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A possible source of slowness in thumb drives is whether they use a native Windows format (such as ExFAT) or are initialized as a macOS volume (e.g. HFS+). My experience has been that they're a lot slower if they haven't been reinitialized as a macOS volume, though that isn't much help if your application is copying/backing up between other OSes and macOS.
 


As I understand it, Apple not only failed to optimize OS X 10.9 (and later) for hard drives, it actively de-optimized them. It's very low-level, geeky, poorly documented stuff, but I think we've posted/linked some additional details on MacInTouch in the past.
I would be surprised if anyone sat down and decided "let's see what we can do to make hard drives slower." I'm sure it was more along the lines of "this new feature that we really want is going to have the side effect of hurting hard drive performance, but that's OK because we're trying to phase out hard drives anyway".

We know, for example, that APFS's copy-on-write semantics (especially in conjunction with snapshots and multiple file revisions) result in massive amounts of file fragmentation, completely trashing hard drive performance.

In other words, slower hard drive performance being a side-effect of a design decision, not the reason for that decision. Without a smoking gun document, I wouldn't want to make any assumption about motivation.

Of course, for you and me, motivation doesn't matter - the effect is the same.
 


The "drive eject delay" problem has existed for me since at least OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion (I didn't run 10.7). I've experienced it to varying degrees on OS X 10.8 and macOS 10.12 Sierra. USB thumb drives, FireWire and USB spinners all have suffered with this problem.

The latest macOS 10.12.6 with all updates has minimized it, I'm unsure whether any of the updates was the cure. It was quite a problem for a while, on OS X 10.8 and macOS 10.12, me waiting (no so) patiently for a drive to eject, sometimes for a minute or so.

I never moved through OS X 10.7, 10.9, 10.10, and 10.11, nor will I move beyond macOS 10.12 until I'm forced to for security.

I'm hoping macOS 10.14 Mojave might prove stable for a couple of years? (Don't want to wait until 10.18 — Mac OS X 10.6.8 was most stable, macOS 10.12.6 stable... notice the pattern? Will there even be a macOS 10.18?)
 


Drive dismount delay has been annoying me for years, but due to illness I haven't had the energy/time to try to figure out the what and why – or even when it started being a problem, though I know there was a time when it was not. So I've just been putting up with it, though getting increasingly tired of that and numerous other "little" glitches in macOS. If anybody wants to investigate, a utility named What's Keeping Me might be helpful.
 


Well, yes, there was quite a big change that occurred with OS X 10.9, which drastically slowed hard drives. It was so bad, I had to upgrade computers for a variety of users from hard drives to SSDs to recover adequate performance. That was years ago.
This was why I stayed so long on Mac OS X 10.6.8. I had tested other OSes on partitiions and wasn't impressed. I had to wait until I was flush enough to replace all my internal drives with SSDs before moving to El Capitan, OS X 10.11.
 


A possible source of slowness in thumb drives is whether they use a native Windows format (such as ExFAT) or are initialized as a macOS volume (e.g. HFS+). My experience has been that they're a lot slower if they haven't been reinitialized as a macOS volume, though that isn't much help if your application is copying/backing up between other OSes and macOS.
Interesting thought Joe, but I'm thinking the opposite. I always erase every new drive and format it as "Mac OS Extended (Journaled)" if I'm even possibly planning on putting an OS on there. (If it's definitely only for media, I typically just leave it alone).

When I get a chance later, maybe I will see if not formating with Mac OS Extended (Journaled) makes a difference when using a drive only for media and transfer. I'd like to see if the "MS-DOS (FAT)" drives have the same ejection delay problem.
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
I would be surprised if anyone sat down and decided "let's see what we can do to make hard drives slower." I'm sure it was more along the lines of "this new feature that we really want is going to have the side effect of hurting hard drive performance, but that's OK because we're trying to phase out hard drives anyway".
I recall it reading about the issue and feeling that it seemed like a perverse and unnecessary design decision in its impact on hard drives, not one justified by trade-offs for SSD improvements, but I just searched extensively and couldn't find the reference. I know it wasn't an Apple document, and I just dug around John Siracusa reviews, MacPerformance Guide, Amit Singh material, MacInTouch, and more without hitting it, unfortunately. It might be in some video presentation, e.g. at MacSysadmin or something, but I didn't find it in a quick perusal of some videos.

