Optimizing OS X Yosemite

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So you have an Apple computer running OS X Yosemite and you want to optimize performance. I’ve got you covered. If you prefer to run an older version of OS X, I have another optimization blog that covers Snow Leopard through Mountain Lion.

Less is more…

Its obvious Steve Jobs is dead. Forget about the fact that when Yosemite was first released it had so many bugs and conflicts you would think it was engineered by Microsoft. Apple was on the cutting edge of professional audio and video production, photography, and CAD, but has now redirected their marketing efforts toward the average social networking voice activated multi-device user.

Yosemite emphasizes a plethora of “eye candy” aesthetic features, automated multi-device and multi-platform integration, and organizational apps such as Mission Control, Dashboard, and Widgets.

The more of these optional processes you remove, the more you improve Yosemite’s performance.

My company, Mojo Audio, manufactures and sells high-end computerized music and video servers for the home theater enthusiast and recording/editing professional. Though this blog was written to assist our customers in optimizing the performance of Yosemite running on their upgraded Mac Mini media servers, these same optimizations will work on any Mac running Yosemite.

I’ll walk you through exactly what you need to do to disable memory resident programs that automatically load by default when Yosemite boots up. And I’ll also show you how to turn off optional wireless control interfaces, such as infrared, WiFi, and Bluetooth.

When you disable optional processes and reallocate system resources, your computer does less switching, swapping, interrupting, and error correcting. Freeing up system resources and turning off unused wireless control interfaces results in noticeably more efficient performance which translates to a more fluid and coherent audio and video presentation.

Warning! I recommend that before making any changes or updating software in any computer that you backup your drives. Using “cloning” software, such as Carbon Copy Cloner creates a bootable backup.

It’s a perfect use of your time . . . you can clone your drives while you review the rest of this guide.


6 thoughts on “Optimizing OS X Yosemite

  1. Hey Ben,

    This is a pretty radical set of recommendations. I’m a Mac computer consultant for a living, so am familiar with most everything you describe here, but I think you could do a better job of explaining why users should do the individual steps. In particular, the suggestion to turn off system sleep should be accompanied by a description of how a user should do to avoid screen burn-in. I know it’s much less likely than it used to be, but it can still happen, depending on the display setup they are using. I’m also very curious as to what the benefit is of turning off journalling on all hard drives.

    I would imagine you often get questions as to the ‘why’ of many of your suggestions, so it would be great if those answers were included in your post as well.

    Keep up the good work!


    • Hi John,

      Thank you for your supportive comments.

      Please keep in mind that most of our customer are operating a music/media servers. For those listening to music only they mostly operate their system “headless” without monitor, keyboard, or mouse, and view/control using an App on a pad or phone. Those that are using their HDTV as the monitor simply turn off their TV when it is not in use.

      In any event, your recommendation to add a paragraph on managing screen burn in is a good one. I’ll make a note of that and try to add some info on that with the next set of edits to the blog. BTW, what would you recommend as a good strategy to manage screen burn in?

      As for the “Journalling,” that too is more targeted to the AV user as opposed to the office user. It does save a bit of system resources and speeds things up slightly, but it is more significant in AV server applications.

      All the best,


  2. Can’t thank you enough for this optimization guide. I am new to the Mac world, but following your very detailed and easy to follow instructions, I created a bootable SD Card, installed a fresh copy of Yosemite and optimized my late 2012 Mac Mini to use as a music server.
    Since I boot from the SD Card, one other thing I do is after every reboot I go to Disk Utilities, right click on my internal HDD and click unmount. No need for the disk to spin and possibly add noise.
    Excellent post!

    • I personally don’t like either one: too bloated with all sorts of unnecessary features. I prefer simpler versions of OS X like Snow Leopard.

      In their infinite marketing wisdom Apple makes their computers only forward compatible. This means you can’t load a version of OS X that is older than the one your Mac came with.

      My favorite Mac Mini for Audio is the best of 2012 with the i7 dual-core CPU and video co-possessor. Even though Apple claimed it could only recognize 8GB of RAM the i7 version can use 16GB of RAM. This 2012 Mac Mini runs on Snow Leopard through Yosemite.

      The question becomes more of what age Mac Mini you may have and then which version of OS X that your specific Mac Mini runs on. Then it becomes a question of which OS X you can run performs best with your favorite player software and/or DAC drivers. With some combos Yosemite will perform better and with some Mavericks will perform better. Some combos won’t work at all.

      Since player software companies and DAC manufacturers usually optimize for the newer versions of OS X there is always a zone of years of OS X that work with most players and DACs. Eventually older versions of OS X become no longer compatible with new players and USB drivers.

      Of course that’s why my company will soon be offering an optimized/minimized Linux option with JRiver that will be more stable and perform better than any OS X or Windows.

      I’m tired of all the buggy operating systems from Apple and Microsoft. I swear Apple must have hired the same clowns that engineered Windows Vista to create Yosemite : P

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