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How To Speed Up Your Mac

Let's face it, Mac computers are much better than PCs when it comes to keeping themselves in great working condition. Unlike your Windows PC, there is not need to defragment the hard disk every few weeks, worry about services taking up too much memory in the background, system tray icons hogging CPU cycles or the dreaded slow down caused by the bloat of the windows registry getting too big.

The multi-threaded design of the operating system used on the Macintosh computers allow it to perform most administration and housekeeping tasks in the background, whist you do not even notice it is happening. I have had my Macbook for over 3 years now and it is still as fast to boot up and get to a “working position” than my faster, technologically superior Windows 7 desktop PC will ever be - even when it was new out of the box.

But with all things, there is a but - and yes, Mac computers can get slow and can be sluggish over time, but you don't need to reformat the drive to recover from it like you do with a Windows PC, you can try these tips to speed your system up and save yourself time and money too. We all know how frustrating it is to turn on a computer and have to go and make a coffee before we start to use it, because it takes that long to boot up.

Find large files on your Mac hard disk

If you are like me, occasionally (actually most of the time in my case) you run out of disk space on your hard drive and you wonder what is eating up so much

Tip 1: Remove large files

One thing I realised was, that after I had been working with large files on the hard disk, my Mac became slower than before. It took longer to boot up and load the desktop icons and took a few minutes to get up and running. To resolve this, I searched the hard disk for files that were larger than 10mb in size and removed the ones I no longer needed (look in the Downloads folder first!).

Tip 2: The desktop is not where you keep your files!

I know it is easy to save all of your files to the desktop and keep them there in pretty colored folders. PC users do the same too, and as a PC tech support person, I have seen many a machine with so many icons on the desktop, they no longer fit onto the screen. The odd thing is, and this goes for Windows machines too, is that the more you have on your desktop, the slower the machine seems to be.

The larger the files, the longer the Mac will take to read them when it loads up, slowing down other services and processes that are starting at the same time. The obvious fix for this is to move the files back to your Documents folder and keep them there. A clear desktop = a happy Mac. If you must have icons or things on your desktop, try creating Aliases for them instead.

Tip 3: Smash that dashboard!

As an ex-PC user, I still can't get used to the Mac Dashboard and those widget things. I see Microsoft have followed suit in Vista and Windows 7 - and I hate them there too! The thing to keep in mind is that, although it is great to have access to a stocks ticker, a clock and a massive collection of yellow “stickies”, all of these things take up memory in the background. Some of the games widgets really pound the CPU too and can make your Mac slower without you even seeing what is happening.

The easy way to fix this is to either, remove all of the widgets from the dashboard or disable it completely.

To disable the dashboard, open Terminal and enter the following command:

defaults write com.apple.dashboard mcx-disabled -boolean YES

You can then either reboot the Macbook or enter the following command into the Terminal window:

killall Dock

If you miss your weather widgets and stocks information, you can reverse the command by entering:

defaults write com.apple.dashboard mcx-disabled -boolean NO

And again either reboot or enter:

killall Dock

Remove Unwanted Start-Up Applications

Simple step by step information on how to remove unwanted startup items from your Mac user accounts preference pane.

Tip 4: Don't start!

Compare to XP, Vista or Windows 7, the Mac OS has very few items that start up when you log in. Although it is possible to have programs start automatically, such as twitter clients or remote control products like LogMeIn. These of course will all take up memory and CPU time whilst they are just sitting there doing nothing, so if they are not needed, get rid of them.

To do this, open up the System Preferences pane, go to Accounts, choose your account and click the Login Items button on the top right. This will show you what is set to load when you log in. Just select the item you want to get rid of and click the minus button underneath, job done!

Tip 5: Neat and tidy, tidy and neat.

Over time, the hard disk will possibly get a few files mixed up here and there and each one of the permissions on those files needs to be kept in check, just so that your Mac (and you) can do exactly what you need to do, when you need to do it. Each individual file has a set of permissions that tell the Mac who is allowed to access it and what they are allowed to do with it. If these rules and permissions become corrupted or mismatched with other files that live in the same place, then it can lead to problems.

This is pretty easy to fix though, you will be glad to hear. Open up the Disk Utility application and select your hard disk on the left hand side (usually at the top). Then, make sure you have the First Aid section open and click the Repair Disk Permissions button at the bottom. The Mac will then whizz through each file and folder on your disk and make sure they are all set correctly.

I have never seen anything go wrong with this process, but safety first - so back up anything you can't do without.

Computers


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