Speeding up low priority stuff on a Mac

I’m in the middle of taking a MacBook Pro I have that’s been sitting idle and setting it up as my kid’s computer. First thing I had to do was to wipe it clean. Then a reload (High Sierra was loaded on it). As part of the setup, I stupidly turned on FileVault.

I then went to upgrade to Catalina and I have to wait HOURS while the drive is encrypted. That’s ridiculous. It’s a brand new install with nothing on the encrypted drive but the basic OS install.

However, I did find a neat little trick and figured I would share:

sudo sysctl debug.lowpri_throttle_enabled=0

That disables the low priority mode for a bunch of services like Time Machine and FileVault. The progress bar is still showing hours, but it’s significantly faster. In the few minutes I’ve had it on, the progress bar has moved from ~20% to ~50%!

Great tip for future reference.

Oh, and this does not persist across boots. Not sure I want it on all the time, but in case I do, there is a mechanism to do that via Launch Daemons. I’ll experiment with that on this MBP when I’m running Catalina. I fear that it will not work there because of the new sandboxing of the OS. More on that later.

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