How to Speed up Your Mac

Four Methods:The BasicsMaintaining and Optimizing the Hard DriveAdding More RAMReinstalling Mac OS X

Is your Mac running slower than usual? Prolonged use can lead to extra files and settings bloat that will slow down the performance of the computer. Follow this guide for a wide variety of tips and tricks, including removing unnecessary files, disabling startup programs, upgrading your hardware, and reinstalling your copy of Mac OS X.

Method 1
The Basics

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    Update your system. Keeping your software and operating system up to date will make sure that your system is secure and running at its best. When software is updated, oftentimes the performance of the software can increase. Staying updated and secure will also help keep malicious files from slowing down your computer.
    • Open the Mac App Store and switch to the "Updates" tab. This will check for available updates for your operating system and any applications that you've installed through the App Store.
    • On older Macs, click the Apple menu and select Software Update. The program will check the internet for any available updates for your installed applications and your operating system.
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    Uninstall unused applications. While they may not be actively running, unused applications take up storage space. This can be an issue if you are running out of room on your hard drive, as low free space can decrease performance.
    • To uninstall applications, you normally just need to drag them from Finder to the trash can. This will leave behind old files and preferences, however, which can bog down your system. If you are sure you won't need to reinstall the application sometime in the future, use an uninstaller application to completely remove old programs. There are many free and paid applications available to do this.
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    Clear out unnecessary items on your desktop. Having too many icons on your screen can negatively impact your computer’s performance as Mac OS X dynamically generates each of the thumbnails and must store the previews in the RAM. The impact may be small, but can be noticeable if you have a large number of icons.
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    Disable widgets. If you are using the Dashboard and widgets, you may be eating up your system’s memory. Widgets are mini-programs that are constantly running in the background. Because of this, they are a small but constant drain on your system resources.
    • Disable individual widgets by opening the dashboard and clicking on the - button (Yosemite) or the + button (older operating systems). Click on the x button at the top left of a widget to disable it.
    • Disable the entire Dashboard by opening System Preferences, clicking on Mission Control, and setting the Dashboard to "Off".
    • For operating systems older than Yosemite (OS X 10.10), you can disable Dashboard through Terminal. Open your Applications folder and then open Utilities. Select Terminal. In the Terminal, run the following commands:

      defaults write mcx-disabled –boolean YES
      killall Dock

      To return the Dashboard, reenter the same command but change YES to NO.
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    Remove unneeded programs from the startup list. These programs will launch when you boot your mac and may drastically affect your boot time. It's best to only have absolutely necessary applications starting on boot.
    • Open your user preferences. Click the Apple menu in the top-left corner of the screen and click on "System Preferences". In System Preferences, select "Users & Groups". Select your user and navigate to the "Login Items" tab.
    • Remove applications. Click on an application that you don't want to launch on boot, and use the – button to remove it from the list. If the list is grayed out, click on the padlock at the bottom-left of the window and enter your username and password.

Method 2
Maintaining and Optimizing the Hard Drive

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    Clean out old unused files. Keeping your hard drive clean and error-free is a great way to keep your Mac running smoothly. While you can go through your hard drive file by file to find things to delete, there are programs that will simplify the process.
    • Two such programs are Disk Inventory X and DaisyDisk, both of which will graphically portray how much of your hard disk space is being taken by what kinds of files. You can then use the program to clean out specific files from your computer.
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    Remove unused language files. If you typically only use one or two languages with your Mac, you can remove the other language files to free up a substantial amount of hard disk space. To do this, you will need a program called Monolingual. This program is free and open-source, and older versions support older operating systems.
    • Removing the English language files from Mac OS X can cause it to malfunction.
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    Verify your hard disk’s integrity. Regularly checking your hard disk can catch errors before they become a serious issue. OS X comes with a hard disk verification tool. You can access it by opening your Applications folder and then the Utilities folder. Select Disk Utility.
    • Select your hard disk from the frame on the left. In the main frame, click the First Aid tab, and then click the Verify Disk button. Disk Utility will then begin checking the disk. The results will be displayed in the readout frame. The check process may take a while, especially if you have a large drive.
    • Repair a damaged disk. If Disk Verification says that the disk has errors, click the Repair Disk button in the First Aid tab. Disk Utility will attempt to repair the errors. If the errors are serious, the hard drive may need to be replaced. There are other programs that will help with repairing the hard drive. Some of these options are Drive Genius or Disk Warrior.
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    Use a system cleaner. There are a variety of system optimizers available for both free and for purchase. These programs will optimize your applications and remove old, unused files. Some of the more popular options include CCleaner and Onyx

