Maintaining The Apple Of Your Eye

Tips for keeping the MAC operating system in optimum shape

Macintosh computer users hold such faith in their user-friendly operating system (OS) that they rarely think about maintenance. But even a Rolls Royce needs a tune up every now and then. In the same way, regularly scheduled maintenance can keep your Macintosh OS running smoothly.

The easiest way to enhance productivity of your Mac OS is to rebuild its desktop. “It’s like aspirin,” explains Rod Harlan, author of”The Hiding Place,” a monthly column in MAC Today magazine, which uncovers hidden Mac tips. “It’s one of those remedies that no matter what’s ailing your computer, it might solve the problem.”

The Mac desktop is an invisible database that holds the links to all your files. Each time you insert a floppy or install new software, the desktop file grows. Over time, this can create corruption (getting information mixed up). This slows your computer down and can interfere with your work, according to Macworld MacSecrets (IDG Books; $39.95). Rebuilding the desktop brings order back to the database.
There are a couple of ways to rebuild the desktop. According to Mac Secret, this is the official procedure:
1. Restart the Mac with the spacebar down so that the Extensions Manager’s window appears.
2. Turn off all extensions except Macintosh Easy Open, then close the Extensions Manager’s window.
3. As the restart proceeds, press the Command and Option keys until you’re asked if you want the Desktop file rebuilt. click OK.
4. Restart the Mac with the spacebar down. Turn all your extensions back on.

Harlan teaches classes on the Mac at the Academy of Merchandising and D- esign in Tampa, Florida, and is currently president of the Bay Area Macintosh Users group in Clearwater, Florida. He offers users a simpler method for rebuilding the desktop. While rebooting, hold down the command and option keys simultaneously. A dialog box will appear asking, “Would you like to rebuild your desktop?” Click OK. Then follow instructions. Harlan recommends rebuilding your desktop at least once a month.

A key component of OS maintenance is reclaiming vanishing disk space. An easy way to free up disk space on your Mac is to empty the trash. Sounds simple, but many users ignore the bulking trash can icon. Just remember, everything you drag into the trash stays there until you empty it.

Another good way to free up disk space is to dump printer drivers. Like most people, you probably use one printer. But your extensions folder stores printer drivers for every major brand and then three or four models for each major brand. “That could be eating up two, three, even four megabytes,” says Harlan. “What’s worse is that these drivers use RAM.” You can also retrieve disk space by cleaning the cache on your Web browser. If you spend many hours on the World Wide Web, you should clear the cache found under Preferences on most browsers at least weekly. “Sometimes people have 10 megs sitting there in the preferences folders,” says Harlan.

Other regular scheduled maintenance for the Mac OS includes reinstalling a fresh copy of the

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