Cocktail is a general purpose utility for OS X that lets you clean, repair and optimize your Mac. It is a powerful digital toolset that helps hundreds of thousands of Mac users around the world get the most out of their computers every day.

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Speed up your Mac by tweaking your fonts

One often-overlooked tweak is to clear out the font caches and trim the number of fonts you have installed on your Mac.

While it may seem like a minor thing it can actually have a big impact on how fast and responsive applications are. For example, every time Adobe Photoshop, Microsoft Word or QuarkXPress starts, the application scans your fonts and builds a preview for you. After this, every time you want to change the font the application has to load these previews and display them to you, which in Microsoft Word can takes up to five seconds from the clicking the font menu until it actually displays the font list.

By disabling unnecessary fonts you can speed up applications quite significantly. As an example a quick scan of this computer shows that there are over 450 fonts installed, but typically only 20-30 are ever used. By disabling some of the extra fonts we can reduce the time applications have to spend on managing fonts.

So how do you disable fonts? You can use the application Font Book that comes with your Mac (you find it in Applications). Give it a few seconds to load your fonts then go through the list and disable the ones you don’t use by selecting Disable from the Edit menu. Damaged or duplicate fonts can also slow down your computer so while you are in Font Book select Validate Fonts from the File menu and verify that the fonts you have installed are okay. You can automatically disable duplicates by using the Look for Enabled Duplicates (or Select duplicate fonts on Snow Leopard), followed by Resolve Automatically option (or Resolve Duplicates option in the Edit menu on Snow Leopard). It is also a good idea to enable Automatic font activation in Font Book’s Preferences as it lets OS X re-enable fonts when an application needs it.

It is worth noting that the font caches themselves can become corrupted and cause slowdowns or crashes on your Mac so if you experience problems because of this it is a good idea to force OS X to rebuild the font cache. Cocktail makes this easy: open Cocktail and go to Preferences > Caches > User and select Font Caches. Next time you clear the caches Cocktail will make clear out the font caches too and force OS X to rebuild them.

Pin an iCloud enabled note to your desktop

The Notes app in OS X lets you tear off notes and to float over the OS X desktop. You can think of this as the Stickies app on steroids, and not only does it look better, but you can share directly from the Note. Best of all, if you have iCloud set up with OS X and iOS the pinned note will automatically update when it's edited from an iPhone or iPad via the iOS Notes app.

Here's all you need to do to stick a Note on the Mac desktop:

• Launch Notes app in OS X and double-click the Note you want to tear off
• Position the floating note on the desktop and then close the primary Notes app window

Super simple to get the Note onto the desktop, but now for best part:

• Grab an iPad, iPod touch or iPhone and launch Notes app
• Locate and edit the same note, it will automatically sync and update on the OS X desktop

Defragmenting or not defragmenting, that is the question!

Posted in General

People often ask us whether they need or should defragment their Mac’s hard drives. For those of you who love reading there are plenty of lengthy discussion floating around the Internet in the form of Apple tech notes as well as other articles. We decided to go for the short and sweet answer instead:

Unless you do some very specific tasks that are uncommon for normal users then you don’t have to worry about it. 

OS X has several built in technologies which automatically optimizes how files are saved to the hard disk in order to minimize fragmentation. While this won’t stop your hard drive from becoming fragmented over time it will slow down the process to the point where you might need to defragment once a year or so. Incidentally, installing system updates will force OS X optimize the operating system files and some commonly accessed files that are used during startup, etc. As long as you stay up to date you never really notice any slowdowns at all.

So when do you need to defragment? According to Apple you only really have to worry about it if you often work with video editing or similar tasks where you deal with very large files and combine this with only have very little free disk space. In this case you might need to defragment manually, but usually it gives a very small performance gain considering the time it takes to defragment the drive. A better solution might be to just move the big files to another disk for a few days and let OS X work its magic.

If you do have a drive you really think needs to be defragmented we’d actually recommend backing up and restoring your computer from a Time Machine backup instead of defragmenting it using a commercial tool. It gives you a good excuse to start backing up your files, it is generally much faster than defragmenting and it can usually solve other problems with your computer too. Not to mention that unlike the defragmentation tools available online, it is also free.

Combo updates

Posted in Troubleshooting

Did you know that many of the problems we are asked to solve can be traced back to a faulty system update or corrupt system files? While it may sound pretty serious there is usually a very simple way to fix it, reinstall the latest Combo update from Apple.

When Apple is testing macOS updates with its developers they are using the Combo update, which is a package that contains every single update from the day your macOS version was released. However, what they deliver to the end users is normally an incremental update which only contains the changes from say 10.14.1 to 10.14.2. Unless you have a clean install there is a chance that it will replace files it shouldn’t or, on the contrary, that it won’t replace files that have become corrupted and are now causing problems.

The best thing to do if you happen to experience these problems is to reinstall the update, but instead of using the Software Updates which will only give you the incremental update you use the Combo update. The Combo update will replace all the core system files and give you a completely fresh and up to date macOS install that will hopefully make your problems history. 

This is also how you fix your computer if an update was interrupted as the Combo update will restore all missing files and make sure they are up to date.

Terminal tricks

Here are two less-known tricks for those who use the Terminal a lot.

Ordinarily Terminal doesn’t obey the usual Option (Alt)+Delete keystroke that deletes a word behind the cursor in other apps. To make Terminal do so, hit Escape, then hit Delete. You will need to do this for each word you want to delete - Escape, then Delete; Escape, then Delete; etc.

If you’re editing a file in nano, emacs or vim, you can hold down Option (Alt) then click anywhere in the file to move the cursor there. It works at the command line too - you can jump to anywhere in the line you’re currently typing by holding down Option (Alt) and clicking there.