Method 3
Adding More RAM

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    Purchase more memory. Depending on your computer model, you may be able to add more RAM (Random Access Memory). RAM allows programs to store information into quickly accessible memory, which increases the speed at which programs can operate.
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    Determine what RAM will work in your Mac. Different systems will require different types of RAM. MacBooks will use different RAM than desktop Macs, and different models will use different speeds. Be sure to research what type of memory to purchase for your model, as well as if you can actually add more.
    • To find out how much memory you have installed, as well as the speed of the memory, click the Apple menu and select About This Mac. This will open a window showing your installed version of OS X, your processor, and your memory.
    • This screen does not tell you how much memory your system will support. Typically you can install up to 4GB, though there are some models of MacBooks that only support up to 2GB. Be sure to double check your documentation to see how much memory you can use.
    • If you have 2GB installed, and you want to install another 2GB, it may not be as simple as buying one stick of 2GB memory and inserting it. Chances are that you have two slots for RAM, and that each of these currently has a 1GB stick installed. In order to upgrade to 4GB, you would need to purchase 2 2GB sticks.
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    Open the computer. If you are installing MacBook memory, you will need to remove the back casing from the laptop. Be sure to note which screws belong to which holes, because some of the screws may be different sizes. If you are upgrading a desktop computer, you will need to remove the case so you can access the components.
    • When working with components inside the computer, be sure to discharge any static electricity by touching the bare metal of the laptop casing.
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    Eject the old RAM. If you are uninstalling MacBook RAM, the RAM slots will have metal ejection levers on the side. Press these in to pop the existing RAM up at an angle. Pull the RAM straight out by gripping the notches on the side and pulling firmly. If you are removing desktop RAM, the slots are vertical, and the latches are plastic and located on each end.
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    Install the new RAM. If you are installing MacBook RAM, insert it in at the same angle that it ejected. Install memory into the lower slot first, then the upper slot. Push firmly with even pressure directly into the slot until the stick clicks into place. If you are installing RAM for a desktop, insert it straight into the slot and push evenly until the stick clicks into place.
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    Reboot your computer. You can verify that the RAM was installed correctly by clicking the Apple menu and selecting About This Mac. Verify that the correct RAM total is displayed. If it is not, you may have incorrectly installed the RAM, or installed the wrong type.

Method 4
Reinstalling Mac OS X

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    Reboot in Recovery mode. If your system is bogged down, and nothing seems to be able to fix it, you may need to format and reinstall your installation of Mac OS X. Make sure that you have any important files backed up before reinstalling, as all of your data will be deleted.
    • To reboot into Recovery mode, click the Apple menu and select Restart. While the computer is rebooting, hold down the Command + R button. The Recovery menu will open after the computer boots.
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    Erase the disk. Select Disk Utility from the Recovery menu. From the list of your drives, select the hard drive that OS X is installed on. Click the Erase tab, and then select Mac OS Extended (Journaled) in the Format menu. Enter a name for the hard disk and click Erase.
    • After the erase process is complete, click Disk Utility and then select Quit Disk Utility.
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    Connect to a network. In order to reinstall Mac OS X, you will need to have an internet connection. This can either be via a wired connection, or via Wi-Fi. You can access the Wi-Fi menu at the top-right corner of the screen.
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    Reinstall Mac OS X. Click the Reinstall Mac OS X button and then click Continue. You will need to accept the license agreement, and confirm that you accept it. Then, select the disk that you want to install Mac OS X on. This should be the disk that you erased in the second step of this section.
    • You will be asked for your Apple ID in order to proceed with the installation. Once you sign in, the installation will begin. The process can take up to an hour.
    • Once installation is complete, the computer will reboot and your newly reinstalled copy of Mac OS X will begin. You will need to set some basic preferences, such as language and date & time settings.

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