View Full Version : Ways To Make Your Mac Go Faster!

08-22-2001, 06:54 AM
Hi guys,

This is from my shareware, Extension Overload. You can download it from http://www.ExtensionOverload.com

Ways To Make Your Mac Go Faster

Are you happy and satisfied with the speed of your Mac ? Unless you have a brand new PowerPC G4 (and even if you do), you also want to squeeze every last iota of performance out of your Mac. This guide will explain how to optimize both your hardware and software to get the best performance, whether you are running a Mac 512k or a Macintosh G4 speed demon. Even a 7 MHz 68000 processor can perform better than you might think. Here are some of the ways you can try. If you have way(s) to make your Mac go faster, email me at eo@kagi.com

On the other hand, your can get fast, modern new or used computers today for not very much money. Consider that option before you spend much for upgrading.

In certain circumstances, almost always there is an exception to any rule.

Hardware Optimization
1. 680x0 computer users can speed up their Mac when running math and graphic applications by installing FPU (FPU stands for Floating-Point Unit, also knows as Math Coprocessor or floating point co-processor). FPU is a hardware chip that performs certain types of mathematical operations quickly. The performance of many scientific, mathematical, and financial applications increases greatly when an FPU is installed. FPU will benefit programs like Excel and ClarisWorks spreadsheets.

2. Add more RAM. Avoid using Virtual memory. Always remember that Virtual Memory will be turned on after you install a new Mac OS (I don't know why!) even you have enough RAM to run all your applications. If you really need to use more RAM than the amount of physical RAM you have, I suggest you add RAM Doubler, as it is far faster than virtual memory. Be aware that, while RAM Doubler is useful for letting you run more applications simultaneously, it doesn't do much good for RAM-hungry applications like PhotoShop, Premiere, and the like. More information about RAM Double at http://www.connectix.com/html/ramdoubler.html

3. Early model of PowerMac does not come with Level-2 cache memory. Level-2 cache memory is external to the CPU and caches data and instructions which are transferred between the CPU and RAM. These caches can be in the form of memory chips soldered to the system’s motherboard or upgradeable memory modules. Level 2 caches can range in size from 32K to over I megabyte. Installing Level 2 (L2) Cache can increase computer performance. The bigger Level L2 cache you have, the faster your Mac will be. You might want to check http://www.info.apple.com/applespec/applespec.taf for your Mac specifications.

4. Certain model of PowerMac can be upgrade to either G3 or G4. It may be cheaper to upgrade than getting a new one because you can usually use your current RAM, Hard disk, Monitor and CD-ROM. Please remember that Processor upgrade cards is not supported in Mac OS X.

5. If you are willing to spend few hundred dollars for a 3D card, you can get faster and better 3D rendering. It's good for playing 3D games such as Myth, Deus Ex and Quake. It won't make the game faster but it will give you unprecedented realism. All PowerMac G4 come with a 3D card.

Software Optimization
1. Avoid unnecessary extensions and control panels. The more you have, the more memory and disk space it will eat up. Bugs in an extension or control panels can also crash and slow down your computer. Your Mac will also startup faster when you have fewer extensions and control panels to load.

2. If you are using System 7.x or Mac OS 8.x. You should get yourself a copy of Connectix Speed Doubler to accelerate your Macintosh without the expense and hassle of upgrading your hardware. Speed Doubler's Speed Emulator will rocket past the performance of Apple's built-in 680x0 code emulator. You'll also get faster disk access on all Mac and quicker Finder functions. Connectix Speed Doubler does not support Mac OS 9.x. More information about Connectix Speed Doubler at http://www.connectix.com/

3. Handy Control Panels like Connectix CopyAgent allows you to backup, copy, or synchronize your files automatically. CopyAgent provides the ability to schedule copy jobs, verify copies, completely erase files, and a host of other features to help you manage your files. CopyAgent also includes TurboKeys, which gives you the ability to navigate the Finder and to control applications without a mouse. With TurboKeys, you can also set-up keyboard shortcuts for frequently used operations.

4. Startup Doubler accelerates the startup of Mac OS, its software acceleration compensates for sub-optimal disk performance to make extensions and control panels load faster. Time saved depends on the performance of your startup disk and the number of Extensions and Control Panels in your System. http://www.kagi.com/authors/marc/

5. Modern Memory Manager (inside the memory control panel) should be turned on because PowerMacs handle memory in a different ways compared to 680x0 computer. However, if you always get error type 11 on certain applications, try turning off the Modern Memory Manager and launch the application again. When the Modern Memory Manager is off, it will slow down your PPC a little bit. But if your Mac is running OK, ensure it is always turned on. You won't find "Modern Memory Manager" if you're using Memory control panel v7.5.7 or above.

