OS X: Speed Up Logging In

If your Mac is slow to start up—especially when it’s trying to log you in—there are a few reasons why that could be so. One of the most common is that you’ve forgotten to uncheck “Reopen windows when logging back in” on the Restart or Shut Down dialog box:

Leaving that checkbox on means that your Mac will reopen everything that was already running, which can lead to some pretty slow startup times if your machine isn’t a powerhouse. Or even if it is, if what it’s trying to reopen is the entirety of the Creative Suite. No offense, Adobe.

Another reason why your Mac could be slow to start is a plethora of what are called Login Items. These are listed in System Preferences> Users & Groups (or System Preferences> Accounts, depending on what version of OS X you’re running) under the “Login Items” tab.

Login Items are documents, applications, or servers that your Mac is set to open automatically when you log in to your account. That’s all well and good for stuff like Dropbox that you probably want to always have open, but the problem is that most Mac users never check that list to see if there’s anything old or unwanted there. So if you see things that you’d rather not have pop open at login, just select one and click on the minus button to remove it.

Be careful, though—if you don’t know what a Login Item is, it’s best to do your research and figure that out before removing it. For example, in my second screenshot above, I see something called “SpeechSynthesisServer”—what the heck is that? A quick Google search reveals that it’s used by my system, so I shouldn’t get rid of it. And another thing that you can do in your sleuthing is check out where a specific Login Item lives in your file system. To do so, right- or Control-click on it, and that’ll reveal a “Show in Finder” pop-up.

If you click that, you’ll see where it resides on your Mac, which is a good way to determine what it’s doing and why. 

Oh, look, SpeechSynthesisServer is within my System> Library folder…all the more reason to not mess with it!

In any case, removing those unused or out-of-date Login Items can speed up your logging-in process considerably, so perhaps you won’t have to see the dreaded spinning beach ball of death while your Mac attempts to open every program in the known universe. We love you, Photoshop, but don’t open up when we don’t need you, OK? Deal.