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    Steven Morgan

    I know this isn’t an IT forum, but I did have a question about MacBook speed.
    I have the highest specs, but it seems every 3-4 months I have to do a clean install because stuff slows down so much.
    Understandably when I’m running 10 programs for 10 hours a day, I wear on it pretty hard, I am just wondering if there is any tools or best practices to prevent this? Is this normal for anyone else?

    Things I’ve noticed:
    Startup time
    Finder delay on load files inside folder
    Swapping windows around “spaces”


    Hi and welcome Steven!

    Here is what you want to do: Uninstall OSX and install a really lightweight Linux or BSD distro. The slimmer, the better. Arch, Gentoo, Any BSD or I suppose Crunch Bang will do. Then, get yourself a nice, lightweight Window manager. See Unix P*rn for inspiration.

    Just kidding. I know that’s not the answer for you. You probably love OSX like the rest of the world and want to keep it. The only thing I can tell you is: High end specs or not… software these days is BLOATED! I decided to ditch Creative Cloud for good because the amount of resources it consumes is UNREAL!

    I don’t use Dreamweaver and never have. However… if you do, stop. Dreamweaver is a massive application that will gobble up all your resources… to write HTML and CSS. If you’re not already using a lightweight text editor… start there. I’ve been using vim lately and it’s awesome.

    I hope you get more performance as I would want to die if my computer was slow and had to fight it all day.


    Check out these super pimp OSX setups:

    Steven Morgan

    Thanks for the quick response @Joe_Temp yes I have definitely ditched all the heavy programs. I stay in the realms of Sublime, CodeKit, MAMP, Sequel Pro, Transmit, Tower, Skype, Mail, Parallels, Chrome, and those run pretty much all the time. Just seems like over time they slow.

    Though I am guilty of installing programs, and then trashing them, and I imagine that adds up over time.


    I’m seeing one HUGE problem here: You are afraid to stray from GUI clients. Now, don’t get me wrong. There are some apps that will ALWAYS require a GUI… like photo manipulation. However…

    CodeKit, Sequel Pro, Transmit and Tower are ALL applications designed to create a layer of abstraction on top of the Terminal/Bash/Shell. More abstraction usually means two things:

    1. Actually more complex even though it seems simpler. KISS.
    2. Slower. By virtue of the CPU performing more processes, it’s always slower.

    None… and I repeat none of the four programs I mentioned are necessary. ALL of these can be replaced by one application: Your terminal.

    As far as Parallels goes, I have no idea why you’d want to run Windows on a Mac. Be that as it may, there has got to be a more lightweight VM client. VirtualBox maybe? If not, you could always use a hypervisor.

    OSX is a loose derivative of Unix. Follow in that proud tradition and ditch all that bloatware. You can do it. I know you can.

    Steven Morgan

    That is a good point, I may move to replace those GUI interfaces. As far as Parallels I use it for testing in IE, which I know there are other options, I will definitely give VirtualBox a shot.

    Steven Morgan

    I was going to ask about that @TheDoc.
    I have the 8GB MBP, I know there are 16GB kits, is that a waste? I’ve heard some say they swear by it, and some say it’s a waste. I also don’t want to have the machine running on some crappy 3rd party chip.

    As far as the SSD, do you recommend anything other than the SSD kit from the Apple Store? $750 for 512GB kinds hurts, will any SSD run alright?


    I absolutely second @TheDoc. SSD is the way to go. That being said, it’s the most expensive fix without question.

    BUT… if you do both, that is get an SSD AND start using your terminal more… you’ll see massive improvements in speed. Also, without those subscriptions… you can easily justify blowing some cash on an SSD. :)


    Oh and I would say any SSD is fine. Everybody makes them… but you’ll probably void your warranty.

    Steven Morgan

    Yeah I’m not worried about that. What about the RAM upgrade?

    (again thanks for all the input)


    As far as a RAM upgrade… I personally think that is a waste. If your system is eating up 8GB… the problem is NOT the hardware… it’s the software configuration. There is no reason in the world you should need more than 8GB unless you’re a hardcore gamer. 16 GB to write code? Seems obscene.

    I run a pretty minimal system. I run a light window manager on a light Linux install. I only have 4 GB of RAM with absolutely ZERO problems… ever. At no time in the last 2 years of ownership have I said “Wow, my computer is slow.”

    I’m about to build a custom desktop and there is no way I will install more than 6GB of RAM. I just won’t need it.

    As a matter of fact, @traq and I have begun hardware hacking on BeagleBone Blacks. These only have 1GB of RAM and they’re definitely fast. I mean… they have no desktop environments… at least mine doesn’t but that only goes to show that for many tasks… all you need is a command line.

    A Raspberry Pi has even less RAM than that and look:

    People run full blown distros on them with desktop environments. More RAM will be a waste of money.


    BeagleBone Blacks. These only have 1GB of RAM and they’re definitely fast.

    512MB. Unless you got some crazy manufacturing defect.

    I have the highest specs

    Meaning what, exactly?

    As far as the SSD, do you recommend anything other than the SSD kit from the Apple Store? $750 for 512GB kinds hurts

    A common approach is to put the OS and frequently-used applications on the SSD, and keep your HDD for regular stuff. Faster start-up times with a smaller (cheaper!) SSD. With this approach, there’s hardly any reason for something bigger than 128GB (if that).

    There are also hybrid designs which use the HDD for storage, and have a small(ish) SSD used for caching. This setup works well because a) it’s the size of a single drive, and b) the caching works automatically.

    will any SSD run alright?

    As a general rule, “as long as it fits in your machine.” Check the physical size and connection types.

    As a disclaimer, though, I don’t deal with Macs; one reason being how much effort they spend on controlling what and how you can upgrade. When they started gluing parts in, I gave up hope. And I’m sure @Joe_Temp is right that you’d lose your warranty if you do it yourself.


    512MB. Unless you got some crazy manufacturing defect.

    You’re right. I don’t know why I said 1GB. I think the Raspberry Pi has the same amount of RAM and a slightly slower processor. Can’t be totally sure though. However, this only further proves my point that his problem is not RAM.

    As someone who has actually cracked open a Mac… you are brave sir. It is QUITE apparent that those devices WERE NOT made to be modified like @traq said! I actually had to use a razorblade to cut a foil coating on an iMac I cracked open. It made me real nervous:


    Can’t be totally sure though.

    Well, I could be if I was willing to Google it.


    I would:

    • Add SSD
    • Clean Install
    • Max Out RAM (helps with the next step)
    • Install Vagrant and Oracle VM Box

    Done! :)

    Sublime, CodeKit, MAMP, Sequel Pro, Transmit, Tower, Skype, Mail, Parallels, Chrome, and those run pretty much all the time.

    While @Joe_Temp is suggesting to dump all this for Terminal, I would however slightly disagree with his suggestions.

    Morgan, how comfortable are you with the terminal, are you even interested in ‘configuring’ or are you the type that just likes to design/build stuff? The tools you mentioned are great to get you going, switching might present additional things you’ll have to learn (and you might not even like it). So anyways… one thing that I did to my work Mac is I cleaned all the caches located in the ~/Library/Caches and /Library/Caches folder (notice NO ~).

    That might help if you installed/uninstalled lots of apps.

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