Friday, 29 July 2011

3 things to give your Mac a Tune-up

One of the great things I like about having Macs is the fact that you rarely have to worry as much about system slowdowns as long as you have adequate RAM and enough processing power to do what you need.  But sometimes it does help to reclaim some hard drive space, delete some system files and tweak you system settings to make you Mac feel like new.  Here are somethings you can do to give your Mac a quick tune-up.

Note: While many people will probably be switching to OS X Lion right now, I for one am not going to be switching for at least a few more months, mainly because I'm absolutely positive that a lot of application makers are still scrambling to make their apps compatible with lion. And of course, if you do an upgrade, you'll still be left with some cruft from the older system, so these tips may still be helpful (provided the apps below are compatible with Lion ;)

Delete Unused Apps with AppCleaner

While you can easily delete unused apps by dragging the apps from your applications folder to the trash, the apps often leave behind preference files and other system files all around your system. To get rid of these files, you're better off using an app called AppCleaner, which seems to be a free version of AppZapper that does the job quite well. Especially if you tend to install a lot of apps, this should help you reclaim some valuable disk space.

Delete Unused Logs and Change System Preferences To Your Liking with Onyx

While your Mac does its job, it often stores a lot of files and logs that may be helpful for reporting and so on. Such logs may take up valuable space. Furthermore, the cached information on your mac's system cache as well as the permissions for the files on your mac may be out of date, so it may be helpful to run a tool called Onyx to sort things out. Finally, I think that it's a good idea to make sure that the permissions and such are all fine on your hard drive so the necessary files can be accessed by your system.

Organize Your Files with the terminal

One of the great things about a new computer that it's not as cluttered. It's sort of like the "tabula rasa", if you will. If you're anything like me, then chances are that within a few days of use, you'll have files all over the place, but also will have customized a ton of settings. If you reinstall from scratch, you'll be losing all these settings, so it's best to just reorganize your files instead.

While you could just drag and drop things, I find that the terminal is a much more powerful tool (located in Applications > Terminal) that allows you to do things like wildcard moves and other fun stuff.

For example, let's say that I have to move all the PDF's from my download folder that are work related to my documents folder. I could command click each of these PDF's individually, and drag and drop them. Except, with the terminal, there's an easier command:

mv Downloads/WORK*.pdf Documents/Work/

Which essentially says move (that's the mv) anything from the downloads folder that starts with WORK has whatever (that's the *), and ends with a pdf to the documents/Work folder. You'll need to do some more reading on how to use these commands if you're not sure about them, but once you master these, you'll find that dragging and dropping is just a big pain. Here's a cool command line tutorial to get you started.

You may also find it rather helpful to search for those large files on your hard drive and delete them to reclaim some hard drive space.

And this is all I usually use on a regular basis. I don't every defrag my mac, because I've never found the need to (and also because I'm on a SSD...), and, of course, I don't use any fancy registry cleaners because macs don't have a registry.

Got a question, tip or comment? Send them to and we'll try to answer it in a blog post!


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