System hardware is a major part of the decision-making process when purchasing a computer. The CPU type and performance are often the greatest concern. That’s why many users want to check the CPU performance and resource usage from time to time. If you want to know how to check your CPU usage on Mac, this tutorial will show you how.

Check CPU Usage on Mac with Activity Monitor

You can check your Mac CPU performance and manage it by using the built-in Activity Monitor application. The Activity Monitor is a utility on Mac that monitors performance for programs that are running on the computer. Sometimes, a computer can run slowly or poorly due to size and conflict issues within the apps.

The Activity Monitor on Mac can help you to identify problems that may be the cause of the malfunction.

To view your CPU Usage on Mac, follow these steps:

Activity Monitor

1. Access the Activity Monitor in Spotlight by pressing the Command + spacebar shortcut keys. When Spotlight opens, type Activity Monitor in the search box and choose it from the list. You can also access Activity Monitor in Finder > Applications.

If the Activity Monitor is not displayed in Finder on your Mac, type Activity Monitor in Spotlight and choose Display in Finder from the list. Once launched, the Activity Monitor will open in a separate window:

The screenshot above shows the CPU pane which reflects the performance of processes on your Mac that affect the performance of the CPU.

2. You can click on %CPU at the top of the first column to sort the percentages of CPU capacity that is used by the processes.

3. You can also change the CPU setting to Memory, Energy, Disk, or Network settings to view more aspects of your Mac.


4. The CPU and GPU can be displayed separately in windows and on the Dock. In the Activity Monitor, you can view the CPU pane, which displays the processes effect on the CPU activity. At the bottom of the CPU pane, there is a small area that contains more useful information.

As shown in the screenshot, the total number of Processes running, and total number of Threads used by all of the processes combined are displayed on the right side of the box. The meaning of the different headings in the CPU pane are as follows:

  • System is the percentage of CPU capacity that is currently being used by the System Processes, which are the processes owned by Apple. Processes that aren’t owned by the root user are classified as Other User Processes.
  • User is the percentage of CPU capacity that is currently being used by open apps or the processes that opened due to those apps.
  • CPU Load is the percentage of CPU capacity that is currently being used by all User and System processes. The graph in the screenshot above moves from right to left at a frequency that is set in View > Update Frequency. The red portion of the graph shows the percentage of the total CPU capability that is currently being used by the system processes.
  • Idle is the percentage of CPU capacity that is not being used.
  • You can also access the Memory pane which contains memory usage information that is presented similar to the CPU pane. You can view how much RAM is on your Mac and how much memory is being used by all of the apps and processes.

Check CPU Usage from the Dock

You can also check your CPU usage from the Dock on Mac. To do this, follow these steps:

1. Choose Window > CPU Usage to open a window showing the CPU activity.

2. Go to View > Dock Icon > Show CPU Usage to display the graph from the Dock.

3. To view recent processor activity in a new window, choose Window > CPU History. To show the graph of it on the Dock, go to View > Dock Icon > Show CPU History.

4. To view recent graphics processor activity, go to Window > GPU History.

Contact Apple Support

If you were not able to check the CPU usage on your Mac by following the steps in this tutorial, you can contact Apple Support or the Genius Bar for more help.