Unclogging your Mac gone slow

Macs get slower with prolonged use, much like Windows machines. Mac OS X, however, is really just UNIX, so Macs don’t have registries. Hence they are pretty easy to clean up. This tutorial will show you how to make things right on your Mac gone slow, and without spending a dime. Or even a minute of phone time.

You will need the following:

1) Admin access to your machine

2) Onyx, a free software tool you can get here for OS X 10.8. 10.7 users can find a compatible version here.

Get that stuff, then proceed.

First, close every open application1. You can do this by hitting Command-Tab, selecting a running app, hitting Command-Q, and repeating until the only application left is Finder (you can’t quit that). Next, open a Finder window and navigate to Applications/Utilities. Launch Disk Utility.

OS X Disk Utility

Click the Repair Disk Permissions button. The process could take 15 to 20 minutes, so be patient. When it’s done, quit Disk Utility (again Command-Q).

Next, launch Onyx2, which you probably installed into the Applications/Utilities directory (but might have wound up in Applications). Either way, run it.

You will first be notified that the program is checking S.M.A.R.T. status of your hard drive.

SMART status

Hit the continue button on the above dialog.

A new dialog will appear requesting to verify the startup volume.

Verify startup volume

Again, hit continue. This could take a minute or two, so chill.

You should see this next…

volume ok

Hit ok. If the disk isn’t in good shape, it’s time to stop everything and call AppleCare. Or, leave a comment and I’ll respond with the steps to fix. It’s rare, so chances are you’re good.

Onyx will then request the administrator username and password. Enter and continue.

You’ll see a menu popup; you should immediately click the Cleaning tab (with the little broom icon).

Next, click the Trash sub-tab, then the Execute button.

Onyx cleaning trash

When it’s done, click the Misc. sub-tab.

Onyx misc cleaning

Check every box and hit the Execute button.

When complete, you’ll see a different dialog pop up that gives you the option to restart your computer…

Onyx restart dialog

DO NOT RESTART. Again, DO NOT RESTART. Hit the close button instead. Note that you will see this dialog at the end of each of the remaining steps. Are you going to restart? Nope. Just press Close.

Select the Logs sub-tab. Check every box except Apple Software Update Log.

Onyx log cleaning

Execute. When done, close the resulting dialog. Then go to the Fonts sub-tab.

Onyx fonts cleaning

Check all boxes. Unless you use Creative Studio a lot, then you can leave the Adobe box unchecked. Hit that execute button again, and close the completion dialog when it pops up. Then move to the Internet sub-tab.

Check every box except Form Values.

Onyx internet cleaning

You know what to do next. And what to do afterwards.

Users is next…

Onyx user cleaning

Check all boxes, rinse, and repeat. Then move to the System sub-tab.

Onyx system cleaning

Check every box, and go.

Once the System piece is done, close the dialog like you’ve done repeatedly, quit Onyx and then [finally] restart your Mac (Apple Icon/Restart). It should be running much snappier thereafter, and you complete this process every couple of months to keep it that way.

MG signing off (for the weekend)

Editor’s Notes: (1) Consistently closing unused applications will also keep your Mac running snappier; (2) You have to install Onyx before using it – best to drag into the Applications/Utilities directory.


Scott Kasick says:

Thanks for the info. Does doing this remove anything from your Mac ?

You’re welcome. And yes it does – precisely the point actually. Lots of junk builds up, and this process gets rid of it.

Tom Sadler says:

Winner Winner!
” If the disk isn’t in good shape, it’s time to stop everything and call AppleCare. Or, leave a comment and I’ll respond with the steps to fix. It’s rare, so chances are you’re good.”
Since I had nothing better to do I decided to do this afternoon.
Of course I got the repair disk dialog.
Yeah for me I got the disk needs repair sequence.
Ran the verify disk but have stopped for now
Would welcome the fix it steps
Figure you were slaving away on PF3 and could a break…

PF3 and 40 squillion other things…

Follow these directions precisely:

1) Turn off computer completely
2) Press power button
3) Then, quickly press Command + S, and hold until you see black screen and text; then release
4) When you see a cursor like this :/root#, type…
5) /sbin/fsck -fy
6) Wait until done; may take a while depending on damage, but cursor will come back
7) When back to :/root#, type exit and hit return
8) Wait, wait, wait until back to regular login screen

Happy T-day.

Tom says:

Thanks MG,
You rock! All clean now.
Happy Thanksgiving

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