How to optimize your Macbook Pro performance

Well, I thought it’s worth to put the topic here. I’ve recently migrated from Windows 8.1 platform to Mac OS X Yosemite platform. I’ve used Windows (Windows XP, Windows 7, Windows 8/8.1) over six years, and before that I’ve also used Linux (Red Hat) platform for two years.

I’ve got a Macbook Pro with 13″ Retina Display, 8 GB of RAM, and 120 GB SSD. It’s a pretty good configuration! But still the pc was lacking performance. It was becoming unresponsive, a bit slow, laggy typing etc. symptoms were appearing. So I started to find out the reasons in the web and gathered the knowledge of how to optimize the performance of your OS X.

Let me tell you that I’m in a field of web development, so I need to use many tools simultaneously, e.g. NetBeans IDE, Sublime Text editor, Open Office suite, mac terminal multiple SSH windows, at least two parallel browsers i.e. Google Chrome and Firefox/Safari, Skype chat, XAMPP local apache and mysql services, Jing screen capturing tool, etc. Now you have started thinking that the culprit for the slowness is me rather than the mac, right! But I still believed that it can be fixed and below is how I did it.

CAUTION: By doing the changes mentioned below, you will see some downgraded look and visual effects that you love in mac. But proper performance of the system worths much more that sexy visual effects!

Click on the top left hand corner Apple icon and select “System Preferences…”. There you will get all the sections that need to be used for the optimisation process below.

1. Select “Displays” and uncheck both the “Automatically adjust brightness” and “Show mirroring options in the menu bar when available” options as shown in the screenshot below.



2. Select “Dock” under “System Preferences…”. Turn off the “Magnification” of the dock icons when hovering over. Change the “Minimize windows using” option to “Scale effect” rather than “Genie effect”. Also make sure to uncheck both the “Animate opening applications” and “Automatically hide and show the Dock” options. See the screenshot below for reference.



3. This is the worst one and you will not like it at all. Select the “Desktop & Screen Saver” option under “System Preferences…” and use “Solid Colors” background rather than picture background in “Desktop” tab. If you wish to use pictures, at least uncheck anything fancy like “Change picture every 15 minutes” or “Random order” etc. In the “Screen Saver” tab, use just simple “Message” screen saver rather than picture compilation slide shows.

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4. This is an important one. Select “Users & Groups” under “System Preferences…” and select the “Login Items” tab. Select your username and in the right hand side panel you will see all the startup items listed. Check the items that you do not need at startup and click on the “minus (-)” button below. This will save a lot of RAM and CPU usage.



5. You do not need Bluetooth all the time, right? So select the “Bluetooth” option and turn bluetooth off. Rather place it in the menu bar so that you can quickly turn it on when required. See the screenshots below for reference.

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6. Select the “Accessibility” option under “System Preferences…”. At the left hand side select the “Display” option. You will see an option at the right hand side, “Reduce transparency”. It’s basically the translucency you see in the dock background and top menu background. Checking this option will make them solid light grey background. This surely reduces the visual effect but also reduces some CPU/RAM usage.


Now select the “VoiceOver” option at the left hand side. Uncheck the “Enable VoiceOver” option if you have it checked. Generally we do not need voice over functionality



7. This is not a big deal and you can skip it if you wish, but still it saves a little bit of processing. Uncheck the “Use LCD font smoothing when available” option.



8. Select “Language & Region” option under “System Preferences…” and uninstall any language that you do not need. Refer to the screenshot below. You will have the languages listed at the left hand side. You need to select the languages you do not need and click on the “Minus (-)” button below.



9. Go to “Security & Privacy” option and select the “FileVault” tab. Mac encrypts every file in your system. You do see it normal when you view the files, but mac silently decrypts before opening it. If you have a good third-party firewall, antivirus, and internet security system installed, like Kaspersky Internet Security, then you do not need the FileVault functionality. To turn it off, first you need to click on the “Lock” icon and enter your system password. Now you can turn it off. When you turn it off, mac will perform a decrypt of all the encrypted files stored in your system, this may take a while.

You can also turn off the system’s default firewall if you have a strong third-party firewall.

CAUTION: If you are not a techie, it’s suggested to skip this step.



10. Aha, Spotlight! It’s a nice feature in mac and it really almost searches anything for you. In Mac OS X Yosemite the Spotlight search is much more powerful than the Mavericks version. But you can uncheck some sections that you don’t want the Spotlight to search into. This will surely save lots of background processing. Go to the “Spotlight” option under “System Preferences…” and uncheck some items that you do not need to search.



11. You can optionally choose not to update your system automatically and do it manually rather. What I did is just turned off the “Download newly available updates in the background” option. So whenever a new update is available, the system just notifies me but don’t start downloading it automatically. Then I can choose when to download the update.



12. In the “Dictation & Speech” section, turn off the “Dictation”. Generally we do not need it.



13. Periodically keep an eye on the “Activity Monitor” (available under Applications -> Utilities -> Activity Monitor) and remove any unwanted background process.

CAUTION: Do not remove any system process or any user process you do not understand what it is for. Take help from a techie.



14. Check your disk health and permissions. Wrong disk permissions can slow down your system. To fix dis issues you need to go to Applications -> Utilities -> Disk Utility. There in the “First Aid” tab, you will get the options to Verify and Repaid disk, and also to Verify and Repair disk permissions.

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And finally, doing all these tweaks, my system is now running very smoothly without any laggy typing or lack of performance issues. So this is how to optimize mac performance. If you have any suggestion for some added tweaks, please post in the comments and I will try to include in my main post, thanks in advance though.

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