Book Review: Take Control of Speeding up your Mac

Book Review: Take Control of Speeding up your Mac
Sunday, 19 June 2011

Is it all in your mind?

It always seems to be the case that once you’ve had a shiny new Mac for a while it slows down. When you first got it probably felt really fast and you luxuriated in being able to open documents quickly, start-up applications speedily and whizz through those demanding tasks.

Take Control of Speeding Up Your Mac

  • 196 pages
  • Version 1.0
  • Published May 26, 2011
  • 1.9 MB download
  • ISBN: 9781615421350
  • Free sample with Table of Contents, Intro, Quick Start, and section starts.

Some of the slowdown is probably just that you’ve got used to the speed. But sometimes it’s that your Mac has actually become slower.

So what do you do? Well, all kinds of people may make helpful suggestions, but unless you understand the reasons why it’s slowed down you may not have any luck in speeding it up again.

An ebook that will help

Fortunately Joe Kissell has written a 196 page ebook that steps us through defining the problem, testing, and then taking actions that will actually help.

I was sent a review copy of Take Control of Speeding Up Your Mac (US$15).

Has your Mac lost its zip? Do you wish you could squeeze extra life out of an older but still functional Mac rather than investing in the latest model? Or are you a power user looking to put together the ultimate high-end Mac configuration for work or play? Nearly every Mac’s speed can be boosted considerably and inexpensively if you know what you’re doing. In this practical, hands-on book, best-selling author Joe Kissell offers you the results of his extensive research and experimentation in the area of Macintosh performance.

Practical and down-to-earth advice

Take Control of Speeding Up Your Mac is practical and grounded in reality.

Right from the start Kissell gets us on the right track with this gem:

Saying “My Mac is slow” is like going to the doctor and saying, “I feel yucky.” You won’t get anywhere with a cure — or even a diagnosis — unless you can be much more specific.

There may be a quick fix

The good news is that although the whole book is extremely useful, you may need only to work through the section called “Try a few quick fixes”. And installing some updates may even be all you need to sort out the difficulties you’re having.

Diagnosis, remedies and misconceptions

But in case the quick fixes don’t work, Kissell takes us through a sequence of diagnosing the actual problems and then clearly explaining the steps we can take to try to speed things up.

Along the way he talks about some common misconceptions, such as the role of repairing permissions, clearing caches or defragmenting the disc.

He points out that although some of these actions are very popular, they may do nothing to affect the speed of your machine, and sometimes may even slow it down. For example, on Page 23:

caches nearly always speed up your Mac. In a few particular cases, caches can indeed do more harm than good, but in general you should leave your caches alone for maximum performance.

And on Page 27:

Repairing disk permissions is sometimes a useful troubleshooting step, and it can fix numerous genuine problems, but slow performance is not usually one of them.

After reading this section I’ve decided to abandon some of my own favourite trouble-shooting techniques, such as running the routine maintenance tasks manually.

Speed-ups you probably wouldn’t think of

I was pleasantly surprised by the section on speeding up web browsers, email, keyboard input and the network.

For example, he discusses a couple of my most essential utilities for speeding up typing and opening applications and files.

See my own Mac Tip #490 Launchbar saves your fingers from the walking and Cut your work in half: TextExpander types text for you for information on two of my favourite apps.

Kissell even goes into the speed of peripherals, such as USB and Firewire devices.

This is a very thorough, but still extremely readable book.

Case proved

Interestingly, only the day after I’d finished reading this book, someone on a mailing list I participate in was complaining about how their Mac had slowed down. In short order helpful people suggested many of the things that Kissell had shown in his book to be ineffective. I found I was recommending this book even before I’d written my review.

This book is credible, authoritative and practical

I’ve long been a fan of the Take Control series of books. They are always credible, authoritative and absolutely worth the money.

Even if you haven’t felt as though your Mac has slowed down I suggest you buy this book and read it. It will give you a much clearer understanding of how to work with your Mac.

Buy Take Control of Speeding Up Your Mac.Take Control of Speeding Up Your Mac (affiliate link). Be sure to also look at the Take Control ebooks catalog (affiliate link). I do some of my best learning from this series.

If you’ve read this book please tell us in the comments how it has helped you.

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