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How to Clean up a Mac

There is plenty of debate amongst techies as to how to clean up a Mac. Many say that Macs essentially “clean themselves” – with discs that automatically defragment and cache files that users don’t need to worry about.

I don’t really agree. I admit that I come from a Windows background where running Disc Cleanups and Defrags were routine activities. While these utilities don’t have the same importance in a Mac OS X environment, I still think it’s good practice to stick to a regular maintenance regime. A bit of TLC will go a long way to keeping your Mac running well.

So, I’m going to tell you how to clean up a Mac the way that I do it. As with anything remotely technical, it’s wise to take a backup before a clean up operation.

1. Remove Unnecessary Programs

If you’re anything like me, you’ll often try out new programs and downloads. Once every few months, it’s worth having a good look at your Mac and getting rid of those you don’t need any more.

Removing programs is really easy under OS X – you just find them in the Applications folder and drag them to the trash.

Clean up a mac - drag unwanted apps to the trash

Clean up a mac – drag unwanted apps to the trash

2. Run Software Update

Various programs (and the OS X operating system,) all download updates for themselves over the Internet, but it’s easy to get into the habit of clicking “not now” when the updates try to install.

Once in a while, it’s good to make sure everything is up to date. All you need to do is click on the Apple menu and select “Software Update.” Follow the prompts and wait until everything is installed. You’ll probably have to restart your Mac.

Run software update

Run software update

3. Clear the Desktop and the Trash

If you clutter your Mac’s desktop with files, make sure you have a frequent tidy up. If you don’t need files any more, stick them in the trash. If you need to keep things, drag them into organised folders.

Once you reach this stage, there’s probably plenty of files and old applications in the trash – so click in there and empty it.

4. Run MacKeeper

I use a utility called MacKeeper to clear up temporary and unnecessary files on my Mac. If I use it every few months, its “Fast Cleanup” mode typically frees up at least 1GB of extra disc space. I wrote a full review of this product some time ago.


5. Restart and Backup

Once you’ve finished your cleanup, restart your Mac and run a fresh backup. Hopefully, by this stage, you’ll notice your Mac is slightly more snappy and responsive than before.

So there you have it: how to clean up a Mac. If you have any questions, leave them in the comments section below.

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Windows to Mac
The tale of a writer and IT consultant's move from Microsoft Windows to Apple Mac. Essential reading for anyone choosing a new computer or comparing Windows and OS X.
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