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10 Steps to Improving Your Mac's Performance

written by: Marziyya S Malik •edited by: Rebecca Scudder•updated: 8/25/2009

Own a Mac? Concerned about its performance? Here are a few simple steps you can take to improve your Mac’s performance.

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    1. Get rid of things you don’t need any more and Defragment the Drive

    Allocating more space on the hard disk for the OS X by removing unnecessary programs and files helps the Mac to work more efficiently. This also helps you find what you need faster and for the Mac, searching through your desired file would also become faster. Hence, deleting unneeded files, folders, applications and fonts is always helpful.

    Deleting files is a good idea but it comes with a price. When data is written on a hard disk and then deleted, little empty spaces are created all over the disk where subsequent files can be saved. When you try to save a large file (say a video file), it will not be saved in a particular empty space rather it will be separated into multiple empty spaces on the hard disk. If you would want to access this file, the Mac will have to go to various areas of the disk to fetch the scattered pieces of the file. A file in scattered locations is considered fragmented. Accessing fragmented files takes more time than accessing a non-fragmented file. Therefore, after deleting all the unnecessary data, get defragmenter software and run it to defragment the fragmented files. It is a good idea to run the defragmenter tool two to four times per year.

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    2. Get Rid of Problem Applications

    Removing the applications you do not use also help improve your Mac’s efficiency and performance. By doing this, you, too improve your performance because all the junk and unnecessary files have been moved into Trash and you do not have to scan through them to find what you need.

    In addition to this, you can also look for applications that you installed with your printer, scanner, digital camera, etc and remove them if you don’t use them. You might also have beta or expired programs you used and did not like, remove these, too.

    Many things come preinstalled with Mac and you probably don’t need these, too. These things include iTunes, iPhoto, iDVD, iMovie, iCal and many other applications. You can certainly delete these if you do not use them. Similarly, any other thing on your Mac that you do not use, get rid of it.

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    3. Install Upgrades

    You can improve your Mac’s performance by configuring it to download and install necessary updates automatically. When automatic download is enabled, Mac downloads updates both for system components and the operating system. The updates help enhance Mac’s performance, increase security and also solve known problems such as bugs in the previous updates, software programs. Updates may also contain new drivers for the hardware, which are necessary for the smooth running of the Mac.

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    4. Disable all Unnecessary Components

    There are many system components in the Mac OS X that offer some improvements but if you are not using any, it is preferable to remove them. For instance, fonts, preferences, extensions can be removed. These surplus files increase startup time and slow the reaction time. It is also possible to change the applications’ preferences. You can also delete the screensavers, desktop images or reduce the color intensity of your desktop to speedup redraw. You can inactivate Remember Recently Used Items, Calculate All Size. Many tweaks like these improve Mac’s performance significantly.

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    5. Get Organized

    There are many ways to organize the data. The simplest way is to create different folders inside the Home folders and move the current files to the appropriate folder. It is a good idea to create a plan when creating folders. You can easily get a clue for the folder plan from the hardware connected to your Mac. You might use an iPod, musical instrument or a digital camera. If so, start from here.

    The idea behind this is to look hard at what you use your computer for and make folders that represents what you do and how you do it. You can also move frequently needed folders onto the desktop and use labels to highlight folders’ name for quick recognition. This will help you finding files much faster and easier.

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    6. Clean Up the Dock and Finder Windows

    When it comes to fine-tuning Mac’s performance, it is very important to clean up the Dock, Desktop and Finder items. If your Dock has too many icons, remove them. Is there a program you frequently use? Add it to the Finder toolbar or Dock. Personalizing this way also help you work more efficiently.

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    10 Steps to Improving Your Mac's Performance - Page 2It is important to secure your Mac by installing antivirus , antispyware and firewall programs. Unless you secure your Mac, the viruses will find their way to your computer to cause harm to its performance. Maintain your Mac after deleting all the junk from it by regularly running Disk Utility to check for corrupt files. You should also run disk scans using Mac OS X disc. Backup your system when in good state. This will help you restore your system in case of a crash
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    7. Manage Email Spam

    A little negligence with emails can attract a large quantity of junk in spam form. Prevention is the best way to keep spam to a minimum level and there are many things that can be done to lessen the spam amount you get. Most spam come with emails generated by newsgroup, vendors, forums and other sources. In order to prevent spam coming into your email account, make sure you do not subscribe to any such website because some of them could be involved in generating spam emails. Also, take advantage of the Junk filtering option in your email account, too.

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    8. Maintain Your Mac After Cleaning The Junk

    Maintaining your Mac after removing all the junk from it will assist it perform better and for more time. There are many things you can do in your regular routine. For example you can use Disk Utility to verify and repair permissions, clean up caches, use the Mac OS X CD to scan the startup disk for errors, ZAP the PRAM in case of strange crashes and enable automatic updates

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    9. Secure Your Mac

    Securing a Mac is just as significant as increasing its performance. Cleaning and maintaining a Mac does not do much good if you are going to leave your Mac unlocked for any one to enter in without permission. It is not a good idea to go through the effort of organizing its files and folders, running maintenance tasks, getting it working efficiently, when you have left a way open to viruses, spywares, malicious co-workers, thieves – all who can cause harm to your Mac. Therefore, it is crucial to safeguard your Mac by installing anti-virus, anti-spyware software, enabling Mac OS X ‘s firewall, letting friends use a visitor account and setting up firmware password.

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    10. Back Up The System

    Mac comes with installation CDs, which can be used to restore the system at time of a problem. However, they will not restore the personal data such as your Preferences, folders, fonts and music you have collected, video files, mailbox files, Internet cookies, etc. It makes it necessary that you use a third-party backup application that will handle all the backup jobs for you. There are plenty of programs you can buy to help you in running a backup regularly; have a look at www.apple.com or www.download.com.