How to Tune Up Your Mac

By Shawn M. Tomlinson

Apple Macintosh computers generally run well for a long time. Like any computer, however, your Mac may need a tune-up due to age and usage. This can range from simple software maintenance to hardware upgrades. It depends on how much use your Mac gets and how much speed and efficiency you need.

Things You'll Need

  • Utilities programs
  • External hard drive
  • New hard drive
  • RAM chips

Step 1

Clean up your hard drive. Back it up at least once a week and run utilities programs on it as often to keep your Mac clean. If your operating system is Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard or later, use Apple's Time Machine application to make the backup. Store these data files on an external hard drive or optical discs. Use a third-party utilities program to defragment and optimize your Mac's hard drive.

Step 2

Delete applications you do not need or use to open up hard drive space. Keep the original application install discs so you can reload the programs later if you need them. Run a defragmentation and optimization program on the Mac after deletion as outlined in Step 1.

Step 3

Increase your random-access memory to the maximum allowable by your Mac. Find out how much RAM your Mac can handle and what type of chips you need.

Step 4

Replace your Mac's internal hard drive with a 7200 RPM or faster hard drive. If your Mac has the SATA interface rather than the IDE interface for your hard drive, replace your hard drive with a solid-state drive for faster access.

Step 5

Use Apple's Disk Utility application in the "Utilities" folder inside the Applications folder to ensure everything is running well on your Mac's hard drive. Click the "Repair Disk Permissions" on your startup drive. Start the Mac from your Mac OS X install disc. Go to the Utilities menu and select "Disk Utility." Click on the name of your Mac's hard drive in the left column. Click the "Repair Disk" button in the lower right. If there is anything wrong with your drive, this will find and fix it in most cases. If nothing is wrong, it will state that your drive "Appears to be OK."

Tips & Warnings

  • Fragments of data files and applications get strewn across your hard drive over time, making it take longer for the Mac to access and use the files. A utility program can reassemble all the files into contiguous blocks on your hard drive, then clear the empty space and optimize the drive's performance.