9 Simple Tips to Speed Up an Old Mac

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So after a lot of requests from our users here is a guide about 9 Simple Tips to Speed Up an Old Mac.

If you have an older Mac that feels sluggish and sluggish from time to time, follow these simple steps tips to regain speed that was lost long ago.

We’re going to keep it simple with real tips that will speed up up a Mac that is not too complicated or complicated. Again nothing is too technical or time consuming, these are just simple tricks that should help your old Mac performance a bit. Ranging from a few basic Finder tweaks to some general maintenance and usability tips, your Mac should feel faster on daily tasks in no time. Let’s get started!

How to Speed Up Old Macs with Simple Tips

The first three tips can be done in the same “View Options” panel, so take care of it at the same time. Make sure to click “Use as Defaults” so that the changes are accepted universally, not just by folder.

  1. Disable thumbnails in Finder – Each thumbnail of an image or document needs resources to render and display, disabling these in favor of the default icons can give a nice performance boost in the Finder:
    • Open a Finder window and click the “View” menu, select “View Options” and deselect “Show Icon Preview”.

    Turn off icon preview and item information

  2. Disable item info in Finder – This shows you things like image dimensions, it’s handy but it has to be extracted from the file and requires resources. Turn it off if it’s on.
    • In View options, uncheck the box next to ‘Show item information’
  3. Turn off size calculations – While it is useful to see the file and folder size of everything in the folder list view, it makes the system check each file size and add them together. With huge directories, this can take a very long time, and it’s not uncommon for the Finder process to start up 15-20% CPU while the formats are being generated, turn this off.
    • Also in View options, but only for folders shown in “List view”, uncheck “Calculate all sizes” to speed things up up considerably

    Deselect Calculate measures

  4. Remove login items – This will usually speed up up the boot process by reducing the number of applications launched on boot and restart, but it also has the advantage of allowing running processes up system resources. A general rule of thumb is this: if you’re not using something, turn it off.
    • Open System Preferences, click “Accounts” and go to “Login Items”, delete anything you can remove with delete

    Remove login items

  5. Keep 5% (or more) of the total disk space available – Make sure there is always enough free space on the hard disk for caches, temporary files and virtual memory (swap). Once your hard drive is full or nearly full it will really slow down as the operating system has to constantly delete and manage cache files and virtual memory to make room for new caches and swap items. Doing this on demand will make things slow and freeze resources, so keep a healthy disk space buffer and avoid headaches. This is good advice for all computers, old or new.
    • Quickly view available disk space by pressing Command + / to bring up a status bar in the Finder window. If it is less than 5% of the total disk space, delete unnecessary files until you recoup several GB of storage

    The Finder status bar shows the available disk space

  6. Delete files and folders off the desktop – Every file and folder displayed on the desktop uses memory to display. Use the home folder and their folders to sort and store files, or at the very least throw everything from the desktop to another folder and put it in your home directory. We’ve covered this tip earlier and we’ll repeat it one more time because it can make quite a difference, especially on older Macs. If you can’t remember, there are apps that will do it for you.Clear a Mac desktop
  7. Use the fastest web browser and slim it down – Typically the most up So far, Safari is the fastest browser on a Mac, although many swear by Chrome too. Whichever browser you choose, limit the number of open tabs and windows and disable or remove all browser extensions and plug-ins that are not 100% essential.
  8. Close unused applications – While this may seem like common sense, almost everyone is guilty of leaving apps open that aren’t currently in use. Most newer Macs with fast drives and lots of RAM can handle this just fine, but older and slower Macs really feel trapped when a handful of apps like Photoshop or Firefox keep running in the background, even when not in use. Get into the habit of quitting apps when you’re done with them, or if you’re not going to use them for a while.
  9. Restart the Mac – Get into the habit of rebooting the Mac more often, many of us let a computer idle for days or weeks at a time, sometimes just on a computer. But rebooting a Mac can clear system caches and perform maintenance that the system manages itself, so a reboot can improve performance.
  10. Bonus: Clean Reinstall Mac OS X – Okay, this isn’t necessarily easy or convenient, but completely formatting and reinstalling Mac OS X can make a huge difference in performance as it forces you to start from scratch with no software installed, no trailing cache and preferences files, no custom settings, nothing. If your Mac is very old, say 2006 or 2007, and is still running the same version of OS X it came with, a fresh reinstallation is highly recommended.

Give these and go and let us know how they work for you, and call in the comments with your own gig tips while you’re at it.

While you’re at it, don’t miss out on some basic Mac OS X maintenance tips also, even though you’ve already cleaned up the desktop, and come back regularly up your Mac, right?

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