Apple does a pretty good job of making sure your Mac’s performance is well tuned right out of the box. So there aren’t many single things you can do to make your Mac dramatically faster. But like a mechanic tightening this and loosening that, you can do lots of little things that will speed up your Mac just a bit. Add these tweaks all together, and your system will indeed feel snappier.
Start with the software. There’s only so much you can do to make OS X itself faster. (For a few suggestions about what you can do, see “Top OS X Tips”.) But you can tweak individual applications to make them—and your system as a whole—feel more responsive. See “34 Software Speedups” to find out how to speed up Apple Safari, iTunes, and iPhoto; Mozilla Firefox; Microsoft Office; and more.
Then there’s hardware. Conventional wisdom says you can never have enough RAM. Well, as it turns out, you can: according to our lab tests (see “Bang for Your RAM Buck”, going from 256MB to 512MB will give most users a substantial speed boost, but going from 512MB to 1GB won’t do as much. To find out how much memory you really need, and for tips on how to perform a RAM upgrade right (and what to do if things go wrong), see “RAM FAQs” and “Is Your Memory Bad?”.
Like we say, none of these things on its own will make your Mac a new machine. But take enough little steps, and pretty soon they’ll add up to one big leap forward.