How to Check and Reduce CPU Usage on Mac

Wendy Wu
Last updated: Oct 30, 2023
Summary: From this blog, you will learn what is CPU and how to check your Mac's CPU usage with simple steps.

If you find that your Mac is slow to start or applications are lagging, you may need to check your Mac's CPU utilization. In this blog post, we will show you how to check the CPU usage on your Mac.

How to Check and Lower CPU Usage on Mac

What Is a CPU?

CPU, short for Central Processing Unit, is the brain of a computer. It interprets computer instructions and processes data in computer software.

The CPU usage will constantly change with your activities on the computer. When the CPU usage is close to 100%, you will find that the computer starts to freeze.

Keep reading if you want to know how to check the CPU usage on Mac.

How to Check CPU Usage on Mac

1. How to Check CPU Usage with Activity Monitor

The Activity Monitor shipped with macOS can help you monitor the status of every process on your Mac. Not only can you use it to see the usage of CPU, memory, and disk, but you can also use it to force quit the apps that are using the most CPU power. Here are the steps.

  1. Open the Activity Monitor via Spotlight or Launchpad.
  2. Click the CPU tab, and you will see all the processes that are using the CPU power.
    Check CPU Usage on Mac with Activity Monitor
  3. Click the %CPU option to quickly view the processes that consume the most CPU power.
  4. To show the CPU usage on the Dock, right-click the Activity Monitor icon on the Dock, hover your mouse over the Dock Icon, and choose Show CPU usage.
    Show CPU Usage on Dock

2. How to Check CPU Usage with Terminal

Alternatively, you can use Terminal to check the CPU usage on your Mac quickly. However, this method only allows you to see the CPU utilization, and you don't know which process consumes the most CPU power.

Here's what you need to do:

  1. Open Terminal via Spotlight or Launchpad.
  2. Paste and run the command: top -l 2 | grep -E "^CPU", and you will see the CPU usage in percentage.

3. How to See CPU Usage in the Menu Bar

CPU load is the number of processes that the CPU is executing or waiting for the CPU to execute. As we said above, you should avoid a 100% CPU usage situation. BuhoCleaner Menu is a handy tool that enables you to monitor CPU load in real time. When you find that the CPU load is too high, you can react quickly and then take steps to reduce CPU usage, such as killing CPU-hogging processes, disabling unnecessary startup programs, closing unused applications, etc.

How to Use BuhoCleaner Menu to Check CPU Usage:

  1. Download the free version of BuhoCleaner and install it.

  2. Launch it and find the BuhoCleaner Menu's widget in the status menu.

  3. Click on the widget, and you will see the CPU load. If you want to monitor the CPU load in the status menu in real-time, go to BuhoCleaner's Preferences and then tick CPU Load.

    Real Time Monitor CPU Usage with BuhoCleaner

Related Article: 5 Best Mac Performance Monitors in 2024

How to Lower CPU Usage on Mac

1. Stop Extraneous Processes

With Activity Monitor, you know what processes are consuming the most CPU usage. The next thing you need to do is stop the extraneous processes.

Here are the steps:

  1. Highlight the processes you want to kill.
  2. Click the Cross button at the top of the Activity Monitor to end them.
Stop CPU Hogging Process with Activity Monitor

2. Close Unused Windows and Apps

In Activity Monitor, you may notice a process named WindowServer. It takes a large part of your CPU resource. But to your disappointment, you can't stop it completely. So what is it?

Apple says that WindowServer is a single point of contact for all applications. The amount of CPU it consumes is directly related to the number of windows and apps you have open on your Mac.

Therefore, it's a good idea to close all the apps and windows you don't use.

Related Article: WindowServer High CPU and Memory Usage on Mac? Here's the Fix

3. Restart Your Mac

If your Mac's performance drops due to 100% CPU usage, a quick restart may fix your problem.

Just click the Apple menu and choose Restart.


That's it. It is easy to check and reduce the CPU usage on your Mac. If you don't want your Mac to run lagging, you should avoid the situation where the CPU usage exceeds 100%. BuhoCleaner Menu can help you monitor the CPU load in real time, don't forget to give it a try.

By the way, BuhoCleaner is one of the best Mac cleaners. It can help you clean and optimize your Mac in a few clicks. Click the button below to have a try.

Wendy Wu is a tech enthusiast with a deep passion for all things iPhone, iPad, and Mac. Wendy is always on the lookout for Apple products and is committed to providing Apple users with some of the latest information and useful tips.