Fix lagging display performance on retina MacBook Pro

This weekend my Mac suddenly started behaving strangely: moving windows around occurred with a nearly psychodelic delay, mission control (aka exposé) was “jerky”, and scrolling was not fun. Forcing the graphics card to the discrete NVIDIA GT 650 instead of integrated Intel GPU sped things up, but the overall experience still didn’t feel right. Since the onset was sudden I immediately though: imminent hardware failure! But thankfully that turned out not to be the case.

Scouring forums for answers led me here, which worked for me!. The basic idea: delete some preferences files and reset the PRAM:

  • Delete /Library/Preferences/com.apple.windowserver.plist
  • Delete ~/Library/Preferences/ByHost/com.apple.windowserver*.plist
  • Shutdown OSX
  • Startup, immediately press and hold the P and R keys while holding down the option (⌥) and command (⌘) keys before the gray boot screen appears, which resets the PRAM
  • You may have to reset your display preferences (resolution) once you login
  • Done!

2013-08-12: fixed typo in preference plist filename.

8 comments

  1. Andreas

    Thank you! My MBP (mid 2009) all of the sudden had this lag, but your instructions fixed it!

    • David

      Great! I can’t take credit for the instructions (found them in the above-mentioned Apple forum link), but I was so happy the solution was a simple reset and not a hardware issue! 🙂

  2. Pingback: Enfin plus aucun lag sur Macbook Pro Retina! - IT Blog
  3. Private

    You wrote “windowsserver” (with two ‘s’), but meant “windowserver” (with one ‘s’). There are no files with two ‘s’.

  4. thihasoe222

    is animation still left after this process?
    i just want to make sure as i have the same problem too

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