, the bottom of the CPU tab breaks down the entire CPU load. If there isn’t any idle percentage, and the user percentage looks high then consider closing some items out.
If you want to continually monitor your CPU usage from the dock, you can right-click Activity Monitor and select to show CPU usage via either option.
Examining Memory Usage
After looking at the CPU, the memory tab comes next. It looks nearly identical to the CPU tab and functions similarly. Instead of a percentage amount, memory uses megabytes. Once you identify any large memory drainers, close the process via the same x button in the upper lefthand corner.
For the more visual individual, memory also utilizes color coding to showcase the health of its current state. If you’re in the green or yellow range then your computer doesn’t need any additional memory. For anyone with a red result, close some applications or consider installing some more RAM on your device.
Keeping Activity Monitor in your dock allows for easy access to these values. Once you have a solid grasp of these, optimization can continue with further tweaks.
2. Free Up More Hard Drive Space
A less remembered issue boils down to hard drive space. The image of a full hard drive typically conjures images of older devices that have spent a lifetime accumulating data. However, with increasing game data requirements and file sizes, space issues can happen much sooner.
When a hard drive gets too full, the extra stress and lack of space to write on can create slowdown. To make your computer’s life easier, always set aside some extra space. The amount needed changes based on different requirements, but it’s a good rule of thumb to keep it as free as possible.
If you run into any extra slowdown, try removing junk data and unneeded programs from your computer. You can use a third-party program like CCleaner to analyze and detect all the junk data from your applications, browsers, and system files before removing them. Additionally, uninstall applications with CCleaner to hasten your cleaning.
Learn more in our article on speeding up macOS Catalina performance.
3. Disable Startup Apps
If you’ve ever tried to immediately jump into a game after startup, it can easily go awry. An unready system consists of multiple applications vying for resources. Disabling some of these start-up programs with CCleaner can ease your burden.
Simply navigate to the Tools portion of the application and select startup. You can then delete or delay any number of programs and background utilities. If you prefer to delete programs without an app, you can also disable or delete the non-hidden varieties via System Preferences.
4. Disable macOS Notification Center
As a last resort, disabling notifications can give a small boost. To disable notification center for the day, follow these steps:

While holding down your Option key, click the icon at the far top right (It looks like a bulleted list icon).
The icon should now gray out.
Click the icon to open the notification center.
Turn on Do Not Disturb if it isn’t already.
You can now click off the notification center.

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Enjoying Your Optimized macOS Machine
By monitoring the background parts of your Mac, you can stop any problems in advance and transition into problem-free gaming. For anyone looking to improve their gaming experience once the operating system tweaks are out of the way, consider these tips to improve your Mac gaming experience.
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