Speeding Up Your MacA Joe On Tech Guide

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Speeding Up Your Mac cover

200 pages • Version 1.1 • September 20, 2016
Updated for macOS 10.12 Sierra!

Accelerate Your Mac!

If your Mac seems a lot slower now than when you first bought it, it’s not your imagination. Over time, your Mac can become bogged down with extra background tasks, run out of free RAM and disk space, and encounter a wide variety of other issues that lead to slow performance. With expert advice and a little detective work, you can find and fix these problems—returning your Mac to its original, peppy self.

Don’t depend on random tips that may or may not help. In this book you’ll learn how to find and address the exact causes of slow behavior, with before-and-after tests to confirm your results. You’ll discover how to optimize CPU and RAM usage, eliminate disk bottlenecks, improve network performance (including web browsing and email), speed up peripherals, perform strategic software and hardware upgrades, and much more.

This new book is based on an older title of Joe’s called Take Control of Speeding Up Your Mac, but it’s been updated to cover the latest versions of macOS and third-party hardware and software. Speeding Up Your Mac is for all Macs running 10.9 Mavericks, 10.10 Yosemite, 10.11 El Capitan, or 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 MacMaintaining Your MacTroubleshooting Your Mac

What You’ll Learn

Learn the Basics

Separate fact from fiction when it comes to commonly recommended performance tips.

Try Quick Fixes

Discover the most effective techniques for overcoming random, temporary speed problems.

Diagnose Speed Issues

Use benchmarking and other diagnostic tools to pinpoint speed problems and test your fixes.

Lighten Your CPU’s Load

Track down apps that are bogging down your processor and teach them to behave.

Increase Available RAM

Turn off or manage processes that are using too much memory so there’s more to work with.

Improve Disk Performance

Fix disk errors, avoid running out of space, and eliminate inefficient disk access.

Boost Network Speeds

Speed up Wi-Fi and Ethernet network access, DNS lookups, web browsing, and email.

Monitor System Resources

Use Activity Monitor and other tools to keep tabs on your Mac’s CPU, RAM, disk, and network usage.

Upgrade Your Hardware

Learn when and how to install additional RAM, a new hard drive, an SSD, or other hardware upgrades.

Free Bonus Materials!

If you want to teach someone else—say, a friend, your company, or a user group—about improving Mac performance, 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…

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

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

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 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

As Joe has done in his earlier 50+ ebooks for another imprint, he doesn’t just tell you ‘do this, do that’, he takes the view that you also want to know some of the ‘why’ of the topics he writes about. He helps you decide what’s right for you, which is way cool. Joe’s friendly style makes the pages go by in a breeze, it’s more like listening to a sage than reading a textbook.

I think [Backing Up Your Mac] is a really great book. You are really expert in these matters, the book is very well structured and very well and written and very pleasant to read. Your guidance in this 'mine field' was very informative and well argued and has helped me tremendously to set up a good backup plan. Worth every penny.


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 MacMaintaining Your MacTroubleshooting 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 mask 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 1.1   8
  What Was New in Version 1.0   9
A Note to Readers   11
Introduction   13
Quick Start   17
Chapter 1 Learn What Makes a Mac Fast (or Slow)   19
  The Three Most Important Determiners of Mac Performance   19
  Myths, Misconceptions, and Half-Truths   29
Chapter 2 Try a Few Quick Fixes   45
  Restart Your Mac   45
  Quit Inactive Apps   47
  Prune Login Items   48
  Log Out of Other Accounts   49
  Upgrade Your Firmware   50
  Reset the SMC   50
  Update macOS   51
  Upgrade Your RAM   53
Chapter 3 Diagnose Common Speed Problems   55
  Understand Diagnostic Principles   55
  Benchmark Your Mac’s Performance   57
  Check Your Resource Usage   62
  Test Specific Speed Problems   69
Chapter 4 Fix File and Directory Problems   71
  Run Disk Utility   71
  Check for Damaged Preference Files   74
  Check Your Fonts   76
Chapter 5 Lighten Your CPU Load   79
  Cut Back on Startup and Background Items   79
  Update Your Software   83
  Watch for CPU Hogs   83
  Pause Background Apps   86
  Adjust App Priority   86
Chapter 6 Increase Your Free RAM   89
  Reduce the Number of Open Apps, Windows, and Tabs   89
  Reduce the Number of Desktop Icons   92
  Watch Out for Memory Leaks   92
Chapter 7 Improve Your Disk Performance   95
  Tame Disk Access   95
  Free Up Disk Space   105
  Defragment and Optimize Your Disk   114
Chapter 8 Speed Up Your Browser   116
  Quit and Reopen Your Browser   116
  Have Fewer Tabs and Windows Open   117
  Block Ads and Trackers   117
  Manage or Disable Flash   118
  Manage Extensions and Plugins   122
  Use a Faster Browser   123
Chapter 9 Speed Up Your Email   124
  Adjust Checking Frequency   124
  Consolidate Your Accounts   125
  Keep Your Inbox Trim   129
  Optimize Your Rules or Filters   130
  Rebuild Mailboxes or Database   131
Chapter 10 Speed Up Your Network   134
  Understand Factors Influencing Network Speed   134
  Monitor Network Activity   137
  Check Your Wi-Fi Connection   139
  Check Your Wired Ethernet Connection   144
  Use a Faster DNS Provider   146
  Test Your Broadband Service   150
Chapter 11 Speed Up Booting, Sleeping, and Waking 153 Understand What Influences Startup Speed   153
  Speed Up Startups   155
  Manage or Disable Safe Sleep   155
Chapter 12 Speed Up Mouse and Keyboard Input   158
  Speed Up Your Pointer   158
  Enhance Your Mouse, Trackball, or Trackpad   161
  Speed Up Typing   162
  Speed Up Keyboard Control   164
Chapter 13 Upgrade Your Hardware   168
  Add RAM   168
  Upgrade Your Hard Drive or SSD   172
  Add an SSD   178
  Add a Secondary Drive   185
  Use a RAID   186
  Add a Second (or Larger) Display   187
  Buy a New Mac   189
Chapter 14 Speed Up Your Peripherals   190
  Learn About Buses and Ports   190
  Optimize USB and FireWire Configurations   193
Teach This Book   198
About This Book   199
  About the Author   199
  About Joe On Tech   200
  Author’s Acknowledgments   200
  Credits   200
This book is the successor to Take Control of Speeding Up Your Mac, which was last updated in 2012 and has now been retired. Speeding Up 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 MacMaintaining Your MacTroubleshooting Your Mac

Free Sample Chapter

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