How to speed up your Mac: Top ways to get extra oomph from OS X

Banish the beach ball of doom and breathe new life into your Mac

We all amass a lot of clutter in our lives and our computers are no exception. We often tend to overlook the amount of stuff that we keep on our machine and eventually these slow down its day-to-day performance; the Mac is no exception to this.

If you are seeing a spinning beach ball more often that you really want, read on for five top tips to make OS X run the way it used to.

Disable unnecessary effects and transitions

Running eye candy such as transparent menus, windows, and titlebars takes up valuable processing power and on older Macs this can slow things down considerably, this can be especially true for those of us that have updated to OS X Yosemite.

To speed things up here go back to System Preferences and click on Accessibility. Select Display and tick the box for Reduce Transparency. This can make quite a difference to the responsiveness and speed of opening folders and windows in Yosemite on an older Mac.

Get rid of redundant extensions and widgets

The Notification Centre is a great tool for having information at your fingertips but you may not need or want all that information. On an older Mac it can seem to take forever for all these items to load up. Disabling widgets and extensions couldn't be simpler.

Open up System Preferences and go to Extensions. Select Today on the menu to left and untick the options you no longer want to have updating.

Check what is starting up in Login Items

You may have bought a Mac as it seemed to load up in a jiffy, but over time it takes longer and longer. The issue may well be that too many apps are trying to open up automatically at startup. You can check which apps are trying to open up by opening up System Preferences, then clicking on Users & Groups. Click on the Login Items tab to see a list of the apps that open when you start up your Mac. The apps you no longer need to start up and be unticked.

Spring clean your hard drive

Even with the biggest hard drive, things will start to clutter it up. Nine times out of ten you can be pretty sure there will be applications and files you no longer need.

Before cleaning up your hard drive, it is a good idea to repair the disk. Open up the Mac's Disk Utility app and select the hard drive in the left panel. Ensure that you have selected the First Aid tab and click on the Repair Disk button. This will then scan the disk and carry out any necessary repairs to the disk file structure.

A utility such as OnyX can clean out caches that various applications and processes have built up over time. This is a powerful tool that does a lot more beside. Suffice to say, the cleaning tab in this application will help in freeing up space on the disk.

It is also good to have a look at the Mac's applications and downloads folders. AppZapper is a handy tool for cleaning out unwanted apps and their associated files and folders – you never know when an unwanted app could be slowing down the operation of your Mac.

Tidy up desktop clutter

Icons on the desktop may come in handy but just how many are needed there? Each one needs memory to store and redraw when windows are moved around the screen. To keep the desktop clear and speedy, just put all those folders and files into just one folder and you will see an instant speed boost.