Powerful Utilities for Mac Performance and Optimization

A lot of people as me about the best utilities to install to improve Mac performance and reliability.   This is a great question, and I'm going to answer that here.

I use just about the oldest supported Mac, and it works great.  But it has taken some work to make it great.  If you have a slow Mac, it is likely easily fixable!

Here is my step-wise procedure for trying to address a slow Mac:

Common Mac Performance Issues

There are a few common things that greatly slow down your Mac:
  1. Out of Date software
  2. Lack of Disk Storage
  3. Sick Hard Disk Drive
  4. Slow Hard Drive
  5. Lack of Memory
  6. Bad "repair" software
 My Speed-up-that-Mac procedure
  1. Restart.  There's nothing like a restart to clear out memory.
  2. Empty Trash, which frees up some disk space.
  3. Software Update.  OS updates and core applications should be kept up to date.
  4. App Update.  Applications and  Plug-ins should be kept up to date.
  5. Disk Utility First Aid/Repair.
  6. Networking: Restart all networking equipment (wifi router, modem)
  7. Restart again (restart at least once per week) 
From here, check to see if performance is improved.

  1. Perform network speed/reliability test (speedtest.net)
  2. Using Activity Monitor, see what (if any) apps are consuming significant CPU or Memory.  Update them, or remove them if reasonable.
  3. Inspect free disk space.  More than 20% free is good, otherwise bad.
  4. Inspect RAM.  4 GB or more is good, otherwise bad.
  1. If less than 4 GB of RAM, update to 4 GB or 8 GB.
  2. If a traditional hard drive is in use, upgrade to an SSD.
  3. If storage is reported to not be healthy, upgrade SSD.
  4. Upgrade to the most recent version of MacOS.
  5. If network is bad, consider upgrading WIFI router to a newer model (anything newer than 2014 should be fine). 

Well that's the short list I use, generally from the top down, to address any Mac performance issue.  There are some weirder things that can happen that aren't addressed by the above procedure, but I find that to be very rare.

Note that I never install or use any 3rd party utility software - as the vast majority of it does more damage than good.

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