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I updated to OS X 10.8 and my process count went from about 75 under Mac OS X 10.7.4(?) to 96. What can I do to fix this?

I use my Mac (MacBook Pro, Mid 2010, 2.8 Ghz Core i7, 8GB RAM, 256 GB SSD) for iOS development and the occasional gaming and it bugs me how the process count keeps jumping with each OS upgrade.

Since, I feel more comfortable with Windows I already have my PCs optimized down to ~30 processes when idle thanks to the handy dandy MSCONFIG.

Is there an equivalent utility for Mac OS X?

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@Alex: are you experiencing actual performance issues, or are you just feeling like reducing a largely meaningless number (especially given the good specs, I really doubt you would gain anything by reducing the number of processes)? – houbysoft Jul 26 '12 at 4:02
@houbysoft, I am experiencing random lag when the UI is being drawn. – Gup3rSuR4c Jul 26 '12 at 4:11
@Alex: that is very unlikely to be caused just by the number of processes. I have 119 and everything runs perfectly, with similar specs. – houbysoft Jul 26 '12 at 4:14
@Alex: I think it'd be better if you posted a question mentioning the specific UI lag issue you're having; people might be able to help you troubleshoot the issue better. You really won't gain anything by killing off random system processes. – houbysoft Jul 26 '12 at 4:15
Hi Alex! A few of the interactions in this question seem to have been less than cordial. I've cleaned things up, but please keep in mind for future posts that we place a big emphasis on being nice here. You're here for help and we're here to help you, so there's no benefit in anyone adding any friction or ill will. Please take a look at the FAQs for more info. Thanks! – Nathan Greenstein Jul 26 '12 at 5:55
up vote 6 down vote accepted

The number of processes is completely unimportant. Your machine can run tens of thousands if it needed to.

Ask yourself the question: What are those processes doing? Is any one eating up ram nonestop? Tons of memory? Lots of those may be os-related. Use "Activity Monitor" installed with OSX to figure this stuff out. TinkerTool does a good job allowing you to see every program you configured to start on startup. There are daemon processes too, I've had some software my daughter used start a daemon that kept doing an infinite loop because software was uninstalled... You can check "Console" for what is printing into your kernel logs.

Its not the number of processes, but what they do.

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Actually the number of processes can have serious performance ramifications if you're dealing with sysctl barriers revolving around setting kern.maxproc and kern.maxprocperuid. Apple has helped this situation in 10.8, however it's just important to note, I think, that if you run a very heavy configuration (where you saturated 12+GB of RAM with processes), you start to have out of testing bounds situations where Apple has not optimized system performance for such scenarios as well as they should. I've run into issues a lot over the past several years re: this condition. – ylluminate Oct 29 '12 at 15:04

And I have 142… who cares? Is there any impact on performance caused?

You can probably turn off every convenience and feature such as time machine, automatic software update checks, iCloud syncing, push e-mail, cal-dav, spot light indexing, menu bar try icons, dock, finder, etc. and end up with "~30" processes… but why?

Note: I have 142 processes on a 4 year old MacBook (2.4Ghz core 2 duo, 4GB ram, 250 GN HARD DRIVE (not even ssd), 256 MB vram) and still run smoothly...

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How can I go about actually disabling these things? I have no intention of using them so I don't need them running on my system. – Gup3rSuR4c Jul 26 '12 at 4:14
They have no impact on performance of my old machine, let alone ur ssd based one. – AMomchilov Jul 26 '12 at 4:57


While all the answers you have been given thus far are absolutely correct, what they are failing to understand is what is the underling question: How to I, as a 'total geek with a need to control all aspects of my techno-life" (<- tongue and cheek), gain total control over MY machine?!

I get this... I hate when apps and processes are run on my machine and I don't understand what they are doing.

Let me first point you too a really great site that will give you a clear list of each process that is running : This site will let you upload a text file (that you collect threw your terminal app by running: "ps -A > process.txt". You will then upload it and get the definitions of each thing you are running.

Once you have that info you will be able to determine what you might be able to kill off and if you really want to.

Next spend a little time in your ~/Library folder and look into "LaunchDaemons" & "LaunchAgents". This is where all the process that start up with your account live. You should also look into your "StartupItems" while your there.

Now if your really want to go crazy look into your /System/Library folder and look at the same folders in there. This is where all the process are that Apple wants you to run. You can go nutz!

All that said I give you this fair warning!!!! Mess around in these folders all you want but know you can TOTALY SCREW UP your machine to the point of needing to do a total rebuild. So before you start make a complete and total backup of everything!!!

So from one control freak to another... Good luck in your chase to become a master of your environment! It's taken me 28 years and I'm only 3/4 of the way there. :-)

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