My takeaway was an operating system change that actually hurt hard drive performance, [but I'm not sure it was coincident] with OS X 10.9 [which apparently had other (different) changes that slammed performance with hard drives] even as it was doing optimizations (memory compression) to help mitigate hard drives slowdowns.

It was related to something like blocksizes, caches, memory management, compression — along that line, and nothing that was getting headline stories at all, just geeky low-level details.
We know, for example, that APFS's copy-on-write semantics (especially in conjunction with snapshots and multiple file revisions) result in massive amounts of file fragmentation, completely trashing hard drive performance.
Yes, and I've got loads of documentation on that issue, but what I was trying to turn up was an earlier hard drive performance issue that preceded APFS.

Apple may have mitigated some of the issue I'm referring to in more recent years — I'm not sure, as I completely abandoned hard drives for system boot and most other uses.

High Sierra APFS had issues with Fusion drives that seem to have been addressed in Mojave, and I guess you can even run Mojave on a hard drive, but I haven't wanted to do that experiment, personally.
Of course, for you and me, motivation doesn't matter - the effect is the same.
Actually, it only really matters to me as an issue of technical curiousity and detail. I'm not about to go back to using hard drives or recommending them to anyone else for anything but archives and backup (or very high capacity). I even found Linux and Windows pokey enough on hard drives that I set those up on SSDs, as well. (I really care about responsive performance. :-)
 




Ric Ford

MacInTouch
I would be surprised if anyone sat down and decided "let's see what we can do to make hard drives slower." I'm sure it was more along the lines of "this new feature that we really want is going to have the side effect of hurting hard drive performance, but that's OK because we're trying to phase out hard drives anyway".
I recall it reading about the issue and feeling that it seemed like a perverse and unnecessary design decision in its impact on hard drives, not one justified by trade-offs for SSD improvements, but I just searched extensively and couldn't find the reference.
Simon found the reference (bless him!):
I've been doing more digging, and this is what I've found so far:
comp.sys.mac.system said:
Why Mavericks is slow or fast or needs an SSD
10.9 : The broken VM tuning from 10.7 is fixed and augmented with compression. VM compression consumes some RAM of its own but it generally outperforms 10.6 virtual memory. Apple also adds a fix for processes that monopolize the filesystem: Each process is throttled. ... Again, a new fix backfires horribly. Processes that shouldn't be throttled and don't need to be throttled still get throttled. In my case, applications were getting just 300KB/sec of filesystem throughput; a 97% loss compared to 10.8 and worse again compared to 10.6.

People who install an SSD notice a vast improvement while people who already have an SSD notice that it still seems slow. ... Apple has provided a less aggressive throttle if an SSD is being used, which is why an SSD helps in cases where spinning rust should suffice.
 


Thanks for the link. It sheds a bit more light on the issue.

It seems there have been problems for a very long time (going back at least to Mac OS X 10.6) with processes hogging too much CPU time, hogging too much memory, hogging too much file system I/O, etc., resulting in seemingly hung systems (resulting in the Spinning Pizza of Death mouse pointer). There were many attempts to fix this, all failing for different reasons, the last of which because hard drive performance got clobbered.

The article concludes that this is because HFS+ needs to be replaced and everything else is a stopgap/hack. It would appear that Apple concurred, ultimately resulting in the release of APFS (which also has performance problems on hard drives, but for a completely different set of reasons).
 


Very interesting: I found OS X 10.9 pretty sluggish, compared to Snow Leopard, but stuck with it for a long time because of an application I wanted to keep using.

I also attributed some of the sluggishness to my main boot drives having been upgraded so many times. (One drive in my Mac Pro had a system cloned from Tiger.) However, when I finally upgraded my main boot drive from Mavericks to Sierra, I was surprised to discover that performance was greatly improved.

