I get all sorts of computer related questions from friends and family, because I am [one of] the resident computer-whiz[-wannabe], and last week a friend asked me how she could clean up and speed up her sluggish Mac. She’s had her Mac for some years now and it has seen good use. So this is what I told her.
There are certain things you should be doing regularly to keep your Mac in good condition – those will be marked with a *.
1. Clean up old files and caches.*
Use iBoostUp, it’s a great little utility that will clean up a lot of files and caches cluttering up and slowing your computer down. Install it, open it up, select Quick Clean from the left hand menu, deselect Chrome Browser History (if you rely on history to navigate the net faster..I sure do) and the Downloaded Files Cleaner (unless you want everything in it gone, I generally have a lot of things in there I want to keep), and then start the scan. Doing this alone will clear up a lot of messes.
2. Uninstall applications you don’t use.*
Most Mac users know you can uninstall most Mac applications by just dragging them to the Trash, but the problem is, this doesn’t get rid of the extraneous files (preferences, etc) the application stored outside of the application. To make sure those get removed as well (and so truly deleted everything related to the application), install AppTrap, once you’ve installed it, dragging any application to the Trash will allow you to also get rid of other associated files as well.
3. Get rid of unused Startup items*
Many applications have the option to start automatically when you log in. Some of these we want, others we did want but don’t anymore, and a few we never ever used. Get rid of them. They run in the background, hog up precious memory, and slow down your computer further. Go to System Preferences > Users > Login Items tab. Select the ones you want to get rid of and click the ‘-‘ button at the bottom.
4. Delete Dashboard widgets you don’t use
Does anyone really use the Dashboard anymore? Well, I don’t, but at one point I did, so I had a lot of Dashboard widgets. Go to your Dashboard, press the ‘-‘ button on the bottom left, and delete all the widgets you don’t use.
If you don’t use your Dashboard at all (like me), you can disable it entirely (click the link to see how), or if you just want to get rid of it visibly, go to System Preferences > Mission Control > uncheck Show Dashboard as a Space.
5. Get rid of extraneous system languages.
Mac OS X comes with a lot of languages. This is awesome, I love how internationally accessible it is! But the problem is, I am never going to use my Mac in almost any of those languages, so for me, they are useless and hogging up unnecessary space, and space is precious when you have a sluggish Mac. So do yourself a third favour, download Monolingual, and get rid of all the languages you don’t need.
6. Shut down your Mac at least once a week over night.*
Most of us leave our Macs turned on 24/7. I did it when I had an iMac and I do it now with my MacBook Pro. Normally, this is a good thing, because your Mac runs important system processes at night on scheduled days that help your Mac run smoothly. However, a constantly on machine also ends up storing some useless stuff that slows your computer down and can be easily flushed by shutting your computer down. So choose a day of the week. Maybe Sunday night, and when you go to bed, shut down your Mac. Start it up Monday morning. It’ll keep your Mac in healthier shape.
7. Repair permissions in disk utility.*
You use your hard drive all the time. Sometimes a lot of use makes some things go wrong. Fix them and your computer will run faster. Click on the magnifying glass (Spotlight), type in Disk Utility, open it up, select your hard drive in the left pane, and then choose Repair disk permissions. Optionally, once you’re done that, you can also repair disk, but that I leave up to you.
8. Check and Install Updates
I’m really bad for this, because I hate restarting my Mac. So I often procrastinate forever on installing critical OS X updates. If you’re like me, just do it now. Shut all your apps down and just get it over with. Go to the updates panel in the App Store, and just select Update All.
Bonus Points: 1) Manually clean up your downloads and 2) get rid of stupid files on your desktop, in fact, try to have no more than one column of files on your desktop (that slows your computer down too)
And there you have it. 8 relatively painless ways to speed up your Mac. I promise you, your Mac will feel much better after this quick spruce up.