How to improve Mac performance: OS X Mavericks edition

Millions of Mac users are upgrading to the free Apple [AAPL] Mavericks edition of OS X. That's fine for most, but some claim slower Mac performance, if that’s you here's some tips that should help improve system performance. If you're simply having problems installing the OS, then read this now.

Mavericks Performance

[ABOVE: Please backup before you upgrade.]

Don’t Panic

Before we begin, don't panic: Apple's OS teams are likely working hard to address any generalized system glitches identified since launch. A future Apple update will address most widespread problems, meanwhile there are a few steps you can take to figure out what's slowing you down.

Warning: please backup your system

Note: Many users like to create a bootable OS X disk on a flash drive. You can use this to launch from external storage. Mavericks-specific instructions here.

Update everything

Run Software Update after you've installed Mavericks. You should do this to ensure all your Apple software is now running the latest edition. You should also apply all App updates available via the Mac App Store.

Check your apps

Not every application on your system will come from the App Store. This means it is possible a rogue third-party app is eating system performance. One quick way to find out if your apps are Mavericks-compatible is to take a look at the Roaringapps Application Compatibility list. It makes sense to avoid using incompatible applications until they are upgraded for the OS.

The big four: R, S, C, A

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to run a healthy Mac. Now you've updated your system and its apps, please take the following steps:

Number One: Command-R

Restart your Mac while depressing the Command-R key. Your Mac will launch in Recovery Mode. While in this mode, run Disk Utility to Verify and Repair your Disk and Disk Permissions. Restart your Mac.

Number Two: Check Spotlight

OS X will rebuild the Spotlight index after a major System upgrade. The process takes time and degrades performance while it takes place.

Click on the Spotlight (looking glass) icon to the top right of the display to see if indexing is taking place. If indexing is in progress you should see a dot in the middle of the looking glass icon and/or be told the operation is taking place. Allow the process to complete and you should see immediate performance improvement.

Number Three: Console and Activity Monitor

If things still seem slow, launch Console and Activity Monitor (both available in Utilities).

Activity Monitor will show you those apps using the most memory (usual culprits are Mail and Safari).

Console offers a more complex series of system events.

Between the two you should be able to figure out if one of your applications isn't running efficiently -- watch for apps leaving inordinate numbers of messages in Console, or those that quickly use large amounts of Memory in Activity Monitor.

Standard practise

There are several standard steps that generally improve Mac performance.

Increase memory: put more RAM in your Mac

Free your memory: Use the award-winning Memory Clean app (free) to free up your existing RAM.

Check for space: OS X likes to create temporary files on the drive in normal use but in order to do so it requires you keep at least 10% of existing drive space free. Being unable to create these files will degrade system performance.

There's numerous additional steps you can take to improve your Mavericks Mac performance. I'll take a look at several Mavericks-specific ones later on, for example, it may be worth reducing the number of automatic Notifications you receive.

Mavericks Tips and Tricks

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Copyright © 2013 IDG Communications, Inc.

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