Don't wait for Snow Leopard: Slim down, speed up a Mac now

You can get lean and fast computing with your current version of Mac OS X. Here's how.
  • (Computerworld)
  • — 11 December, 2008 08:28
The International pane in System Preferences (left) lets you choose the preferred languages for applications to use. You can manually remove language files from applications via the Languages section of the Get Info window (right) for each application.

The International pane in System Preferences (left) lets you choose the preferred languages for applications to use. You can manually remove language files from applications via the Languages section of the Get Info window (right) for each application.

  • The International pane in System Preferences (left) lets you choose the preferred languages for applications to use. You can manually remove language files from applications via the Languages section of the Get Info window (right) for each application.
  • Finding and removing duplicate files in iTunes and iPhoto can save disk space. Both iTunes and iPhoto provide basic duplicate detection features, as shown here, or you can use more advanced third-party apps for de-duplication.
  • Limiting the number of Login items, which launch as you log in and usually run in the background while you're working, can speed up OS X's initial log-in time as well as some of its overall performance.
  • Getting rid of unused fonts via the Font Book application included with Mac OS X provides both a performance and disk space benefit.
  • Disk Inventory X shows the sizes of files and folders using a graphical method called "treemaps," helping you identify large files and folders that could be deleted, moved to an external drive or archived.

Since we're talking about files and folders that may not be obvious, consider using one of the following tools to help with the task. Disk Inventory X (free/donationware), WhatSize (US$13; free trial), GrandPerspective (free/donationware) and OmniDiskSweeper (free; enhanced version US$15) are all designed to look at your hard drive as a whole (rather than browsing through individual folders) in order to give you a clean and unbiased picture of your disk usage.

Once you've found the large files on your hard drive, you can choose to delete them, move them to an external drive, store them inside a compressed disk image or archive them as a .zip file.

10. Increase RAM

The final tip for this article is probably the most well-worn piece of advice for any computer user wanting to boost performance: Add more RAM. Any computer will perform faster and better with additional RAM. RAM provides working memory space for the operating system and running applications.

Leopard can allocate RAM very effectively and will swap data from RAM to the hard drive if need be, but having more RAM to work with will certainly increase performance. In particular, Intel Macs that rely on integrated graphics, where the system RAM does double duty for both regular computing and video memory, will benefit from more RAM.

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Ryan Faas

Computerworld
Topics: snow leopard, Mac OS X
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