6. PPC users can set their Disk Cache (inside Memory control panel) from 96K to 7680K. The more you allocate to the Cache (within limits), the faster Mac you get, but the less RAM you have left for other applications. The secret is that the more disk cache you allocate, the more frequently used information can be stored in RAM, which allows your computer to call up the information more quickly. There has been a lot of controversy about what's the right size to use. Apple suggested allocating 32K per MB of RAM installed. In System 7.5, the more disk cache you allocate the faster your Mac will go. But, sometimes it also depends on the application being run. If you're using Mac OS 8 or 8.1, you can simply open the Memory control panel and click the Use Defaults button found at the bottom of the control panel. Your Mac will determine the best disk cache setting based on the amount of RAM you have installed.

7. When a later Mac starts up it checks the memory before booting. If you hold down the command key and the option while double clicking on the memory control panel, you will find another option that will allow you to turn off memory checking during bootup .

8. LibMotoSh, a shared library by Motorola is a highly optimized memory, string and math library for the Power Macintosh. LibMotoSh replaces several commonly used functions provided by the standard C library. Motorola claims that many PowerMac users see tremendous performance gains for some operations when using this library. LibMotoSh can be downloaded from http://www.mot.com/SPS/PowerPC/library/fact_sheet/libmoto_download.html

9. User with PowerMac G4 should install the following files into their extensions folder. VbasicOps, vBigNum, vectorOps and vMathLib allows you to take advantage of Altivec in G4. vBasicOps contains a library of algebraic operations that expand on the capabilities of the AltiVec hardware. It includes integer add, subtract, multiply and divide operations for signed and unsigned operands of 16 and 32 bits, and unsigned operands of 64 bits. (A future release will expand this to include signed 64-bit operands and signed and unsigned 128-bit operands.). vMathLib is a collection of numerical functions designed to facilitate a wide range of numerical programming for the Altivec programming model. It includes computational functions (divide, square root), exponential functions and transcendental functions, to name a few. vectorOps library is a collection of Basic Linear Algebra Subprograms (BLAS) that use AltiVec technology for their implementations. The functions are grouped into three categories (called levels), as follows:1. Vector-scalar linear algebra subprograms 2. Matrix-vector linear algebra subprograms 3. Matrix operations. vMathLib is a collection of numerical functions designed to facilitate a wide range of numerical programming for the Altivec programming model. It includes computational functions (divide, square root), exponential functions and transcendental functions, to name a few.

10. Install SerialSpeed 230 to boost your serial port throughput to 115,000 bps or 230,000 bps with no additional hardware required. It works with the enhanced serial ports (on most Power Macintosh and Macintosh "AV class" computers) to boost your serial port speed. Your existing applications can use SerialSpeed 230 to speed their operations. They'll talk to your modem or printer 200% or 400% faster than before! Latest version is 1.7. SerialSpeed 230 can be downloaded from Brookline web site at: http://www.brooklinesw.com/

11. Always optimizing the placement of your computer files on your hard disk to maximizes your computer performance. (You can use Symantec Corp’s Norton Speed Disk or AlSoft's Disk Express Pro). You should optimize your hard disk if it is above 2 or 3% fragmentation.
Symantec Corp Website http://www.symantec.com
AlSoft Website http://www.alsoftinc.com\

12. If you are not on a network, go to the Chooser and deactivate AppleTalk. If you turn it on, your system will lose some performance.

13. Turn off the Menu Blinking inside the General Controls panel. Don't waste your time blinking the selected menu item, what you want is your Mac to executes your choice.

14. Try to remember keyboard shortcuts so you won't have to select the command from the menu bar. For example.
Quit = Command + Q,
New File/Folder = Command + N
Copy = Command + C

15. Install CDIconKiller to suppress custom icons on CD-ROMs, floppy disks and networked disks, which tends to speed up the Finder by a factor of about a zillion. This is because custom disk icons take time to reproduce on the screen. To temporarily show the custom icons, hold down the command key when opening a folder. Can be downloaded from Info-Mac Website at: http://hyperarchive.lcs.mit.edu/HyperArchive.html

16. Do not check "Calculate folder sizes" inside the View control panel, since this will slow your computer considerably and can slow the server (if you are connected to a server) to a crawl the minute you open a folder. Not available in MacOS 8 and 8.1.

