Monday, November 5, 2007

How Green is your Mac?

There’s a lot of talk about going green these days, even from Mr. Jobs himself, so I thought I’d show you a few easy ways to cut down on the amount of energy your Mac uses. These steps can easily be followed by any Mac user; in fact, the same concepts can be applied to PCs running Microsoft Windows. These tips will not only save you electricity and paper, but also could help your computer last longer.

Screen Savings

First go to the “Energy Saver” section of System Preferences. In the second drop down box you can simply choose “Better Energy Savings” and the sliders below will shift to be more conservative about how your computer uses resources.

Your display will turn off after 5 minutes, so it shouldn’t interfere with your work, but will also start saving energy soon after you walk away. Also, the actual computer itself doesn’t doze off for another 5 minutes, so a quick flick of the mouse and the computer is instantly wide awake within a full 10 minutes of inactivity. Another point to note is that you should put your hard disk(s) to sleep when possible (check that little box on the bottom). Not only will this save energy, but it will also help your hard drive last longer. One caveat though, is that if you often come back to your computer soon after the HD shuts down, this could actually have an adverse affect when it it started and stopped frequently.

One disadvantage to this plan is illustrated by the bright yellow “!” caution symbol; you won’t have any time to display a fancy screen saver in the 5 minutes you leave your screen on. If you really like your screen saver, you could have it go for the 5 minutes before your whole computer goes to sleep, but the display is a big electricity hog, so have it turned off as soon as possible.

Unlimited Paper in a Paperless World

Have you ever printed a several-page document and thought about all the extra paper wasted? One good way to save paper is by choosing a smaller font, to minimize the number of pages needed. Also, you can choose to print in black and white, or lower the ink volume to conserve your pricey ink cartridges.

General Tips

* Turn off your Mac if you’re not using it for a few days
* Always recycle your electronics
* Don’t turn your Mac on and off every night, this wastes more energy than having it sleep for those hours
* Turn off Bluetooth and WiFi if you aren’t using them. This goes a long way in getting better battery life as well
* Email rather than Fax