Do you remember the days when your Mac was brand new and lightning-fast? Wish there was a way you could turn back time? Well, time travel is a bit beyond us at the moment, but there is a way you can get your Mac running like it was box-fresh again.
I’m talking about deep cleaning all the junk and other stuff that builds up over the weeks and months on your system. It can be a tiresome and annoying chore, but it has to be done. There are a couple of ways you can go about this – do it manually, or use a dedicated Mac cleaning app like CleanMyMac.
First, let’s take a look at some of the things you can do yourself if you have the time (and the inclination!) to clean your Mac manually.
Declutter Your Desktop
It’s so easy just to store files on the Desktop, but after a while, it becomes a cluttered mess which makes it hard to find anything. It also slows things down on your Mac, so you’ll need to go through these files and see what you want to file away, and what you can delete.
If you have a lot of files on your Desktop, you may find it easier to view it in the Finder sidebar. You can choose to see the List view which makes it simple to sort by file size or date added. Sort them out into other folders or trash them so that you have a clean and clear Desktop and more space.
Zap Big, Unwanted Files
Your macOS has a feature to help you optimize your storage. It can help you track down big, unnecessary files like software installers and it can also automatically remove iTunes movies and shows once you’re done watching them.
Optimized Storage offers you several ways to clean up files you don’t need, such as getting rid of older email attachments when more space is needed. You can also use the Reduce Clutter option to sort out your documents and other content.
Dive Into Downloads
If you’re anything like me, your Downloads folder is probably as messy as your Desktop! Downloads is often the home of files you don’t really need, like PDFs, email attachments, software installers, etc. Sort them out by List View, or by date, and check before you delete that you don’t need those files. Yes, it takes time to check, but better safe than sorry. Next, look for files ending in .dmg – these are disk images from software downloads and can be deleted safely unless you wish to reinstall the software they came with.
Purge Your Caches
Cache files are those that you’ve downloaded with apps and your web browser in case you need to view them again. Caches make browsing faster on sites you regularly visit, but they build up over time and suck up a lot of space on your Mac.
You can go through and manually remove folders from your User Cache. To do this, open a Finder window and choose Go to Folder in the Go menu. Type in ~/Library/Caches and press enter.
To be on the safe side, highlight and copy everything in the folder to a different one just in case something goes wrong (hopefully it won’t!) Look in each of the folders and clean out everything. Don’t forget to empty out your Trash folder after cleaning, and restart your Mac.
Streamline Your Login Items
Login items are apps that run automatically when you start your Mac, and lots of apps try to get into your Login Items so they can be prominent and in-your-face. Not all of these items appear in the Dock, and you may not even know that some of them are there. These Login Items all use memory, so you should take a look and get rid of any that you don’t need.
Open System Preferences, and go to Users & Groups. Choose your nickname, and choose the Login Items tab. Click the checkbox for any startup programs you want to remove, and click the “-” sign below the list.
Use the CleanMyMac App Instead
If that all sounds like a great idea but you don’t have the time or are unsure about what to do, then a Mac cleaning app can do all these jobs for you (and more) quickly and safely. There are different Mac cleaning apps around, so you’ll have to decide which one will work best for you, but I find that CleanMyMac X is easy to use and does lots more than just clean my Mac – it offers system optimization, malware protection, and updates my apps automatically.
You can download a limited version of CleanMyMac X for free here. This will give you an idea of what the app can do before you decide if you want to buy it. To install, find the DMG file in your Downloads folder and open it. Drag and drop CleanMyMac X to your Applications, and launch it.
If you do go ahead and buy the full version, then run a Smart Scan first. This scan will find all the junk hidden away in the darkest corners of your macOS, and will also look at ways to optimize your Mac for speed and offer to fix any maintenance issues.
You’ll probably be surprised by how much space the Smart Scan tells you can be freed up – I was, the first time I ran it. It also searches for any malware that may be lurking so you can take action. The maintenance jobs I mentioned above can be done with CleanMyMac X in a fraction of the time it would take to do them manually, and the app won’t let you delete anything that is important to keep your Mac running properly.
What Else Can it Do?
CleanMyMac X has tabs for different tasks if you don’t want to do a full Smart Scan, or if you want to use a different feature:
The Cleanup category will help you get rid of System Junk, Photo Junk, Mail Attachments, iTunes Junk, and will empty the Trash Bins properly.
Protection includes Malware Removal and Privacy options, while the Speed category includes Optimization and Maintenance. Applications contain the Uninstaller and Updater, and Files will help you find Large & Old Files, or safely shred your documents with the Shredder.
So, I hope you’ve found these tips for cleaning up your Mac helpful! Don’t forget to regularly go through your Desktop, Cache, Downloads, large files, and Login Items to find and remove unwanted files, etc. so your Mac stays clean and running smoothly. Or you can save time by using a Mac cleaning app like CleanMyMac X to do it for you while you get on with something else.