17. Install NoFinderZoom9. NoFinderZoom9 will deactivate all zoom effects: the Finder whenever a window is opened or closed, the one shown when you select ‘About Sherlock’ in Sherlock, etc. It works by patching the function ‘TransitionWindow’ (called whenever a zoom effect is applied) with a newer function. The function defined will only show/hide the window, it won’t play any theme sound or show the springing rectangles. The patch mechanism uses MoreCFMPatches from MoreIsBetter package. You can download NoFinderZoom9 from http://www.multimania.com/madrau

18. Set your mouse tracking speed to the fastest in the Mouse control panel. For faster mouse speed. You might want to download USB Overdrive and use the "fast 100" setting. You can download USB Overdrive from http://www.usboverdrive.com

19. Remove startup picture (or Startup screen). Reading the startup screen file into memory and display it may take a few seconds. The process happens every time you turn on or restart your Mac. However, you cannot remove the ‘smiling face’ startup screen which comes with Mac OS.

20. Remove desktop picture. It is nice to have your favorite photo as desktop picture but it takes time and consumes memory.

21. If you don’t really need accurate colors on screen, reducing your display to the minimun number of colors will speed up screen redraw, especially for applications that require 256 colors or more. This is true especially for older Mac.

22. The Appearance control panel from Mac OS 8.x and 9.x lets the user choose a "soundset" which enables sounds to be used for tasks performed on the computer. This feature is very cute but it can slow down your Mac. Anyway, many non-Apple soundsets have been made and are available to download from the Internet free of charge on sites such as http://www.macosthemes.net

23. Mac OS 8 user should upgrade to Mac OS 8.1. Mac OS 8.1 dramatically expands hard disk efficiency, and includes dozens of enhancements that improve system performance and stability, such as improvements in Virtual Memory and disk caching that can speed application launch and relaunch by up to 50%. Mac OS 8.1 (updater) can be downloaded at http://www.apple.com

24. Turn on the submenu option if you installed Apple Menu Options control panel. This will gives you access to items within folders through Apple Menu. This is faster than double clicking multiple folder levels. You can also make an folder’s alias and put it into Apple Menu Items (in the System Folder). Hierarchical menus will be available for this folder when you access it from Apple Menu. Be aware however, that some users have reported dramatic slowdowns in some computer functions after they have enabled the Submentus option.

25. Applications such as Adobe Photoshop, Macromedia SoundEdit, and other graphics and multimedia applications, will run faster if you allocate more RAM to them (via the Get Info window). This works because RAM is much faster than hard disk. For Adobe PhotoShop, you should allocate 3 times (or more) as much RAM as the size of the document you are working on. Please remember that this method doesn't apply to all applications.

26. Uncheck the ‘Shut Down Warning’ in the General Controls Control Panel.

27. If you are surfing the web over a slow modem link and your favorite sites contain a lot of advertisements, you should install WebFree. This control panel allows you to screen out most Web advertising banners, blinking text, and animated gifs by identifying and blocking tags associated with these elements. The control panel is also customizable, allowing you to add other tags as you please. WebFree can also be configured to block "cookies" - small bits of code that tell a Website which areas of the site you've visited. The goal of WebFree is to make your web surfing more productive. WebFree works with existing web browsers. Can be download from http://www.falken.net/webfree/

28. If you have a PowerBook, open the PowerBook control panel and move the slider over to Better Performance. Don't worry about battery conservation if you're plugged into a wall outlet.

29. Don't launch too many application at a same time. All those program will share your computing power and slow down your Mac. Try to close unnecessary applications and scheduling routine background tasks (such as virus checking and backup) if you really need computing power for one application such as 3D rendering.

30. For Power Macintosh user, try to use applications which are optimized for PowerPC. PowerG4 owner should look for program that take advantage of "Velocity Engine" (AltiVec).

31. For Mac OS 8.x and 9.x. Select 'Preferences...' from Finder's Edit Menu and set the delay before opening for spring-loaded folders to short, so that you won't have to wait so long for a folder to open when you use the feature. Better yet, when the cursor hovers over the folder, hit the space bar so that the window will open right away.

32. In the Keyboard control panel, set the Key Repeat Rate to Fast, Delay Until Repeat to Short. This allows you to enter a lot of characters quickly (if you are quick enough) and you don't have to wait long for characters to being repeated when you hold down a key.

33. Try to have as few windows open as possible. This will speed up your Mac because it takes computing time to redraw the display. You can see this clearly if you open a lot of windows on a 680x0 Macintosh. Holding down the 'option' key while double-clicking an icon will close the previous window.

