7 tips to keep your Apple MacBook or iMac on top of its form

Keeping your Apple Mac running smoothly is easy, but only if you know the right maintenance tricks. Here are top tips that will keep your Mac in peak form.

As a Mac devotee, I must say that usually these beautiful machines take care of themselves quite efficiently and there is no need to interfere. All you have to do is take them out of the box and enjoy the experience.

However, over time or due to the additional strain that we like to put on everything we deem reliable, they may become sluggish or not as responsive as they used to be. To avoid this, you may want to follow the simple rules listed below.

1 Do some weeding in Startup Items

This is a well-known rule, but it is often overlooked. You may think, I never added anything to startup list, why should I bother? However, some apps add themselves as startup items by default when you install them. You just neglected to uncheck that little obscure box when you ran it for the first time.

Therefore, in a while, your Apple computer may have a hard time starting up because there is a gazillion apps that want to run themselves before the system even has a chance to get with the program. Remove them from the startup list if you do not use them on daily basis.

Stop apps automatically starting when you log in to your Mac

2 Cut down the number of utilities and extensions

I know - they all are cool. All those personalization tools, scanners, and monitors. They make you feel in control of your machine. They jazz up your experience, they promise to optimize the performance. However, running in the background, they may become huge resource hogs. That is why you should reconsider the list of apps if you feel they became too much trouble to keep or caused slowdown issues. 

To identify the culprit, just open Activity Monitor in Applications/Utilities. It will provide you with all you need to know about what uses CPU, RAM or virtual memory and how heavily. If nothing looks suspicious at the first glance, keep it running for some time and check it to see when things spike.

Check on memory and CPU usage using Activity Monitor on the Apple Mac

Disable everything you do not need – it applies to built-in Apple services and features, that can be set up in the system preferences. For example, if you do not use Universal Access or Bluetooth constantly, it makes sense to disable them. The same goes to various widget and browser extensions.

3 Clean out old files

It is important to de-clutter your machine once in a while, especially if you own a 'light' MacBook version with less disk space. Do not stuff it full. To stay zippy and slick, or simply operate normally, your Mac must have enough free space.

Although there is no ready-made formula, you can come across a recommendation of minimum 10-15% of disk space to stay free. However, everything still depends on the number of factors, such as your RAM capacity, the number of apps you routinely use, and the overall volume of your disk. If the latter is something about 500GB and more, you will probably be okay with 10%.

However, with 128GB you may experience some problems, especially if you work with complex graphics as a designer, an artist, or a photographer. You may also find one day that the latest update of your favorite apps has eaten up the rest of the free space. If your drive becomes too full regularly, consider backing up your most bulky files on an external storage or a cloud service. For smoothly running system a utility like MacFly Pro can delete everything you don’t need from your Mac.

4 RAM balance

Low amount of RAM requires more free space on your disk, so it is a matter of balance. However, sometimes RAM can be insufficient and there is no way to compensate it for the additional free space on your SSD. Monitor the RAM usage in Activity Monitor. If your RAM usage is always high (memory routinely taken up on three-quarters and more), you should consider adding more RAM.

Computer memory modules
Not all Macs have upgradeable memory modules - check Apple Tech Specs

This can happen if you are a power user and do video editing, 3D modeling, and similar demanding tasks. In addition, for heavy gaming, if you prefer high-end titles with quality graphics, I would advise not less than 16GB.

5 Golden rule - one of each

Of course, it does not mean that you should keep things at the bare minimum. If you need an app or an extension, you should keep it. Otherwise, why bother having the machine at all. However, make sure you only use those that fit your needs best.

If you think that antivirus is necessary, go ahead, but it must be the only antivirus. Two may clash, as they use different routines. Dropbox, Google Disk, iCloud - pick whichever you like, but it is better to have only one.

Similarly, pick one language and get rid of unnecessary languages and translations. When it comes to localization, Apple is very considerate. It strives to provide a welcoming experience for every user, no matter how rare their native language is, which is great. However, you do not need them all at once.

I know, it is cool to have many options, but once you have chosen your preferred language (whether it is English, Navajo or even Klingon), just stick to it and dump the excessive localizations. Monolingual will do the job.

6 Clean Up Your Desktop

Placing frequently used apps, folders and files on your desktop is a handy shortcut, but it can actually make your Mac slower. Not many users realize that to display all those items in one place and keep them always ready for you, your Mac must attribute a certain amount of RAM. Therefore, a cluttered desktop and performance issues are a cause and an effect. Keep your desktop tidy.

Another thing is Trash. Empty it regularly. It is worth reminding that when you place a file in the Trash, you do not actually remove it from your computer. It sits there and takes up your disk space. It won’t hurt to check the Downloads folder from time to time also. It may be full of files you do not even remember you once clicked to download on the Web.

7 Do Safe Boot

If you experience some problems with your Mac, a nice way to troubleshoot is doing a safe boot. Even if you do not have a particular issue, doing safe boot occasionally can save you a lot of time and trouble in advance. It allows the system to make minor fixes, clear the cache, disable user-installed fonts (I mess around with those a lot) and third-party apps in the startup list if you do not want to do it manually.

There are, of course, other tricks to boost Mac’s performance, but these are the usual rules of the thumb that every responsible Mac user should follow. Take care!

Author bio: Darren Beauchamp is a freelance graphic designer, a blogger, and an Apple fan from Minnesota. You can find him on Twitter.



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