While Macs are much less cumbersome when it comes to updating, fixing and fiddling, they are not without those needs entirely. On a regular basis, you do need to go through some tasks to keep your OS X computer running smoothly and safely.
Once a week, I go through a maintenance procedure on my iMac and MacBook just to keep everything going the way I want it to go. The process is simple, and gets the job done without wasting a lot of time. The whole shebang should take less than 30 minutes a week unless there are a large number of updates, so find some time and get it done.
Here’s my weekly procedures, your mileage may vary, but feel free to copy my methods =)
1 – Software Update. Apple generally posts updates for OS X about once per month, but if there’s an emergency (like the recent Flashback malware) they can release updates much more often. Once a week is a good trade-off between being a time-consuming drudge and keeping everything updated and safe.
To run Software Update, click the Apple menu and choose “Software Update…” and follow the instructions that come up on screen. If there are no updates, the process takes about a minute. With updates the time varies, but even massive updates seem to finish within 30 minutes or so.
2 – App Store. If you have any software from the Mac App Store, then go to Apple Menu, “App Store…” and click on the Updates tab at the top. Download any updates to installed applications.
With no updates, the process is also less than a minute. If you have updates, the time varies, but is generally less than 15 minutes start to finish even if a lot of programs need updates.
3 – Check for other app updates. I use MacUpdate Desktop and rave about it quite a lot. One of the reasons is that it can find updates for just about every app I use on my Macs, and deliver the updates to me with a few clicks.
If you don’t want to use MacUpdate, you can always open each of your apps and look under the name of the app in the menu bar, or sometimes the help menu, and check for updates. This is much more time consuming, but will still get you updated.
4 – Run maintenance tasks. There is a great freeware tool called Onyx that will help you perform routine maintenance tasks on your Mac in a very user-friendly way. The tool can perform all the tasks I do each week, including:
– Cleaning up caches, trashes and miscellaneous data that hangs around after it’s no longer welcome
– Running the OS X monthly, weekly, and daily maintenance tasks
– Performing a Repair Permissions run on the OS X system volume
These steps improve performance, correct minor issues and head off problems that may be brewing in the background. The whole process takes about 15 minutes, and the Onyx user interface makes it very easy to perform.
Take half an hour, once a week, and keep everything in running order. You’ll be safer (by getting and installing updates that plug security holes), faster (by removing old cache files and patching permissions errors), and better (by getting the latest versions of your apps with their bug fixes).