34. Some game and multimedia CD-ROMs won't let you use the program useless the CD is in the CD-ROM drive. You can sometime bypass the inserted CD-ROM requirement by copying the entire CD-ROM to your hard disk and renaming your hard disk with the same name as the CD-ROM. This speed up the program loading time because a hard disk is faster than a CD-ROM drive. Certain games such as Bungie's Myth and Blizzard's Diablo require a CD-ROM in order to function, but there are times when using a CD-ROM drive is inconvenient or impossible. For instance, when you're trying to play on a PowerBook without a CD-ROM drive or when you're in PowerBook battery-critical situations (on a long flight) and you'd rather your volt-hungry CD-ROM drive didn't reduce your playing time. You can use the ShrinkWrap utility to create mountable disk images of CD-ROMs, Apple also provide a workable solution with its newest version of the venerable Disk Copy. Just drag and drop the CD-ROM's icon to the Disk Copy icon. Disk Copy will open and display a dialog box asking you to name the image. This same dialog box sports a Mount Image checkbox. Check it to have the image of the CD mount automatically. Once Disk Copy finishes with the disc you can eject the CD and never bother with it again. Just mount the disk image whenever you want to play your favorite game.

35. If you have a lot of hard disk space, increase your web browser disk cache to make your web surfing faster. With a bigger disk cache, more graphics can be stored in the cache, and you can return to a page without having to download the graphic again. Navigator or Internet Explorer user can set the cache size under Preferences: Advance:cache. If you have sufficient RAM, a RAM disk will speed up your caching and uncaching dramatically.

36. Try to have as few fonts as possible inside your Fonts Folder. Eash font file takes a small toll in system speed.

37. Mac OS 8.x and Mac OS 9.x brings something into the OS formerly performed by ATM or Smoothtype, onscreen Font Smoothing. Enabling the option 'Smooth all fonts on screen' will clear up the "jaggies" or rough edges on your screen's fonts. The built-in font smoothing is better than both ATM and Smoothype, and does not slow the system down much or cause incompatibilities.

Bonus ways (not to be taken seriously)
1. Try to use a Macintosh 128K (8 Mhz) for a month and switch back to your current computer. Your Mac will never feel the same again.

2. Go get yourself a Power Macintosh G4.



Teng Chou Ming
ICQ: 12889674
www.ExtensionOverloa (http://www.ExtensionOverloa)
Extension Overload,
the simplest way to
keep your Mac healthy!

09-01-2001, 10:02 PM

In reference to #19, how do you remove the start up picture in OS 9.0.4? Thanks.

09-01-2001, 11:05 PM
It used to be that if you put a PICT file in the System Folder titled "Startup Picture" it would be loaded instead of the Welcome to Macintosh dialog of System 7. I don't know if it even works in modern versions of Mac OS. This is what is referenced in #9 below. If you haven't installed one, you can't remove it.

09-03-2001, 08:21 AM
I believe you have to name the file "Startupscreen" for it to work. "Startupsound" will play .snd files & I believe "Startupmovie" will do the obvious if QuickTime is installed.

Renaming a PICT file "Startupscreen" still works on OS 9, and dates back to, oh, I'm not sure know, at *least* System 3.2!

cmteng's tips are of course wonderful, but in my opinion it is the little things like personalization of the desktop background that make using a computer more friendly. As long as you are aware that they use a few CPU cycles then it's OK.

Some of these tips are great advice for setting up a server, which should be running as lean and mean as possible, and stuffed to the gills with RAM.

09-03-2001, 07:04 PM
I think the startup screen is nice, but what purpose does it serve that the happy smiling Mac doesn't? If I had it my way, I would skip the welcome to Mac screen and go straight to the smiling face. This is truly a dream.

09-03-2001, 09:37 PM
The little smiling Mac (i.e. looking like little SE or Mac Plus) is meant to tell you that all your hardware is fine on boot - that icon is replaced by the flashing "?" when it can't find a boot drive...It's much nicer than the POST that the Wintel boxes you (Power-On-Self-Test) where it flashes up all the RAM test, motherboard model, etc...

Then the "Welcome to MacOS" log-on as the extension marching begins...Not sure but sometimes it's nice to see those extensions pop up so you can check to see what's going on inside your machine during the boot process. Without a visual feedback, people get antsy and think their machines are frozen - that's why one usually sees hourglasses or progress bars so that you at least know your machine is doing something and isn't "stuck"... From coding in our lab, I know that if I 've got some long process running, I deliberately swap the mouse pointer to an hourglass or start up a progress bar, just as a visual cue.


09-03-2001, 10:47 PM

Well put. After reading your post, I don't feel so annoyed about the "welcome to Mac" anymore. I truly forgot about looking at the inits especially since I always look at them to make sure certain extensions are loaded. Thanks so much.