How To Improve Your Old Mac’s Performance

There are numerous ways to see if your Mac is having a hard time to deliver the performance you’re expecting. Every computer begins to show signs of age over time, which doesn’t mean that you necessarily need to replace it. After all, Macs are not the most affordable machines, which is yet another reason to maintain it properly. Still, there are some options for you to consider in order to upgrade your Mac’s performance and make it feel brand new.

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First, we are going to talk about the most common signs that your Mac is getting old. Then, we are going to tell about some of the more affordable ways to upgrade it, without having to buy a brand new machine. So, let’s jump right in.

 

Fixing Some of the Common Performance-Related Issues

If you’ve been a long-time Mac user, then you probably know that Apple’s hardware can last a long time. Still, even if you are careful about how you use your Mac, it may become harder for your computer to handle different tasks. These are some of the common performance-related issues that are usually connected with older machines.

In general, applications are usually becoming more complex and more demanding over time. What this means is that your Mac will, at a certain point, find it hard to reliably run some of those applications. Logically, you can revert to an older version of applications, which should help with performance. However, this is easier said than done since many of us need to have the latest updates that usually bring new features and functionality.

On the other hand, there are some things you can do to help your Mac run a bit faster. By can free up space on your hard drive by removing unwanted files. This especially goes for applications that you don’t need anymore, which means that you’ll have to uninstall them. However, uninstalling an application is not as simple as Apple likes to present it since there can be obsolete leftovers that affect the performance. We already wrote about this issue, where you can learn to properly uninstall apps on your OS X computer.

In addition, startup applications can also present a problem. You can easily take a look at applications that are scheduled to start/open once you boot your Mac. You can find this list by going to System Preferences > Users & Groups. Now you need to click on your username and finally click on Login Items. You will now see which application open automatically when you log in, which is where you can safely remove them.

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Just like with startup applications, running applications can also be a problem. Sometimes different components of applications are designed to run in the background. You can check for these by using Activity Monitor. To access this feature, you will need to open your Applications folder, and from there open your Utilities folder. This is where you will find Activity Monitor, used to preview the list of applications and processes currently running in the background. To check for the most demanding ones, you can click on the Memory tab and then on the Memory filter at the top of the list. To stop an application, click on the gray X icon located at the top-left corner.

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Upgrade to an SSD

One of the proven ways to upgrade your Mac’s performance is to update to an SSD drive. You’ve probably already heard about Solid State Drives, which are currently a viable and popular alternative to traditional hard drives.

Solid State Drives are quite different from hard drives, even though their main function is the same. They are still designed to store data that your computer can access and use. However, since there are no moving parts, it is called “solid state”. In addition, SSDs come with numerous benefits that can especially help some older computers.

The biggest reason for upgrading to an SSD is the speed. It is not uncommon for computers with this kind of internal storage to boot up in less than half the time of the computer with the traditional hard drive. The same goes for everyday tasks, where you should see the difference as well. Other benefits are reduced noise, power consumption, and temperature. These are all important benefits that you should be aware of since they will rejuvenate your older machine in a noticeable way.

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If you are interested in upgrading to an SSD, you first need to make sure that your Mac is compatible with this technology. This can be seen by checking out a website like Crucial’s Mac SSD Compatibility Page. This is where you can see a list of compatible notebooks and desktops as well, as well we how to actually install an SSD by yourself. As you will see, most MacBooks are easy to upgrade since they only require removing a couple of screws, while older iMacs don’t actually have the drive location is such an accessible spot.

Secondly, you need to check for compatible SSDs and compare how they are priced. Fortunately, SSDs have had a huge drop in price recently. If you’re looking for some of the high-end drives, make sure to check Samsung’s 850, where you can get a 500GB drive for about $160. You can also go for a more affordable Samsung 750, where 250GB version is priced at around $70. However, you need to make sure that your Mac is compatible, and that you’re buying the right product.

Increase Your RAM

Aside from adding an SSD to your Mac, adding more RAM is one of the best ways to instantly improve the performance. While an SSD improves overall performance, having more RAM means that you can run more things at once. For example, you can open 10 tabs in Chrome, listen to music with iTunes and play around with Photoshop at the same time.

