Macs are great for two things: creative and business work. When it comes to gaming, people generally stick to PCs because Macs usually have limited AAA titles and Apple hasn’t invested much into optimizing the MacOS for gaming.
But thanks to platforms like Steam and Humble Bundles, more games are available for Macs. Still, Macs are known to under-perform when gaming – even when rigs meet the minimum system requirements. Tweaking your machine can help make things run a little more smoothly.
Related: Steam controller review
Here’s how to optimize Mac for gaming.
Update Your Software
First, make sure that your Mac is up-to-date. Updates can optimize your machine’s performance and ensure that you have all of the latest security patches installed. To update your system:
- Click the Apple Icon at the upper-left corner of your display.
- Select App Store.
- Click Updates at the top.
- Choose Update All.
Along with your MacOS, the process will also update most of your apps.
Free Up Space and Clutter
Games are resource intensive, so the first step to optimizing your Mac is to clean things up. The goal is to free up some space and get rid of system clutter.
Start by uninstalling apps that you don’t use or don’t want anymore. Take a look at your startup apps and disable any that are resource-intensive.
MacOS Sierra also introduced a new feature that helps clear up space: Optimize Storage. Here’s how to access this tool:
- Click the Apple Icon.
- Choose About this Mac.
- Click Storage.
- Select Manage.
There are several options here (which you can go through on your own at a later time), but the most important one is “Optimize Storage.” Clicking the Optimize button will automatically remove iTunes movies and TV shows that you’ve watched on your machine.
This step is really the most useful if you consume a lot of media on your Mac. Even if you don’t, you can still take advantage of the other options on the Manage window, like:
- Reduce Clutter: Allows you to sort through and delete documents and other items stored on your machine.
- Store in iCloud: Allows you to store files and photos in iCloud to save space.
- Empty Trash Automatically: Saves space by automatically erasing items that have been in the trash for 30 days.
To reduce the load on your processor, start by launching the Activity Monitor.
- Click the Go menu and select Utilities.
- Double-click Activity Monitor.
The Activity Monitor will display all of the opened apps and processes, and it will also tell you the amount of resources each process is using.
Close out programs that are hogging a lot of resources.
To close a program:
- Select the program on the list.
- Click the Force a Process to Quit button at the top-left corner.
- Click Force Quit.
Clicking Force Quit instantly stops the app from running and taking up resources. Follow the above steps to close out any programs that are unnecessary or using a lot of resources.
Just make sure that you don’t quit any essential programs, as this can make the operating system unstable.
After you’ve reduced the load on your processor, you can start closing unimportant apps that are taking up space.
Take a look at your Dock. Do you see any apps with a small black dot under their icon? That black dot means that the app is open and occupying space in memory. Many Mac apps will stay open even if you close their interface, and that can hinder your machine’s performance while gaming.
To free up some memory:
- Right click an unimportant app in your Dock.
- Click Quit on the menu.
Doing this will close out the app and free up the memory it was using. Repeat this process until you’ve closed all unimportant apps that are running in the background.
Adjust Graphic Settings and Try Different Window Modes
Adjusting a game’s graphic settings will have the biggest impact on your Mac’s performance. The higher the graphics settings, the more resources the game will demand.
Check out our guide on how to get Fortnite to run better on mac.
Whenever you launch a game, whether it’s through Steam, directly or through another platform, you typically have the option of adjusting the graphics settings. Some games have “high,” “medium,” and “low” settings that will make adjustments for you automatically. If not, you’ll need to make the adjustments manually for each setting.
Choosing lower settings will reduce the load on your machine, making it easier for games to run smoothly.
Most games will allow you to save your settings so that you don’t have to readjust them every time you launch them.
Along with adjusting the graphics settings, you can try playing games in both Windowed Mode and Full-Screen Mode to see which one works best. Some users find that Windowed Mode makes things run more smoothly, but performance is typically game-dependent. Give both options a try with each game you play to see which one works best for each title.
While your Mac will probably never compare to a Windows PC for gaming (that’s not what they’re designed for), you can still optimize your machine to make gaming more fun when you’re on-the-go or you don’t have access to a PC.