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7 Tips to Spring Clean Your Mac (The Digital Way)

Tips • Updated on Apr 20, 2022

That’s right. It’s Spring, which means Spring Cleaning.

Besides cleaning out your house, spring is also as good a time as any to clean up your Mac computer.

Having a nice and clean Mac means to make your computer faster, more efficient, and more reliable for all the work. And we feel better.

Read on for the easy ways to give your Mac a deep digital clean, including tidying up the apps you don’t use, junk files that are taking up room, and more. Here’s how to get started.

1. Organize your cluttered desktop

Lots of saved items on your desktop? There’s an easy way to straighten things up. Just right-click your Mac’s desktop, then select “Clean up” from the pop-up menu. Doing so will arrange all your desktop icons in a nice, neat grid. You’ll also notice the benefits the next time you need to open something quickly. Cleaning the desktop not only helps you with organization, it can actually help your Mac’ performance.

For the same reason, it’s a good idea to spend a few minutes clearing up the desktop dock.

You can yank seldom-used icons out of the dock by dragging them out with your mouse. Doing so won’t delete the app, only its dock icon, and by paring down the number of icons in the dock, you’ll be making the dock itself that much more useful.

If you would like some tools for organize the desktop, check out the guide: Top Mac Apps to Clean & Organize Your Desktop

2. Do basic clean with “Optimize Storage”

If you’re using macOS Sierra or later, it has a feature that will help tremendously with your basic cleaning: Optimize Storage.

You can use Optimize Storage to activate the Store in iCloud option, remove iTunes videos you’ve watched (they can be re-downloaded), set it to empty the Trash automatically, reduce clutter caused by large files and downloads, and a lot more.

Optimize Storage is especially handy if you’re using a Mac laptop with flash storage. You usually don’t get the same amount of space as you would with a hard drive, so managing your space becomes more important.

3. Give your Mac deep clean

Even if you use the above Optimize Storage feature, junk files will still build up: files you’ve created and forgotten about, temporary files created by the operating system, files that haven’t been properly cleared away by your applications, and so on.

There’s not much you can do to stop this from happening, but you can stay on top of the mess with a deep clear-out.

Unless you really know your way around Windows or macOS, it’s a good idea to start with checking drive space and get assistance from a third-party program for this. CleanMyMac X has long been one of the best Mac cleaner software options in this department.

This handy utility can definitely clean up your Mac’s system, such as getting rid of email attachments and big & old files, keeping it free of clutter.

4. Purge your least-used apps

What’s the harm in leaving unused applications on your computer? Not only do these programs take up precious storage space, they also make your operating system work harder.

So it’s well worth identifying the programs you no longer need and uninstalling them -they can always be reinstalled later if you change your mind.

When you Trash an app, the aforementioned CleanMyMac is worth using, that it does a good job of clearing out apps that you don’t really need.

If you use macOS Sierra or higher, you can also remove apps through the above Optimize Storage feature. In the Apple menu, select About This Mac. Select Storage and click on the Manage button. In the left section, select Applications. The main section of the window will show a list of your applications. Select the app you want to remove, and then click on the X button to remove it.

A note to this method: Only apps downloaded from the App Store will have all its components removed. If you got an app outside of the App Store and use this method to uninstall it, all the components may not be removed. So it’s better to use a third-party Mac cleaning program to thoroughly clean.

5. Get rid of duplicate files

Most of the above Mac cleanup tips discuss individual files, files that are only on your Mac in one location. But you may also have duplicates, in a number of locations. If any of those duplicate files are large, then you may be wasting a lot of disk space.

You can use Finder to locate duplicates, the process is rather slow because you need to manually decide which ones to keep and which to delete, but with just a little time and patience you can locate most duplicate items.

Another option is, of course, third-party duplicate clean tools, which are intelligent apps that have much more comprehensive features and allow you to filter multiple identical files have different filenames.

6. Change your desktop wallpaper

How long have you been staring at the same wallpaper on your Mac? In my case, way too long. Make a change by right-clicking the desktop, then select Change Desktop Background.

You can choose from dozens of images in the Desktop Pictures folder, or pick one of your own snapshots from the Photos section, or even get a Mac wallpaper app like Wallpaper Wizard 2 with high quality HD wallpapers and backgrounds.

If you like, you can also set your desktop wallpaper to change itself every day, once an hour, or even every five minutes.

7. Backup your data

Besides backup your data with Apple’s own Time Machine backup utility, a whole host of other backup programs or online cloud services, including Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive, and iCloud will store your files on the web and give you the option to keep or delete your local copies.

This is a handy way of freeing up some hard disk space and lightening the load on your OS at the same time. Just be sure you are keeping the online versions and not deleting both the local and cloud-based copies of your files at the same time — each service has instructions on how to do this.

If you need more, we also have a Mac backup guide to help you get started.

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Cleaning out your Mac can take a bit of time, but you know that great feeling you get when you’re finished 🙂

It’s that time of the year — clean up your Mac today.

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