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Once again, it is highly important that you know your Mac’s specifications. You can go to Apple > About this Mac to check out how much RAM you currently have. After that, you can check out this website, where you can learn all you need about different Mac models and their RAM modules. As you will see, some Macs can only use the official maximum RAM as specified by Apple, while other can safely go beyond that point. On the other hand, some Macs have soldered RAM modules and cannot be upgraded at all. You also need be aware of how much RAM you can actually add, which is definitely something you need to keep in your mind.

Just like with SSD, the good news is that RAM modules are more affordable than ever. If your Mac is upgradeable, don’t hesitate to add some RAM.

Reinstall OS X

There are numerous reasons why reinstalling OS X on your Mac is a good idea. For example, you definitely need to wipe your drive and reinstall the operating system if you intend to sell your old computer. However, the same goes for trying to speed up your computer if it runs poorly.

Prior to reinstalling your OS X, it is a good idea to back up your system. Prior to this, you need to delete old applications that you don’t intend to use, as well as delete any kind of junk files. You can find our previously published guide on how to do this. Then, use Time Machine to some other solution to back up your computer, so you can restore it once OS X is reinstalled.

You also need to be sure about which OS X version you plan to install since you make a mistake if you decide to upgrade to the newest version. Make sure to check system requirements for different versions and install the one that you feel with run the best.

Use Lighter Applications

Even though many of us are used to certain applications for quite some time now, it is a good idea to take another look at them. This is especially important if you use an older system since you need to be careful and avoid some performance-heavy apps.

For example, you should think twice about using Chrome on your notebook. As some test showed, even on 4-year-old MacBooks, replacing Chrome with Safari can get you an additional hour of battery life. Furthermore, this web browser is heavy on CPU usage, which is the reason why can hear your fans running at all times.

The same goes for numerous other applications. For example, maybe you don’t need Photoshop for some basic image editing. This is a professional-grade application that is often used by photographers. In case you don’t really need all that power, you can try some alternatives. Pixelmator is a highly capable image editor that doesn’t eat up all your system’s resources.

You can easily check which applications are using the CPU heavily, taking up all your RAM, or even draining your battery by using the Activity Monitor. Once again, you can find this feature by going to your Applications folder and then navigating to Utilities.

Physical Cleaning is Important as Well

Aside from taking care of your Mac by tidying up its operating system, it is also important to keep it physically clean. Even Apple itself recommends that you clean your Mac and keep it disinfected from time to time.

Perhaps the best-known way to keep your Mac clean is by blowing out the accumulated crud beneath the key console using compressed air. You can find compressed air in a can, which is a safe way to remove the dust. If you want to tackle this yourself, here are Apple’s official recommendations:
1. You need to turn off your Mac first, as you probably already know;
2. You also should unplug the power cord from the wall;
3. Remove the battery as well if you plan on cleaning your notebook;
4. Disconnect all external devices from the computer;
5. It is highly recommended not to use any cleaning products that contain ammonia, chlorine, or abrasive ingredients;
6. Also, don’t spray cleaner directly onto your computer, since liquid could drip inside the case and cause an electrical shock.

Even though you should clean your Mac regularly, sometimes it is needed to clean its inside as well. The most reliable way to do that is by finding a professional who knows how to get the job done. After all, there are a lot of small parts and screws, so it’s important to know your way around Mac’s insides.

Conclusion

Upgrading internal storage and adding more memory is the best way to make your Mac feel like a new machine. This way you can add one or two years to your Mac’s life, or at least until you save enough money for a new machine.

By following the previously mentioned advice, your Mac will perform better, boot faster, and it will be a quieter machine as well.

Once you are ready to buy a new Mac, we have prepared a Buyer’s’Guide that you can use to choose the best possible machine. Another guide shows you how to buy Apple products, which is a good source of information if you’re buying a Mac for the first time, or if you need to be reminded of this process.

We also have a guide on how to trade-in your old devices, so you can get some money back and perhaps invest in a computer with better specs.

We hope that we helped you rejuvenate your Mac, as well as that you’ve found plenty of useful information.