However, there are strategies and built-in OS tools that help streamline the process. If you're doing things the manual way, removing unnecessary apps can be an efficient way to start clearing up hard drive space on your Mac. Unlike Windows machines, Macs don't have a built-in "Uninstall" function that removes associated files along with core app files.
When you're removing apps via the Finder, check through the app folders to see if there is an associated Uninstaller feature. If there is one, use it. Following the Uninstaller's instructions will probably remove the app as thoroughly as possible. If there's no uninstaller, just click and drag the application to the Trash.
Once you empty the Trash, the app becomes permanently deleted. With the drag-to-trash method, there is a chance that some of the app's accessory files cache or other data may not be deleted. For the most part, these files are nothing to worry about — they are often small and hidden in a system folder you'll never notice.
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But they can add up, and since they serve no purpose, you may prefer eliminating them. Different apps store data in different ways, so there is no one-size-fits all manual solution. The first option is "Store in iCloud", but unless you have a rock-solid understanding of the way your iCloud works or you've already made up your mind to purchase additional iCloud storage space we suggest avoiding this option. It frees up space on your local device, but you only get up to 5 GB of free storage in the iCloud.
It's very easy to fill it up with photos, music and more, especially if you have more than one Apple device. Apple would just love for you to purchase more, but there are other options that won't cost you. The next option, "Optimize Storage", deals with iTunes video content.
There's also an "Empty Trash Automatically" setting, which removes items from the Trash read: permanently deletes them once they hit the day mark. This mild convenience is up to user preference: I prefer to give my files a personal once-over before I bid them a permanent farewell.
Lastly, you'll see the "Reduce Clutter" option with a "Review Files" button. When you review files, you'll see a file browser that looks a lot like the Finder, but with a more helpful view for purging purposes. It searches and displays relevant files from all your folders, not just one folder at a time. There are tabs for Large Files, Downloads, and a File Browser, so you can jump right to the relevant category. Deleting unnecessary large files is an efficient way to make space, and the Downloads folder is a common catch-all for irrelevant files like installers and temporary items.
Move any documents you want to keep, then empty the folder.
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Duplicate files are a common issue. Unfortunately, there aren't too many free alternatives to the old-fashioned way: Keeping your eyes peeled as you weed them out one by one. These space-demanding apps have their own in-app content and trash cans. If you're doing a major cleanup, don't forget to address these content libraries. Don't forget that your files and folders are not truly deleted — and won't free up any space — until you empty the Trash.
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If you're maxing out your internal storage, a few bouts of focused deletion only go so far. Move your files to the cloud or an external storage device, or you'll keep facing the same problem. Old work or school projects and photo collections are prime candidates for off-device storage. If you're used to Windows machines and their built-in defragmentation tools, don't fret that they're missing from your Mac. Macs and PCs store files differently, and defragmentation is generally a non-issue in the Apple ecosystem.
Specifically, you can run the First Aid feature, which can repair certain disk problems. Generally, if there's something wrong with a disk, you'll know it: Corrupt files, the computer won't start, apps quit unexpectedly, or external devices don't work. But it's a quick and harmless practice to check on your drives as part of routine maintenance. Open Disk Utility, and select the drive you'd like to check the one that includes your operating system is usually called Macintosh HD.
Then click the "First Aid" button at the top of the window. Follow the prompts to run a scan and repair any found issues. Unlike hard disk maintenance, adding RAM memory to your machine can make striking, immediate improvements in your computer's performance. That's because RAM handles all of your device's active functions. You're giving RAM a real workout. In general, more RAM is better.
Instructions for adding RAM depend on the model of your machine assuming you have a model where it's possible — none of Apple's recent MacBooks support upgrading RAM , but you may be pleasantly surprised at their simplicity. On a newer iMac, for instance, swapping out RAM is comparable to opening a trap door and plugging in a couple of disks. If you're considering this, the first step is to check the amount of RAM in your computer and see if it's capable of holding more. This window tells you how much RAM you have, and how much your machine is capable of holding.
The Activity Monitor is a built-in utility that displays how much of your Mac's resources are in use at the present moment. Once it's open, click the Memory tab at the top to assess your RAM needs. Don't be intimidated by the confusing list of file processes. Your main concern is the box at the bottom of the window which gives a "Memory Pressure" visual and lists how much of your memory is in use at the present. To most accurately assess your needs, view the Activity Monitor during your typical workflow.
If you're a graphic designer, for example, check the Memory Pressure while you're using heavy-duty apps like the Adobe Suite. A real-time look at RAM usage while you're just surfing the web won't tell you enough about your more demanding needs. You'll find specifications for purchasing RAM, instructions for adding it yourself, and model-specific precautions. Why not wind up your cleaning and maintenance efforts by organizing your desktop and cleaning up the outside?
A cluttered desktop on your computer is just like a cluttered desktop in real life: It counteracts productivity by distracting you, obscuring important info, and feeling generally un-zen-like. Deleting old screenshots and working files from your desktop probably won't make a dramatic difference on your hard drive, but it will feel a lot better.
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As far as cleaning the external parts of the machine, you don't need to do it, but the attention to detail enhances the overall package. After all, you didn't likely choose an Apple PC just because of its inner beauty. It also helps keep your hardware in good condition. When you clean a Mac, unplug it and allow it to cool off first. Never spray anything directly on it especially the display and make sure to keep moisture away from all openings.
A wipe down with a soft, clean, lint-free cloth like the chamois cloth that arrives in the box is effective for removing dust and debris from the display. For years, Mac computers did not come with utilities like Disk Cleanup and the newer Storage Sense found in Windows, but Apple added new tools in with the release of its macOS Sierra system.
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Click the Manage button on the right side of the box to get started. While this does free up room on the computer, you may have to buy more iCloud storage space from Apple if you fill up your five gigabytes that come free with an iCloud account. Enabling the Optimize Storage feature dumps iTunes videos you have already watched, but you can download them again later.
In macOS Sierra and later, the system also automatically dumps duplicate Safari downloads, cache files, logs and other unneeded files. Using the Reduce Clutter feature is another way to find big files hogging drive space and remove them. Click the X next to each file to delete it.