Optimizing OS X Yosemite

Deactivating processes using Terminal:

Warning: incorrectly entering code in the Terminal Application can permanently disable your computer. It could require that you reformat and reinstalling your entire boot drive.

Did you test your bootable backup? Always a good idea.

The Terminal application is a text-driven command-line interface that allows you to communicate directly with the Unix-based operating system at the core of OS X Yosemite. Unix is the lowest possible level of human interface above machine language, giving the most streamlined and direct control over Yosemite.

I’ll show you how to use Terminal to remove Apps and processes that are set running by default when Yosemite boots up .

To launch the Terminal application, activate Launchpad, go into the Other folder, and click on the Terminal icon. The Terminal interface will appear. Now you are ready to enter commands into the command-line.

Yosemite Other

Tip: to minimize the potential for error I recommend you copy the commands and paste them into the Terminal’s command-line.


Remove Mission Control: copy/paste the following lines into Terminal’s command-line one at a time and hit the Enter key after each one:

defaults write com.apple.dock mcx-expose-disabled -bool TRUE [Enter]

killall Dock [Enter]

Remove Dashboard: copy/paste the following lines into Terminal’s command-line one at a time and hit the Enter key after each one:

defaults write com.apple.dashboard mcx-disabled -boolean YES [Enter]

killall Dock [Enter]

Remove Spotlight: copy/paste the following into Terminal’s command-line and hit the Enter key:

sudo launchctl unload -w /System/Library/LaunchDaemons/com.apple.metadata.mds.plist [Enter]

In order for the following command to take effect you’ll be required to enter your administrative password and hit the Enter key.

Note: the password for Mojo Audio optimized systems is: “Mojo.”

Remove Automatic Termination: copy/paste the following into Terminal’s command-line and hit the Enter key:

defaults write -g NSDisableAutomaticTermination -bool TRUE [Enter]

Finder is the main organizer in Yosemite. Unlike most applications which you can quit or Force Quit, the default settings in Yosemite will allow you to relaunch but not to actually quit Finder.Terminal 2

Resetting Yosemite to quit  Finder: copy/paste the following into Terminal’s command-line one at a time and hit the Enter key after each one:

defaults write com.apple.finder QuitMenuItem 1 [Enter]

killall Finder [Enter]

Important! Quit the Terminal Application.

To maintain optimal performance, each time you reboot your computer, and each time you use Finder, you will need to follow the instructions below to manually quit the Finder Application. Since Yosemite needs at least one Application to be open before you can quit Finder, you’ll need to open your player or primary software first.

Click on the Finder icon in the dock.

Select the Finder column in the top drop-down menu next to the  Apple Menu in the upper left corner of your screen.

Quit Finder

Slide down to the bottom row and select Quit Finder.

You’ll know Finder is not running if the dot under the Finder icon in the dock is gone.


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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