So you've come to the conclusion that your beloved Mac is much slower than you remember, starting it up feels like a chore, you're onto your second latte before Photoshop even displays it's pallets. Now, Before you start considering an upgrade there are a few simple steps you could take to best optimise the performance of your beloved machine. I currently run a 2010 model MacBook Pro and until I ran through a handful of these suggestions I hadn't realised just how much memory lag had really occurred.
Hidden away within your Applications under Utilities (Applications/Utilities/Activity Monitor) you will find the Activity Monitor, better still by pressing command + space-bar and type "Activity Monitor" into the drop-down text field on the top right of your screen. This useful application will provide you with a comprehensive overview of your computers CPU usage, system memory, network performance, disk activity and the ability to help you locate issues with your hardware. It's a good idea to et a little familiar with it as it will help when you're trying to determine which steps to take next.
1. Check the other Users
If you happen to share your laptop with another, or you've given your partner access to a user account on your machine, it's a good idea to check and see if there are any programs currently open under that login. This will greatly effect the speed of your Machine, so flip the switch and make sure they are programs and applications are closed. If not needed I might suggest that you also log them out while you're working.
2. Wiggle your Widgets
Nows a good time to go through all your widgets, every discerning Mac user has by now discovered the widget feature in OS X and I'm sure if you're like me, you've tried a few, and may not returned to re-use. By getting rid of as many unused widgets you will free up more memory, and the more free memory available the better. Running widgets are programs using up valuable RAM, and the more of that made available, the better.
3. Clear out your Hard Drive
Thats right, have you recently had a look at how much available space you have on your HD? You may give yourself a shock, many programs, Photoshop particularly are hungry for hard drive space to use as a scratch-disk. This is where Photoshop reads and writes an image while you are working on it in the application.
The best solution is to get yourself external Hard Drive (HD), and store all your files externally, it's also a good idea to have copies of your work backed up either online, and accessible wherever you are or on a secondary HD. I would highly recommend backing up all your important files in several secure locations, my experience thus far has proven that no new technology, despite all assurances, is fallible.
4. Disk restore programs
There are a few free disk repair programs available, and even some paid alternatives like Mac Cleaner. The application I've chosen to go with is the free open source OnyX, which is a multifunctional utility specifically made for Mac OS X. It allows you to verify your startup disk and re-structure your system files, repair disk permissions, clear caches and much more. I also find it useful for clearing out old scripts, and caches from time to time.
5. RAM, RAM, and more RAM
To ensure you get the best results I would highly recommend getting the most available RAM possible. My Mac Book Pro comes with 4GB standard, and I have just recently maxed it out 8GB, and the difference is phenomenal. File copying is noticeably quicker, and generally task time is shortened. Also make sure in an application such as OnyX, that you purge available RAM, this will also ensure that your Computer utilises all the available GB when performing tasks.
6. switch to a Solid State Dive (SSD)
Shortly after going through the above steps it was mentioned to me that replacing my hard drive to a Solid State Drive (SSD) would also greatly improve it's performance. I haven't yet tested this out personally, but I'm very interested in hearing feedback, here you will find some information about SSD's and for further reading.
It also looks like Apple have updated all their new Mac Book Pro range with Flash Storage, so if you're reading this after you've just run out and bought one, well done!
7. Update, Update, Update!!
When was the last time you updated your system software? Although it can feel tiresome continuously updating your software every time you press the power button to boot up, it's a good habit to keep up. This helps with any software security issues that may have arisen since your last update/download.
I hope you've found this post helpful do leave comments down below if you have any questions.