Optimizing OS X In 5 Easy Steps

Is OS X starting to feel a little sluggish? Are things not just as snappyâ„¢ as they once were? Getting annoyed by that spinning beachball too often? Well fear not, with a few simple and fast tweaks to your system you can address these problems!

I like to keep my system clean, and by clean I really do mean clean. I use these tips regularly to keep things ticking over nicely, which in turn means I can be more productive and write more stuff like this. ;)

If OS X is under the weather, give it the BoydCreative spring clean!

  1. Remove Localizations
    For some (unknown) reason Apple bundle their apps with lots of localizations. What do you need Japanese for when you’ll never use anything but English? My main concern with these localizations is the amount of space they occupy for no apparent need. So, I highly advise that you download an app called Delocalizer, which will scan your disk for all localizations aside from those you wish to keep. The last time I used it I removed over 300MB of unnecessary localizations! It’s a good idea to keep this little app handy and run it periodically and especially after downloading a batch of updates.
  2. Use The Command Line
    Oh yeah, the CLI. OS X is based on Unix, which means you have access to the Command Line Interface via the terminal. Type the following in to see what processes are taking up most of your resources:
    top -u

    This will list all the threads running at that time with the most resource-hungry thread at the top. If you want to stop a process immediately, then get it’s PID from the left hand column. Now open a new Terminal window and enter the following, where your PID is x:

    kill x

    Once you are done examing your processes, type q to stop. You can also use Activity Monitor to keep an eye on what is happening at all times.

  3. Run FSCK
    FSCK is the command for running a Filesystem Consistency Check and Interactive Repair, a scan that finds then fixes anything that could be wrong with your filesystem such as orpaned nodes. To run it, reboot your Mac holding down Command-S to boot into the single user mode. Once you arrive at the promt, enter the following:
    fsck -f

    The check will now commence and can take some time. If everything is ok, just type reboot to boot back into OS X as usual. If the check uncovers any issues, run it again until you do not get any more problems. Then reboot.

  4. Do Some Maintenance
    Using Disk Utility while logged in is not the best way to make use of this application. I prefer to boot from the OS X installation CD by restarting while holding down the C key, and then opening Disk Utility. It will then verify and repair permissions. You should also download the excellent Onyx, a free utility. Use this to run your Daily, Monthly and Annual maintenance scripts.
  5. Recover Hard Disk Space
    You’ll find that over time your hard disk gets cluttered with crap you do need. Less space is not good. Start by removing duplicate tracks in iTunes by opening the app, clicking Edit and selecting Show Duplicate Songs. Delete any duplicates you find. Another space saving idea is to change the number of podcasts you keep on your hard disk. Open iTunes preferences, click Podcasts and then lower the number of podcasts you keep. This can save you a lot of space, especially if you subscribe to any video blogs such as Rocketboom. Delete any apps that you no longer use, delete documents that you no longer need. Be ruthless and clear out the clutter.

4 thoughts on “Optimizing OS X In 5 Easy Steps

  1. Rick Beckman

    I don’t remember if it’s free or not, but check out the xSlimmer application; it not only removes unneeded localizations, but also unneeded architectures (on an Intel system? it’ll dump all PowerPC-only code). It trims many programs down significantly. I run it weekly now to keep up with slimming updated programs and such.

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