How to clean up a Mac

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When you buy a new Mac, storage capacity is one of the important factors that come into consideration. Most Mac models now ship with SSDs instead of hard disk drives, which are quite pricey. Users often prefer SSDs for the performance factor. But due to budget limitations, they often end up buying 256 GB, or even 128 GB variants, which is quite below the standard storage capacity these days.

To get the best out of your Mac’s storage, regular cleanups are an absolute necessity. Macs accumulate several gigabytes of junk over time. And if you know where to look, you can free up a lot of space without losing any of your precious data. Apart from disk cleanup, other maintenance tasks such as RAM cleanup, duplicate file removal, preferences management, etc., help to keep your Mac healthy over the long term.

Clean up Mac: Clean up junk from Mac OS X

In this article, we’ll consider a few third party apps that help clean and maintain your Mac.

CleanMyMac

CleanMyMac is a one-stop solution for your Mac’s maintenance. Its system cleanup options find out and eliminate junk from the deepest sectors of your Mac’s hard drive. The maintenance features offered by the app ensure that your Mac performs at its best. CleanMyMac also helps you monitor your Mac’s health, providing you suitable alerts for heavy memory use, low SSD life, high disk temperature, battery health, unresponsive programs and even more. You can view information on disk, processor and memory usage at a glance and even free up RAM at the click of a button.

Smart Cleanup

CleanMyMac automatically scans your system and helps remove the following types of junk:

System Junk: This includes cache files, logs, temporary files and other leftover files that are no longer being used by the system. System Junk may also include unused app binaries and localizations that do not affect app functionality, or broken items that result in errors and conflict with the smooth functioning of your Mac. Removing System Junk can help boost the performance of your Mac and also reclaim free space.

iPhoto Junk: Whenever you edit photos using iPhoto or Photos app, it creates a duplicate copy of the original photos and keeps them hidden within the Photos library. CleanMyMac helps you reclaim space by removing those duplicates, without affecting your current library. If you aren’t sure, you can even compare the original and the modified versions of your photos before removing the original copy.

Mail Attachments: Attachments in emails are often downloaded for one time use. But once they are downloaded (using the Mail app), they get saved on your Mac and remain there occupying precious disk space. Sure, you can manually clean them out individually, but it would take hours to browse through your mailbox searching for attachments and deleting them. CleanMyMac automatically does that for you.

iTunes Junk: iTunes is lot more than a typical music management app. It helps you keep iOS backups, install iOS software updates and download media from the iTunes Store. Over time, the app accumulates junk on your Mac in the form of old iOS device and app backups, old software updates, broken downloads and more. CleanMyMac deletes unwanted iTunes extras and lets you choose old backups and iOS software updates for removal, helping you reclaim space on your Mac.

Trash: OS X maintains different Trash bins for different apps and storage devices. Every time you move an item to Trash, it gets stored within the device or app specific Trash folder, and not actually deleted. CleanMyMac finds all the different Trash bins — external drive Trash, Mail Trash, iPhoto Trash, etc., — and empties them at the click of a button.

Large and old files: This does not fall under the category of junk per se, but there might be files on your Mac that you have completely forgotten about, which are occupying valuable space on your hard drive. CleanMyMac scans your Mac to find out such files and helps you to remove them manually.

Utilities

CleanMyMac also lets you perform useful maintenance tasks to help improve your Mac’s performance. The following are some of the maintenance tasks you can easily carry out using CleanMyMac:

Uninstall Applications: On Windows, there is a utility to uninstall applications from a unified list of all installed apps. The uninstaller utility helps you to properly remove an app along with its supporting files. On the other hand, Mac applications mostly ship in the form of bundled packages, and usually does not include any uninstaller utility. To remove an app, you can simply drag and drop the app package to Trash and delete it. But this method is not recommended for uninstalling apps, as lots of associated files get left behind. CleanMyMac’s Uninstaller utility is a good alternative to Windows Uninstaller that helps you to remove entire apps from Mac, along with all the additional app-specific files.

Maintenance: CleanMyMac includes various predefined maintenance tasks for optimizing Mac’s performance. You can reindex Spotlight for better search performance, repair disk permissions to help your system run smoothly, speed up Mail searches, rebuild launch services to fix file launch associations, and more.

Manage Privacy: With CleanMyMac, you can control your private data collected by different apps on your Mac. It allows you to view and manually delete your cookies, recent files list, conversations from messaging apps, browser and downloads history of your web browsers, etc.

Extension Manager: A lot of apps on your Mac include plugins and add-ons to extend their functionality. At times, usually due to software updates, some third-party add-ons may become incompatible with an app. In such cases, the app in consideration may not be able to list that particular plugin, and the plugin might conflict with the proper functioning of the app at the same time. With CleanMyMac’s Extension Manager, you can view and manage all extensions from add-on supported apps (even incompatible ones), and disable or remove them if needed. It also allows you to manage startup items, preference panes, services, etc.