This Mac Pro contains only hard drives, no SSDs. I don’t remember much about OS X 10.8, since I barely used it, but every other OS—10.10, 10.11, 10.12, and, of course, Mac OS X 10.6—has run significantly better than 10.9, enough better that I haven’t bothered to install any SSDs.
 


Interesting thought Joe, but I'm thinking the opposite. I always erase every new drive and format it as "Mac OS Extended (Journaled)" if I'm even possibly planning on putting an OS on there. (If it's definitely only for media, I typically just leave it alone).

When I get a chance later, maybe I will see if not formating with Mac OS Extended (Journaled) makes a difference when using a drive only for media and transfer. I'd like to see if the "MS-DOS (FAT)" drives have the same ejection delay problem.
In my experience, ejecting USB thumb drives that are formatted as MS-DOS (FAT) is usually quick. Drives that I've reformatted with HFS+ to use as bootable installers are slow ejecting, usually because Spotlight is trying to index the drive's contents, something it can't do for FAT drives. Dragging the drive to Spotlight's privacy list will stop the indexing and allow a quick ejection, but you have to do it for each drive on each Mac you use them with.
 


In my experience, ejecting USB thumb drives that are formatted as MS-DOS (FAT) is usually quick. Drives that I've reformatted with HFS+ to use as bootable installers are slow ejecting, usually because Spotlight is trying to index the drive's contents, something it can't do for FAT drives. Dragging the drive to Spotlight's privacy list will stop the indexing and allow a quick ejection, but you have to do it for each drive on each Mac you use them with.
I've only used HFS+ thumb drives as installer disks. [See How to create a bootable installer for macOS. —Ric Ford]

When using them as data drives, I never experienced a slow dismount, perhaps because I tended to have a small number of very large files, which would have been easy for mdworker to index quickly.

This was a few (maybe four?) years back, but we did a survey of drive speeds, durability, and prices, and ended up purchasing several of these drives:

A few years before, when we were building OS X (then as) installer media, we ended up purchasing Patriot Rage drives. Since I no longer see their thumb drives showing up in "best of" lists, I don't know whether their performance is lagging others now, or there's some other reason.
 


In my experience, ejecting USB thumb drives that are formatted as MS-DOS (FAT) is usually quick. Drives that I've reformatted with HFS+ to use as bootable installers are slow ejecting, usually because Spotlight is trying to index the drive's contents, something it can't do for FAT drives. Dragging the drive to Spotlight's privacy list will stop the indexing and allow a quick ejection, but you have to do it for each drive on each Mac you use them with.
True but I thought that if you eject any drive while it is being indexed, Spotlight will just cease indexing. Maybe the delay is while it updates the index on the drive for the data found so far?
 


I guess you can even run Mojave on a hard drive, but I haven't wanted to do that experiment, personally.
We bought three new 2014 Mac Minis last year, solely for the purpose of having a sure way to keep Quicken 2007 going into the (sadly) indefinite future. These are the most basic Minis sold, dual-core i5, 4GB RAM, 500GB hard disk drives. I set the first two up with USB 3.0-connected SSD clones of our standardized Sierra installs, from which I removed as much of Apple's bloatware valuable included software as possible.

Last week, I unboxed the third Mini, which shipped with Sierra. I updated it to Mojave, just to see how Quicken 2007 works on that last and final version which will support 32-bit. I have so far been pleasantly surprised by the performance of that extremely low-end Mac, on Mojave, on a 5400-RPM hard disk drive. Then, the only thing that's being run on it is Quicken 2007 (and those Apple daemons the company kindly provides). There are no photos to grind the CPU, as Apple runs face and object identification, and no iCloud connection or automatic updating. I've not dug into what I can shut down and/or even remove from Mojave, but I turned off all those notifications about stocks, news, etc.

