Mac Tips, Tricks, And Easter Eggs

by Tanner Godarzi Feb 23, 2007

If you are running an aging old Mac, it’s likely the speed has gone down through the years. Here are some simple tips to make your Mac snappier and a bit faster. Also included are six Mac-related easter eggs.

Speed Up Your Mac

On the day you bought your Mac it may have been the fastest machine available. But as time wore on, new revisions took its place and the years took a toll on your once-fast Mac. Aside from spending the money to upgrade your Mac or buy individual components, here is a list of things you can do to speed up your Mac without spending a penny.

There are many ways to do this, and it varies for each model, but there is only so much you can spend on Hardware upgrades before your Mac is unsupported by new Operating System releases. One thing I have learned from using an old Mac is that Tiger is one cat too big. My high school is littered with iMac G3s clocked at 500 MHz. While on paper they support Mac OS X Tiger by meeting the requirements of RAM, Processor, and including a Firewire port, in real world usage these Macs are slow. Of course they’re slow, you’d say, they’re G3s. But my older iMac clocked at 350 MHz and ran Mac OS X Panther purr-fectly. The iMac was snappy and even in some cases faster than my G4 Mac Mini. Tiger is a huge resource hog that slows down your system to index your data, eating up your RAM with Widgets and taking a huge toll on your Mac. I cannot stress this enough: if you have an old Mac, do not upgrade to Tiger, or if you have it installed, downgrade to Jaguar. Sometimes a downgrade can be an upgrade.

Going the software route to speed up your Mac, there are many simple things that can be done. First off you need to hire an interior designer, a very boring interior designer. Yes I said that right, your Mac isn’t fast enough to run all those flashy effects or all the bling bling Apple piled on.

First, change your Wallpaper immediately. Replace with a solid color, like the default solid colors already installed in the Desktops menu. I am a big fan of Solid Dark Aqua myself, although Kelp Green is somewhat appealing also. The reason changing your wallpaper to a solid color speeds up your Mac is because when a window is redrawn, all that needs to be drawn is the color itself, not the complex parts of other wallpapers.

Once your Wallpaper is changed, you’ll want to see it as much as possible, right? Well, if you are a very messy person (aren’t we all) and you have files strewn all over your desktop, then it would be helpful to move all of them to one of a few folders. This goes hand in hand with the previous tip: less folders, less that needs to be drawn when moving Windows.

Then there is the Dock, your central hub for app launching and access to files and folders. The useless effects of the Dock are fun, but once again we are going for squeezing out every ounce of speed. Disable Dock magnification in the Dock preference pane under system preferences if you have not already. Also disable “Animate opening Applications” in the same preference pane. Instead of that bouncing App you’ll get a stationary one with a glowing triangle underneath to indicate that it is launching. One last thing to change for the Dock is to switch from the genie minimize effect to the scale minimize effect; trust me, it’s worked for me.

Login items are great for those lazy to launch your needed apps. As you install more applications they may set login items themselves which will definitely slow down your Mac while loading your user account. Every once in a while, check your login items and keep it bare.

System optimization is essential to a faster Mac. Although Mac OS X does de-fragment your Disk, it will only do it to files that match a certain criteria. Spending the money on a good de-fragment utility will be beneficial in the long run but will be useless if you do not have a lot Disk space taken up. Another way is to run your maintenance tasks regularly. In Mac OS X Tiger, these tasks are scheduled to run at certain times while your machine is on. If it is not run at its scheduled time it will be run right when your Mac turns on. Simply leaving your Mac on for extended periods of time (a day or more) will automatically run these maintenance tasks. If you simply cannot wait to run these tasks, download a utility that will do it for you. I recommend an application called Onyx. Onyx will automate these tasks and tweak certain parts of the User Interface. The link for Onyx is here.

Mac OS X Easter Eggs

1. Weather for Nowhere is an easter egg for Mac OS X Tiger only. Open up Dashboard and launch your Weather Widget. Pressing the Apple (command) key and the Alt (option) key and clicking the current weather icon will set your location to Nowhere. If you hold down the two keys while clicking, it will cycle through all of the Widget’s weather status images.

2. Terminal Life is done by launching Terminal and typing in “emacs” (without the quotes) and then pressing enter. Now press the ESC button and the X button at the same time. After that, type “life,” and once more hit enter. From what I can surmise, @ signs make up cells and the following presentation is of Cell Duplication.
Via: Eeggs

3. If you want a text game, launch Terminal and type without quotes “emacs -batch -l dunnet” and hit enter. An Emacs text game will load (note: this not exclusive to Mac OS X; if you run a UNIX based Operating System, you can also play this game). I will also note that this game is extremely addictive and was often the source of unproductive behavior in our Mac labs.
More here: Wikipedia

4. The Mac OS Sound Sosumiwas inspired by Apple’s legal battles that carried into the Mac Operating System. While System 7 was under development, Apple Computer Inc. and Apple Corp. got into a legal battle after MIDI support was added for the Mac. Jim Reekes was tired of the legal issues after one of the new sounds was “too musical” and violated their new agreement. After proposing “Let it beep,” it was also denied, and Jim replied, “So sue me!” After some reflection on this, the sound was renamed to sosumi, and was said by Jim to be Japanese. To this day sosumi is still an included sound in the Mac OS.
Via: Wikipedia

5. Knock, knock. Orange. Orange Who? Orange you glad your bought a Mac OS X? Enable “Apple Speakable Items” under Speech Recognition in the Speech Preference Pane. If you ask your Mac “tell me a joke” it will respond with a knock-knock joke.
Via: Mac OS X Hints

6. Mutated Windows is, no, not a Microsoft product, but something you can do in Mac OS X. Open up Safari and find a nice long web page. Load up Terminal and type “Killall Dock” without quotes but do not hit enter yet. Make sure your Safari window is in the background and Terminal is your active window. Hold down the shift key and click the minimize button on your Safari window. About halfway through, hit enter to execute your Terminal command. Your Safari window will be stuck in a minimize sequence but still usable. You can scroll, load a new web page, or open a new tab.





  • Heh, I love the callout for text games in order to run your mac faster. Aside from playing the EMacs text game, you can play a MUD game (no crazy graphics), like the ones from

    Jeremy, Text Game Ninja had this to say on Jul 24, 2010 Posts: 1
  • I only own one Apple product and that’s the Macbook Air that was introduced like three years ago. Your “easter eggs” for Macs are really a treat. 

    college paper for other mac tips

    Buddying had this to say on Sep 26, 2011 Posts: 1
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