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.

Get Cocktail here

Speed up your Photoshop

Here are a few tricks and tweaks to speed up your Photoshop performance.

• Close unused document windows. If you’re not actively using an image file, close it. Each open file can take up a significant amount of memory, which can quickly lead to slow downs.

• Reduce an images resolution. Working with higher resolution images and files uses more resources. If you’re going to be saving a relatively low quality version of an image anyway, reduce the image resolution to a tolerable level to gain a nice speed boost.

• Purge history and clipboard. Edit > Purge > All. The history feature of Photoshop is useful but it takes up a lot of memory. If you’re not using it, purging the contents of history and clipboard frees up resources.

• Turn off animated zoom. Preferences > General > Animated Zoom > Uncheck.

• Turn off flick panning. Preferences > General > Enabled Flick Panning > Uncheck.

• Set drawing mode to Basic. Preferences > Performance > Graphics Processor Settings > Advanced Settings > Drawing Mode > Basic.

• Disable anti-aliasing on guides and paths. Preferences > Performance > Graphics Processor Settings > Advanced Settings > Anti-alias Guides and Paths > Uncheck.

• Adjust Photoshops memory use. Preferences > Performance > Memory Usage (adjust this based on your physical memory capacity and individual needs, a higher percentage is better).

• Turn off image previews. Preferences > File Handling > File Saving Options > Image Previews > Never Save.

• Use less Video RAM for 3D stuff. Preferences > 3D > Available VRAM for 3D > 30%, this is particularly useful for anyone using a computer with a video card that shares VRAM with primary RAM, such as some MacBook, MacBook Air, and Mac Mini models.

• Watch the efficiency indicator. At the bottom of any open Photoshop window you’ll see an “efficiency” gauge, if this falls below 100% that means you are using the scratch disk (hard drive) for memory and Photoshop will become slower. Solve this by allocating more RAM or by having less open windows.

Make sure you completely quit Photoshop and restart it and you should see a significant difference in performance.

Character swap

How many times have you typed something to discover the last two characters are in the wrong order? You know, when “the” turns into “teh” and “because” into “becuase”, a fairly common general mistype.

Apparently it happens often enough for there to be an individual keyboard shortcut to instantly swap the last two typed characters, and that keyboard shortcut is Control+T.

Dictate without an Internet connection

Starting with OS X Mountain Lion, your Mac could take dictation. But, just as with the dictation feature on iOS, the OS X incarnation required an Internet connection, couldn't show its progress while you spoke, and could only listen for about 30 seconds at a time. That all changes with a single checkbox in OS X Mavericks.

Open System Preferences and click on the Dictation & Speech pane. There, you'll find a checkbox for Use Enhanced Dictation. The first time you check it, you'll need to wait out a hefty (about 750 MB) download, but once you're done, you can dictate a lot more freely.

Now, transcription happens on your Mac (not Apple's servers), and you can see the transcription appear as you speak, in real-time. In fact, the cursor remains active too; if you see a mistake, you can click around (without speaking) to make your edits, put the cursor back where it needs to be, and start talking again.

OS X Mavericks also offer many speech-based editing tricks. While you cannot delete - if you say "delete that" OS X Mavericks types "delete that" - you can do quite a bit of other editing such as new line, new paragraph, plus tons of other symbols, spaces, capitalization and more. Here is Apple's KB article with a detailed list of dictation commands.

Activate emoji and other special characters in OS X Mavericks

In OS X Mavericks, there is a new character popover to access emoji and other special characters.

To activate it, hit Control+Command+Space and the popover will appear under your cursor. You can view recently used emoji and swipe down in the popover to show a search field that lets you find a specific emoji by name. You can also access the old-style Special Characters window by clicking the icon next to the search field.

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.