One thing I hadn't anticipated, since "Dark Mode" seemed nothing special, because I've been using it on Linux for several years: Apple's "Dark Mode" really improves my experience, which had been decaying with light, narrow fonts on blinding white backgrounds.
Very interesting: I found OS X 10.9 pretty sluggish, compared to Snow Leopard
Had three old original Intel iMacs that were orphaned on Snow Leopard. The two 20" models had 250GB HDDs, don't remember what the third 17" hard disk drive was. Don't know if they were all 5400 RPM or might have been 7200. Snow Leopard all the way through 10.6.8 ran great on them.
 



I set the first two up with USB 3.0-connected SSD clones of our standardized Sierra installs, from which I removed as much of Apple's bloatware valuable included software as possible.
Out of curiosity, was there a need to do this?

I understand the personal satisfaction you may get from removing unnecessary and unwanted software, but does its presence have a negative impact on system performance? If you never launch any of the iApps and don't log on to iCloud, do you find that they still do something that ends up consuming system resources (beyond the disk blocks they physically consume, of course)?
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
This was a few (maybe four?) years back, but we did a survey of drive speeds, durability, and prices, and ended up purchasing several of these drives:
A few years before, when we were building OS X (then as) installer media, we ended up purchasing Patriot Rage drives. Since I no longer see their thumb drives showing up in "best of" lists, I don't know whether their performance is lagging others now, or there's some other reason.
I did SSD and USB flash benchmarks several years ago and included some high-performance flash "sticks" for comparison, but as the prices of real SSDs have dropped sharply, it didn't seem to make much sense to pay a premium for flash sticks that lack the error correction, SMART reporting and TRIM support of real SSDs priced at the same levels (unless tiny size is a critical factor).

As I've often mentioned, I really like Samsung T5 SSDs (and have bought a bunch of them) — small, cool, fast, reliable, and convenient, with SMART and Trim support — and there are other products that are even cheaper. Or you can combine a simple USB-SATA adapter with a standard 2.5" SATA SSD drive cheaper than a high-performance flash stick to get SMART support, Trim, error-correction, performance, capacity etc. that are missing from "pen" drives.
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
I understand the personal satisfaction you may get from removing unnecessary and unwanted software, but does its presence have a negative impact on system performance? If you never launch any of the iApps and don't log on to iCloud, do you find that they still do something that ends up consuming system resources (beyond the disk blocks they physically consume, of course)?
You can open Activity Monitor and see all these things performing tasks and taking up resources, actively. You can check for open files and see many active, not dormant. The invisible and undocumented photoanalysisd is a prime example (and is reported to suck up large amounts of resources and slow down the computer). And why does Game Center have files open when you're not running it (or, rather, don't think you're running it)?

And, of course, Spotlight (with scads of "mdworkers" etc.) is notorious for sucking up huge amounts of resources and slowing down the computer.

Why is CallHistorySyncHelper running on a macOS Sierra Mac system that I never use for any kind of telephone or messaging activity? Why is there SafariBookmarksSyncAgent active, when I'm never syncing any Safari bookmarks? (Or maybe Apple is, and I just don't know it...). Mapspushd is active when I never do anything with Apple Maps?

It just goes on and on.
 


You can open Activity Monitor and see all these things performing tasks and taking up resources, actively. ... Why is there SafariBookmarksSyncAgent active, when I'm never syncing any Safari bookmarks?
This is the one that gives me trouble. With every update of Safari, this LaunchAgent gets reinstalled and then prevents my Mac Pro (Sierra) from sleeping. And, so, with every update, I have to remove that LaunchAgent.

I don't have iCloud set up. Never did. It's a mystery.
 


You can open Activity Monitor and see all these things performing tasks and taking up resources, actively. You can check for open files and see many active, not dormant. The invisible and undocumented photoanalysisd is a prime example (and is reported to suck up large amounts of resources and slow down the computer). And why does Game Center have files open when you're not running it (or, rather, don't think you're running it)?

And, of course, Spotlight (with scads of "mdworkers" etc.) is notorious for sucking up huge amounts of resources and slowing down the computer.

