How to speed up Mac by killing Daemons and Agents

Hidden background apps may be slowing down your Mac. Here’s how to fix that potential impact to your Mac’s performance.

In any UNIX-based computer system, including macOS, the operating system runs a variety of background processes to perform certain tasks silently. On macOS, these are generally divided into two categories: daemons and agents.

A daemon is a faceless background task that runs continuously to perform some tasks. There are several common daemons on macOS: launchd to launch other processes, accounts (which manages user accounts), cloudd – which runs iCloud services, bluetoothd – for BlueTooth services, and many others.

Similar to daemons are agents, background apps that are allowed to interact with foreground applications and occasionally present small user interfaces. securityd is one such example, as you see this agent in action every time your Mac asks for an administrator password.

You can view most processes, including daemons and agents, running on your Mac by opening macOS’s Activity Monitor app located in the Utilities folder on your Startup Disk. You can also see details about running processes in Terminal by typing top and pressing Return.

Most of Apple’s system daemons and agents have been well-refined over the years. After decades of development, they run smoothly and seamlessly, so you hardly ever notice them running.

But third-party daemons and agents also exist. If they are poorly written, they can perform badly, hog CPU time, cause excessive disk access, and otherwise behave in ways that can slow down your Mac.


Currently on macOS, daemons and agents live in two folders inside your /Library folder: LaunchAgents and LaunchDaemons.

Actually, the daemon and agent binaries that get executed don’t live in these folders – instead .plist, or property list files live in both locations. .plist files are XML files that contain key-value pairs – with each key being a name with a corresponding value.

There is also a second LaunchAgents folder in your user’s Library folder. You can open and view…