Maintaining Your MacA Joe On Tech Guide

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Maintaining Your Mac cover

119 pages • Version 1.2 • September 20, 2016
Updated for macOS 10.12 Sierra!

Keep Your Mac Running Smoothly!

Macs, like all machines, are prone to break down eventually—in either a physical sense (a component going bad) or a logical sense (files becoming corrupted, apps misbehaving). You can reduce the risk of such problems, and minimize the damage when they do occur, with a regular maintenance regimen. This book contains simple steps you can take to keep your Mac humming.

In much the same way that you brush and floss to prevent cavities, or change your car’s oil periodically to prevent engine damage, you should eliminate the crud on your Mac (whether that’s dust, outdated apps, or useless files) and perform other tasks to keep it healthy. By doing so, you’ll improve your Mac’s performance, prevent problems, and increase your productivity.

In this new book, based on his popular title Take Control of Maintaining Your Mac, Joe Kissell helps you start on the right foot by addressing common maintenance issues, and then covers simple tasks you can perform periodically to keep your Mac in top shape. He also helps you discover useful utilities for automating parts of the process and dispels common misconceptions about maintenance. This book covers 10.9 Mavericks, 10.10 Yosemite, 10.11 El Capitan, and 10.12 Sierra.

Ebook includes PDF, EPUB, and Kindle versions.
Ebook orders fulfilled by FastSpring.

Paperback orders fulfilled by CreateSpace.

Save 33% when you buy the four-book Mac Fitness Bundle, which also includes:
Backing Up Your MacTroubleshooting Your MacSpeeding Up Your Mac

What You’ll Learn

Keeping Software Up to Date

Figure out what software on your Mac is out of date, whether automatic updates are a good idea, and how to keep up with the latest bug fixes.

Removing Digital Clutter

Find and remove old software, useless files, unneeded login items, and other items that can take up valuable space and cause performance issues.

Preventing Data Loss and Theft

Make sure your backups are in order, your passwords are strong, and other security details are under control.

Testing Your Hardware

Discover the easy (and free!) way to make sure your Mac’s logic board, RAM, hard drive or SSD, and other components are in good shape.

Using Maintenance Utilities

Find out which maintenance apps are most useful, which should be avoided, and what to watch out for when using third-party utilities.

Daily, Weekly, Monthly, & Yearly Tasks

Performing quick and easy maintenance tasks on a regular schedule can prevent small problems from turning into major disasters.

Maintenance Myths

Conventional wisdom is often wrong. Don’t waste time or effort on maintenance tasks that most people can safely avoid.

Preparing for a macOS Upgrade

Apple is now upgrading macOS on a yearly schedule. Find out what you need to know to be ready for the next major release.

Monitoring Your Mac's Health

Learn how to keep track of your Mac’s RAM, disk, CPU usage, and network usage; internal temperatures; and more.

Free Bonus Materials!

  • Printable Checklist: Print or copy this single-page checklist and post it somewhere handy to remind you of important daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly maintenance tasks.
  • Training Aids: If you want to teach Mac maintenance to someone else—say, a friend, your company, or a user group—you’ll benefit from free downloadable training materials based on the book, including a PDF “cheat sheet” with the essential points from the book, plus a simplified PDF-based presentation. (Editable, brandable Keynote slides can be licensed for an additional fee.)

Reader Comments on Joe’s Books

Tens of thousands of readers have used Joe’s books to solve problems and enhance their skills. Here’s what a few of them have to say…

I’m addicted to the computer education books by Joe Kissell! And it has proven to be an extremely helpful as well as enjoyable and educational addiction. Over the years, I’ve gone paperless with Joe’s help, my wife and I have had many pain-free upgrades to a new Mac OS and I always am indebted to Joe’s books for all the advice on how to maintain essential and efficient backups.

Norm Harris

Joe’s top-notch instructional guides are among the absolute best in the field. His comprehensive, yet accessible, books on specific software titles and subjects like productivity, efficiency, and security will benefit users of all levels, from beginners to advanced power users. Whether you want to learn something brand new or update your already finely honed skills, Joe Kissell is an excellent resource.

