Tuneup Your OS X Mac – Part 1

I have found my 2011 Mac Mini acting sluggish lately, so I decided to
tune it up some. I searched the Web and this is the summary of what I found and tried. This has seemed to make my Mac run faster.

The Simple Stuff

Restart the Mac – If you are running a desktop Mac that runs all the time, it may be beneficial to simply reboot it occasionally[1]. As I leave my Mac Mini running all of the time, this was the first thing that I tried.

Clear the Desktop – Simply having too many items on the system desktop can impede performance[2, 3]. You shoul have the minimal number of items being displayed on the dektop. If you need access to items from the desktop, create a folder on the desktop and move the items there[4]. Or create folders and add the to the ‘Dock’ for easy access.

Fragmentation – If you are a Windows user, you would think that the first thing to do is to defrag the disk. Generally there is no defragmentation needed on OS X systems. The filesystem used by OS X has optimization[5, 6] built in that will automatically handle fragmented files under most conditions. You may need to defrag your disk if your disk is more than 80% full or if you are using a program that uses the disk heavily such as video manipulation[4] or witch create very large files[6].

Available Boot Drive Space – I checked the amount of free space on the boot drive (In the ‘Finder’ >> File >> click on ‘Get Info’). This will show you the information on your boot drive, including the amount of free space.

Depending on the source referenced, you should always have 10%[7, 8, 3] to 20% (a minimum of 10G[5] to 20G) of free space on
the boot drive. Depending on the aplications you are usually running, more space may be needed to accomodate application scrath files. Mac OS X also uses substantial disk space for Virtual Memory[1]. The bottom line is the more space available on the boot drive the better and a target of 20% or more is a good rule of thumb. I am right at 80% used on my boot drive. I need to look at either reducing the space being used, or consider another disk. I will cover steps to clean up the disk in Part 2.

Boot Drive Speed – The faster (7200 rpm or an SSD) the boot drive the better[5]. In my case the Apple supplied disk is only 5400 rpm (Found by clicking the Apple icon in the top left corner of the screen >> About this Mac >> More Info >> System Report >> SATA / SATA Express. The Rotational Rate of the divice is listed). The first item then to add to a upgrade shopping list is a faster disk.

Too Many Applications Running
If you have too many applications running simultaneously, then the
drain on memory and CPU will degrade performance. Be sure that you have not set too many applications to autostart when your Mac is booted. A quick way to verify what is running is to either look at the ‘Dock’ on your desktop, or bring up ‘Force Quit’ (Found by clicking the Apple icon in the top left corner of the screen >> Force Quit). Anytime you have an application that is running that you are not currently using, it is a good practice to quit it to free up resources.

You may want to review the ‘Startup Items’ or ‘Login Items” [1] to be
sure that only items are being started at boot that you really need
(Click the Apple icon in the top left corner of the screen >> System Preferences >> Users & Groups >> Login Items). Open applications
will insert “helper” programs into the list. You may want to remove
these if you are not using the programs on a routine basis[8].

While you have the ‘System Preference’ window open, look at the bottom row where the Other items are listed. Review these to see if they all are still needed[1].

Dashboard – You may or may not be using the Dashboard anymore, but if you have many widgets set up they can be using system resources [9]. Open the ‘Finder’ >> Applications >> Dashboard. Once you open the ‘Dashboard’ you can click on the “-” button at the bottom of the screen. An “X” will appear on each of the widgets allowing them to be removed as desired.

Universal Access – If you do not need the features of ‘Universal Access’ then you should make sure that they are all turned off. (Click the Apple icon in the top left corner of the screen >> System Preferences >> Accessibility. Go through the different Preference panes to insure that any features you do not need are disabled.

In “Tuneup Your OS X Mac – Part 2” I will address how to clean up the boot disk to recover space.

Related Articles

  1. Tuneup Your OS X Mac – Part 2 . . . Easy Disk Cleanup
  2. Tuneup Your OS X Mac – Part 3 . . . Safari
  3. Tuneup Your OS X Mac – Hardware Upgrades


1- 11 No Cost Tips for Optimizing Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger Performance
2 – 4 Simple Mac Maintenance Tips
3 – OS X, Mavericks: 5 steps to a faster Mac
4 – Macintosh OS X Routine Maintenance
5 – Enhancing Performance of your Mac
6 – Disk fragmentation and Mac OS X (Redux)
7 – How to improve Mac performance: OS X Mavericks edition
8 – Seven maintenance tips to optimize Mac performance
9 – Tuning Mac OS X Performance

See the directory to all Mac OS X posts

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