A slow, aging MacBook makes any task that much more difficult, especially if you have an important deadline right around the corner. And instead of enjoying a relaxing evening with Netflix, most of your precious time is spent waiting in front of the “spinning beach ball of death.” If you have ever experienced this, here are a few free ways to speed up your sluggish MacBook.

Cleaning Up Startup Apps. Start by opening up System Preferences from your apps folder and then click on Users and Groups. From there, click Login Items to review a list of apps that are set to open when you turn on your computer. You can uncheck everything from the list that isn’t a “Helper” app (e.g. iTunesHelper or SpotifyHelper). Apps that run when you’re not using them bog down your system memory and central processing unit (CPU), the circuitry of your computer that carries out operations of computer programs using coded instructions. Think of this as carrying a really heavy backpack filled with unnecessary items on a hike, tremendously slowing down your pace.

Uninstalling Unneeded Apps. It is important to clear any apps that you no longer use because they take up valuable hard drive space. While many students just drag the app into the trash, this method does not completely remove all of the files associated with the app. To fix this, download a free app uninstaller such as AppCleaner (http://www.freemacsoft.net/appcleaner/). An app uninstaller will find hidden files associated with the app and effectively delete them.

CPU and Memory Hoggers. As I mentioned earlier, apps use CPU power and system memory, so the less you have of each, the more stutters you will see with your MacBook. Certain apps can use a lot of CPU and memory when they hang or do not quit properly. To see if this is an issue, go to your Applications folder and then the Utilities folder. From within this folder, launch Activity Monitor. This will give you a list of every app that is running and how many resources it is taking up. Google Chrome is notorious for hogging CPU and memory for MacBooks. If you notice it is listed as a running app, click on the app and force it to quit by clicking the stop sign icon on the top left if you are finished using it. As surprising as it is, consider using only Safari if you can live without Chrome — you will have even longer battery life!

Repairing Disk Permissions. Permissions are a set of access settings for each file on the MacBook. These settings determine which users on your Mac can access and modify files. Over time, these permissions are modified and cause long startup times or hang. There’s no way to prevent this, but there is a way to fix your disk permissions. Head back into the Utilities folder and launch Disk Utility. Click on Macintosh HD and click the option for Repair Disk Permissions. This might take a long time to complete, so make some tea or head out for a quick run if you want. Once it’s completed, reboot your MacBook.

Hopefully, these few tricks will breathe new life in an older MacBook. They don’t cost a penny, so you really have nothing to lose by giving them a quick try. Be sure to tell your fellow Gauchos about these helpful tips.