Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Make Your Mac Go Faster: Top 10 Tips

Whether your Mac is new or old, you could probably always do with a little extra speed. Though there are lots of things you can do to improve the performance of your Mac, here are the top 10 tips that will have the biggest impact when it comes to making your Mac run faster.

Keep your Mac's performance up by regularly shutting down apps you're not using.

1. More RAM 

The more RAM you have, the better. One reason that Macs can run slowly is because apps and processes consume lots of RAM, leaving little for the others. But RAM is expensive, and adding it after you’ve bought a Mac is becoming difficult. The next best option? Minimise how much you use. Don’t keep lots of apps running if you’re not using them, and close Safari tabs. Use Activity Monitor to identify apps that are hogging your RAM and then quit them. 


2. Hard Drive Space 

The more storage space you have on your boot drive, the better. OS X uses it as a cache when it needs more room than is available in RAM. At the very least, keep 10% of your storage available for use. Open a Finder window and select “Show status bar” from the View menu to see how much is available. Archive documents you don’t need to access regularly, and consider using an external drive for your iTunes Library. Empty your Downloads folder. Use an app such  as Gemini to identify and delete duplicate files.


3. Reduce Desktop Clutter

Those files on your Desktop slow down your Mac, too. OS X draws a new window (complete with Preview) for every file on the Desktop, hogging system resources. If you have dozens of  documents scattered around, they will incur a performance hit. File them, Trash them, or put them in a new folder called “Desktop Clutter” or the like. 


4. Spotlight and Time Machine

Spotlight and Time Machine are both terrific features, but they can cause performance issues, particularly if you backup to a network drive or allow Spotlight to index an external volume. To stop Spotlight indexing an external disk, go to System Preferences > Spotlight > Privacy tab. Drag the volume into the window or press “+” and select it. If Time Machine slows you down, you can pause a back-up. Consider using a local external drive for backup.


5. Shut Off/Delete Unused Apps

Apps running in the background use resources and most apps now launch very quickly, so there’s no reason to keep them open when you’re not using them. Quit them, either by right-clicking their icon in the Dock and choosing Quit, or hit Command + Tab to pull up the app switcher, tab to the app and then hit Command + Q. Unused apps tie up disk space, so get rid of them. Use a tool such as AppZapper to go nuclear on them. 


6. Restart Your Mac Regularly

Many of us (especially those who use a MacBook Pro/Air) only restart our Macs when we have a problem. It’s so much easier just to close the lid and let it sleep. But restarting your Mac clears out its cache and re-initializes hardware, so rebooting regularly can have performance benefits. Also, modern Macs — especially those with SSD drives — boot almost as quickly as they wake from sleep. If your Mac is running slowly, restart and see if that helps. 


7. Turn Off Visual Effects

If you have an older Mac, animations — such as the way the Dock slides up and down and app icons balloons — can affect performance, so consider switching them off. Go to System Preferences > Dock, or choose Dock from the Apple menu if you’re not on Yosemite. Uncheck the boxes marked “Magnification,” “Animate opening applications” and “Automatically hide and show the Dock.” Click the “Minimize windows” menu and choose “Scale effect.”


8. Empty Safari Tabs/Clear Cache

Safari’s tabs can be very RAM-intensive. The more you have open, the bigger the performance hit. Close the ones you’re not using — bookmark them if you think you’ll need them again. Next, open Preferences from the Safari menu — we’ll clear its caches, for a full performance boost. In pre-Yosemite versions of OS X, click Reset Safari in the Safari menu, then choose Remove all Website Data > Reset. In Yosemite, choose “Clear History and Website Data” from the Safari menu and pick an option from the drop-down menu. These do clear your history, though!


9. Reduce Login Items and Restart

Login items are those apps and processes that automatically start when you restart or log in to your account. They’re often related to software you no longer need or use. Go to System Preferences > Users & Groups > Login Items. Click the padlock at the bottom-right of the screen, then enter your password. Click the first login item you don’t need and click the “-” at the bottom of the window. Repeat for every login item you don’t want. Now restart. 


10. Keep Software up to Date

Out-of-date software can cause performance problems. In open apps, click the application menu and select “Check for Updates”. Download and install them if there are any. Now, go to the App Store pane in System Preferences and check “Automatically check for updates,” “Download newly available apps in the background” and “Install app updates.” 

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Corel Painter Essentials 5.0 Review

We were impressed by the natural-media painting tools in the recently released Painter 2015, but at over $429, it’s far too expensive for most people. Painter Essentials 5 is not only cheaper — just $49.99 — but has a simpler, more streamlined interface that is much easier for newcomers to work with.

The welcome screen in Painter Essentials 5 offers two different modes for creating your artwork. Beginners can start with the automatic Photo Art mode, which allows you to import a photo and then sit back while the program paints over it using a variety of different brush styles, such as watercolors, oil paints, or pencils. More-experienced users can create their own artwork in Drawing and Painting mode. This provides dozens of different brush and pencil styles, including a new Mirror mode that reflects brush strokes like a mirror image. There are also some powerful new “particle” brushes that can create finely detailed strokes for painting hair or delicate materials such as silk.

Not surprisingly, Painter Essentials has fewer features than its big brother — only 106 different brushes, compared to 800 for Painter 2015. Even so, that gives amateur artists plenty of scope to experiment, while features such as the Photo Art mode mean that you don’t need to be a skilled artist to get started. Just make sure you buy Painter Essentials — or download the trial version — from Corel’s website, rather than buying the outdated Painter Lite that is still on sale on the Mac App Store.

The bottom line. At just $49.99, Painter Essentials is a powerful and fun graphics tool for amateur artists.

Review Synopsis


Corel Painter Essentials 5.0






Mac running OS X 10.9 or later, 500MB hard disk space


Automatic Photo Art mode. Much cheaper than full version of Painter. More than 100 different freehand brushes.


Freehand mode doesn't provide much help for beginners.

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Deals: Get The iFixit Pro Tech Toolkit Bundle For 40% Off

[This is an advertorial. Maclife gets a portion of each unit sold.]

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'Full House' revival is official, will arrive on Netflix in 2016

Whatever happened to predictability? Well, if you had paid attention to the rumors surrounding Netflix's upcoming roster of shows, you'd have seen this recent news coming from everywhere you look. Yep, that Full House sequel we heard about earlier th...

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YouTube app will soon stop working on older smart TVs and iOS devices

If you own a smart TV or an iOS device that's getting a bit long in the tooth, you may need to do some upgrading this week if you want to continue using the YouTube app. Due to certain changes in the app's API, it'll no longer work on a number of mod...

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Gamestop's going retro with classic consoles and games

Gamestop is trying a new tactic as it faces increased competition from the likes of Gamefly, Amazon and other online retailers: it's going oldschool. IGN reports that beginning April 24, the company will once again begin accepting classic consoles fo...

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Daily Roundup: Nokia making phones again, Sony wants better selfies and more!

Today, read how Nokia is planning to get back into the phone game, ponder why Sony's added image-stabilization technology to the front of its new flagship phone and get all the details on the best vaporizers around -- because it's that day. All that ...

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