For months my studio 2010 Apple Mac Pro has been very sluggish, at times almost unusable which has been extremely frustrating. This unresolved problem that plagued my workflow caused the cursor to either be slow & sluggish then or fast & skittish. This made it very difficult to navigate Pro Tools sessions. This problem wasn't exclusive to heavy CPU operations, it happened across the board, even in general email use. A couple of days ago I fixed this issue that hampered my workflow, in this article I share the steps I took to troubleshoot the sluggish Mac Pro cursor behavior.
Mouse Testing & Batteries
The obvious first troubleshooting step was to see if the batteries were running low in the Magic Mouse. I replaced them and checked the performance of the mouse on two other Apple computers. The mouse worked perfectly on my Mac Mini and MacBook Air prooving the mouse wasn't faulty. I also plugged a cheap wired mouse into the Mac Pro and the problem was identical to the Magic Mouse operation to confirm. Clearly, there was a problem with either the Mac Pro hardware or software.
I haven't done any Mac system checks for some time. The first app I launched was Clean My Mac. This app does a fantastic job of clearing out unwanted files from operating systems. I was quite shocked at how much backend rubbish there was hidden away on my boot drive. This gave me back nearly 20GB.
I used Utilities > Disk Utility to check if there were any hard drive issues. All tests completed without any errors but the problem didn't stop. This ruled out, to some degree, software fault with the hard drives.
I had to find out if any of my USB or Firewire peripherals were somehow conflicting. I've had weird problems in the past when I plugged in a cheap USB hub. Using the Mac with just the mouse and keyboard with nothing else connected would show if any of my devices were causing issues. Like my other fault finding tests, this didn't provide any answers.
El Capitan To Sierra
I've put off updating my operating system from El Capitan to Sierra as my Mac Pro is seven years old, however, I was desperate to fix this issue. I ignored our usual advice of backing things up prior to installing Sierra as I was getting a bit tunnel visioned with troubleshooting. Sadly, this didn't work either. I was so fed up I almost purchased a new trashcan Mac Pro online until I thought of "one more thing" < pun intended.
Clean My Mac
No not the software. I remembered that I have not dusted the inside of my Mac Pro for years. I opened up the Mac Pro and there were clear signs of neglect. I took a vacuum to the main fans and a compressed air can to the boards, cards and ram. I said to myself "If this doesn't work I'm buying a new Mac" Well, I've saved myself a few thousand £ as I can happily report this fixed my sluggish erratic cursor problem.
Change One Thing At A Time
Always use common sense and a clear head to troubleshoot computer problems. The simplest of fixes are often hidden in plain sight. I was just about to throw my toys out of the pram, which would have cost me thousands replacing the Mac, so I'm glad that I had a brainwave and cleaned years of dust build up out of my Mac Pro.
If you run a traditional Mac Pro in your studio then I suggest you take a look inside and consider clearing out the dust piles, you never know if it'll cause you problems in the near future