Mariva H. Aviram

If you’ve never read a book written by Joe Kissell I strongly suggest you do, and Maintaining Your Mac is a good start. It will be well worth your time and money.

I buy and consume everything you have ever written and published…and I am a better person for it. Your advice is comparable to the advice I get from many of the Tibetan Lamas but of course for different results.

Norman Steinberg

Joe Kissell’s books are great references for beginners and the technically proficient alike. Well organized, and written with direct knowledge of the computer user’s needs.

Rick Hyman

Joe Kissell has guided me through numerous OS updates, taught me about backups, FileVault, 1Password and many other topics that are ESSENTIAL to my day-to-day Mac use.

Michael Durrant

Ebook includes PDF, EPUB, and Kindle versions.
Ebook orders fulfilled by FastSpring.

Paperback orders fulfilled by CreateSpace.

Save 33% when you buy the four-book Mac Fitness Bundle, which also includes:
Backing Up Your MacTroubleshooting Your MacSpeeding Up Your Mac

About the Author

Joe Kissell has been using Macs since 1991, and writing about them since 1995. He is the author of more than 50 books on technology, including The Nisus Way, Take Control of iCloud, Take Control of Your Online Privacy, and Mac Security Bible. He is also a contributing editor to TidBITS and a senior contributor to Macworld. Before he began writing full-time in 2003, Joe spent nearly eight years managing software development. Joe is the eponym and instigator of Joe On Tech, a website and ebook series that helps people improve their relationship with technology. He can neither confirm nor deny that he wears a cape and fights crime in his spare time. Joe lives in San Diego with his wife, their two sons, and their cat.

About Joe On Tech Guides

Joe On Tech guides provide practical advice on tech topics. Suitable for beginners and experienced users alike, they explain technology in a straightforward and friendly way. Joe On Tech guides offer:

  • Expert advice from an author with 20+ years of experience
  • Professional editing and technical review
  • PDF, EPUB, and Kindle ebook formats, plus paperback
  • Bookmarks and cross-references for easy navigation
  • Free minor updates
  • 100% Money-Back Guarantee


Maintaining Your Mac is about preventing problems. Troubleshooting Your Mac book is about solving problems (since problems can and do occur regardless of how diligently you’ve maintained your Mac). To be sure, slow performance is a problem that needs troubleshooting help, and I mention it in that book. However, speeding up a slow Mac is such an involved topic that it required its own book to cover all the details, and that’s Speeding Up Your Mac. Although there are, inevitably, a few small areas of overlap in the various titles, they each cover substantially different territory.
Sure thing. Here you go:

