Before you start working today, check out your Mac’s System Information first. Just do it, because it’s pretty important, especially if you want to keep your computer primed and ready to help you perform your everyday tasks. Though the information listed might be hard to understand, you will need it in case you have to troubleshoot something with a dedicated support agent or have an expert patch up your computer.
Accessing and using System Information
If you’re using an aged Mac running the old – yet awesome – OS X 10.6.8 Snow Leopard, System Information is referred to as System Profiler. Its name changed after OS X 10.7 Lion. There are a few differences in the app between Snow Leopard, Lion, Mountain Lion, Mavericks, Yosemite, and El Capitan, but regardless, it will still show the data you need.
Here’s how to access System Information along with the most important tabs and sections you need to check out.
First, click on the Apple Menu then go to About This Mac.
Each operating system shows different data on the About This Mac panel. Regardless, it shows vital information about your Mac, from its model name, serial number, the amount of RAM and the processor it is equipped with to its build number. The image above was taken from the a MacBook running OS X Yosemite. Meanwhile, this one comes from a computer running the old OS X Snow Leopard:
Here’s where things are a bit different – clicking on the More Info… button on the About This Mac panel in the OS X Snow Leopard will lead you straight to the System Profiler. In Yosemite and El Capitan, clicking System Report… will automatically open the System Information app.
Once the System Information app (for the sake of clarity, let’s refer to it as System Information only, even in the older OS X versions) is open, you will be greeted with this:
Note that this is the System Information/Profiler interface for an older MacBook which runs OS X 10.6.8. As for Yosemite and El Capitan, this is what shows up:
Take note that you can also access this through Spotlight.
System Information provides comprehensive pieces of data you need to check out first before selling your Mac or upgrading it’s RAM or operating system – since buyers will ask likely ask you to provide some of the info displayed above. This is also important especially if you’re looking to buy a heavy duty app from the Mac App Store. System Information will tell if your Mac is able to support the app you’re about to purchase. Pay particular attention to the following (shown in the two examples):
- Model Name – MacBook and MacBook Pro
- Model Identifier – MacBook 4,1 and MacBook 10,1
- Serial Number
- Memory (RAM) – 4 gigabytes and 16 GB
These specs will show if your Mac is still supported by Apple (MacBook 4,1 can no longer be updated) and if the RAM is powerful enough to run certain apps and programs.
Tabs you should pay attention to
Note that there are dozens of tabs in System Information. Fortunately, you don’t need to check each one, though you have to pay particular attention to several areas. These include:
In this example, you can see that the battery is dead.
This tab tells you if you need to replace your battery (shown in the Health Information) and how many charge cycles it reached (for example, if you charged up to 78% one day and used your laptop the following day and charged collectively up to 122%, you’ve reached two charge cycles – a 0%-100% charging session = one cycle).
You would be surprised at the staggering amount of applications installed on your Mac (I know I was). Though this section is mainly for gathering information about your apps, it comes in handy if there are suspected program bugs (especially kernel extensions) which are slowing the Mac down.
In newer OS X versions, the tab is aptly named Storage instead of Serial-ATA. Basically, this tab shows your hard disk’s capacity, model, and other pieces of information. Just below the Macintosh HD area, you will see the overall capacity and the available storage it has left.
Why do you need to check it out?
Specifically, there are several reasons why you may need to check the System Information. Here are some of which.
In case you need to check and upgrade your RAM
Mac computers are arguably among the fastest out there, but unfortunately, there will come a time when you will be forced to upgrade and you can do so by replacing its RAM. Apple is known for not giving its consumers a free hand in customizing their products, but fortunately, it welcomes Mac users to change or upgrade their RAM. They even provided guides for both the iMac and MacBook Pro.
Given that the System Information shows your Mac’s RAM, you will be able to determine if you are in dire need of an upgrade. However, we’re sure you won’t need one if you own a later iMac or MacBook – they are either armed with eight or 16 gigabytes of RAM, more than enough to power the bulkiest applications, like games and multimedia editors.
Reference in case you need to troubleshoot
In case you need to fix something in your Mac, including some bugs and other hardware issues, System Information comes in handy. It will help you detect and tell the wrong things that are happening with your Mac. Just in case you’re on the phone with a troubleshooter, you will need to have it opened as well – the troubleshooter may ask questions and the answers may lie in its numerous tabs.
Overall, the System Information app is the best way to get to know your Mac better. After all, your computer is your partner – and at times, the reason why you have completed most of your tasks. It’s also a great time waster: if you have encountered it for the first time, you might spend an hour or two fiddling around the tabs and reading and learning more about the internal workings and hardware of your Mac.