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Improve Your Mac’s Performance – Optimize the Hard Drive

written by: Joli Ballew•edited by: J. F. Amprimoz•updated: 2/5/2009

You can improve your Mac’s performance by disabling unnecessary applications so they don’t use system resources on startup, logging on automatically, and by applying other miscellaneous performance tweaks.

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    Enhance Performance

    How long does it take to start your car? It shouldn’t take that long. You should be able to turn the key and have the car start immediately. Sometimes, though, it takes a little longer. Maybe you left the headlights on and it has to struggle a bit, maybe the air conditioning is set to maximum, or maybe it’s just too cold or too hot to start properly.

    The same types of things can happen to your Mac. You can have problems with the startup process for any number of reasons. Fortunately for you, there are ways to tweak the startup process so that it works as it should and remains trouble-free.

    There are lots of ways to enhance the boot process, and I’ll introduce a few of them here. They include making sure unnecessary applications don’t use system resources on startup, logging on automatically, and applying other miscellaneous performance tweaks.

     

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    Get Rid of Unnecessary Startup Items

    Some programs start by default when your Mac boots. The more items you have configured to boot automatically, the longer the startup process will take. In contrast, the fewer items you have, the faster startup will finish. To improve the startup process, then, let’s take a look at what you have configured on your computer to startup automatically:

    1.      Open System Preferences>Accounts.

    2.      Select your account.

    3.      Select Startup Items.

    4.      Notice what items are in the list. These items will start automatically when your Mac boots.

    5.      While all of the items in the list will start and open automatically, you can remove the checkmark beside any item to hide the application when you log in.

    6.      To change the order that applications are started, click and drag the item to a new area of the list.

    7.      To remove an item from the list, select it and choose the – sign to delete it. Removing an item from this list prevents it from starting when your Mac boots.

     

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    Log On Automatically

    Another way to shave a few seconds off the startup process is to log in to your account automatically. This is a good option for people who don’t share a computer with others. You can still use it if you do share the computer with others, but you’ll be leaving yourself open to intrusion and reducing your level of security. In addition, you’ll probably frustrate anyone who restarts the computer and needs to log on themselves!

    If you do decide to configure the computer to log on automatically using your personal user account:

    1.      Open System Preferences>Accounts.

    2.      Click Login Options.

    3.      Check Automatically Log In As: and select your account as the one who is chosen to log on automatically.

    4.      Inform users that if you are logged in and they need to access their account, they should not restart the computer; that will only log you back in again. Instead, tell them to select the Apple menu and Log Out <your user name>, and then they will be able to log in successfully.

     

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    Other Ways to Tweak Your System

    There are many ways to improve your Mac’s performance including getting updates for software or hardware device drivers, disabling system-intensive screen savers and themes, choosing the appropriate display for your Mac, and obtaining and using a third-party performance enhancer.

    These can make a noticeable difference. However, if you have an old Mac and have run out of options, check out these performance tweaks:

    ·                     Disable menu fadeouts by downloading and installing FruitMenu. Menus will snap in instead of fade in, saving a millisecond or two.

    ·                     Disable file sharing if you don’t need it (System Preferences>Sharing).

    ·                     Deactivate Remember Recently Used Items (System Preferences>Appearance).

    ·                     Disable Font Smoothing (System Preferences>Appearance).

    ·                     View pictures in iPhoto by roll.

    ·                     Turn off extensions in Classic that you don’t need.

    ·                     Disable fonts you don’t use.

    ·                     Change the spring-loaded folders and windows delay to Short (Finder>Preferences>General).

    ·                     Disable Calculate All Sizes in the Finder windows (View>As List, then View>Show View Options).

    ·                     Avoid using iTunes to play music while also trying to perform a system-intensive task such as editing a large photograph or editing a movie. There just might not be enough power to do both effectively.

    ·                     Install more RAM.

    ·                     Continue degunking.

    There are lots of tweaks that, although seemingly insignificant when performed separately, really add up when combined with others.