52 Ways to Speed Up OS X

By Pete | @kingpetey | 13 May 2007

Flattr this

After Apple recently announced a delay to OS X 10.5 Leopard I had to delay my iMac upgrade until the Autumn. This led me to thinking about how to speed up Tiger to get the most out of my ageing G5. This is what I came up with:

General System

1. Repair Disk Permissions Navigate to Applications > Utilities > Disk Utility. Select your Macintosh HD and select Verify Disk Permissions. If needed you can then Repair Disk Permissions.

2. Clear out login items Its good to check that unwanted programs are not starting up when you login to your Mac. This can be done from System Preferences > Accounts > Login Items.

3. Clear out unwanted applications Go through your applications folder and see if you can save yourself some disk space by removing any applications you no longer use.

4. Clear out unused system preferences Check in your system preferences if there are any unused system preferences tabs that can be removed. If you do find something you don't use you can either disable it within its menu or remove it from '~/Library/PreferencePanes'. You may have to reboot or do a force empty trash (see #38).

5. Clear Desktop Its been reported numerous times that having a clear desktop can increase the speed of your Mac. So either put your junk in folders or delete it!

6. Empty Trash (if it wont empty see #38) I'm always amazed when I'm looking on someone's Mac and they haven't ever emptied the trash! Check what's in there then save yourself some space and empty it.

7. Turn off Universal Access (if not used) Navigate to System Preferences > Universal Access and turn off anything you're not using.

8. Turn off Bluetooth (if not used) Navigate to System Preferences > Bluetooth.

9. Turn off speech recognition (if not used) Navigate to System Preferences > Speech Recognition.

10. Turn off internet sharing (if not used) Navigate to System Preferences > Sharing > Internet

11. Check there is plenty of disk space on the boot drive. Your Mac uses some of your hard drive space as virtual memory when there is not enough actual memory available. Its good to always keep 10% of your hard drive free for such activity.

12. Remove Unwanted Language Packs OS X contains hundreds of languages that you most likely wont use. Monolingual is a free program that can root out these languages and remove them saving you some extra disk space.

*Edit: Warning people have experienced problems with Monolingual so becareful what you remove. Only a reinstall will put the languages back so decide weather you really need the extra space by removing them.

13. Remove any desktop changing programs Until recently I had a nice program that would put a different babe on my desktop each month. It looked great but once I started looking in activity monitor it was taking up lots of memory and processor time.

14. Check dock for unwanted apps. Your dock should only contain your most used applications so take a look through to see if there is anything you can remove or uninstall.

15. Choose suitable applications for files Be sensible when choosing what applications open by default - think do you really need Photoshop to open just to view an image when preview will work fine? Right click on a file then select Get Info.

16. Check Software Build If you have an Intel Mac then check the build of the software is universal - it might be that the application is still running through Rosetta and that a universal update is available.

Eye Candy

17. Remove dock animation Navigate to System Preferences > Dock then un-tick Animate Opening Applications.

18. Avoid animated desktops Navigate to System Preferences > Desktop & Screen Saver then un-tick Change picture.


19. Remove unused widgets. Each widget takes some memory and processor power even when you're not using the dashboard so only enable the ones you use. Alternatively you can disable the dashboard - see #23.

20. Check to see how much processing power and memory each widget uses. Some widgets are more intensive than others, if there is one that is particularly demanding see if there is one with similar functionality on the Apple website. To do this run Activity Monitor - Applications > Utilities > Activity Monitor.

As you can see the widgets I have running are all using an acceptable amount of Real Memory.

Tinkertool Tinkertool is a utility that gives you access to additional settings within OS X.

21. Remove animation effects. The animation effects are the eye candy that make OS X look nice but they are not really needed, you can turn them off from the Finder pane within Tinkertool.

Tinker Tool Finder

22. Disable Dock shadow. From the Dock pane un-tick Enable Dock shadow.

23. Disable Dashboard. If you don't use the Dashboard you can deactivate it from the General pane.

24. Skip checksum verifications when opening DMG files. This will speed up the loading of disk images when opening. This can be found in the Applications pane.

Tinker Tool Applications

25. Remove or deactivate unwanted login items from the Login Items pane. You might already have done this in #2.

26. Reduce delay time for display of loading pages in Safari. This should speed up your web browsing experience, found within the Safari Pane.

