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Tip #5: Use Software Update

While defragmentation may be a bit of red herring when it comes to improving performance and stability, running Software Update periodically certainly isn't. As well as improving performance, software updates often fix potential security problems, so it's worth installing them as soon as they're available. You can find Software Update under the Apple Menu, and launching it immediately connects your Mac to the Apple web site where it checks for updates and bug fixes. You can also set Software Update to run automatically at periodic intervals via its pane in the System Preferences. Either way, it's a good idea to run Software Update once every couple of weeks.

As well as simply allowing Software Update to download and patch software as it sees fit, you can also use Software Update to download the updater files (under the Update menu) instead. These can be copied to another volume, such as a CD, and this can then be used to patch any Macs lacking a fast connection to the Internet.

It's worth noting that while Software Update checks for OS X updates plus the various Apple programs such as iMovie and Keynote, it doesn't check your third party applications. Some applications have built-in tools for checking for updates. In the case of Microsoft Word, for example, it's under the Help menu.

Figure 5

Figure 5 Keeping software current is one of the most useful ways to improve performance and reliability.

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