A Cleaner Mac Air

Do Alex’s OS X cleanup recommendations work? Chaos Manor Advisor Brian finds out…

When I previewed Alex’s recent CMR article on cleaning up the cruft on a Mac, I thought that I’d best have a go myself. While I’m nobody’s target demographic for installing all of the latest apps and games, I’ve had this particular Mac Air for 4+ years, and migrated to it from a 2007 MacBook Pro that started at OS X Leopard (10.5). So there’s possibly a few dust bunnies and rodent droppings in the odd corners of the machine. And since it already runs fine, I see no reason to see if it can’t be made better.

First off, I ensured that my home Time Machine backup was current. I also connected and refreshed my work Time Machine backup earlier in the day. Good to have restore targets, no? I used to use Super Duper with great regularity, but in a recent bit of work, I rebuilt directly from Time Machine and it worked just fine. So I now reserve my Super Duper runs to right before major OS X dot releases.

Keep what works

Now, to work. I checked Login Items under my account in Settings / Users & Groups. Not much there, but there were a couple of helper scripts that I don’t really need running. What’s left is just f.lux, a neat bit of software that “makes the color of your computer’s display adapt to the time of day….” I find that f.lux reduces my eyestrain from evening work on the machine. I can’t recommend this enough.

Next up, I went hunting in /Library/LaunchAgents, as the root user, and listed the plist files I found there:

Agog:~ bilbrey$ sudo su 
Agog:~ root# cd /Library/LaunchAgents/
Agog:LaunchAgents root# ls
com.REDACT.ED.gui.plist com.oracle.java.Java-Updater.plist
com.REDACT.ED.upgrader.plist org.gpgtools.macgpg2.gpg-agent.plist
com.google.keystone.agent.plist org.macosforge.xquartz.startx.plist

I need the {REDACT.ED} agent bits for work, but after a bit of research on the other four, I decided to hang onto them, too. I use GPG for assorted purposes, XQuartz is used by some remote work I do with Linux systems, and I have Java installed for the same reasons. The Google updater? Well, yeah, I’ll keep that, too since Chrome is my primary browser here and everywhere else, and I’d generally like to have it up-to-date.

Under /Library/PreferencePanes, I only had the Java Control Panel, and something for MacFUSE, which I’d uninstalled long ago. So it was out with the latter.

Agog:PreferencePanes root# cd /Library/PreferencePanes/
Agog:PreferencePanes root# ls
JavaControlPanel.prefPane MacFUSE.prefPane
Agog:PreferencePanes root# rm -rf MacFUSE.prefPane
In the personal LaunchAgents space, I had more cruft, none of which I wanted anymore:
Agog:~ bilbrey$ cd ~/Library/LaunchAgents/
Agog:LaunchAgents bilbrey$ ls
Agog:LaunchAgents bilbrey$ rm *plist

After cleaning all that up, I restarted the system.

Did it work?

Well, yes, it did. Frankly, though, with on-board SSD, this Mac Air was already fast. But now it feels like it’s nearly back to new again. I had not measured boot times prior to doing this work, but it’s always been about 20 seconds from entering the password to the desktop being alive. Where the additional time is saved is in all of the add-on stuff that no longer shows up in the status bar – there’s less of that now.

I did run EtreCheck before and after. The latter run found that I had not found and destroyed both copies of a particular PreferencePane entry. One was up at the system level, and I forgot to check in /Users/Bilbrey/Library/PreferencePanes as well. That’s cleared up, now.

What I’m even happier about is that following Alex’s tips, I gained more visibility into my daily carry system. What I still want to look into are the things that after three days of runtime, EtreCheck reported as “killed due to memory pressure.” Hmmm. I’ll have to keep an eye on that.

Thanks, Alex!