Mark Thomas Miller

How to make Atom load faster

For the last year, I’ve dreamt of using Github’s Atom as my daily text editor. It’s beautiful, extendable, and fun to use. There’s only one problem: Atom can be horribly slow.

As developers, we spend most of our time inside text editors. We need them to be reliable, fast, and ready for anything we throw at them.

After a bit of research, I’ve found a simple way to make Atom more speedy and reliable. My approach, surprisingly, doesn’t involve the command line: most of Atom’s speed issues result from unused packages that are installed by default (or by overzealous users like myself).

Of course you want a color picker, custom file icons, linters for languages you’re barely ever using, glowing cursors, and rap horns that blow when you press F1. But before long, Atom takes 15 seconds to start up, and you’re switching back to Sublime.

Not for long. To fix Atom’s speed, you’ll need to ruthlessly eliminate the packages that are slowing it down. You can find out your culprits by installing Atom’s Timecop package:

  1. Open Atom.
  2. Go to Atom > Preferences.
  3. Click on the Install tab on the left menu.
  4. Search for (and install) Timecop.
  5. Open Timecop. Mac users: it’s under Packages > Timecop on the menu.

This will bring you to Timecop’s dashboard which shows the loading time of each package. To make Atom as fast as possible, uninstall every page that’s not vital to your workflow (you can always reinstall some later if need be).

An example of Timecop, an Atom package which allows you to make Atom faster.

Protip: While viewing the Timecop dashboard, you can click on the name of an extension to jump to its settings page and uninstall it.

I have a feeling that Atom’s speed won’t be much of an issue in the future, but for now, this is a simple way to improve your speed and eliminate some useless clutter along the way.