OnyX OynX is similar to Tinkertool however has many more options and preferences.You may have already done some of these in previous tips. Parameters


27. Un-tick Graphic Effects (Finder tab). You may already have done this with Tinkertool #21.

28. Un-tick Animate 'Opening applications' and 'When alert in background' (Dock tab).

29. Disable Dashboard (Dashboard and Expose tab). You may already have done this with Tinkertool #23.

30. Set Safari speed of web page display to fast (Safari Tab). You may already have done this in #26. Maintenance

31. Repair Disk Permissions. You may already have done this in #1.

32. Run Maintenance Scripts.

33. Reset Spotlight Index (it may take over a day to rebuild the index afterwards).

34. Run complete system optimization. Cleaning


35. Clear Internet Settings.

36. Clear User and Font Caches.

37. Clear unused logs.

38. Force Empty Trash Automation

39. Check settings - The default settings should be fine here. Click Execute.


You can do some of the following by resetting Safari - click Safari > Reset Safari. *Edit: Resetting Safari does not clear Favicons.

40. Clear Cache. To speed up page loading Safari saves a copy of every page in its cache however if the cache gets too large it can actually slow down page loading so its best to empty it occasionally. To do so click Safari > Empty Cache.

41. Clear History. Safari can remember every single site you have visited which can have a negative effect on its performance. You can empty it be selecting History > Clear History.

42. Clear AutoFill. AutoFill is the data is saved in forms such as your username and password on websites. As with the cache and history the AutoFill can mount up over time. To empty select Safari > Preferences then select the AutoFill tab. From here you can go through the three AutoFill sections and clear out data that you no longer want stored.

AutoFill in Safari

43. Clear Favicons. Favicons are the little icons you see to the left of the URL in the address bar. These can be cleared by emptying user folder/Library/Safari/Icons.


44. If you use Firefox then you can get specially optimized versions of the browser based on your processor architecture - either G4, G5 or intel.

45. Extensions Firefox has some great extensions but they can slow down the browser so take a serious look to see weather you really need that extra toolbar!


46. Smart Playlists These can slow down the operation of iTunes as they reload the contents of the list every time the program loads. If you have a a smart play list that does not change very often then you can either deactivate live updating (by clicking file > edit smart play list) or copy of the contents of the smart play list in to a regular play list.


47. HP Printer drivers can often cause problems and use a lot of processor power so check in the activity monitor for HP Communicator, if it seems to be constantly running at 80% - 100% then try uninstalling it. I had problems on my Mac Mini for my HP PSC 1110 all in one with the HP software on OS X 10.3 maxing out the CPU after printing. I had to remove the software and just use the basic drivers rather than the full suite.

48. Check Classic is not running if not being used. Classic can be disabled from within System Preference. Classic

49. Run Software Update. The latest updates sometimes provide speed increases as well as fix bugs and vulnerabilities.

50. Update other applications. It's always best to run the latest versions of your programs. Websites such as Mac Update and Version Tracker are good places to keep your applications up to date.

51. Add More RAM. There is only so much you can do with software, the cheapest way to give you're Mac a speed boost is to upgrade the memory.

52. Reboot your Mac. After doing all this optimization it might be an idea to reboot your Mac. If your like me and use sleep mode for the majority of the time then a reboot once in a while often helps too!

Update: Interested in seeing how many hits this article has got and how to do it for your blog then read here?


Read the review on monolingual at versiontracker.com. Many users have reported that this program trashed their systems, requiring a system reinstall.

The safari speed settings are something that was disabled a long time ago. As long as you are using Safari 1.3 or 2.0 this option does nothing. See here:


There are several pieces of good advice here.

2, 11, 12, 15, 16, 19, 20, and 48-52 are good :-) Although 12 is best done when installing the OS (be only selecting the languages you want).

Where's the screenshot for number 13?

For the love of...

Most of these tips aren't going to speed up a Mac by any appreciable amount. Disabling dock animation and shadows isn't going to make OS X feel blazing fast.

Removing unused widgets and HP printer threads to free up real memory - yes.
Repairing disk permissions - no.
Clearing out Safari Favicons - yes.
Killing smart playlists - no.
Removing old apps - maybe if you're low on diskspace, otherwise no.
Disabling bluetooth - it'll save some battery life, but won't speed anything up.
Clearing autofill and history - no.

And for the love of God, if you're not an experienced user do NOT install Tinkertool or any other software like that. Apple hid those options for a reason! And despite what this list says, the gains you'll notice aren't going to be extraordinary.

Number 12 is a poor idea.

Thanks for the article! It's always good to read up on optimization lists.

