Super User is a question and answer site for computer enthusiasts and power users. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I have old iMac (1.83 GHz Core Duo, 2 GB DDR2) and Snow Leopard on it. It is a little bit slow in some cases (e.g. boot, applications startup time). I'm using it only for web browsing, playing video and music (iTunes) etc. What can I do to speed up? Is there something I can disable what is enabled by default and useless in my case?

share|improve this question
up vote 3 down vote accepted
  • Add RAM. In my experience, Snow Leopard under typical usage (Safari, iTunes, and Mail open) ends up thrashing VM to/from disk a little too much when it has to live in 2GB. Reading between the lines on your question, I think you're trying to avoid spending any money, but I think you should seriously consider adding RAM. This could be the kind of situation where you try every tip everyone suggests to make things go faster so you don't have to spend any more money on that older machine, and then none of it is sufficient and you finally break down and buy RAM, and then you kick yourself that you didn't just do that in the first place and save all the hassle.

  • Install ClickToFlash or a similar browser plug-in or extension that lets you choose which Flash or other plug-in content to load. Flash and similar technologies eat up way too much CPU even when the game/ad/video is idle.

  • Make sure you're up to date on Flash and another other browser plug-ins you use (QuickTime, Silverlight, Flip4Mac, etc.)

  • Install iTunes 10, which just came out yesterday. It seems faster and more efficient than iTunes 9.x to me.

  • Use System Profiler to see which applications, extensions, or frameworks you have that are PowerPC-only, and either upgrade them to Intel or Universal binary versions, or stop using them.

  • Use the Console utility to check the console log, plus the system log and kernel log for clues of excessive background activity.

  • Use the Activity Monitor activity to see how much CPU and other system resources various processes are using. I once discovered this way that I had a corrupted mailbox that Mail wouldn't stop trying to chew on. Once I cleared that up, my system was faster and my fan finally shut off. I've also discovered massive memory leaks (resulting in unreasonable amounts of memory usage) in other processes; quitting those leaky processes meant a lot of memory was freed, resulting in much less VM thrashing and a faster, cooler, system.

  • If you see md* (mds, mdworker, etc.) show up a lot and use a lot of resources in Activity Monitor, those are mainly Spotlight's processes (well, Time Machine makes some use of them too). If you don't use Spotlight, consider telling it not to index anything.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.