Accelerating Your Mac Experience

Accelerating Your Mac Experience

It’s been nearly two years since transitioning from Windows to Mac OS X, and the switch has proven resolute. Macs excel in various aspects, though they may lag behind Windows in certain areas, as expected with any operating system. Notably, OS X surpasses in system stability and performance. Take system sluggishness, for example; a modern Mac typically requires five times longer than Windows to exhibit performance deterioration, yet rectifying it is relatively straightforward. Before contemplating an OS reinstallation, consider these steps to optimize OS X speed.

Before delving into maintenance tasks, it’s essential to acknowledge that while Macs typically maintain their speed, this isn’t always the case. The condition largely hinges on your system’s hardware, with older hardware predisposed to sluggishness. Therefore, regardless of the scenario prompting performance decline, implementing these steps can enhance your Mac’s speed (listed without prioritization).

Properly Quit Apps on OS X

OS X typically doesn’t close all programs when clicking the red cross button. Instead, some programs may continue running in the background, though they disappear from the main view. A prime example is Chrome, notorious for consuming significant resources on Macs. OS X’s default behavior marks running programs with a small dot or illumination under their icon, making them easy to identify. To properly quit a program, use the Command + Q shortcut or right-click the Dock icon and choose Quit. Quit unnecessary programs to prevent them from running in the background.

Avoid Chrome Usage on Mac

Consider this as a preventive measure, but worth checking even if your Mac has slowed down. Chrome poses numerous issues on OS X. Unless you’re deeply entrenched in Google’s ecosystem and it’s unavoidable, opt for Safari over Chrome on a Mac. Chrome not only consumes a lot of resources but also clutters your hard drive and installed apps list due to its storage of extensions, bookmarks, and Chrome apps. There’s no secure and optimized method to use Chrome on your Mac; unless Google addresses these issues, your best option is to avoid Chrome entirely.

If Safari doesn’t meet your needs, here’s a list of the best browsers for Mac OS X to consider.

Utilize the Activity Monitor

Macs feature a powerful Activity Monitor to examine CPU, Disk, Memory, Energy, and Network Usage by processes and apps. If your system is slowing down, check the CPU and Memory tabs on Activity Monitor to identify resource-hungry apps. Sort items by power or processor usage to easily spot offenders.

Restart Your Mac Occasionally

OS X’s power management is incredibly efficient, arguably the best among desktop platforms. However, this efficiency presents a challenge. With no pressing need to power off or shut down your Mac, it’s easy to fall into the habit of simply closing the lid when not in use. While convenient, this habit can lead to your Mac going weeks without a reboot. Consequently, the system may retain unnecessary fragments and corrupted processes. Therefore, it’s advisable to restart your Mac if you encounter slowdown issues; often, this simple action is all that’s required.

Review Your Mac’s Start-Up Items

Every operating system includes a list of start-up items: programs that activate as soon as the system boots. Some are critical to the OS; others, we add for convenience. Typically, numerous apps request launch permission upon login, leading to an overcrowded list of startup items. Thus, periodically audit your startup list and remove unnecessary items.

To access Login Items, open System Preferences, navigate to Users & Groups, choose your user, and click Login Items. Remove unnecessary items from system startup by selecting them and clicking the minus button.

Optimize Your Mac’s Storage

An almost full storage slows down any operating system, regardless of the platform (and no, we’re not referring to RAM; it’s storage space). Critical system files are constantly stored and deleted, and insufficient storage leads to difficulty in managing items (not to mention, it’s untidy). As a rule, maintain more than 10% of total storage as free space.

To check available storage on a Mac, one method is to click the Apple logo in the top left corner of the Menu Bar and choose About This Mac. Then, select the Storage tab to view available storage and which file types consume the most space.

For cleaning up, reliable third-party programs are available. OnyX is a versatile candidate, offering more than just hard drive cleanup. Monolingual is another tool worth considering for removing extra language files, potentially freeing up significant storage space, particularly if additional languages aren’t needed. Lastly, for removing unwanted apps, consider AppCleaner, a free utility that not only uninstalls apps but also removes their remnants from your Mac.

Minimize Visual Effects on Your Mac

Accelerating Your Mac Experience

Though not my preference, some claim this method works for them. OS X achieves its aesthetic appeal through various visual animations and effects. If your system is sluggish, reducing these effects may help.

  • Magnification
  • Minimize windows to application icons
  • Animate application openings
  • Automatically hide and show the dock

Additionally, in the Minimize windows dropdown menu, choose the Scale effect instead of the Genie effect.

The second step involves reducing transparency. Navigate to Accessibility settings in System Preferences, then select Display and enable Reduce transparency.

Note: Please be advised that these actions may negatively affect the appearance and functionality of OS X. It’s recommended to consider them only as a last resort.

Disable FireVault On Mac

This is an area where sacrifices may be necessary to improve performance. FireVault is OS X’s default encryption method for safeguarding personal data. Since Yosemite, it has been enabled by default. On older Macs, this can significantly reduce performance. Disabling it may boost performance, but it exposes your data as it will no longer be encrypted.

To adjust FireVault settings, navigate to the Security & Privacy pane in System Preferences. Simply turn it off if unnecessary, and restart your Mac for good measure.

Limit Multi-User Logins

OS X offers robust account management, allowing multiple users simultaneous access. Yet, an issue arises when users run programs in the background, consuming RAM unnecessarily. If a user won’t be active for a while, logging off rather than switching users is advisable to free up system resources.

Perform Disk First Aid Regularly

Occasionally, certain files on your Mac may have permissions or disk block issues. Fortunately, OS X provides a straightforward solution. Open Disk Utility from Launchpad, choose your primary hard disk, and click the First Aid button. This will resolve most common problems.

Resetting Your Mac’s SMC

Resetting the SMC is a last-resort measure before a full system reinstallation. The SMC, or System Management Controller, oversees power management, adapters, video drivers, disk fan controllers, and more. Resetting the SMC can resolve various Mac issues.

Resetting the SMC varies depending on your Mac model.

If you own a Macbook without a removable battery, ensure it’s connected to power. Press Control + Shift + Option + Power simultaneously. Release these keys, then use the power key to turn on your Macbook to reset the SMC.

If your Macbook has a removable battery, unplug it and remove the battery. Then, press and hold the Power key for about 5 seconds. Reinsert the battery, plug the laptop back in, and power it on. SMC reset complete.

For iMac, Mac Mini, or Mac Pro, it’s simple. The SMC resets every time the system is unplugged (not just shut down). To manually do it, turn off your Mac, unplug it, wait about 20 seconds, and plug it back in.

Fixing a slowed-down Mac isn’t exact. Many fixes may work, while others might not. Here, we’ve collected common fixes that should work in most scenarios, but extreme measures may be necessary. Increasing RAM and hard disk space is obvious but costly. Backing up Photos libraries to an external location, perhaps online, is recommended, though time-consuming. The most drastic option is investing in a newer, higher-specced Mac. It’s up to you how to manage your Mac, but try these tips first before resorting to extreme measures.