5 Steps to Speed Up an Apple Mac Computer
You might have purchased an Apple Mac, used it frequently, and wondered why it’s slowly coming to a halt, crashing frequently and generally not being responsive. It’s not a problem with the actual computer. Even though websites try to advertise extremely expensive software which *claims* to speed up your Mac, paid solutions, which are mainly scams, actually slow it down even more and don’t benefit your system.
You don’t need any expensive software or hardware solutions to speed up and fix your Mac. All you need is some time to experiment with built-in utilities, as well as free tools downloadable online. You can speed up your Mac, as well as free up unneeded space, remove processes which are not needed and may be weighing down performance, as well as how to optimize your boot routine.
Step 1: Booting
If you can log on to your Mac normally and operate it without frequent crashes or slowdowns upon boot, you can continue onwards. Your system should be running at a capacity good enough to perform basic operations without any issues arising.
If you turn on your Mac and experience software crashes, long boot times, unresponsive software or a general lagging system you might have a more advanced problem surrounding your system. You can try booting in Safe Boot mode, which isolates the primary functions of your system and temporarily stops all startup processes and other parts of your system which are not necessary to boot, such as apps which load on boot or programs which carry out instant processes upon turning on your system.
To get in to Safe Boot, as long as you are using Mac OS X 10.2 or higher, shut down your Mac. Then press the power button. Immediately after you hear the usual startup chime (tone), hold down the Shift (arrow upwards) key. Release when you see the Apple logo. A progress bar will appear. Once this has loaded fully, your system will boot as usual, but in a reduced state. You can verify this by reading ‘Safe Boot’ on the login screen.
Step 2: Cleaning
Now that you are logged in to your system, you can begin to optimize it. Download CCleaner (free, available online) and run the CCleaner application. Firstly, press the Analyze button. This will provide an overview of your system’s unneeded and temporary files, which can be safely removed by clicking the Run Cleaner button. This should have eliminated some of the cached files and temporary data from your computer. Don’t expect an instant boost in performance, as this is just a cleanup stage.
Step 3: Disk Management and File Space
Another method used by some is Repair Permissions. For this, open Disk Utility. Disk Utility is built in to your system and can be launched from Spotlight. Open Disk Utility and click your hard drive. This is called ‘Macintosh HD’ by default. Then press Repair Disk Permissions. Be careful when using Disk Utility as some other sections have the power to format or ‘re-restore’ your hard disk. After this has completed, any ‘rogue’ permissions set by installers should have been fixed, optimizing the load of some applications.
Now download OmniDiskSweeper (also free), select Macintosh HD (or whatever your primary hard drive is named), and choose to Sweep Selected Drive. Wait until the word ‘sizing’ disappears from the title bar – this may take up to 15 minutes depending on your hard drive size and usage. When it has completed, navigate to the Users directory, to your home folder and have a look at files, which are taking, up lots of space (over 1GB) on your system. If you DO NOT need these files, you can press the delete button to forcibly remove them.
Step 4: Process Monitoring
Boot up normally (if you’re already logged on, restart and boot up again). When your system has booted and you are logged in, open Activity Monitor, a built in application available by searching in Spotlight.
When you have opened Activity Monitor, press the ‘%CPU’ bar tab to view your ‘rogue’ and heavy running processes. If you see any process running over 30% CPU, it is hogging a large amount of your processor resources. Isolate these processes and note down their names. Then search the exact process name online; to find information about it’s origin. If it’s linked to software, this software may be causing your system to crash or come to a halt.
Uninstalling the software and restarting your computer can remove the processes. That’s the simple way of checking out which background processes are really eating away at your system’s processor capacity, and might be causing it to crash.
Step 5: Startup Items
Load up System Preferences, select Users and Groups, then press Login Items. This will display all the software, which is linked to your user, which loads on boot. Simply click on one of the software programs and press the remove (minus) button to remove from boot. Then close the System Preferences windows.
If you have lots of system-controlled background processes these can be removed by loading Terminal, built in to your Mac and typing:
cd ~/Library/LaunchAgents, then typing ls. This will show items (LaunchAgents), which load on startup. Open the same directory (~/Library/LaunchAgents) in the Finder, then remove ones only linked to YOUR software. For example, if you have a piece of software called “ProgramA” installed, look out for “.plist” files with ProgramA in their name.
Remove these and eliminate the background process startups.
After following this article your system should be faster, and could potentially have more hard disk space.