Small correction for Reset Safari. It does not clear out favicons.

Bryan - you may not see major gains by doing one of two of them but its not hard to see performance gains by doing quite a few.

Tinkertool offers some good customization especially if your an experienced user!

After restarting each program the font/language issue seems to have resolved itself. It seems that any programs that were open were affected and corrected their problems upon quitting and reopening.

Hope that helps anyone, now it seems like everything is back to normal.

for delocalisation I've always used with not a single glitch the (very) old Delocalizer form Bombich, the ApplePowerUserGuy.


And you missed

53. Defrag LOL

are you kidding? its like telling that we should not use mac os tiger at all!

Thanks a lot !

I have a 1 step solution: get a new iMac, I find it quite fast with no tinkering needed.

Well done for getting imafish.com known hun. You've got loads of comments :)

Thanks, I hope this will speed up my Mac. I've been dealing with really bad slow downs in the last few days.

Sure, some cleanup and removing functionality will definitely fasten up you machine. Actually, you can go as far as removing the GUI and play in Terminal.

If you like being a sloth and enjouy the useless but oh-so-essential micro-features, pump up the RAM and HDD.

Wow. Classy. You deleted my comments instead of trying to respond. You sir, are a hero.

Fortunately I kept a copy of it here:
http://danielandrews.newsvine.com/_news/2007/05/14/ 718282-52-ways-to-speed-up-os-x?last=1179187225#last_1

Hey asdsdasdsd,

That's a Windows user's mentality... You don't need to defrag on OS X.


Erik, I'm afraid I didn't see your comment in the moderation queue or on the spam list so didn't get it.

After reading your comment on newsvine I'm not quite sure why your so angry? I think saying I know nothing about OS X is a bit over the top. I've spent a number of years working with OS X and weeks researching this article, a lot of the tips found in this article are common on a lot of other Mac optimization lists.

They might not all 'speed up' however a lot of them are good practice for running your computer, perhaps I could have been clearer.

The points I've repeated I have written clearly that you might have already done this in a previous tip so I'm not sure why that's causing you a problem.

Let me know if you know of any better tips, thanks.

Unfortunately the comment posting on newsvine does not seem to be working so cannot post it on there.

I think at this point the only thing I can do to make my mini faster is trade it in for an 8 core Pro. :-)

I've used Monolingual a couple of times on my iBook with no ill effects. You just have to pay attention - US English (along with almost every other localization) is selected for removal by default - you have to uncheck your preferred localization to KEEP it (and you need to keep the one called "English" as well, as the US English localizations are based on that one). A quick look at the Readme file provides these important instructions (in bold print, no less).

Logitech drivers (control center) can also slow your mac. Specialy the latest versions (after 2.1). It runs procesus that take a lot of ram ...

I'll second the comment about Logitech mouse drivers. Avoid them at all costs. They're just awful. Took me 2-3 hours and lots of reboots (reboots, on a Mac? Yep.) to get rid of them entirely. Kernel extensions, library files, etc. If you love Logitech mice (I do), or any other fancy multi-button mouse, buy a copy of USB Overdrive to completely replace your mouse drivers. You can assign any function to any button, per application or globally.

I think some people are upset with this article/list because of the "anti-graphics" slant it has, especially when many Mac users are visual, graphics oriented people. It's important to note that most of the things mentioned here won't really speed up your Mac at all and a great deal of them actually fall into the category of "things that slow down windows" (not macs).

In the early 90's when Win95 came out with all the animations that were copied from Apple, the older "Unix-dude" crowd hated them, and have advised us ever since to turn off all OS animations and "eye-candy" as they (supposedly) don't perform a function and suck up resources.

Not only is this a *vastly* overplayed hand, (mostly you would save a few measly Kbits on a system that has several Gigs of available RAM), it's much less true on the Mac than the original Win95 argument was. While this kind of "no graphics" advice has become de rigeur in the boring world of grey Linux boxes and grey-on-grey texty interfaces, to follow it would remove most of the reason for choosing a Mac in the first place.

The author owns up to the deception himself when in reply to a comment he says: "... They might not all

Excellent article for Mac users. I'll try these tips later this week on my G5. It's nice to see some helpful tips that don't require full knowledge of the Bash shell. ;-)

I posted a blog entry aimed towards Windows users for "Spring Cleaning," what tips would you offer for someone to clean up old temporary files on the Mac? For example, here is the blog entry I posted earlier today: Spring Cleaning Tips for Computers

Very nice blog, and nice color scheme. :)

remove it from

all was good advice, except for using monolingual. it ruins printing in microsoft office. i suggest using delocalizer instead.

