In Part 2 of this series I identified some ways to reduce the space being used on your boot disk by removing files. Some of the largest disk usage comes from the standard Apple applications like iTunes, iPhoto and Safari. The focus of this segment of the series will address Safari.
Users often have problems with Safari bogging down and/or exhibiting the spinning beach ball. When this starts to be a problem, there are several things that you can do to speed Safari back up .
Close Tabs and Windows – If your Safari starts to slow down, the first thing to do is to close unnecessary tabs and windows. Every open tab/window takes ups system memory. You will notice that Safari becomes more responsive as you reduce the number of open tabs/windows. Not only will closing tabs/windows improve Safari’s performance, but it will improve the performance of other running apps by freeing system resources.
Relaunch Safari – The next thing to do is to quit the application and launch it again. Before doing that though, close all of the browser windows that you are no longer needing. Every browser window you have open takes up system memory. In particular having the Twitter or Facebook pages open ties up substantial system resources. It is best to close all but the browser windows that you currently need, bookmarking or adding to the reading list those pages you want to come back to later. This will give you a leaner application when it is restarted.
Top Sites – Safari maintains a Top Sites feature. To do this, Safari caches almost every site that you visit. This can easily degrade Safari performance and take up disk space. Unfortunately, simply emptying the cache will not clear these files.
You can “turn off” this feature by: Opening the Finder >> Option-click the Go menu >> choose the Library folder >> Caches >>com.apple.Safari>> Webpage Previews. Move all of the contents of that folder to the trash. That will clear out the .png files for the recent pages.
To disable the Top Sites feature entirely once you have emptied the cache, select the Webpage Previews folder >> File >> Get Info. In the Get Info window, check the Locked checkbox. This will prevent any further files being written to the folder.
When I checked this on my Mac Mini I had almost 400 files in the folder taking up nearly 200MB of disk space. I only switched to using Safari as the default browser this past spring so you can see how quickly this folder fills up. I have seen where other users found this to be in the multi GB range on their Macs.
Safari Extensions – We all often hear about extensions we want to try and add them to our browser. These can add functionality to the browser, but they do cost resources. How many extensions have you added to Safari? To see, click on Safari >> Preferences >> then click on the Extensions tab. All of the Extensions you have installed will be listed. To improve Safari performance, Uninstall or disable those that you are not using.
To see what Extensions are available, click on Safari >> Safari Extensions. That will take you to the Apple Extensions site where you can look through the extensions that are available.
Restore Safari – A simple and usually effective thing to do is to restore Safari to reset it. This will clear out Safari’s cache and all of the other stuff that has been accumulating. To do this open Safari >> Choose “Reset Safari” from the Safari menu >> Uncheck the ‘Remove saved names and passwords’ and ‘Remove other autofill form data’ boxes >> click on the Reset button.
Do you have Flash installed? – I do not install Flash as it simply has had too many security vulnerabilities in the past. When I need Flash to view a site, I use the Chrome browser which has a Flash reader built into it. However, if you do have Flash installed you need to make sure that it is up to date. This will mitigate any known security issues and out dated Flash is known to cause stability and speed problems . You can get the latest Flash player directly from Adobe at http://get.adobe.com/flashplayer/.
In addition to the web cookies that most are familiar with, Flash has it’s own set of cookies. Safari’s built-in security features don’t block and can’t purge Flash Cookies. Accumulating Flash cookies can cause the browser to slow down. To delete your Flash cookies open the Finder >> Option-click the Go menu >> Your ~/Library will appear in the menu; choose it >> Trash all of the files in the folder at: /Preferences/Macromedia/Flash Player/#SharedObjects. – Then open the Finder again >> Option-click the Go menu >> Your ~/Library will appear in the menu; choose it >> Trash all of the files in the folder at: /Preferences/Macromedia/Flash Player/macromedia.com/support/flashplayer/sys. If you don’t want to receive Flash cookies in the future, do a Get Info on each of these folders and lock them (using the “Locked” checkbox, not the little lock icon in the Get Info window).
See all of my Mac OS X related posts