Slow Mac – Spotify could be the reason why

So, I have seen a couple of Macs in the past few weeks, of decent spec, running really slowly as well as taking ages to boot (many minutes), I checked all the usual things, such as verify disk, repair permissions, console logs etc. and there were no obvious issues

anyway, I took a look at login items and the only common item for both machines was that the Spotify app was set to run at startup

once this was disabled it was like they were new machines!

if you’re Mac is running slow, and everything seems fine, then try following

Open System Preferences

Then Users & Groups

Then click on your account, and then Login Items

click on Spotify and then click on the minus button at the bottom of the window

 

Next, click on Finder

then press CMD SHIFT G

paste in the following location

~/Library/LaunchAgents

delete the com.spotify.webhelper.plist file

 

Then reboot the machine

 

On both the machines I did this on, it was like they were brand new, and both owners were very pleased with the result, hopefully this works for you too

Oh, and the Spotify app still works, a good result all round

 

USB Key Labelled EFI Boot

If you have created a Mac OS X bootable USB Key and it shows up as EFI Boot when you are at the boot selection menu then you can rectify this via the following Terminal command

sudo bless --folder /Volumes/VOLUMENAME/System/Library/CoreServices --bootefi

replace VOLUMENAME with the name of your USB Volume, so I named my 10.8 Key ‘Mountain’, so my command would be

sudo bless --folder /Volumes/Mountain/System/Library/CoreServices --bootefi

then enter your admin password and reboot

Hold down ALT to get back to the boot selection menu and you should now have the VOLUMENAME displayed under the USB Device, rather than EFI Boot

Tips for speeding up your Mac

1. Hard Drive Space
You should keep a minimum of 10% of your Hard Drive free to ensure smooth running of your machine, I normally aim for 15-20% free, so I still have a bit of space to play with

If you are unsure of whats exactly is taking up your hard drive then you can use a utility like DaisyDisk (Available on the Mac App Store) to track down those space hogs.

2. Clear Your Desktop
Lots of people use their Desktop as the store for all their files, this increases the amount of time it takes to startup as all of the preview icons need to load, so by storing these files elsewhere in the filesystem then you will improve startup times

3. Disable Login Items
Lots of items starting at login will also slow down your machine, and often, these will continue to run in the background, taking up memory and utilising the processor unnecessarily, to prevent this, do the following

Open System Preferences

Click on Users & Groups

Click on your account in the window on the left

Click on the Login Items tab to the right

Click on the items you no longer wish to run at startup, such as iTunes helper, VM Fusion helper and click on the minus button at the bottom of the window to remove them.

4. Disable Dashboard
I haven’t used Dashboard since 10.4, so I tend to disable it, you can do this by opening a Terminal window and typing the following

defaults write com.apple.dashboard mcx-disabled -boolean YES

then

killall Dock

This will fully disable Dashboard so you will not even be able to run it manually by clicking on the icon in /Applications, to re-enable it if you change your mind then you can do type the following into a Terminal window

defaults write com.apple.dashboard mcx-disabled -boolean NO

then

killall Dock

5. Repair Permissions
I recommend repairing permissions after every software update, but most people don’t have time to do get round to this as well, until the machine becomes slow and unresponsive.

To do this, navigate to /Applications/Utilities

Open Disk Utility

Click on your startup volume (Usually named Macintosh HD)

Click on the First Aid tab and click on Repair Permissions at the bottom of the screen

6. Repair Disk
Sometimes disks will develop directory structure corruption over time, this isn’t a problem if dealt with promptly, but in the worst cases will need attention from a specialist application such as diskwarrior.

To check if your drive needs this doing you can run a verify disk from Disk Utility, as follows

Open Disk Utility (from /Applications/Utilities)

click on your startup volume

click on the First Aid tab and click on Verify Disk

If all is well you will receive a green message signalling the drive is fine

If its not then you will recieve a red message stating the cause of the error

To run a repair disk you will need to boot from a non system drive, such as a Mac OS X Installation Disk, or a home made Bootable USB

Once you have booted from one of those then you will need to run Disk Utility again, and this time click on your startup volume and choose First Aid, then click on Repair Disk.

