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I've recently switched from PC to Mac. So far, so good!

With my PC, I had a variety of tasks I'd regularly perform to keep my PC running well:

  1. Run CCleaner to clean up all the cruft (temporary files, hidden caches, etc.) that browsers leave behind
  2. Run CCleaner to clean the registry
  3. Run AdAware to clean up tracking cookies, etc.
  4. Run MalwareBytes malicious software removal tool
  5. Run Microsoft's malicious software removal tool to backstop malwarebytes (hoping that at least one of them would find the hard-to-catch stuff)
  6. Run MacAfee's virus scanner (This software never did anything but give me headaches. But it's popularity made me uncomfortable just deleting it)
  7. Run a disk defragmenter

There's probably a few more I'm forgetting too.

Obviously, PCs are high-maintenance. Maybe my list was overkill - I tend to do that, but since I use a computer to make a living, I want it to perform as well and reliably as it can.

So, now I use a new iMac. While I'm hoping the list is shorter than the PC list, is there anything I should do to keep it performing optimally?

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You're in luck, because most stuff on your list are non-issues on the Mac side. :) Specifically about disk defragmenting, see this question. –  Jonik Sep 17 '10 at 12:22
    
See also apple.stackexchange.com/questions/639/… –  Philip Regan Sep 17 '10 at 13:03
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4 Answers

No one's mentioned it but it's generally worthwhile making sure the space remaining on the primary OS drive is at least 10% of the drive space, this is mostly so the OS has room to work in.

Apparently (I've never sat and verified it) leaving items on your desktop will be viewed by the OS as an item to be loaded into memory, so try keep your desktop free (which is always a good thing anyway) to keep it running nice and clean.

Remember to trash your cache files every 3 months or so.

After a while go to Disk Utility and repair permissions, it's a bit of a waving a headless chicken over your computer but they can occasionally cause some issues.

Go to the Spotlight settings and disable anything you're not interested in.

And finally just plain old kill the Dashboard, unless you have some specific love for it.

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I will try to hit your points one by one. Truthfully, I've been running OS X for almost 6 years and from my experience, I have not seen any degradation of performance over time. But for what it's worth, I am quite obsessive over the quality of my system, from performance to security, so this is an area I've actually researched and continue to have a thumb in. Even TRIM support for SSDs is a mixed bag.

  • Run CCleaner to clean up all the crap (temporary files, hidden caches, etc.) that browsers leave behind

While having orphaned caches and preference files won't slow down your Mac, some don't like leaving cruft behind as it can take up valuable HD space. Apps like AppZapper and AppCleaner remove these files and may be something you wish to take a look at. Personally I use AppZapper.

  • Run CCleaner to clean the registry

Mac OS X does not contain a registry. All preference files (which house your personal settings) are located in your users Library/Preferences folder. Letting them accumulate over time will not have a negative impact on your systems performance (see above).

  • Run AdAware to clean up tracking cookies, etc.

Again, this will not adversely affect a system's performance, but you are certainly welcome to keep Safari free of garbage. Personally, I use Jar to achieve this. It is quite good, but unfortunately has not seen an update in quite a while. However, it is the cleanest and simplest app (there are others, but they require 3rd party plug-ins that may hurt your systems performance and stability) in this department.

  • Run MalwareBytes malicious software removal tool

Unnecessary on OS X. It has a native system to handle "malware" and while there has been only one documented case that has made it's way into the wild (with relative success), this still remains very much a non-issue on OS X. You can read more about the malware Mac Defender, and what Apple did about it. Malware remains a point of contention because it cannot be installed without some level of user interaction (unlike Windows).

  • Run Microsoft's malicious software removal tool to backstop malwarebytes (hoping that at least one of them would find the hard-to-catch stuff)

Again, not necessary. See above.

  • Run MacAfee's virus scanner (This piece-of-crap software never did anything but give me headaches. But it's popularity made me uncomfortable just deleting it)

You'll be happy to discover that OS X does not contain viruses or requires any utility to protect it from such threats. Do not be bought into the FUD by those that would have you consume resources by installing anti-virus software for your Mac (yes, some exist). The most common argument is that it creates a protective barrier that may not be that useful on OS X, but will prevent the spread to machines running Windows. This is a non-starter because all Windows systems already contain anti-viruse software to protect them, ergo, they do not require an additional barrier.

  • Run a disk defragmenter

Not required. Apple has actually archived their document covering this topic as defragmentation and file optimization on OS X is no longer an issue. You can find it here. In a nutshell, it is not something a user should ever worry about. Disregard those that would have you install or copy your data to and fro in a vain attempt to "optimize" your files. OS X simply does not suffer from the problems that plague Windows in this department.

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Aside from the advice given by mouviciel, you’ll need to perform certain tasks. The good news is: it can happen automatically.

I suggest you get an utility either the free Onyx or the excellent (but Shareware) Cocktail. In a couple of minutes of experimenting with the options you can set that up to run automatically.

Most of the cleaning tasks will be performed automatically. Of course, Time Machine and Software Updates are a good idea too. There are other utilities and you can probably find them with a simple Google query.

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You might want to, but you certainly don't need to. Honestly, applications like those are for people who like tweaking stuff—and part of the beauty of the Mac is that there's no need to tweak stuff. –  Dori Sep 17 '10 at 23:40
    
The tasks must be performed sooner or later, the interesting part of the tools is not the “change the dock position” part, but the maintenance task scheduler and cleaner. –  Martín Marconcini Sep 18 '10 at 0:43
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Any task that must be performed will be performed by the OS itself. For things that must happen, third-party utilities are never needed—until/unless you want to tweak their defaults. But they're never required. –  Dori Sep 18 '10 at 1:32
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  • Set up Time Machine the first time you start you Mac,
  • Set up Software Update so that your system is always up to date.
  • A shutdown once in a while should clean most of little garbage but you will have to perform it anyway with some software updates.

and

  • Never log in with administrative privileges unless you have a serious reason to do so.
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These are good tips, but they do not cover performance, rather security. –  cksum Sep 9 '11 at 6:04
    
You are right about Time Machine. The other points do cover performance: Usually new versions of Apple software are more performant than the previous ones and rebooting an iMac performs all needed maintenance operations that are analog as the ones quoted by question. –  mouviciel Sep 9 '11 at 7:14
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