OS X Yosemite Splash

I currently have two machines running Yosemite: one is a brand new Retina iMac, and the other is an older MacBook Air. Both these machines have been feeling incredibly slow in regards to general animations of the User Interface. One obvious way to test this is to bring up Exposé, which then turns both my Macs into stuttering slugs. While I can kind of understand why my old MacBook Air would behave like this, there is absolutely no excuse for my iMac to. Talking about this issue with someone at the Apple Store, I was offered an original workaround.

For a while, I suspected the problem to be a software one. After all, my brand new iMac should be able to handle basic animations such as Exposé or quick app switching. But after waiting for Apple to fix this issue, it appears users experiencing sluggish UI animations on Yosemite have to resort to a good old workaround, as shared by one chatty Genius.

Increase Contrast

As it turns out, going to  > System Preferences > Accessibility > Display, and ticking the Increase Contrast box does the trick.

Ever since doing this, both my Macs feel snappy again. Of course, you lose some of the transparency effects so dear to Jony Ive and you have to deal with sharp contrasts, but at least you regain those previous milliseconds of productivity you had lost to stuttering. As someone who spends the vast majority of my days at my computer, this is a sacrifice I am willing to make.

All this could be avoided if Apple deemed necessary to fix this issue that has apparently plagued more than one user. In the meantime, I’ll have to live with less transparency and sharper boarders. But again, it’s a small price to pay to have your $3,000 iMac work the way it should.

  • dudewassup

    10.10.2 has really fixed this for me so far in the last 24 hours. The software is no longer using Swap memory for me either. Try updating

    • Chris

      Same here, I just updated my iMac 27″ at work and on 10.10.1 animations lagged and even pixelated, on 10.10.2 everything seems perfect.

    • Eldon Martino

      I haven’t tried updating my OS X yet has Apple fixed it yet

  • jaysoncopes

    Ain’t nobody got time for sluggish animations.

    That’s why I payed for over 3GHz of processing power.

    • rockdude094

      Maybe the gpu has something to do with it as well.

    • Dhoklastellar Fafda®™

      Maybe you should’ve just paid instead of payed.

  • I’ve never been a fan of transparency/translucency. I like the Increase Contrast setting, it makes my system look so much better.

  • Siannath

    This really bothers me. I have been using the “Reduce Transparency” option since day one. There is no need for “Increase contrast” to be ON (it is much uglier this way).

    Also, I noticed that the whole UI becomes more sluggish as more icons you have in the top menu bar. This affects even when the “Reduce Transparency” and the “Increase contrast” are ON. Because that, I also recommend using the Bartender app, since it allows you to hide most top menu bar icons.

    In the very same machine I can get Windows 7 with lots of blur and transparency in a totally smoothly way. I think it is a shame that Apple can’t make it work smooth when transparencies are ON.

    So now I have this really ugly OS because of this. Mavericks was very good looking. Yosemite without transparencies is simply awful. Yosemite with transparencies is simply unusable.


  • Eldon Martino

    has Apple fixed there OS X 10.10.2 yet?

  • Skoven

    This is nice. Thanks!
    I actually like the higher contrast look, and it definitely made my animations/scrolling faster on my old alu Macbook from 2008.

  • Truc

    This trick helps on my Retina 15″ Macbook on 10.10.2
    Unbelievably faster!!!!!!
    Thank you.

    • rockdude094

      Try 10.9 its believably faster

      • Dhoklastellar Fafda®™

        for me unbelievably faster.

  • TheAngryPenguin

    I have a MacBook Pro (Retina, 15-inch, Early 2013) with 16 GB RAM and a 512GB SSD — I can confirm that this workaround just works! Interestingly enough, so does enabling “Reduce transparency”.

  • nukefist

    Amazing workaround for my 12-Inch Macbook! I thought it was the processor speed problem. But this simple change makes my system run unfathomably faster.

  • dreamer

    10.10.4 here and had the same issue. Ticking the increase contrast box immediately fixed it. Thank you so much.

  • I had the same problem, and found it was also related to the number of menubar icons I had. I gradually quit apps with a menubar icon–Alfred, Fantastical, Evernote, etc. etc., and the Expose/Mission Control animations got smoother and smoother, until, with just a couple of default icons, they were like butter. It doesn’t seem to be related to any particular app–if I turn them back on in a random order, the animation gets jankier and junkier as I go along. Odd!