Is your Mac using too much of your internet data? There are a few ways to make your Mac use less data. They basically include turning off certain automatic downloads, closing sync applications, and so on.

You may want to optimize your Mac for data usage if you have a limited internet connection, use a tethered mobile connection, or have a VPN with limited data.

Regardless, this guide will teach you how to keep your Mac using less data online.

1. Disable automatic software update downloads

MacOS software update downloads often consume a huge amount of data. To make your Mac use less data, you should turn off automatic update downloads on your Mac.

You can always manually check for macOS and other updates when you have a better connection.

To turn off automatic update downloads:

  1. Press the Apple Logo in the top left corner of your screen and select System settings.

  2. In System Preferences, click Software update.

  3. Choose Advanced Button at the bottom of the following window.

  4. Disable that here Download new updates when available Possibility.

  5. click OK to save your settings.

From now on, your Mac will no longer automatically check for new software updates. To manually find these updates, go to System settings> Software update on your Mac.

2. Turn off iCloud Sync

If you're using iCloud sync with your Mac, your Mac might sync all of your documents and other files with iCloud's servers. This uses up a significant amount of data, especially when you are syncing large photos and videos.

Fortunately, iCloud lets you choose what to sync, and you can turn off large items:

  1. Press the Apple Logo in the top left corner and select System settings.

  2. Choose Apple ID from the System Preferences window.

  3. Click in the sidebar on the left iCloud.

  4. In the right pane, uncheck the boxes for the items that you don't want to sync with your iCloud account. photos can use a lot of internet data so turn them off.

3. Prevent email attachments from being downloaded

When you receive a new email with an attachment, most email clients tend to download these attachments automatically. This uses your Mac's internet data, and you should turn this off and selectively download attachments if you want to save data.

Related: Tips to Avoid Common Apple Mail Attachment Problems

Most email clients offer the option to switch the download option for email attachments on and off. In the built-in Mail app on the Mac, you can turn this option off as follows:

  1. Start the e-mail App on your Mac.

  2. Press the e-mail Option in the menu bar and select Settings.

  3. Go to Accounts Tab in the window that opens.

  4. Select your email account from the list on the left.

  5. In the right pane, click the Download attachments Drop down menu and select None.

If automatic download of attachments is disabled, you will need to manually download the attachments of the emails you want.

4. Turn off sync options for different apps

Besides iCloud, you may have other apps installed that will sync your Mac's data with the cloud. These apps can include Dropbox, Google Drive, Box, and more. To limit the use of internet data on your Mac, you should turn off syncing in these apps.

Note that turning off sync in these apps will prevent your Mac's data from being uploaded to the cloud.

For example, to turn off syncing in Google Drive:

  1. Press the Google Drive Icon in the menu bar of your Mac.

  2. Press the three points Button next to your account name.

  3. Choose Break from the menu.

Google Drive should stop syncing your files. If you ever want to turn syncing back on, click the same button with the three dots and select Continue.

Related: How to Uninstall and Remove Google Drive from Your PC or Mac

5. Watch low definition videos

Online videos consume a significant amount of data. While you might not want to stop watching videos on the internet just to save data, you can change their resolution so they use less data.

While on a video website, click the video resolution option and choose a lower resolution. That way, your video will play back at a lower quality, which could potentially save a large amount of your data.

On YouTube, you can change the resolution of a video as follows:

  1. Open the page for your video on YouTube.

  2. Click at the bottom of the video equipment Symbol.

  3. Choose quality from the menu that opens.

  4. Choose a lower resolution than your current one. For example, if you are watching videos at 1080p, you do, 720p or lower your new resolution.

  5. Your video will be played in the resolution you selected.

6. Enable content caching

macOS has a feature called content caching, in which a device downloads required content and then allows other devices to use that content instead of downloading the same content again.

It is worth using this feature if you have multiple Apple devices on your network.

To enable content caching on your Mac, do the following:

  1. Press the Apple Logo in the top left corner and select System settings.

  2. Choose share in the System Settings window.

  3. Activate the in the options on the left Content caching Possibility.

  4. Wait for content caching to start.

If you ever want to turn the feature off, just turn that off Content caching Option on the share Screen.

7. Close the apps with most of the data

Aside from iCloud and apps like Google Drive, there might be other apps on your Mac that use your internet connection. Take a look at the apps accessing the internet and decide whether or not you really need them now.

If you don't know which apps are using your data, macOS has a utility that you can use to check which apps are using your internet data:

  1. click Launchpad Look in the dock for Activity monitorand open it.

  2. Navigate to the network Activity monitor tab.

  3. Here you will see a list of the apps that are using your internet connection. The columns next to the apps show the amount of data each app is using.

  4. You can use this information to find the data hungry apps and close those apps on your Mac.

There are many ways to save data on Mac

If you have a restricted internet plan or your VPN has certain data limits, the methods outlined above should help you save data on your Mac. All of these methods are easy to perform, and you should see a significant difference in data usage once you begin using these methods.

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About the author

Mahesh Makvana
(299 published articles)

Mahesh is a Tech Writer at MakeUseOf. He has been writing technical guides for about 8 years and has covered many subjects. He loves teaching people how to get the most out of their devices.

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