Im­prove per­for­mance

Make your Mac move faster with our guide to op­ti­mis­ing op­er­at­ing sys­tem per­for­mance

Mac Format - - POWER UP YOSEMITE! -

ne Yosemite fea­ture every­body re­quests is that the op­er­at­ing sys­tem could sim­ply run faster. A com­puter can never move quickly enough, and all slow­down and stut­ters are cause for con­ster­na­tion.

Per­haps the first, big­gest and best ad­vice you’ll ever hear for Mac per­for­mance is to free up more space on its stor­age. OS X con­tin­ues to run even when your drive is full, but per­for­mance takes a ma­jor hit as it strug­gles to ma­noeu­vre files. Free­ing up stor­age space is of­ten the sin­gle big­gest en­hance­ment you can give to OS X.

There’s no con­sen­sus as to how much free space you should have, but gen­eral ad­vice seems to be at least 10% or at least 10GB, but we gen­er­ally aim for at least 30GB of free space so we have am­ple room to work.

You can get a smaller, but use­ful, per­for­mance boost by re­mov­ing all items from the desk­top. Each item on the desk­top takes up a small amount of mem­ory. Hav­ing hun­dreds of desk­top icons can cause slow­down on your Mac as those small amounts of mem­ory ac­cu­mu­late. Try to get into the habit of not stor­ing files on the desk­top.

The same ap­plies to third-party ex­tras in the menu bar (those found on the right-hand side).

OGet into the habit of re­mov­ing any third-party menu bar ex­tras that you no longer use.

Spring clean­ing

Re­mov­ing un­wanted fonts can also give your Mac a pep up. Open Font Book (lo­cated in the Ap­pli­ca­tions folder), se­lect a font and choose File > Re­move [font name] Fam­ily.

Al­ter­na­tively you can revert to the de­fault OS X se­lec­tion by choos­ing File > Re­store Stan­dard Fonts. This re­moves all cus­tom fonts from Font Book and in­stalls the de­fault se­lec­tion. You can re­cover re­moved fonts from ~/Li­brary/ Fonts (Re­moved) – the ~ means your user folder.

Older Macs run­ning Yosemite run a lot more smoothly if you dis­able some of its ad­vanced vis­ual ef­fects. Open Sys­tem Pref­er­ences, click the Ac­ces­si­bil­ity icon and se­lect Dis­play on the left. Turn on the Re­duce Trans­parency op­tion. On Mac­Book with 2013 or later in their model name, check that Power Nap is dis­abled when run­ning on bat­tery power (Sys­tem Pref­er­ences > En­ergy Saver) as it can leave you with no power by the time you try to wake the Mac.

To take things fur­ther, you will need to up­grade the hard­ware in your Mac. Two up­grades can make a big dif­fer­ence: in­stalling ex­tra RAM and switch­ing from a tra­di­tional hard drive to the newer tech­nol­ogy of an SSD (Solid State Drive). The eas­i­est way to de­ter­mine if your Mac’s RAM can be up­graded is to visit Cru­cial (uk.cru­ Here you’ll find two tools, Cru­cial Ad­vi­sor and Cru­cial Sys­tem Scan­ner. The Cru­cial Ad­vi­sor guides you through se­lect­ing your model of Mac, while the Cru­cial Sys­tem Scan­ner is an app that au­to­mat­i­cally iden­ti­fies it. You’ll need to by­pass Gate­keeper to in­stall it though. When you try to open the app it will warn you that the app is from an uniden­ti­fied de­vel­oper. In­stead, right-click the app and choose Open, then press the Open but­ton to run the app.

In­stalling a 2.5-inch SSD (which you can buy from some high streets re­tail­ers as well as on­line) is only an op­tion on Macs with a Se­rial ATA con­nec­tor in­side, rather than more mod­ern Macs which use stor­age that has a PCIe con­nec­tor. The best way to dis­cover what’s in­side your Mac is to down­load an app called MacTracker (www. Choose This Mac in its left pane and then Con­nec­tions. Scroll down to find the Ex­pan­sion cat­e­gory and check if ‘Se­rial ATA (SATA)’ is listed next to Hard Drive In­ter­face.

The eas­i­est way to per­form this up­grade is to get a USB to SATA ca­ble and connect the SSD to your Mac. Next, use Su­perDu­per (shirt-pocket. com) or Car­bon Copy Cloner ( to clone the in­ter­nal drive to the new SSD. A quick guide to swap­ping out a Mac’s stor­age can be found in MF283.

Clean­ing your Mac, turn­ing off un­used fea­tures and up­grad­ing the hard­ware can turn even the old­est Mac into a snappy com­puter. So don’t leap into aban­don­ing an old Mac.

Keep­ing plenty of space free on your Mac’s sys­tem vol­ume can help en­sure OS X per­for­mance doesn’t grind to a halt.

In Font Book, re­mov­ing fonts that you no longer need or restor­ing OS X’s de­fault set can free up valu­able re­sources.

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