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(Archived) Issue: FireFox Mac 14 May Cause High CPU Usage



  • Level 5*

Issue: FireFox Mac 14 May Cause High CPU Usage

Solution: Install and enable Flash Blocker Add-in on all of your Mac Browsers.


From the very beginning I was impressed by the MacBook Air 13-inch (2011) performance. Everything was very snappy, and I never saw the "spinning wait cursor", or better known as the Mac Beachball. waitcursor.gif In the worst case this can become the "The Spinning Beach Ball of Death" (SBBOD).

However, starting about two months ago, I begin noticing the occasional brief Beachball. Recently it has become much more severe, sometimes requiring a reboot to regain my normal, excellent MBA performance.

I also begin to notice a number of users posting in these forums that they were also often getting the Mac Beachball. Most of them seem to think Evernote was causing the Beachball. Maybe it was. Or maybe it was caused by Firefox/Flash running in the background. You would be amazed by how many ads on every web page are displayed using Flash. And these ads run continuously.

After some research I have discovered at least one cause of the excessive Beachball:

  • Combination of FireFox Mac 14 AND Adobe Flash.

Flash is the main culprit here, but perhaps Firefox needs to do a better job using/integrating Flash into the browser.

I have found two web articles that provide some insight into this issue:

  1. Firefox Mac 14.0.1 Review for Softonic
  2. Firefox uses too many CPU resources - How to fix

From en.softonic.com/mac'>Ref#1: Pros and Cons of FF Mac 14.0.1:


* Improved security when performing Google searches

* Add-on syncing

* Lots of extensions to choose from

* Fast, generally stable browser

* Supports full screen mode in Lion


* No significant changes in design

* Memory leak persists for some

* May not initially work with some add-ons

* High CPU usage with Flash videos

From en-US/kb/firefox-uses-too-many-cpu-resources-how-fix#w_disabling-cpu-consuming-extensions-and-themes'>Ref#2: -- Firefox uses too many CPU resources - How to fix

Many web pages have content you don't need, such as ads, but which still use CPU resources to display its contents (see the plugin section below). Some extensions allow you to hide bothering content:

  • Adblock Plus allows you to hide ads on websites.
  • Flashblock allows you to selectively enable and disable Flash content on websites.
  • NoScript allows you to selectively enable and disable all scripts running on websites

I learned some time ago that running the browser Add-ins that disable Flash can result in a major increase in battery run time. I normally turn on these Add-ins when I am mobile with my MBA, but I tend to turn them off when I have my MBA at my desk, plugged in to power and network.

I have now changed this, and I have the Flash blocker Add-ins turned ON all the time. When I see a web page with a Flash video I want to watch, all I need do is click once on the Flash object. I also run the Flash blocker add-ins for Safari and Chrome.

A key tool is the Mac Activity Monitor. Just type "Activity Monitor" in to the Spotlight Search to find the app, and double-click on it. This will display all of the processes running on your Mac. Click on the "%CPU" column (once or twice until it shows %CPU with a down arrow). This will put the process using the most CPU at the top of the list.

You can now monitor Firefox, and how much CPU it is using.

Please post your experience with the Mac Beachball here.

It would be helpful to all to learn of other causes and solutions.

EDIT: Fix Ref URLs

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  • Level 5*

I've tried Safari, but it is unusable for me for the following reasons:

  1. Most of the UI text is too small, and too low contrast, making it very hard to read for me
  2. It is too hard to distinguish the active from non-active tabs
  3. There are no third-party add-ins that give the user control over any of the above (whereas FF has many add-ins)

This is just me. I'm sure other users, like yourself, find Safari very acceptable.

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A few changes in Safari 6 (particularly in the way tabs are displayed) that may make the experience a little nicer for you.

I don't think there really is much difference between any of them, but Safari 'seems' to render a little quicker to me.

It's definitely a personal choice though and they are all pretty much the same (apart from IE of course)

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