Can you remember the day you opened up your brand new Mac computer or laptop? It was an exciting day, and the days following it were filled with getting all sorts of work done at lightning speeds. Oh, those truly were the glory days; they were filled with quick uploads, fast downloads, and all sorts of programs open at once — all functioning with perfection. Fast-forward a few years, and it’s likely that your days of carelessly downloading images and content have culminated in a log-jam in your system, including the dreaded spinning color wheel! Chances are, your Mac is still in great shape — it just needs a little T.L.C. Keep reading to find out how to optimize your Mac so that it runs like new again.
- Find Out How Much Storage is On Your Hard Drive
First, let’s find out how much storage is available — and where storage is currently allocated — on your internal hard drive. You can do that by left of right clicking the Apple icon on the upper left corner of your monitor and clicking “About This Mac.” Next, select the “Storage” tab. The resulting details will include how many gigabytes are available on your system, including a color-coded breakdown of where a majority of your computer’s storage lies. This screen is great because it lets you know exactly where you might need to do some cleaning up and deleting of files. From this screen, you can also select “Manage” to set-up a few ways to make sure that your Mac doesn’t get too bogged down in the future.
Keep in mind that the less storage you have left, the slower your system is likely to run. For best practices, try to free up and keep more than 15% of your storage free.
- Transfer Files to an External Hard Drive
Before you start deleting any files, however, be sure to back everything up on an external hard drive. That way, if you accidentally delete something important, you can recover it easily. This is also a great way to store files and images that you want to keep, but don’t use regularly. Using this method helps keep your Mac’s hard drive clean and running in tip-top shape.
- Delete Unnecessary Files
Now that you’ve backed up your Mac, it’s time to start deleting old, unnecessary files. Start with the area that the storage screen (from step one) showed to hold most of your memory. One of the easiest ways to do this is to open your Finder icon (the little blue and white face icon at the bottom strip of your monitor). Select the appropriate sections — from desktop, documents, and downloads — and start moving your files to the trash (drag and drop files in the trash can or simply right click and select “Move to Trash.” Note: If you upload images from your camera via iPhoto, you’ll need to delete images in there.
- Empty the Trash
Files aren’t permanently deleted from your Mac until you empty the trash can. This is nice if you accidentally move a file or image to the trash (simply restore it by right-clicking and selecting “Put Back”), but it can also mean that all of your hard work cleaning up your Mac isn’t really complete. To finish the job of optimizing your Mac’s storage, simply click the trash can and select “Empty” in the top right corner. You will then be prompted to ok if you wish to permanently delete these files. After you select “yes,” you are done cleaning up your Mac.
Optimizing and cleaning up your Mac is a lot like cleaning anything in your life — a little labor intensive, but truly simple. And, once you get past the major deep clean, all that is really required is consistent maintenance to make sure your system isn’t holding junk it doesn’t need. If you’ve tried these steps and your Mac is still lagging, stay tuned for more on optimizing your Mac.
(P.S. Try to avoid installing third party so-called Mac cleaning utilities such as MacKeeper and Clean My Mac. They may do more harm than good.)