Keep your Mac running smoothly and prevent common problems with a simple, do-it-yourself maintenance program!

Take Control of
Maintaining Your Mac

Third Edition
Joe Kissell

Learn how to prevent problems with your Mac and keep little irritations from turning into major headaches. Joe Kissell shows you a simple maintenance regimen that will keep your Mac humming. It starts with a good spring cleaning and then adds simple daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly tasks, as well as ongoing monitoring.

All Take Control books are delivered in three ebook formats—PDF, EPUB, and Mobipocket (Kindle)—and can be read on nearly any device.


Note: This book is currently out of date for users of macOS 10.15 Catalina or later. We plan to release a new book in the second half of 2022 to provide up-to-date instructions on this topic.

Macs, like all machines, are prone to break down eventually—in either a physical sense (a component going bad) or a logical sense (files becoming corrupted, apps misbehaving). You can reduce the risk of such problems, and minimize the damage when they do occur, with a regular maintenance regimen. This book contains simple steps you can take to keep your Mac humming.

In much the same way that you brush and floss to prevent cavities, or change your car’s oil periodically to prevent engine damage, you should eliminate the crud on your Mac (whether that’s dust, outdated apps, or useless files) and perform other tasks to keep it healthy. By doing so, you’ll improve your Mac’s performance, prevent problems, and increase your productivity.

In this book, best-selling author Joe Kissell helps you start on the right foot by addressing common maintenance issues, and then covers simple tasks you can perform periodically to keep your Mac in top shape. He also helps you discover useful utilities for automating parts of the process and dispels common misconceptions about maintenance.

This book covers 10.9 Mavericks through 10.14 Mojave. It does not cover 10.15 Catalina or later.

What You’ll Learn:

  • Keeping Software Up to Date: Figure out what software on your Mac is out of date, whether automatic updates are a good idea, and how to keep up with the latest bug fixes.
  • Removing Digital Clutter: Find and remove old software, useless files, unneeded login items, and other items that can take up valuable space and cause performance issues.
  • Preventing Data Loss and Theft: Make sure your backups are in order, your passwords are strong, and other security details are under control.
  • Testing Your Hardware: Discover the easy (and free!) way to make sure your Mac’s logic board, RAM, hard drive or SSD, and other components are in good shape.
  • Using Maintenance Utilities: Find out which maintenance apps are most useful, which should be avoided, and what to watch out for when using third-party utilities.
  • Daily, Weekly, Monthly, & Yearly Tasks: Performing quick and easy maintenance tasks on a regular schedule can prevent small problems from turning into major disasters.
  • Maintenance Myths: Conventional wisdom is often wrong. Don’t waste time or effort on maintenance tasks that most people can safely avoid.
  • Preparing for a macOS Upgrade: Apple is now upgrading macOS on a yearly schedule. Find out what you need to know to be ready for the next major release.
  • Monitoring Your Mac’s Health: Learn how to keep track of your Mac’s RAM, disk, CPU usage, and network usage; internal temperatures; and more.

What happened to Maintaining Your Mac: A Joe On Tech Guide?
Long story short, this is an updated version of the same book, with a different title. The Joe On Tech book started out as Take Control of Maintaining Your Mac, and now it’s back home in the Take Control catalog.

Joe Kissell

About Joe Kissell

Take Control publisher Joe Kissell has written more than 60 books about technology, including many popular Take Control books. He formerly wrote for publications such as Macworld, Wirecutter, and TidBITS. He lives in Saskatoon with his wife, his two children, and his cat.

What’s New in Version 3.1

Version 3.1 is a minor revision that brings this book up to date with macOS 10.14 Mojave and various changes in third-party software. Along with numerous small edits, this version contains the following significant changes:

  • Explained the new user interface for automatic updates in Mojave and later; see Turn On Automatic App Store and macOS Updates
  • Updated the description of CleanMyMac to cover changes in the current version, CleanMyMac X
  • Removed outdated advice about Mac notebooks with removable batteries; see Exercise Your Notebook’s Battery
  • Added more recommendations for anti-malware apps; see Install Anti-Malware Software
  • Updated the list of browser extensions for blocking ads and cookies; see Delete Your Cookies

Along with hundreds of minor adjustments, here are the major changes in the third edition (version 3.0) since Maintaining Your Mac: A Joe On Tech Guide, version 1.1:

  • Updated the book for compatibility with macOS 10.13 High Sierra
  • Removed mentions of CrashPlan and replaced them with Backblaze (or other backup apps, as appropriate)
  • Revised my advice for automatic installation of system data files and security updates in Turn On Automatic App Store Updates
  • Added more detail about how much available disk space you may need in Clean Out Accumulated Cruft, and added a sidebar, How Much Disk Space Is Really Available?
  • Updated my recommendations about how much RAM you need in Be Sure You Have Enough RAM
  • Expanded and revised my advice about how to use Optimized Storage
  • Updated the advice in Exercise Your Notebook’s Battery
  • Offered additional advice (and deleted some that’s no longer applicable) in Install Anti-Malware Software
  • Updated Delete Your Cookies to reflect recent browser versions
  • Added iStat Menus to the list of monitoring utilities
  • Read Me First
  • Introduction
  • Maintaining Quick Start
  • Start on the Right Foot
  • Perform Daily Tasks
  • Perform Weekly Tasks
  • Perform Monthly Tasks
  • Perform Yearly Tasks
  • Things You Might Never Need to Do
  • When a New Version of OS X Is Released
  • Monitor Your Mac's Health
  • Learn More
  • Periodic Task Checklist
  • About This Book
  • April 30, 2022—The current version of this book covers Mojave and Catalina. A planned update will cover changes in macOS 11 Big Sur and macOS 12 Monterey, including a new chapter about Shortcuts for macOS. We expect the new version to be ready in the second quarter of 2022, and it will be a free update for anyone who purchases the book between now and then.


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