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Updating my IMac

Tracy Caffrey

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My iMac is running sluggish. I am thinking it's probably because I haven't updated in mmm years. I don't know how long because I am afraid something will go wrong and I will be worse off. 

So knowing the following, should I be apprehensive  about it or just go ahead and get it done? Anything to know?

IMac 27 inch, late 2013

3.2 GHz Inte Core i5

memort 8 GB 1600 MHZ DDR3

Running OS X 10.9.4

I am running CC 2015 (need to update that too) and LR mostly

i have 3 G Drives plugged in as well  

Thank you!


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The biggest thing that causes Macs to slow down is lots and lots of files and folders on the Desktop. The Mac OS treats all of those files as OPEN WINDOWS, which slows things down. Got 1000 photos from the Smith-Jones Wedding in a folder on the desktop? The Sullivan Family Photo-shoot at the park that has 300 images in it? That's 1302 "Open" Windows, at least as far as the Mac OS is concerned.  The Mac Desktop is only meant for the Icons for Mounted Devices (Hard Drives, Media plugged into card readers, etc.) and something called an Alias, which is Mac-Speak for "Shortcut."

If you have lots of files on your desktop, what you need to do is get them into a folder and off the desktop. You could have official folders for your files or create a simple folder like me and call it "Junk Drawer." This folder could be located on your main internal HD or and external one. I have mine located on my primary external drive. Either place you create the folder, the process is the same:

  1. Open the Finder
  2. Select your login name or external HD.
  3. Create a folder with a name of your choosing.
  4. Right-Click on that new folder and select "Make Alias"
  5. Drag the Alias to the Mac Desktop.
  6. Drag all the crap on the desktop to the Alias Icon. It will have a little arrow.

Enjoy the performance boost of your Mac after the files have been transferred.

The other reason that Macs slow down is due to full hard drives. This applies both to internal AND external hard drives. You never want to go more than 75% full when it comes to a Mac. Sure you could, but as soon as you hit around 80% full, Macs really slow down. 95% or above, you are in dangerous territory and could be not that far away from data corruption. So on a 1TB HD, you want to keep about 250-ish Gigabytes free at all times. The more the better. Same rules apply to external hard drives. If you have a EHD that is 90% full, eject the HD and power it down, I'll bet your Mac will be a little faster. ;)

The third thing that causes computers to run slow is lack of RAM. This days you want 8GB at a Minimum, preferably 16GB or more. I'm glad you have a 27" iMac. It can be upgraded, unlike the 21.5" Macs, in which you'll need Apple to do it or an authorized repair center. You have to completely take apart the 21.5" iMacs to upgrade the RAM, as there is no access panel to get to the memory slots. Heck, some 21.5" iMacs don't have slots at all and are stuck at 8GB of RAM!! OK, I'm digressing here. Anyway...

Head to Crucial.com and download and run their scanning tool. When it completes, it should take  you to a page with some options, and more than likely you will need to click the button that says, "View more compatible memory upgrades." We are looking for a 16GB kit at a minimum. If they are out of stock, and it looks like they are, you'll need to purchase two 8GB Sticks, which are around $64.99 each. Please ignore the SSD devices that pop up first in the list, that's not what we are looking for. We want RAM, not a Hard Drive. When we install the two 8GB sticks, it will take your RAM from 8GB to 24GB and should give your Mac a little performance boost, or a little more "breathing room" at the very least. You could Max out your RAM buy purchasing four 8GB sticks, but there isn't a lot of difference in performance between 24GB and 32GB. Unless you are doing large Panoramic photos and / or editing video. Then it's worth upgrading to 32GB of RAM.

Finally, I recommend that you upgrade to the latest version of the Mac OS you have, Mavericks, and stay there. Version 10.9.5 is the last version of Mavericks. Hopefully it will allow you to update without going to Mac OS Sierra. I also recommend and use a program, weekly, called CleanMyMac from Macpaw.com. There are usually coupon codes floating around on the web and I HIGHLY recommend using this program on a weekly basis. Version 3.0 is the latest.

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