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Twelve things that will keep your Mac running fast

We've recently written about things that on the whole don't slow Macs down, so now here are some handy tips to help you get the best performance you can out of your Mac.

Make sure you know what's running and what's not

Let's start with something simple; being certain that you don't have anything running unless it's needed. Navigate to 'System Preferences > Dock' and make sure that 'Show Indicator Lights for Open Applications' is selected.

Find out what your Mac's resources are being devoted to

If you want to see what apps are using the most resources, then there are a number of system monitoring apps that you can install, such as iStatMenus, MenuMeters and XRG. You can also use the Activity Monitor by navigating to 'Utilities > Activity Monitor > View > Windowed Processes > CPU' and then clicking the '%CPU' column which will order processes by the resources they use.

Keep an eye on your custom system preferences

Make sure that you only have custom system preferences set that you still want to use (they might have been set by an app that you were trying out or have stopped using), because they add load to the CPU. So open 'System Preferences', go to the bottom, and turn off any redundant ones. An alternative is to delete the item from ~/Library/PreferencePanes (which is also the way to remove any that you can't by the System Preferences panel.

Free up hard drive space

See our other 'how tos' on freeing up space and permanently deleting files.

Do you need visual effects?

You can set your dock to be static if you want: to do this navigate to 'System Preferences > Dock' and untick the boxes that say 'Magnification', 'Animate opening applications', 'Automatically hide and show the dock', 'Turn off accessibility'; then click 'Minimize windows using' and select 'Scale Effect' instead of the default 'Genie Effect'.

Is your software up to date?

Set a monthly diary reminder to click the Apple icon in the menu bar and select 'Software Update'. There are also apps such as Appfresh and MacUpdate that will notify you if updates are available. To keep your version of OSX updated, navigate to 'System Preferences > App Store' and make sure 'Automatically Check For Updates' is ticked.

When did you last empty the cache in Safari?

If your browsing experience is suffering, and you've tested your broadband connection to make sure that your download speed is not the culprit then, with Safari open, go to 'Safari > Reset Safari' and check 'Remove all Website Data'.

Uninstall apps you don't use

The best way to do this is to download AppZapper or AppCleaner. These apps will remove all related files (which dragging the app to the 'Trash' folder won't do).

Repair Permissions

Navigate to 'Disk Utility' and, for each drive there, click 'First Aid > Repair Permissions'.

Limit your login items

Navigate to 'System Preferences > Users & Groups > Login Items' to see what's launched when you turn on / log in to your Mac. Highlight items you don't want and click the '-' button to remove.

Stop Time Machine updating every hour

When the backup process kicks in, large files can slow your Mac down - and the default setting is for backups to be made every hour. You can alter this with an app called TimeMachineEditor if you're going to be working on lots of large files.

Download Onyx

Onyx is a free app carries out a number of different tasks that all contribute to improved performance.

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