Is this your desktop? Simple tricks to cut OSX lag

Hey Mac folks, this desktop look familiar? Does it belong to you, did you leave it on my computer?

LaggyDesktop

Seeing that this morning inspired me to dig up some old useful advice I’ve know for a while but never thought to share before.

Some simple advice on cutting lag on Mac OSX… Not Second Life lag, but system lag that specifically affects graphics performance… ie: Lag you will feel in SL that has absolutely nothing to do with SL…

This article’s advice generally comes from around the web. Much of it is something I found burried very deep in the pages of a forum thread on an MMO fan website through a random search some time back. The sort of place that could easily vanish someday.

It is the kind of advice useful for any Mac user, but specifically Mac users that use a lot of intense graphics. Like Second Life users.


Tip 1:

Have a blank desktop:

NotLaggyDesktop

You can have background pictures, I only removed mine from the first screenshot to make what I was referring to obvious. 🙂

This is an issue where OSX does a preview render of everything on your desktop. This includes things like text files. All of that is using up system resources… resources you could be using on SL.


Tip 2:

Don’t have 3,274 apps running at once. Don’t even have 3,273. Best to just have one. But if not that, just the ones you need right now.

To close an app you MUST do “Command-Q”. Hitting this button:
UselessButton

Doesn’t do anything but close that window. The application is still running and using up all its active resources.

OSX is NOT Windows… Hitting that red ‘X’ in Windows will close an application. In OSX it is the same thing as putting your head in the sand to ignore the lion gnawing on your left leg…


Tip 3:
I read advice that says avoid Firevault:
Firevault.png

Yes you will go faster if you avoid it, but consider that the first confirmed encryption ransom malware has now occurred in OSX. I think this one might be better to call for safety over speed.


Tip 4:

Keep your system up to date. This one applies equally to OSX and Windows users. And don’t think you can escape it by hiding on some other OS either… whatever you use, keep it up to date. Updates will keep your graphics card working with enhancements, and keep away known security flaws. Most hacked systems are systems people were not updating.

SystemUpdate.png

(You don’t need Xcode unless you’re developing applications for OSX and iOS – which is part of what I do.)

Now we get into the ‘wait what?’ weird stuff…


Tip 5:

Repair your disk permissions. Because they routinely get out of step with what they should be, and if you’ve ever run an analytics report side by side with looking at console logs of what is going on in your application… you know this is a big pain… everytime a “minor oh it doesn’t REALLY matter we can fix that next release, we got bigger bugs right now” permission warning pops up… that uses resources for your applications to decide they can keep working despite that flaw…

This one is on you though, not the developers who made all your shiny programs. This one is because you used stuff, and then other stuff, and then stuff got confused, or stuff crashed before stuffing its stuff back into the stuff box before stuff could happen…

So just run this stuff and get your stuff in order…

Applications -> Utilities -> Disk Utility

OSXFirstAid

Click the First Aid button

 


Tip 6:

Apple Icon -> System Preferences -> Accessibility
Reduce system UI Transparency. Those nice semi-transparent window borders in OSX… they use up a lot of graphics resources. Transparency in Second Life drives up the ‘Render Cost’ of something by a factor of 4 in their Draw Weight equation… This is done because it eats a lot of graphics resources. The same is true if you’re letting your computer’s operating system do it to all the bars on the edges of things that you’re probably not even looking at anyway. And being solid gives them more contrast to find your stuff, so its better to turn this off from a design perspective as well:
ReduceTransparency


Tip 7:

Turns off everything from Spotlight you don’t absolutely need:
Apple Icon -> System Preferences -> Spotlight
DeathToSpotLight.png
Spotlight is just going to be constantly scanning your system for things to pre-fill into all of this, and that’s slowing you down. Keep it to the minimum of what you need.

If you really want to fully kill spotlight, type this into a terminal window:

sudo launchctl unload -w /System/Library/LaunchDaemons/com.apple.metadata.mds.plist

And this will turn it back on:

sudo launchctl load -w /System/Library/LaunchDaemons/com.apple.metadata.mds.plist


Tip 8:

Keep a lot of unused space around in your hard drive. If you have a LOT of files of data you like to have stored for ‘stuff’… get an external drive or cloud backup and keep all of those screenshots of your avatar in the free-xxx club… off of your hard disk.

Its useful to have your data on an external not-always connected disk anyway, in case your system ever gets hacked… you just laugh at the hackers as you reformat your operating system, and then plug your data drive back in and continue (OK that is still a major hassle, but at least it is a recovery plan).

Guys: There is no need to download all of those porn videos. The stuff is free and all over the internet anyway. Don’t fill up your disk with copies of porn… Obama isn’t taking your guns, and he isn’t coming to take your porn stash away either, because its all over the web anyway… Yeah I know, you can clear up about 70% of your hard drive if you delete those files…
And it will be a lot less embarrassing in church next Sunday when Obama finally does send the FBI in to take your guns and ship you to a FEMA camp and they see what’s on your computer… 😛

Free space on the drive means more space to used for caching, and for applications to be installed without fragmentation.