Ridiculous... The comment about Monolingual trashing someone's system... Look, I have only been a Mac user for a short while, and I have used this program quite a few times to rid my system of languages (when I install various programs), and have NEVER had a problem with it. The difference between the author of the comment and myself is that I probably pay more attention. Why is it that people are so quick to blame someone else when something goes wrong?

Don't worry,,, AFP will be defragging soon...
Both Mac and PC and Linux Sucks...
Use your brain

I don't think monolingual will "trash" your system but it does cause some programs to not work, namely Adobe CS3. I get a popup message to repair the program, very annoying. Same things goes with slimming hte program using xslimmer.


Just fyi,

'the boring world of grey Linux boxes and grey-on-grey texty interfaces'

Linux hasn't been like this for years and years and years.

Im 100% with Jeremy above (#27). Do not disable animations unless you have an old G3. Do not hack you system unless you are really desperate. The minor speedup may not outweigh the negative consequences... Focus on the low hanging fruit :-)

I appreciate the tips. I run an imac g4 800. Repair disk permissions certainly help with speed. If you have a permission issue it does help. I noticed an immediate Safari speed increase by using your advice on clearing the cache. 1Gb is the most I can put in my system so all the help I can get is good, but I have to agree with some of the posts, that removing all the animated mac like gui is rather defeating.

Well thank you! OnyX completely ruined my system. F1-F10 won't work anymore, the shutdown-box is only half visible and won't react at all. Don't use OnyX, it will f... everything up. This sucks.

You guys missed one of the biggest speed-ups for Mac OSX. Removing (deleting) the ~Library/Caches folder, then logging back in! Apple recommended this on to me on a call to support one day, and it's astounding.

I just bought an iMac in March... updated the system to 10.4.9. The hardware is 3 Gig memory, an Intel core-dou processor + 250 Gig HDrive... when you said you put off your iMac purchase until Autum, what did you mean??? I had the same "feeling" due to the upcoming Leopard. After almost 20 years on a mac you get to develop a protective instinct versus Cupertinio...


Cool !
I did all these things and now my Apple Lisa is doing much better than before.
Thanks Bro ;-)

"Aging" G5? Gosh how long have you had it for? Don't promote useless electronic waste!

thanks for this share, i have been looking all over to speed up my boyfren's mac os x. Really gr8 Post.

Best Regards,
Eliena Andrews

Another good app I use a lot for speeding up your mac is macjanitor:

Warning: Monolingual will trash your microsoft word spell checker. I needed to re-install Word.

Great article.. thanks for sharing all the tips. I am running mac os x and will be trying out the steps you mentioned. Actually I used to refer earlier for getting help on speeding up my mac os x but did'nt find much help.

thanks again,

After running Onyx my computer has started to build up large numbers of page outs (check system memory in activity monitor) and my hard drive mysteriously fills up with 100's of MB's after a short period of gaming. This has not occured before I used Onyx.


here is a very usefull item to speed up your Mac

Switch off calculate foldersize (command-J in a finder window and tick switch it off for all other windows).

Jeroen Vink

When my mac was running slow I would pour another cocktail and relax. Now i don't have as much time to get a buzz.

Repairing permissions has absolutely no impact on your computer's performance. In fact, it has absolutely no impact on anything. The only effect repairing permissions could possibly have is on security, and even that's reaching a bit. Removing "unwanted language packs" has no impact on performance; those files aren't even loaded into memory unless you're using that language.


Some of these comments seem a bit harsh to me.

I have been tweaking Mac for years without ill effects and I have lots of fun doing so. It's not everyone's cup of tea mind and if it's your one and only mac I would not! Always back up before tweaking so you can rebuild if it does not work. As for Speed, it's relative but you can expect a 40% increase if you methodically go through and delete 'start up items you can do without. For me that's Spotlight, Dashboard and Bluetooth that hog system resources. Apple does not recommend you 'customise' your Mac. Use a spare Mac and practice on that, not on your new piece of kit. For more osx tips see my weblink. Tiger needs some slimming pills to make it usable is my humble opinion.

This is what Apple says about repairing permissions: "Sometimes incorrect file permissions cause erratic system behavior, such as inability to mount disk images or add files to the Applications folder as an Admin user."

I had a customer with a powerbook, which took 4 minutes to start up. after repairing permissions, it took only 30 secs...so if you ask me, there's definately a use for it