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Mac Computer Maintenance

written by: Nicholas•edited by: Michele McDonough•updated: 3/28/2010

Looking for some computer maintenance tips for your Mac computer? There are several things that you can do to increase performance and speed up Mac OS X. For basic maintenance, you don't have to download any additional apps. For deeper system optimization, you may want to download a couple tools.

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    Repair Disk Permissions

    Using OS X Disk Utility to repair disk permissions is one of the most basic Mac computer maintenance steps. You can access the Mac OS X Disk Utility by navigating the path: Finder > Applications > Utilities > Disk Utility. As far as learning how to use Disk Utility to repair permissions, we have a great article to guide you through the process.

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    Delete Cookies and Other Web Browser Temp Files

    Cookies and other temporary Internet files can eventually start to slow down Mac OS X, if they accumulate over a period of time. Thus, a recommended Mac computer maintenance step is to delete these files from your system and regain OS X and browser performance. Doing this is very simple.

    Most likely, you are using Apple's Safari browser that came installed on your Mac. If so, start by launching Safari. Once Safari is opened, click Safari from the top Mac OS X toolbar and select Reset Safari... from the drop down menu. This should bring up the Reset Safari box. Select any or all items that you would like to clear from your Mac. Please note, once deleted these files are not easily recoverable. Make sure that you check only the items that you want to clear. For example, you may not want to clear saved names and passwords. Click the Reset Safari button. Upon doing so, the Safari browser will restart with your new settings.

    If you are using the popular web browser Firefox, deleting cookies and other temporary Internet files is just as simple. To start, launch Firefox and make sure that it's active and open on your desktop. Once Firefox is ready to go, click Tools from the top Mac OS X toolbar and select Clear Recent History... from the drop down menu. This will bring up a screen where you can select which files you want to save/delete, and select the duration for time in which you want Firefox to delete these files. For example, you can choose only to delete files from within the last hour.

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    Configure OS X Login Items

    By default, Mac OS X has several settings, accessible by: Apple logo > System Preferences, that can slightly affect OS X performance. For example, if you have several applications that start up every time you power on your Mac, you may want to eliminate some of them to get back some of your Mac's resources. To do so, navigate the path: Apple logo > System Preferences > Accounts > Login Items. From this screen, you can check/uncheck any apps that you do not want to start up automatically with your Mac.

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    Unlock Hidden System Preferences

    Above, we mentioned that there are several items listed under System Preferences that allow you to adjust settings for Mac OS X. If you want to take Mac computer maintenance and customization to another level, you may be interested in downloading the TinkerTool app, which unlocks several additional System Preferences. You can learn more about TinkerTool and it's capabilities here.

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    Other Resources

    In certain cases, it's a good idea to do a clean install of OS X, in order to regain full performance out of your Mac. If this is something that you may be interested in, we have a step by step tutorial.

    If you are running an older version of Mac OS, such as Tiger or Leopard, you may want to consider upgrading to the latest version of Snow Leopard, as it is a more refined operating system. Upgrading to Snow Leopard is very simple.

    Want to learn about a utlity that will allow you check the health of your Mac's hardware: hard drive, RAM, CPU, etc...? Check out this review of TechTool Deluxe.