Why is CallHistorySyncHelper running on a macOS Sierra Mac computer that I never use for any kind of telephone or messaging activity? Why is there SafariBookmarksSyncAgent active, when I'm not ever syncing any Safari bookmarks? (Or maybe Apple is, and I don't know it...). Mapspushd is active when I never do anything with Apple Maps? It goes on and on.
It's hard to know the answers without being macOS developers or privy to Apple's source code.

But let's take the Safari Bookmarks one. You might think that agent should only run if you have Bookmark syncing turned on in iCloud. But is that all it does? Maybe it is also handling syncing of open tabs between machines. Maybe it also syncs the Reading List. Maybe it is used for Continuity. It could very well be that some version of OS X created the sync agent for a particular limited purpose but then it got extended to add more functionality.

In my opinion, the processes to be concerned about are those that are sucking up CPU time and interfering with what I'm trying to do. Processes that are running as low priority background don't count for me; they're just using extra cycles that are available.

What I tend to see on my machines is runaway CPU use by applications, typically web browsers. And, more often, the problem is network contention; it is very easy for uploads to completely saturate the network bandwidth, and then everything on the machine stalls waiting for packets.

And if you think macOS is bad, you'd really hate Windows. Right now, I've got 191 processes running on Windows. The highest CPU usage is usually in generic container processes such as "svchost.exe" (Host Process for Windows Services). Each different svchost process has within it a long list of actual services, but you can't tell which of those services is consuming the resources. Windows processes consume CPU time even if they're not doing anything -- for example, even when the machine is idle, each little notification icon consumes non-trivial CPU time, just because they exist.

Windows has a lot of known resource-blocking issues; I really think it is far worse than the macOS issues we've been discussing. For example:
  • We've been discussing slow ejects of drives. Windows has a bug where Windows will refuse to eject a drive because the "system" is using it, forever. The only way to eject the drive is to shut down the PC, or to disable the drive and reenable it.
  • When I start up Windows, it takes about 20 minutes before applications will launch. All of the affected applications are blocking on the Audio service. The audio service won't start until it scans the catalogs from the over 6,000 updates that have been applied to the PC.
  • Have you ever said, "My Mac is almost completely unresponsive because for the last two hours macOS has been checking what updates are needed"? No. But that's what happens on Windows -- the Windows update client is a real hog, and I'm sure it is exacerbated by the long previous update history. This is why people say that the best way to make Windows faster is to completely reinstall it; it's the only way to clean out the cruft.
 


Every time I’ve had a drive I could not eject, it was because Quick Preview had a hold of some file on it, whether I had done a quick preview or not. Killing that process in System Activity allowed the drive to eject normally.
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
But let's take the Safari Bookmarks one. You might think that agent should only run if you have Bookmark syncing turned on in iCloud. But is that all it does? Maybe it is also handling syncing of open tabs between machines. Maybe it also syncs the Reading List. Maybe it is used for Continuity. It could very well be that some version of OS X created the sync agent for a particular limited purpose but then it got extended to add more functionality.
So, let's take that example, then:
  • I rarely use Safari (using Firefox, instead), but I spend time configuring Safari every time it's installed or updated to turn off all the privacy/security-compromise options I can, including "Auto-Open Files After Downloading"; Apple home page default (reset on update!); AutoFill (with everything); Include Search Engine Suggestions; Enable Quick Website Search; Preload Top Hit in the Background; cookies everywhere; Microphone access; Camera access; Auto-Play; Location; Notifications; Pop-Up Windows; Save Articles for Offline Reading Automatically. Etc.
  • iCloud is Off
  • All Sharing services Off
I'm running macOS Sierra specifically to avoid a pile of other things I don't want that are part of Mojave. No Continuity, iMessage, FaceTime, etc. Zero, nada.

No Photos, no iPhoto, and Aperture is long dead and gone.

No Game Center, ever. I have to keep turning it off and going through extreme hoops to disable its daemons. (Mojave won't let me delete the app!)

