Mac OSX Panther Maintenance Tips

Even though Macs generally require much less maintenance than Window’s machines, there are still a few easy things you can do to keep your Mac running in tip top shape.

h3. Repair Permissions

Repairing permissions is one of the easiest and fastest maintenance tasks you can do on your Mac. You can start it easily at the click of a button, and let it run in the background while you continue to use your computer like normal.

Each file on your Macintosh has a set of permissions, which say who and what can read or write to that file. When you install new programs, or when a file is corrupted, these settings can be changed and messed up. Generally they won’t do anything major like crash your computer, but they can cause it to slow down over time.

Luckily fixing the problem is very easy.

To repair your permissions you need to start Disk Utility, which is in the Utilities folder in your Applications folder.

Home > Applications > Utilities > Disk Utility

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After you open the application, click on the First Aid tab, then select the partition where Mac OSX is installed, in my case it is the “Macintosh HD”. You don’t need to select the entire hard drive, just the partition with your OS on it. Next click on Repair Permissions to start the process. You don’t need to verify the permissions first.

After you start the utility you’ll see a bunch of text scroll by on the screen detailing what the application is doing, which files it’s repairing, which ones are messed up, etc. After it’s finished you can safely close the Disk Utility application.

h3. Periodic Maintenance

My wife has the strange habit of cleaning and vacuuming the house at 1 or 2 in the morning sometimes. I don’t understand this behavior, but at least she’s not alone. Your Macintosh also cleans itself up at odd hours, namely between 2am and 5am each night. Mostly it’s just deleting log files and cache’s that it no longer needs, or backing up important files. But if your Mac is asleep or turned off, it won’t be able to perform these tasks and those log and cache files will start to add up and waste space on your hard drive.

So, to get rid of them manually we just need to type a few commands into the terminal which is also in the utilities folder.

Home > Applications > Utilities > Terminal

Type the first line below and then press return. It will ask you for your password, which should be the password that you use to login with. You may see a bunch of lines of code scroll by, which is normal. After you are returned to the command prompt again as you see in the screenshot, type the other two lines, pressing return after each, and allow them to run.

sudo periodic daily
sudo periodic weekly
sudo period monthly

h3. Prebinding

Forcing your Mac to update the prebinding will make it search through all of your application files and properly link them together, which can increase the overall speed of your computer, and how fast applications launch, etc.

Open the terminal if you don’t still have it open, type the following line in the terminal and then press return.

sudo update_prebinding -root / -force

You’ll see a lot of text scroll by in the terminal, which is again completely normal. Immediately reboot after it finishes and you are returned to the command prompt.

After you reboot you should notice a significant speed boost to your machine. Programs should start faster, you should be able to switch between them faster, etc.

Perform these steps any time you notice your computer going slower, and repair permissions every time you install a new program, especially something like an OS update from Apple.

h3. Easy way out

To take the easy way out, you could also run a maintenance app like “Onyx”:http://www.titanium.free.fr/english.html and “MacJanitor”:http://personalpages.tds.net/~brian_hill/macjanitor.html to perform these tasks at the press of a button.

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