Speed Up OS X
Most Mac users scoff at all the Windows users out there clamoring over utilities to help speed up/clean up/optimize their PCs. They laugh heartily at all the sluggish Windows machines out there that can’t even seem to open Notepad with any modicum of efficiency. But Macs are not immune to slow downs and sluggishness, especially if you have an older Mac that you’ve upgraded to keep pace with OS X versions. Below are a few recommendations to speed up OS X and keep your Mac running smoothly:
Kill Resource Hogs
- See what’s running. Like any other computer, applications can bog down a Mac if there are too many open at once, or if one or more are hogging resources. To see what’s going on, press Command+Space Bar to bring up Spotlight, then type “activity monitor” and hit enter. The system activity monitor will come up and allow you to see what is using CPU and Memory resources. If there’s something that is going overboard on resource usage, you can force quit the app by hitting the red “stop sign” in the upper left.
Make Good Use of Command+Q
- Quit unused applications. If you’ve used OS X for a while, you know that hitting the red “x” in the upper left corner of a window does not close that application. Instead, you must either click the application’s name in the menu bar and click “Quit” or press Command+Q. If you’re in the habit of using the red “x” then you’ve probably got a bunch of unnecessary stuff open all the time. Closing some of these down can help speed up OS X.
Repair Your Disk
- Repair disk permissions. This is analogous to cleaning out the Registry on Windows and can help speed up OS X. If you’re using something other than El Capitan, repairing permissions is almost always helpful to weed out strange issues or system slowdowns. Just hit Command+Space Bar to bring up Spotlight and type “Disk Utility.” When Disk Utility opens, click your hard disk on the left and hit “First Aid” and then the “Repair Permissions” button. If you have a lot of issues, or haven’t done this in a while (or ever) the process could take a while. Apple made changes in El Capitan to protect the permissions more effectively, so if you’re on Apple’s latest and greatest (for now) version of OS X, repairing disk permissions isn’t even an option.
Clean Your Boots
- Clear out your Startup Programs. If you’ve installed a lot of applications, check and see how many of those run at startup when OS X boots. A bunch of stuff running at startup (and continuously in the background) will definitely bog down your Mac
- Install a solid state drive. If your Mac is using a mechanical hard drive (and you can usually tell by it’s size – if you’re rocking more than 500GB, you probably have a mechanical drive). Solid state drives (SSD) contain no moving parts and so read and write data much faster. You sacrifice a little bit on the storage front, but the performance benefits are huge. In order to make the transition as seamless as possible, use a utility called Carbon Copy Cloner to move all your stuff to the SSD and make it bootable. Then crack open your Mac, swap out drives and you’re good to go.
Don’t Be Transparent
- Reduce transparency. OS X is and always has been (IMHO) a beautiful OS. But, if you’re running older hardware (say more than 4 years), some of that beauty may be slowing down your system. If you’re on Yosemite or El Capitan, take the following steps:
- Open Spotlight (Command+Space Bar)
- Click “Accessibility”
- Check “Reduce Transparency”
Dig a Little Deeper
- Reset your SMC. The SMC is your Mac’s System Management Controller and it’s a very low-level process that can be huge to not only speed up OS X, but also to resolve a host of weird issues. How you reset your SMC varies depending on what Mac you’re using, so here’s a quick step-by:
Newer MacBook without a Removable Battery
- Plug the laptop into a power source
- Press and hold all of these keys at the same time: Control + Shift + Option + Power
- Release the keys
- Press the Power button to turn it back on
Older MacBook with Removable Battery
If you’re using an older device that has a removable battery, do the following to reset the SMC:
- Unplug the laptop
- Remove the battery
- Press and hold the power button for 5 seconds
- Put the battery back in and turn everything back on
Mac Mini, Pro, or iMac
If you’re using an Apple desktop, the process is dead simple.
- Turn it off and unplug from the wall
- Wait 30 seconds
- Plug it back in and turn it on
This is far from a comprehensive list, but if you’re Mac seems sluggish, these are probably the best tips to help speed up OS X.