Ask: What Is Distnoted on Mac?

Got an Apple, Mac, or iOS tech question? We've got the answer.

Got an Apple, Mac, or iOS tech question? We've got the answer. In this edition of Ask, we discuss what "distnoted" on Mac is and if there's anything you need to do about it.

Question

I have a Retina MacBook Pro, and I’ve noticed several times a day the laptop suddenly slows to a crawl. Activity Monitor seems to suggest the culprit is something called “distnoted”, which often consumes 100% CPU and 1.5GB of memory. What is this process and how can I get rid of it?

Answer

Distnoted provides “distributed notification services” – we're not sure why it isn’t just called “distnot.” It’s a system process that is normally invisible. Occasionally, it can go a bit haywire. For example, if you use the emacs editor, there’s a bug that indirectly sets distnoted off. Happily, there’s a patch for this here. (If you are using emacs, you might want to disable any anti-virus software, too.) Some people have gone so far as to set up scheduled tasks to automatically kill the distnoted process, but we wouldn’t go to that extreme.


Distnoted is a perfectly benign process, but it can occasionally consume resources and make your Mac slow down.

Distnoted isn’t too critical. Instead, use Activity Monitor to see what apps are running — not just system processes. Quit one app at a time and see if the distnoted activity dies down as well.

Got an Apple tech question? Email ask@maclife.com.