Make your Mac move faster with our guide to optimising operating system performance
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.
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.crucial.com). 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. mactracker.ca). 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 (bombich.com) 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.