It’s that time of year again – time for spring cleaning. But spring cleaning isn’t just for your house. It can also refresh and revive a slow, sluggish Mac that’s clogged with old programs and files you’re no longer using or never used. If you’re running out of space on your Mac’s hard drive or you’re seeing that spinning beach ball more often than you’d like, you’ll be surprised at how much you can improve your Mac’s performance without spending a penny. All you have to do is follow these five steps.
1) Update Your macOS
If you haven’t updated your macOS in a while, it’s no wonder your Mac is running slow. Go to the App Store, click on the Updates tab, and then install any macOS updates. Check for updates even if you’re sure your macOS is up-to-date. Updates can also include patches, security updates, and other performance updates for the macOS you’re currently running.
If you’re running an older macOS, you may want to consider upgrading to a newer one. MacOS upgrades are free, and you can probably upgrade to Mavericks, El Capitan, Yosemite, or Sierra. Even if you’re not running the very newest macOS, you should at least be running the latest version of the one you have.
2) Clear Out Old, Unused Apps
Over the years, tons of stuff can accumulate on your Mac’s hard drive or solid state drive (SSD). When you start running low on storage space, or your Mac’s performance starts to suffer, it’s time to ditch those old apps you’re not using anymore.
Navigate to your Applications folder, and sort the apps therein by size, so you can see the largest, most space-hogging, apps at the top of the list. Large apps you never use should be the first on the chopping block. Never made an iMovie? Delete it. Stopped using Garageband when you graduated from college? Time to say goodbye.
It can be hard to get rid of apps, even ones you haven’t used in months or years, but don’t worry. You can reinstall apps from the App Store at any time. If it’s a third-party app, make sure you have the license key somewhere so you can reinstall it if you need it again in the future.
Of course, you don’t want to delete apps from your Mac simply by dragging them into the Trash folder. Why not? Doing this can leave associated orphan files randomly scattered across your system. The best way to get rid of old apps is to use a Mac cleaner app. Such an app will delete all files associated with the program you’re trying to delete.
3) Tidy Up Your Storage Space
A Mac cleaner can also help you tidy up your Mac’s storage space, which is something you’ll still have to do after you’ve deleted unused apps, especially if you have limited storage space on your Mac. A good Mac cleaner, like Dr. Cleaner, will analyze your hard disk or SSD space and show you files based on type. This can let you clear out any large, unused files or weird old files you don’t need. Hunt down those huge video files you only needed once, and any large files you no longer need.
Next, you’ll need to optimize your system by removing cache files, logs, temporary files, and other random junk. A Mac cleaner app works great for this, too.
4) Empty Downloads and Mail Downloads
Every time you download a file in your browser, it gets saved to the Downloads folder on your Mac, so if you haven’t cleared this out in a while, it could be hogging a huge chunk of your hard drive space. Use Finder to navigate to username/Download and move any downloaded files you don’t need into the trash. Consider saving the ones you want to keep somewhere else.
If you use Apple Mail, email attachments could also be clogging up your hard drive or SSD in the Mail Downloads folder. Press Command+Space to open up Spotlight, then type in Mail Downloads and click Enter on the folder that comes up. Here, you could find hundreds of attachments Apple Mail has helpfully downloaded for you over the years. You can trash every single one of them, safe in the knowledge that they will be retained on your email server (as long as you’re not using a POP server, that is).
5) Reduce Login Items
Slow start-ups are usually the result of a single culprit – too many login items. If your Mac is trying to start up 25 apps on login, of course it’s going to take a long time to boot up. Go to System Preferences>Users & Groups>Login Items, and remove anything that doesn’t need to be launched when you start up your Mac.
If your Mac has been running slow, don’t run out to the Apple Store just yet – spring clean your Mac to restore performance and speed it up. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at how easy it is to rev up your sluggish Mac, and return it to the level of performance it displayed when it was new.