Yet, behind my back and under the covers and without permission or notification, Apple is running all this stuff I don't want and don't need. I don't care nearly as much about the resource drain as I do about the privacy and security compromises involved (though various invisible processes can and do impact overall system performance negatively). No, it's not third-party apps or extensions (apart from Malwarebytes, which I've now disabled), but Apple software that's poorly written and unchecked in its silent access and analysis of customers' private data, including photos, contacts, browsing history, messages, etc.
And if you think macOS is bad, you'd really hate Windows.
Well, yeah, which is the only reason I'm not running it, since good Windows computers are half of the price of Apple equivalents and offer infinitely more flexibility, choice, standardization and third-party support.
Have you ever said, "My Mac is almost completely unresponsive because for the last two hours macOS has been checking what updates are needed"?
I know about Windows update nightmares, although my old, low-end Windows 10 Pro box hasn't given me problems, but, funny thing, Apple's security software update just last night completely failed, forcing me to find a workaround to a boot recovery mode that subsequently failed, too, in order to enter a different recovery mode, which took more steps to resolve additional problems, in order to finally, after all that, ultimately completely reinstall the operating system. How long do you think all that took?

Windows is bad in many ways (I'd never argue otherwise, though it also has its advantages), but Apple's not exactly winning people over at the moment with all its update problems, other bugs, and defects (see previous reports around macintouch.com and elsewhere).
 


I set the first two up with USB 3.0-connected SSD clones of our standardized Sierra installs, from which I removed as much of Apple's bloatware valuable included software as possible.
I understand the personal satisfaction you may get from removing unnecessary and unwanted software, but does its presence have a negative impact on system performance? If you never launch any of the iApps and don't log on to iCloud, do you find that they still do something that ends up consuming system resources
You can open Activity Monitor and see all these things performing tasks and taking up resources, actively. You can check for open files and see many active, not dormant. Photoanalysisd is a prime example. And why does Game Center have files open when you're not running it (or, rather, don't think you're running it)?
David, Ric's done a better job than I likely could answering your question, but I'll toss in my experience.

I had a 15" MacBook Pro circa 2007 (Core 2 Duo). Upgraded to 6 GB of RAM, more than Apple incorrectly said would work. Upgraded to a Crucial 500GB SATA SSD, which really helped, even though the old computer only has SATA I. (What I think the SSD brought to the game was low seek time, absence of latency, and marginal improvement in throughput over what I recall was the original 7200-RPM hard disk drive.)

I was sailing along pretty well with it as my daily driver. Then along comes an unexpected and untimely forced update to Yosemite, when Apple didn't patch any version older than OS X 10.10.3 for the rootpipe vulnerability.

Yosemite, as you may remember, was the version which started sending local Spotlight searches and users' physical location off to Apple to forward on to Bing. And it seemed notably slower than what I had been running, which was probably Mavericks

Slower led me to activate my shelved license to Little Snitch and start watching what was passing in and out of my system — a lot of Apple stuff, some not identifiable to specific programs.

This led me to research what Apple software I could delete, and how to do it. Much of Apple's software that's phoning home was then, and is still today, part of Apple's effort to link Macs to iPhones. For those of us who don't have an iPhone, it's just waste, of Internet bits, of CPU cycles, and for everyone else, possibly of their privacy.

It was satisfying to whack that stuff out of my Mac. Game Center, iBooks, Apple Maps, and more. Programs I consider useless, links to iOS I don't use, and/or front doors to Apple product sales.

I went so far as to use Terminal to remove both Spotlight and Safari. The underlying operating system kept working just fine. I used EasyFind as my Spotlight replacement. Little Snitch and Activity Monitor grew a lot quieter, and my spreadsheet work stopped showing signs of constricted RAM, so I shut off Apple's automagic "Memory Pressure" RAM swap, which was il-suited to my SATA I connection, even with an SSD as the swap target.

Unfortunately, Apple has made it ever more difficult to eliminate programs that users don't want or need from their systems. Game Center used to be an application that, with difficulty, could be removed. It's now a persistent daemon. Spotlight can no longer be removed. I'm pretty sure Catalina's promise of a dedicated "read only" System Volume, while protecting the Mac from hacks, is also likely to weld in Apple's software as effectively as RAM is soldered into Apple's laptops.

