How To: Get a Mac ready for Lion

If you’re an avid Mac user, like me, you’ll be wondering how to get your Mac ready for Lion and make it noticeably faster, without any hardware upgrades. Here’s how to do it.

Updates
The first and most important thing to do in order to upgrade to Lion is to update your Mac to the latest software version. At the time this post was written, the most current version available was 10.6.8 (the main purpose of which was to get your Mac ready for Lion). You can tell if your Mac is running 10.6.8 by going to the ‘About this Mac’ section of the Apple menu (the  button in the top left of the screen). If you’re not running Snow Leopard, now’s a good time to go pick up a Snow Leopard disk, or borrow one from a friend. Since Lion is only going to be available on the Mac App Store, you’ll need Snow Leopard installed on your computer to access it. 

 

Cleaning Up Your Disk

One of the most important things to do when you have Windows is to defrag (defragment) your disk. Of course, the Mac doesn’t really have an equivalent to that; however it does help to do clean up your disk every once in a while.  

Requirements: Mac, OS X Snow Leopard Install/Restore DVD that came with your Mac, and a lot of time.

1. Shut down your Mac. This is needed in order to boot up onto the Install/Restore DVD. Don’t worry, this won’t delete your files.
2. Insert the Install/Restore DVD into your Mac’s SuperDrive. Press the power button while holding the ‘c’ key down on your Mac. This will make your Mac boot into the CD, instead of your normal hard-drive.
3. Let the machine boot. Don’t touch anything. This could take up to 10 minutes depending on your machine type. Once booted, you’ll be greeted with the “Welcome, please choose your main language” Apple screen, like when you first purchase a Mac.
4. After selecting English (or whatever your main language is), you’ll be brought into the Mac OS X Installer. Do NOT click click the install button. What you’ll want to do is click on “Utilities” in the menu-bar.
5. Select “Disk Utility” from that menu.
6. From there, the first thing you’re going to do is select your Mac’s hard drive from the list. If you left the name as the default, it will be called Macintosh HD.
7. Underneath the “First Aid” tab, you’ll see buttons that say “Verify Disk Permissions”,”Repair Disk Permissions”, “Verify Disk”, and “Repair Disk”.
8. After you’ve located those, you’ll want to click on “Repair Disk Permissions”. In the box above those, you’ll see a bunch of tech jargon that isn’t discernible to any human.
9. Once that has finished (it’ll take about 10 minutes or so), you’ll click the “Repair Disk”, and let that run. Again, you’ll see the tech jargon. Once it has completed repairing the disk, it’ll say “[insert disk name here] has been repaired and is OK.”
10. After it has completed its task, quit Disk Utility and restart your Mac.

I've done a crazy highlight of everything you need.

If you completed that super-daunting task, your Mac will be running a little faster, but we want to make the boot-times super fast, too.

Using Onyx to empty caches and make your Mac faster

The next bit of software you’ll be using to make your Mac faster is called Onyx. It’s freeware that can be used to empty  the kernal, user, and other caches that make you Mac sluggish. Before you attempt this, it would be very beneficial to back up your Mac with Time Machine. 

Requirements: Mac with Snow Leopard, Onyx [free download here]

1. Alright, so the first thing you’re going to have to do is download and install Onyx.
2. When you launch the app, you’ll be greeted with an agreement that the creators aren’t responsible for any loss of personal data, etc.
3. After that’s all done, Onyx will tell you that it is verifying the “S.M.A.R.T.” status of your drive. It might take a few minutes and your Mac may become unresponsive.
4. Onyx is still doing it’s thing, but it’ll ask you to verify the disk (your hard drive). If you followed along and did the previous section of this tutorial, you should not expect any problems when it verifies it. The Mac will become unresponsive at this time, but don’t worry, it’s part of the software.
5. Once that’s completed, you’ll be asked for your password. Type it in and continue to step 6.
6. Navigate to the “Cleaning” tab of Onyx. You’ll be set up on the system screen, which shows options for the kernal cache, boot cache and others. Make sure all of them are checked and click execute. Your Mac will more then likely be unresponsive until this is completed. Once it has done its job, you’ll  be asked to reboot. Go ahead and do that, and you’re all done.

This may sound crazy, but my Mac’s boot time went from around 1 minute to 30 seconds after doing this; meaning that this could yield nearly 2x the speed you may have been experiencing. Let us know in the comments (or on twitter) how it worked for you, as well as if you experienced any noticeable speed increases.

Today’s iPhone assumes no liability for lost or deleted files. This article is meant for informational purposes only. 

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  • Brandon

    Doesn’t Apple recommend running the disk utility from the actual OS installation instead of the disc?

    • http://twitter.com/jakezarobsky Jake Zarobsky

      That would be a good idea, except you can’t repair the boot disk that way. The only way you can repair your boot drive is via the Restore/Install DVD. Trust me, if it was that easy, I’d be doing it that way. 

  • Jose

    After following the easy steps, I saw a great improvement in performance. Thanks.

  • Anonymous

    I never got a recovery disk :(

  • Rob

    Cheers ! Worked well ! Thanks !

  • Rob

    Cheers ! Worked well ! Thanks !

  • Rob

    Cheers ! Worked well ! Thanks !

  • Rob

    Cheers ! Worked well ! Thanks !

  • Rob

    Cheers ! Worked well ! Thanks !

  • Rob

    Cheers ! Worked well ! Thanks !

  • Rob

    Cheers ! Worked well ! Thanks !

  • Rob

    Cheers ! Worked well ! Thanks !

  • Rob

    Cheers ! Worked well ! Thanks !

  • Rob

    Cheers ! Worked well ! Thanks !

  • Rob

    Cheers ! Worked well ! Thanks !

  • SB

    Super helpful / Easy to follow post — Thanks!