Speeding Up My Old Macbook Pro

I am currently using a Macbook Pro which I bought a little over 2 years ago. It runs on a Core 2 Duo 2.4GHz Intel Processor and has 200Gb of storage space and 2Gb of RAM. Sounds geeky right? Well, this post is meant to be a little bit on the geekier side of things.

Anyway, 2 years a long time and is almost a lifetime for more electronic products but of course I am trying to maintain using my Mac longer and abstain from upgrading to the newer unibody Macs sporting those spanking new Core i5/i7 processors.

I mainly use my laptop to process photo images, that means I would have Photo Mechanic, Adobe Lightroom and Adobe Photoshop running at the same time with Google Chrome, iTunes and Tweetdeck running in the background. This used to work out fine until I upgraded from Leopard to Snow Leopard, Lightroom 1 to 2 and now 3 and from Adobe Photoshop CS3 to Adobe Photoshop CS4. Same goes for the size of my images. It started off with a 10mp camera to a now 21mp camera.

This definitely put a strain on my laptop and I can definitely feel it moving extremely slowly nowadays. Of course the easy route is to just get a new laptop but throwing that kind of money about isn’t in any of my current plans. So I went off about to figure out what can I do to improve the speed of my Mac and keep it running longer.

There are two ways of speeding it up of course, the hardware route as well as the software route.

Let’s begin with the hardware route.

Upgrading the memory

I upgraded the memory capacity of my laptop from 2Gb of RAM to its maximum which is 4Gb of RAM. This definitely allows me to open more applications simultaneously and Lightroom runs a little bit smoother.

Upgrading the hard disk

This will be my next upgrade, you can choose to upgrade from the stock standard 5400rpm hard disk to a much speedier 7200rpm hard disk or if you have the cash and storage space is not an issue, you can opt for a SSD (Solid State Drive). Personally, I am very much looking forward to this, the Seagate Momentus XT Hybrid hard disk. I really can’t wait to get ahold of this baby once it reaches Malaysian shores. It is a hybrid hard disk which sports a 4Gb NAND flash on it and still be able to store 500Gb of data. Proven via benchmarks to be much faster than conventional 7200rpm drives, this drive would definitely speed up my laptop. I just hope that by the time it arrives, my laptop can support it. From my sources, Cycom at Lowyat plaza is selling the 500Gb version for RM700 which is quite a lot as the US pricing is only priced at USD$89.00.

Other than these hardware upgrades, I can’t really think of other ways to improve my Mac anymore. So the next thing I need to look at is on the software side.

Onyx

Get this application directly from Apple and for free! It is a multifunction utility for Mac OS X Intel. It allows you to verify the Startup Disk and the structure of its System files, to run misc tasks of system maintenance, to configure the hidden parameters of the Finder, Dock and of some of Apple’s own applications, to delete caches, to remove a certain number of files and folders that may become cumbersome and more.

Mac Keeper

Not just an ordinary app. It is an all-in-one solution for your Mac that combines a set of drive clean-up utilities, standalone tools, and online services. Simple and powerful, this app will make work easier for beginners and give more flexibility to experts.

Why MacKeeper? You will never have to complain about lack of disk space, slow system performance, accidental file loss, privacy breaches, or be confused with any Mac-related questions.

I managed to recover about 20Gb of hard disk space using Mac Keeper. To some of you, 20Gb is not much but to me where I usually have around 5Gb of  free hard disk space, 20Gb represents 10% of my entire storage space.

Download it here.

Remove fonts you never use

If you don’t work with plenty of languages, you can always remove languages that you wouldn’t use. Trust me, there are a lot of them! You can either move them out of the fonts folder or you can use Mac Keeper or Monolingual to do that job for you.

Stop unused extensions

What is the use of turning on Wifi, Bluetooth, filesharing and internet sharing when you aren’t using them? Then open the Extensions Manager control panel via Systems Preferences and turn off the various system extensions that you don’t need.

Disable the Widgets Dashboard

I used to think that Widgets are cool but after a while, I totally forgot about it’s existence and hardly even check it. Hence why I decided to just kill it off completely. Those little buggers can be a system resource hogger.

  • Open up terminal.app located in Applications > Utilities > Terminal
  • Copy this, paste it in the terminal and hit enter: defaults write com.apple.dashboard mcx-disabled -boolean YES
  • Then enter this: killall Dock
  • That’s it! Dashboard widgets are now disabled

Other wise, you can also follow this guide here on how to disable the widgets using your mouse.

Here are some of the ways that I managed to find and source out in order to speed up my old Mac. If you have any tips and tricks, I would definitely want to hear what your solutions were and I would definitely love to try them out as well. Any method especially if it doesn’t involve buy a whole new laptop.

  • COOL…thanks for sharing…very informative for macbook user like me! i am actually looking at the Seagate Momentus XT Hybrid HDD too. what is your comment on mac cleaner….

  • Is the momentus XT avail in Cycom yet? Didn't see it last week. Aunt's coming back in Oct 🙂

  • Does Mac Cleaner also include in a function to auto disk repair permissions? I think most of the cleaner apps are quite good to be frank 🙂

  • The folks at the Lowyat forum says its there but I think its out of stock. Ooh, October, I am very tempted. Would it be too much to carry a 500Gb 2.5" Momentus XT for me? 😀

  • Great tips! I need this too! My Macbook (not even pro!) is also beginning to feel slow. Not to mention now that it is a desktop, coz the battery can't retain charge anymore :(Was looking at RAM upgrades for the longest of time. And freeing up 20GB of space sounds great! Mesti DL!

  • Where in the US is it selling at $89? Amazon or Newegg is selling at $124… For you, can-lah 😛

  • Oops, sorry I saw the wrong one. It stated from USD$89 onwards, that was for the 250Gb version haha.

  • Stephanie Lim

    These are very helpful tips!! Thanks mark !

  • Great article, and a lot of research behind it! Perhaps this can be the content of one of our vodcast episodes!

  • Great article, and a lot of research behind it! Perhaps this can be the content of one of our vodcast episodes!

  • Great article, and a lot of research behind it! Perhaps this can be the content of one of our vodcast episodes!