This may need running more than once, although my recent experiences have shown that it will keep running until it has resolved the issues.

7. OnyX
Finally I use OnyX to clear out a few caches and log files, I’d recommend sticking with the default options with this app, a free download from Titanium Software, just make sure you download the version that matches your Operating System, if you are unsure which OS you are running then you can find out by clicking on the Apple Icon in the top left corner of the screen and clicking on About This Mac

8. Add more RAM
Put as much RAM as you can afford into your mac, I’d recommend the minimum on the following Operating Systems

10.4 (Tiger) – 1GB

10.5 (Leopard) – 2GB

10.6 (Snow Leopard) – 2GB

10.7 (Lion) – 4GB

9. Reboot
A lot of people hardly ever reboot their macs, and for some unknown reason are even strongly against doing this, even though the majority of the time a reboot fixes a lot of issues, I’d always choose this option on a slow running mac, in case there are some applications that have been closed but refuse to release the RAM for the OS to reuse

Create a bootable Lion USB key

To make a bootable Lion USB key, you will need the following

1. A USB Key, minimum 8GB, I use these
2. The Install Mac OS X Lion App

Ok, so first, you need to start up your Mac

Now plug the USB key into your Mac

Next you will need to open Disk Utility, this is located in /Applications/Utilities

Format the USB Key so that it is Mac OS X Journaled and make sure you choose the ‘GUID Partition Table’ option, otherwise you will not be able to boot a Mac from it.

Then you need to locate ‘Install Mac OS X Lion.app’ which should be in /Applications

If you have deleted it since installing then you can redownload it by opening the App Store, then hold down ALT and click on Purchases, this will enable you to redownload it by clicking Install

Click on the ‘Install Mac OS X Lion.app’ to run it, click on ‘Continue’ then Agree to the license and you will be shown your main hard disk, under that there is an option to ‘Show All Disks’ click on that and choose your USB key, click on ‘Install’ and the process will begin, you will then have to restart the machine so the installation can complete, this usually takes around 40 minutes

After this has finished you will be able to boot from your USB key into a full Mac OS Environment, and providing you keep this OS fully updated then you should be able to use it to boot up any Mac.

Once it is fully patched, you can install any additional tools that you use for troubleshooting machines.

Mac startup keys

You can change the way that your mac boots by pressing & holding the following key combinations as the machine starts up

Option (ALT) – Display all bootable volumes

This will normally show you any internal hard drives, CD’s or DVD’s which are currently capable of booting from as well as external hard drives, USB keys, CD’s or DVD’s which could be used to boot the machine. If you have bootcamped your mac then this will enable you to choose between OS X or Windows.
If you have set a firmware password, then you will be presented with a padlock and a box to enter a password.

Shift – Safe Boot

This will disable any non system startup items, this can be very useful in troubleshooting a variety of issues.

C – Boot from CD

Hold this down until the machine boots from the CD, this can take a while sometimes so I would recommend the ALT method for this, this will be disabled if a firmware password is enabled.

T – Target Disk Mode

This will basically turn your mac into an external hard drive, connect it to another mac & you will have full access to all data on the machine, this will be disabled if you have a firmware password enabled.To boot into Target Disk Mode with a firmware password enabled, you will need to log in, and then select the Target Disk Mode option from within the Startup Disk preference pane located in System Preferences.

N – NetBoot

Startup from a NetBoot server.

X – Force Mac OS X Startup

This can be used if you have multi-boot machines and have set the default disk to be a non mac partition.

CMD-V – Verbose Mode

Verbose Mode shows you all that is going on whilst your machine is booting, very useful in troubleshooting as you can spot the faulting items.

CMD-S – Single User Mode

Command Line Interface, should only really be used for machines that are having serious issues, you can run a file system check (fsck) or Applejack if you have that installed.

CMD-R – Recovery Mode

On Machines with 10.7 installed then this will normally boot from the Recovery partition, although I believe the new Mac Mini Servers will connect to the internet and run a recovery over the net