How much nicer it would be if a new Mac came with a minimal install of the OS, and users could choose whether or not they want Game Center, Face Recognition, iCloud - and install only what services are wanted, at the time they're wanted, and, of course, with the ability to remove them when they're not longer desired.
 


How much nicer it would be if a new Mac came with a minimal install of the OS, and users could choose whether or not they want Game Center, Face Recognition, iCloud - and install only what services are wanted, at the time they're wanted, and, of course, with the ability to remove them when they're not longer desired.
My pet peeves are the assumption everybody has, and uses, an iPhone and the near-infinite number of fonts that have accumulated over mlacOS versions. But I agree Macs are suffering from a bloatware plague and need a way to downsize it.

Apple seems to assume that memory is functionally infinite, so the OS can keep processes running in the background just in case they are needed to boot up quickly. It's like the old CRT televisions or monitors kept simmering but dark to give "instant on" rather than waiting briefly for the set to turn on. I wonder how much power that consumes? How much more room would I have on my 128-Gig MacBook Air if I could slim down the OS to meet my needs?
 


One of my clients has his Mojave 2017 iMac set up to share his Home folder over the LAN. There are lots of files and folders inside the usual places. When logging in from another, older Mac (2009 24" iMac running El Capitan), this client machine is literally unusable while the Finder attempts to read the contents of a folder until, many minutes later, the folder's contents display and the client Mac may be used again.

Our solution was to use CommanderOne, which can do the login and display a list view of the shared folders' contents with zero delay. We can open the file(s) as necessary over the network from within CommanderOne's interface. (Maybe Steve was right to try eliminating the Finder in early OS X builds.)
 


How much more room would I have on my 128-Gig MacBook Air if I could slim down the OS to meet my needs?
... Now that my Mac Mini has rebooted after installing the 2.64GB Mojave 10.14.6 "update", I can do some basic math using numbers from "About this Mac > Storage."

469.08 GB is available on the 499.9-GB hard drive. That's 30.82 GB, though even as I watch, the available storage reported varies slightly.

The largest amount of reported disk space is taken up by:
  • iMovie 2.69GB
  • GarageBand 1.31GB
  • Keynote 674.8MB
  • Pages 429.6 MB
  • Numbers 346.4 MB
  • iTunes 188 MB
I've installed:
  • Quicken 2007 34.7 MB
  • Logitech Options 16.3 MB
And have 2 x 200MB disk images containing much smaller Quicken test files. Trash is empty.

Activity Monitor reports 2.03 GB of the Mini's total 4 GB [of RAM] is used, with 1.21 GB of "Cached Files", which I looked up and found to be stored in RAM for ready access. With Activity Monitor the only application I started manually, the System hasn't (thankfully) used Swap to the slow hard disk drive.

Since I don't use iWork (Keynote, Pages, Numbers), don't edit audio, and don't edit video, I may remove those as well as GarageBand and iMovie, not so much to save disk space as to keep the App Store from notifying me they need updates. Leaving iTunes in place, I'd save 5.45 GB of the roughly 31 GB of my pretty-bare install of Mojave.

Where the problem shows, if there is a problem, is in the CPU tab of Activity Monitor. As Ric described, even with Activity Monitor the only "live" application, there's a bunch of background stuff running, much of which appears to be internet connected (just guessing, in the absence of Little Snitch).

Yes, Little Snitch and similar programs block those processes from connecting to the Internet, but they don't block the processes from running and slowing down your system. Saving that RAM and CPU use isn't so important on my basic Mac Mini that's just idling, but based on my experience with my 6GB MacBook Pro, it starts to matter as applications and data are loaded into limited RAM.

Apple is layering on these applications and services both because Apple managment must view them as value-adds that appeal to customers, and, of course because Apple is ever more about selling recurring services for which both iOS and macOS are gateways. It might be possible to run a core macOS in as few as 4 GB, but not compatibly with Apple's sales goals.
 


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