7 Ways to Make Your Mac Run Better

Last Updated May 16, 2009 2:50 AM EDT

Have a Mac? I'm envious. I definitely would love to cross over to the white side, but cash considerations have kept me stuck on the other side of the fence for now.

So, from the green-eyed-monster perspective, I have to admit I was a little bit pleased to see Gina Trapani's post on Lifehacker yesterday about how to clean up and revive a bloated, sluggish Mac. Slow? Bloated? You mean Macs aren't immune to that? Now I don't feel so bad (as I reboot Windows Vista for the second time today).

But I digress. I'm not writing to gloat -- I'm writing to help. If you lucky Mac owners are suffering from the aforementioned sluggishness, here are seven ways you can primp your computer for more productivity. (For more great details and links to helpful utilities, make sure you read her full post.)

Oh, and before you do any of this stuff, back up everything. Just in case.

  1. Find CPU and memory hogs in the Activity Monitor. Go to Applications > Utilities and see which apps are hogging your CPU. Quitting and restarting those apps can provide quick relief.
  2. Clean up your startup. Too many programs starting up when log onto your Mac? Go to System Preferences > Accounts > Login Items tab. If you see an app there that you don't need and use, select it and click the minus (-) sign.
  3. Uninstall unneeded apps (and related files). Trash anything in your Applications folder that you don't need or use any longer. Ideally, you'll use an uninstaller program to do this. It won't make your Mac run faster, but it'll free up some space.
  4. Do some maintenance. Run Disk Utility (in Applications > Utilities) to verify and repair disk permissions and the disk itself.
  5. Reclaim hard-drive space. Need to figure out what's taking up all that space on your Mac? Trapani recommends a tool called Disk Inventory X that creates a tree map of your hard-drive usage.
  6. Care for/troubleshoot your battery and memory. On a Mac notebook, calibrate your battery to make sure it's giving you the right readings. If the battery bails before you get a "You're running out of power" warning, reset the SMC or PMU. And some problems can be solved by resetting your Mac's PRAM and NVRAM.
  7. Beef up your memory, and get the latest system updates. The more memory your Mac has, the happier (and snappier) it'll be, so think about upgrading. And stay up-to-date with OS X patches and versions.
Happy Mac'ing!

(image by felix.triller via Flickr, CC 2.0)

  • CC Holland

    CC Holland is a writer and editor whose work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, and a number of national magazines. Online, she was a columnist for AnchorDesk.com and writes regularly for Law.com and BNET. On the other side of the journalism desk, she's been a managing editor for ZDNet, CNet, and KCBS-TV in Los Angeles, where she earned an APTRA Best News Web Site award.