A few years back you dropped significant cash to switch over from the virus-laden world of Windows to a shiny new Mac, but over time it’s gotten slow and crufty. Let’s clean it up.
Before you get started uninstalling this and deleting that, do yourself a favour: hook up an external drive to your Mac and back everything up with Time Machine (or any other free alternative). The last thing you want is for your “clean up” to turn into “holy crap where did all my Documents go.”
Ready? Let’s get started.
Find the CPU and Memory Hogs in the Activity Monitor
Clean Up Your Startup
Uninstall Unneeded Apps (and Related Files)
Just like your Login Items, you want to cruise through your Applications folder and trash anything you don’t need or use any more. To be clear, this won’t speed up your Mac, but it will reclaim hard drive space.
Before you get to dragging and dropping unneeded applications to the trash, though, it’s a good idea to install a, well, uninstaller program. Strangely Apple still hasn’t shipped a proper uninstaller with Mac OS X, but a few free and pay-for apps will clear out related files when you send an application to the Trash. While the irony of having to install something in order to uninstall something isn’t lost on us, keep in mind: your Mac will be fine if an extra plist file gets left behind by an app you once used.
Personally I prefer Hazel, which will set you back $US22 for a licence—however, in addition to clearing away application files on uninstall, Hazel can make your Mac self-cleaning, too, which makes it worth the cost.
Do Some Maintenance
Reclaim Hard Drive Space
To get down to the unneeded-megabyte level, Macworld has some detailed advice for where to find redundant system files and Dashboard widgets. You can also reclaim space taken up by unneeded language files using the free Monolingual.
Care for and Troubleshoot Your Battery
If you’ve got a Mac notebook and you’re having trouble with your battery, a few troubleshooting techniques might help. First, to get the longest life out of your battery, calibrate it to make sure your life-o-meter is giving you the right readings.
If your Mac’s battery is cutting out before issuing the “You’re running out of power” warning, you want to reset the SMC or PMU, which cleared up that very problem on my MacBook.
Finally, some problems can be resolved by resetting your Mac’s PRAM and NVRAM—but this is generally a last-resort just-short-of-the-Genius-Bar troubleshooting technique for that inexplicable problem your Mac’s having.
Beef Up Your Memory and Get the Latest System Updates
Got any tales of victory or defeat when it comes to cleaning up and speeding up your Mac? Tell ’em in the comments.
Gina Trapani, Lifehacker’s founding editor, has a MacBook Pro that’s a bit snappier today than it was yesterday. Her feature Smarterware appears every Wednesday on Lifehacker.