Shredder: When you delete files from Trash, they are just de-linked from the directory listing, not actually removed from the hard disk, making them recoverable using suitable recovery solutions. Shredder removes files and folders from your Mac, as if they never existed; hence making them non-recoverable under any circumstances. Shredder is ideal for erasing confidential data from hard drives without leaving any trace.

Health and Monitoring (Dashboard)

With CleanMyMac’s health alerts and notifications, you’ll always be up to date with the state of your system. The CleanMyMac menubar items provide you real-time feed of Memory, Hard Disk, Battery and Trash size status. You can also free up RAM by clicking on the Free RAM button next to the Memory monitor. You also receive notifications about unresponsive apps. If there’s ever an issue, CleanMyMac will help you find out exactly what’s happening and how to fix it, right when it happens.

You can try out CleanMyMac for free from the official website. The full version of the app costs $39.95 for a single user, $59.95 for two users or $89.95 for five users.

Gemini – Duplicate file finder for Mac

Sometimes, you might have stored multiple copies of the same file in different locations on your Mac. Finding and deleting such files manually is a daunting task. If you have a lot of duplicate files on your Mac, Gemini is the one app to look out for.

Gemini is incredibly fast and easy to operate. All you need to do is select or drag a particular folder or disk drive into the app’s window. Using proprietary algorithms, Gemini will then scan the entire Mac and find out exact duplicate copies of files from the selected location, and offer you to remove them selectively.

The app can detect file duplicates even if they have different file names. At the same time, Gemini won’t consider a modified version of a file as a duplicate of the original. That way, you can be rest assured that Gemini detects only actual duplicates, so that you may safely delete them. The app also supports external storage devices.

AppCleaner – Free Uninstaller for Mac

Completely removing applications on Mac is quite a challenging task. Though removing the app package is easy enough, searching and deleting app-specific support files is quite difficult. Basically, you need to look for any files and folders with the application name or the developer name in ~/Library/, ~/Library/Preferences/ and ~/Library/Application Support/ folders and delete them manually. Even then, there is no assurance that the particular app has been completely removed.

One of the many features of CleanMyMac is that it automatically scans for extra files and helps you to completely uninstall apps from Mac. But if you are looking for a free uninstaller alternative, AppCleaner is a good option to try out.

AppCleaner is a free uninstaller utility that lets you to delete applications along with leftover files. Just drag and drop an installed application into AppCleaner, or click on the Application tab and select the apps you want to uninstall. AppCleaner will automatically find related leftover items and allow you to delete them.

CCleaner – System Cleanup Utility

Similar to its Windows counterpart, CCleaner for Mac is a free system cleanup utility that provides some basic junk removal options. It helps you to clean system and application cache files, clear browser cookies and remove unwanted files such as logs, additional language files, etc. It also provides utilities for uninstalling apps, managing startup items, repairing disk access permissions, and purging deleted files from disk.

Disk Inventory X – Free large file finder for Mac

Disk Inventory X is a free disk usage utility for Mac that shows the sizes of files and folders in a special graphical way known as treemaps. Treemaps are an excellent way to pin point the files that are taking up more space on your Mac, and is thus a good free alternative to CleanMyMac’s large file finder.

OnyX – Mac Cleanup Utility for Advanced User

If you are a power user, OnyX is just the Mac cleanup utility you’d be looking for. Unlike CleanMyMac, it doesn’t provide a one-click easy optimizing solution, but provides a comprehensive list of cleaning and tweaking options for your Mac. You have to manually select the types of files you want to remove. Onyx helps you to remove system cache, application cache, system preferences, Java cache, Dock icons, temporary files, browser cache, search history, bookmark icons, fonts, log files, Trash items, and lots more unwanted files from your Mac.

However, not all of these items are safe to remove from your system. Some options provided in OnyX might cause you to lose your saved preferences, configured settings, and might even cause your Mac to function unexpectedly. OnyX is a free utility, but it is only recommended for people who know OS X well enough to recognize what data is safe to delete and what is not.

Memory Clean (Free)

Memory Clean is a small Mac utility for clearing up RAM, and is ideal for flushing the RAM after having worked on a memory intensive app. Memory Clean can be downloaded from the Mac App Store for free.

All of the apps mentioned above are useful for optimizing your Mac in different ways. Apps like CCleaner, AppCleaner, etc. offer free alternatives to many of the utilities provided in CleanMyMac, which is a paid app.

But, a one-time payment of such an app is beneficial in a lot of ways. First, CleanMyMac provides an all-in-one solution, so you don’t have to install separate apps for performing different maintenance tasks. Second, it provides regular updates, which keeps the software up to speed with the latest OS updates and keeps it polished and bug free for better experience.

So, if you are looking for temporary cleanup solutions, the free utilities might be sufficient. But over the long run, the paid ones can prove to be valuable time savers.

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