Ask LH: How Should I Optimise My iMac?

Hello Lifehacker, I've always wanted an iMac so the other day I went and ordered one at my local Good Guys store, I picked it up this morning (1TB, 2.7GHz, 8GB RAM, 21.5" screen). I've read about set-up and optimising for first time best use, and just wanted to get your opinion on how I can tweak it to get the best performance? Thanks, iMac Daddy

Photo: juanpol

Dear iMac Daddy,

Apple has a reputation — mostly earned — for not letting you tweak much of its product range, but that's largely only true on the iOS side of the fence. Mac OS' UNIX underpinnings mean that there's a wide range of tweaking options open to you to make your iMac work as you'd like it to.

A new clean install of Mac OS will nominally run in a slick fashion, so those of a lazier persuasion may want to simply leave it alone, but that doesn't mean you can't fiddle if you want to, especially if there are aspects of the operating system that don't operate the way you'd like them to. If you're simply interested in pure speed, you can make things a little faster by switching off some of Mac OS X's more flashy eye candy animations, using, say, Tinkertool or other Mac tweaking applications. We've covered a lot of different tweak options you may want to look at, from Mountain Tweaks to making it run as well as it can once you've had it for a while.

Also, without a shadow of a doubt, if you've just purchased a new iMac, go out and buy an external hard drive for Time Machine backup. It's boring and tedious, but the one thing it's quite hard to do with an iMac is change the hard drive when it fails, due to Apple's very sealed design.

Cheers Lifehacker

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    Macs work beautifully.
    This is not Windoze.
    Your Mac will run smoothly & reliably without constant "fixing".
    That's WHY your dumped doze right?
    You do not need to immediately start madly installing applications to "fix it" & "tweak it".
    Use it, get to know it & appreciate the its power & elegance.
    After a while you may invest in some handy little utilities to accomplish certain specialised tasks depending on your usage ( or not).

      I...I'm sorry, I couldn't read your reply over the FANBOYFANBOYFANBOYFANBOYFANBOY spilling out.

      Honestly, brosef. I work with Mac, Windows AND Linux systems, and the difference between OS X and Windows, functionally, is really not that obvious. Calm down.

        I couldn't agree more with Baroop. These days the difference between Windows, OSX and *nix OS's is simply comfort, which one do you personally like the most?

        I personally am not a fan of *nix simply because I've never felt comfortable with it, but I still happily use it where it's the best tool for the job. I have know plenty of people who are both very IT savvy and complete newbies who get along with it just fine.

        I've supported *nix, Windows and OSX for 15 years now, and while things have changed, I'm yet to have a problem on one OS that I haven't had to equal degrees and at equal rates on both others.

        They all "just work" if you have the right hardware. They all fail spectacularly, are very unreliable, and just downright horrible to use if you don't (this point relates to hardware but should be repeated for drivers & software too). They are all simpler ... for the person whose usage style suits that OS, but much harder/slower to use for the person whose style doesn't. They all have their strengths, they all have their weaknesses.

        Most "complaints" I've seen boil down to people just not knowing how to do something in the unfamiliar OS and being unwilling to learn as they were in the familiar OS. Most "complaints" are really nothing more than the person speaking actually saying "I'm a douche with no patience, I don't know and don't want to know. La la la I'm not listening".

        If there's any problem, it's actually with the fanboys and the haters. They're just willingly ignorant and deluded buffoons, both as bad as eachother.

    Put windows on it

    chris2kari, after supporting macs for many years, no they do NOT run smoothly and reliably without constant "fixing"
    i have used them where they are that SLOW that it takes minutes to bring up system preferences.

    Last edited 25/02/13 4:14 pm

    Buys a Mac and then wants to tweak it/customise it?

      Very, very few people who actually know what they are doing ever leave a new machine un-tweaked.

      Just sayin'.

        If tweaking/customising was something I knew I was going to do, an iMac I would not buy.

        Just sayin'.

          Congratulations for you! I am happy you are able to trust an out-of-the-box product implicitly.

          Carry on, soldier. I will heartily, violently and respectfully disagree with your view, and that will be all. Have a nice day.

            I don't trust things out of the box. But I wouldn't buy something which is difficult or restrictive when it comes to customisation if customisation was high on my list of priorities.

    Step 1.) Admit your an ass for buying mac
    Step 2.) Throw over priced garbage on ebay
    Step 3.) Buy a PC and install linux

    Optimization level : Over 9000

    I just don't get the assertion that macs are some over prices piece of junk per tuxedoglenny. I use both Windows and OS X every day, on identically spec machines (with the exception of screen quality-Apple displays kick arse) both are prices aproximately the same, however this is we're the FAIR comparison ends. My experience, and that of my work mates, after 8 years of using both is OS X is stable, easy to master, efficient, and pleasing to use. I wonder how may Mac bashers can boast a fairer comparison. As for 'tweaking' OS X, it's extremely easy although I have not wanted to do so for any reason other than I just want to play with it.

    Step 1 - Turn on new iMac.
    Step 2 - Install your chosen software/apps.
    Step 3 - Use and enjoy.

    It's that simple.

      Until it breaks, then you have to hire me, yay!

    I just don't get all these mac fans, using the "install windows virtually inside of Mac" to get around all the flaws it has. Mainly in the corporate world. You NEVER see a windows user going "damn I wish I had a Mac, so I could do this..."
    No, because Windows Computers do it all. And holy jesus christ..the Apple display is built by LG and Samsung parts. No different from a Top-End Monitor from either company.

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