Read Me First   6
  Updates   6
  Basics   6
  What’s New in Version 1.2   8
A Note to Readers   9
Introduction   11
Quick Start   13
Chapter 1 Start on the Right Foot   15
  Install the Latest Version of macOS   15
  Turn On Automatic App Store Updates   16
  Update Third-Party Software   20
  Clean Out Accumulated Cruft   22
  Turn Off Unneeded Login Items   28
  Set Up a Backup System   30
  Test Your Hardware   32
  Run Disk Utility   36
  Use a Surge Protector or UPS   38
  Update Weak Passwords   40
  Use Optimized Storage in Sierra   42
  Consider a Maintenance Utility (or Two)   43
Chapter 2 Perform Daily Tasks   52
  Update Your Versioned Backup   52
  Check Software Updates   53
  Empty Your Inbox   54
Chapter 3 Perform Weekly Tasks   56
  Clean Up Your Desktop   56
  Empty Your Downloads Folder   59
  Update Your Bootable Duplicate   60
  Rotate Physical Backups Offsite   62
  Install App Store Software Updates   62
  Check for Other Third-Party Software Updates   64
  Restart Your Mac   64
  Check Your Spam Mailbox   65
Chapter 4 Perform Monthly Tasks   66
  Empty Your Trash   66
  Use Disk Utility’s Repair Disk Feature   68
  Test Your Backups   70
  Consider Clearing Certain Caches   71
  Clean Your Screen   76
  Clean Your Mouse or Trackball   76
  Exercise Your Notebook’s Battery   78
  Check for Ebook Updates   79
Chapter 5 Perform Yearly Tasks   80
  De-Dust Your Mac   80
  Clean Your Keyboard   83
  Make Archival Backups   84
  Remove Unneeded Files   86
  Check Your UPS Battery   87
Chapter 6 Maintenance Tasks to Skip   89
  Repair Permissions   89
  Defragment Your Hard Disk   91
  Make Sure Scheduled Maintenance Tasks Run   94
  Install Anti-Malware Software   95
  Change Your Passwords   97
  Delete Your Cookies   99
Chapter 7 New Releases of macOS   102
  Buy Take Control of Upgrading to...   102
  Make a Fresh Bootable Backup   103
  Upgrade   103
Chapter 8 Monitor Your Mac’s Health   105
  Use Monitoring Utilities   105
  Check Your Drive’s S.M.A.R.T. Status   111
Chapter 9 Learn More   114
  Websites   114
  When All Else Fails   115
Periodic Task Checklist   116
Teach This Book   117
About This Book   118
  About the Author   118
  About Joe On Tech   119
  Author’s Acknowledgments   119
  Credits   119
This book is the successor to Take Control of Maintaining Your Mac, Second Edition, which was last updated in 2013 and has now been retired. Maintaining Your Mac: A Joe On Tech Guide has the same overall structure and much of the same text as the earlier book, but it has been thoroughly updated and enhanced. The changes are at least equivalent to what a new edition would contain—and I plan to keep it updated for the foreseeable future, too!
Take Control Books has been publishing books on technical topics (with an emphasis on Apple products) since 2003. I (Joe Kissell) have written over 50 of those books, and I plan to continue writing books for Take Control. (See Joe Kissell’s Reflections on His First 50 Take Control Books.) When it became infeasible for Take Control to keep some of my older (but much-loved) books up to date, I offered to “adopt” them, update them myself, and release them here with new titles and layouts. Take Control then functions as a reseller for Joe On Tech books (of which there will be more as time goes on).
They’re similar in both content and quality. For this book, I hired an editor (Caroline Rose) and a technical reviewer (Dan Frakes) who have also worked for Take Control, and I followed the same overall process. Although the Joe On Tech style guide and behind-the-scenes technical processes are a bit different, I hold these books to the high standards readers have come to expect from Take Control. (And, because I get more control over the details, I’m able to do extra things like offering paperback versions of the books.)
Absolutely. The ebook includes PDF, EPUB, and Kindle versions, so you can read it on virtually any electronic device. The PDF version is best for reading on a computer screen (using Preview, Acrobat Reader, PDFpen, or similar apps). The EPUB version is perfect for iBooks. And the Kindle (Mobipocket) version works on all your Kindle devices, as well as in the Kindle app for Mac.
The book is for sale in several online stores, including Amazon, Apple’s iBooks Store, Leanpub, and Take Control. Although you’re welcome to purchase it from any of those places, please consider buying it directly from this site instead, because:
  • When you buy it from Joe On Tech, all the proceeds (after transaction fees) go to me; when you buy it elsewhere, the distributor takes a hefty cut first.
  • I supply PDF, EPUB, and Kindle versions of the ebook, but Amazon provides only the Kindle version, while the iBook Store provides only the EPUB version.
  • I offer a no-questions-asked money-back guarantee, if you buy the book from the Joe On Tech site.
  • When you purchase a book directly from me, I’m able to contact you about free updates, corrections, and new editions, but when you buy from another distributor, you become their customer, not mine, and I can’t reach you.
Yes! The paperback version contains instructions for downloading the ebook version at no additional cost.
You betcha. If you’re interested in reviewing the book, drop me a note using my contact form and I’ll hook you up.

Ebook includes PDF, EPUB, and Kindle versions.
Ebook orders fulfilled by FastSpring.

Paperback orders fulfilled by CreateSpace.

Save 33% when you buy the four-book Mac Fitness Bundle, which also includes:
Backing Up Your MacTroubleshooting Your MacSpeeding Up Your Mac

Free Sample Chapter

Sign up for joeMail, my low-volume, no-spam, personal mailing list to get a free chapter from the book.

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