Do NOT go out and get some third party “clean up your disk” application. Even if other blogs about keeping a clean system suddenly shift into marketing mode halfway through and tell you to get their app.

Guess where malware comes from?


Tip 9:

Get the application gfxcardstatus. Oh yeah… I just told you not to go out and get crazy third party apps. Now I’m telling you to go out and get some crazy third part app.

SOME OF YOU THAT IS.

This only applies to Mac users that have a Mac with a graphics card. Welcome to the reason the VR companies have said they aren’t even bothering with us Mac people… Most Macs don’t have graphics cards… but use an integrated board solution. A high end Mac is often graphically no better than a $300 PC…

It hurts to say that, as a Mac user… but it is true. For most Macs.

If you have a higher end Mac, and if you do you know about it already because you paid another $500-1000 for it and you weren’t stupid enough to pay all that without finding out why…

Well, if you do have one, you want the ability to actually tell it to use your graphics card when you load up something intense like Second Life.

Not only does OSX not tell you when it turns on your pricey GPU, it often only makse the decision to do so when its good for Apple’s marketing… So the shiny Apple apps that will run better with it will use it, many other apps won’t, and if you go into bootcamp and run Windows they will turn it on all the time so as to heat up your system and overtax things so that Windows seems to not perform as well…

I don’t have the solution for keeping it off when not needing it bootcamp side. I need to read up on that still.

But OSX side, you want “gfxcardstatus” so you can turn have it get turned on by default anytime you flip on an application that has 3D graphics, and flipped off otherwise:

https://gfx.io

You really want this one. Google it and read about it to be sure on the security issues.


Tip 10:

Disable uneeded notifications.
Apple Icon -> System Preferences -> Notifications
Notifications
If you don’t NEED it, disable it. This is just slowing you down for spam most of the time.


Tip 11:

Apple Icon -> System Preferences -> Dock
Change the dock from Genie to Scale.
ScaleEffect.png
That Genie effect may look cool, but that coolness is at a cost of advanced rendering to warp a window and slide it around.


Tip 12:

Cut out startup applications:

Apple Icon -> System Preferences -> Users & Groups -> Login Items
LoginItems.png
If you don’t need it or recognize it, uncheck it or remove it.

Also check your Library:

LibraryLaunchAgents.png

You need to look at both LaunchAgents and LaunchDaemons.

Where I put “/Library” up there, also look in these two:

“~/Library”
“/System/Library”

“~/” is a shorthand for: “/Users/[your computer account name]”

In the LaunchAgents and LaunchDaemons you want to delete anything that is not from apple or a source your recognize. Malware commonly gets into Macs by placing itself here.

If you find something on the list that looks like it might be important but you’re not sure – google it and look for a link that is on a support.apple.com website for info. Be wary of links about malware found elsewhere – I’ve had co-workers get malware by searching on how to clean out malware…

PS: If you are unlucky enough to get malware on your system, NEVER download an app to ‘easily clean out that malware’. Always follow the absurdly long overly complex manual instructions to clean it out by hand. They may be annoying and worded badly… but if you have to sit there and type in manual commands and find files the hard way, you can at least do so making sure you’re not adding in more malware…


Tip 13:

This one is highly technical.

PRAM / NVRAM Reset :
https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT204063
Shutdown your Mac:
Apple Icon -> Shutdown
NOT Restart or Sleep, but Shutdown.

Start your computer again & hold Alt+Cmd+P+R before the bootup noise.
This will reset your PRAM.
PRAM used to need regular resetting. These days it shouldn’t ever need it, but if your system has gotten a bit corrupted it will help.

SMC Reset:
https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT201295
Shutdown your Mac again:
Apple Icon -> Shutdown
NOT Restart or Sleep, but Shutdown.

From here it depends on how your battery is connected, if you have one.

Desktop or MacBook With Removable Battery
Shut down the computer.
Unplug the power adapter.
Remove the battery (if there is one – a desktop typically just needs to be unplugged).
Press and hold the power button for five seconds.
Replace the battery.
Plug in the power adapter.
Turn on the computer.

MacBook Without A Removable Battery
Shut down the computer.
Plug in the power adapter.
On the built-in keyboard, press the Shift, Control, and Option keys on the left side and the power button, all at the same time.
Release all three keys at the same time.
Turn on the computer.

A little side note for people in bad weather: Your computer can’t get friend in a power surge if its unplugged. If the power goes out, unplug all the expensive stuff in the house…

 

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3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. saulsplace
    Mar 09, 2016 @ 13:53:36

    Thank you for blogging about this very handy! ~*~

    Reply

  2. Trackback: Fight Lag in MacOS! | Thar She Blows!
  3. rufferta
    Aug 05, 2016 @ 11:42:17

    Thank you very much. Second Life needs more Mac experts!

    Reply

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