Mac OS X users have not needed the ability to defragment their hard drives. Most defragging is done in the background by the OS. There is one caveat: OS X does not defragment files larger than 20 MB. Quite often, many game files are easily larger than 20 MB. Fragmentation of game files will negatively impact performance of games, particularly FPS games.
Valve has included a defragmenter in the Steam client. Each game installed can be selected and right clicked to bring up the properties box. Once in the Properties box, select the Local Files tab and click Defragment Cache Files to begin defragmenting the game.
The author's blog has some screenshots of the process.
[crarko adds: I haven't tested this one. Here and here are some good discussions on the 'Hot-File-Adaptive-Clustering' method Apple uses in HFS+, and its effectiveness. On the whole it's been quite good. The 20 MB file size limit mentioned is one of the limitations, along with the number of extents used. I don't know if you still need to be wary of defragging a FileVault home folder, but I'd err on the side of caution and make sure I had a known good backup before trying it.]
iStat is a great program for keeping track of your system by displaying menulings showing CPU usage, memory usage etc. In Mac OS X menulings (also called menu extras) are managed by a program called SystemUIServer.
iStat appears to have a memory leak where over time, the REAL memory used by SystemUIServer grows basically without bound. Memory usage that should be around 40MB balloons to 300MB then to 1.3GB over a few weeks of never rebooting. This would be bad enough if it was the virtual address space that was being used up this way, but this is real memory, causing real memory pressure and real swapping.
Obviously the ideal would be for Bjango to get on the case and fix this bug. Since they appear unwilling to do so, I have come up with a workaround.
The availability of software like Perian and Flip4Mac that make non-Apple video formats available to QuickTime and players like VLC and MPlayer means that many of us have files in formats like Flash and Windows Media Video that Mac OS X's Spotlight metadata subsystem recognizes as 'Movies' but for which it cannot determine video-specific metadata like dimensions, codecs, duration, and bitrate. It is possible to fix this in Leopard by duplicating and modifying a piece of the base OS, but in Snow Leopard it takes a bit more effort.
(This hint is also useful for 10.5 and probably 10.4, but 10.6 adds a special twist.)
If you're a frequent user of Spaces, you'll often find yourself moving windows between spaces, however, if you like to have your large windows properly centered (e.g. in Safari or other browsers) you'll find it difficult to properly center the window when moving between spaces, leaving part of the window off-screen, and needing to be adjusted.
The solution is simple, all you have to do is enter Exposť from the spaces overview, and then move the windows between spaces. Once you exit Exposť, you'll find the window will be in the exact same location on the screen it was in the previous space.
[crarko adds: I tested this, and it works as described. On my MacBook I just used the default keyboard settings of F8 to get into the Spaces overview, and then F9 to bring up Exposť in 'All windows' mode. If you've changed those key bindings, use your correct ones, or you could combine the two using this hint.]
I dislike the Windows-like arrows in the lower left corner of alias icons. Ever since Panther came out, I'd been using the technique described in this hint to get rid of them. After updating to 10.5.8 the pesky arrows were back, I had a little trouble locating the tip for 10.5, because it is categorized for 10.3, and updated information for Tiger users is only presented at the end of the comments. This method works for Leopard [crarko adds: and Snow Leopard] as well. Hence, this version summarizes (and slightly elaborates on) the Tiger-specific instructions from the original submission.
Recently I installed several hundred fonts in one fell swoop. This was a mistake, because all my apps slowed down (especially Microsoft Office). While the fonts are useful, and I needed to keep them, I needed them only for DTP. My mistake was to install them to the computer, rather than just the user account I use for DTP.
I tried using various font management apps to move them across to the user account but I wasn't sure which fonts were the new ones, compared to the old or System fonts.
The solution was to dig into /Library/Fonts/ and sort the files by date. Sure enough, the new fonts had the same creation date and I was able to manually drag them across to my own ~/Library/Fonts/ folder.
After a quick flush of the font cache, everything is back to normal and my system speed has been restored. Other user accounts now work perfectly.
[crarko adds: I've had to do similar things for clients of mine, and yes it can be a pain. This hint covers clearing the font cache for Leopard and Snow Leopard, and this one is for Tiger. There are also a number of third party utilities that can do this.]
A user came to me the other day with a Mac mini. They weren't having any problems but they noticed that normally, clicking on 'Sleep' from the Apple menu took just a few seconds or so but recently, was taking up to thirty seconds or longer.
Naturally, I looked at their Energy Saver settings; runaway processes in Activity Monitor, etc. to find a cause for the behavior but nothing seemed out of the norm.
I ran Terminal and input pmset -g pslog (to view the Power Manager log in real time) and found that their were lots of slow responses. However, the one that I noticed right away was the printer/fax timeout. I opened up the user's printer queue and sure enough, three documents waiting to be printed even though the printer wasn't connected in days. Cleared them out, selected 'Sleep' again and within 1-2 seconds the machine was sleeping.
[crarko adds: I haven't tested this one. We've mentioned useful applications of pmset before; here's yet another.]
Press Command-Tab to bring up OS X's application switcher. Keep holding down the Command key. Press Tab to cycle forward through open applications, the tilde (~) key (just above Tab) to cycle backward, the arrow keys to move back and forth, or the mouse to point and choose an app. When you release the Command key, whichever application's icon was selected is made active.
However, without leaving the application switcher, you can quit or hide/unhide applications. Select the icon of the program you want to quit or hide, and press 'Q' to quit and 'H' to hide. Select the program you want to go to (for me, usually just the one I started in), and release the command key. This method also works for unhiding apps, just press 'H' again.
This is a great way to quit and hide applications without changing focus, and you can do it all with the keyboard. I've found it much faster than using the dock or switching, quitting, switching back.
Also, (I believe this has been noted here before) hold down option before dismissing the switcher and the selected application will come to focus and open the most recently minimized window, or, if there are no minimized windows, make a new one.
[crarko adds: I tested this, and it works as described. I think this has been around quite a while and may well have been mentioned here before as a keyboard shortcut, but shortcuts are always appreciated by the newer readers.]