One argument in favor of using Mac OS X is that it doesn’t require a whole lot of maintenance to keep it purring contently on your desk.
That being said, it is inevitable that a certain amount of mess accumulates when you use your computer. Some few redundant files littering your Desktop add to the soon unsurmountable stack of waste hiding your important files. A spring cleaning might be in order.
Other messes are inherent to the operating system we’ve otherwise grown to love. Your thumb drive is riddled with hidden files—the waste-product of every operating system—which becomes embarrassingly apparent when you plug it in a Windows computer.
All of these things, and more, are the innocent byproduct of simple day-to-day computer use. Below are some tips to avoid this seemingly inevitable clutter. Keeping a tight ship leaves your mind free to deal with the things that really matter: work and silly videos.
1. Keep Your External Drives Clean
Your computer likes to put hidden files all over your computer. Inevitably, also on your USB thumb drives and external hard disks. Don’t worry, these files are all rather innocent (among other things helping Spotlight to produce faster search results) and usually don’t take up any notable space. However, on some external drives these files can also be rather useless. More importantly, seeing how these hidden files are visibly on other operating systems, they clutter your drive.
CleanMyDrive is a nifty application that resides in your Mac OS X menu bar, and takes care of these hidden (junk) files. For each drive, you can choose whether or not to automatically clean it when ejected. Alternatively, you can clean any drive manually. You can get the application for free, for a limited time.
2. Remove Unnecessary Apps From the Context Menu
To open a file in any but the default application, you can right-click it and select an able application through the context menu. The problem is, as more and more applications are added to your system, this context menu gets increasingly cluttered as well. Even worse, outdated entries sometimes stay in the context menu indefinitely.
2.a Refreshing the “Open With” Context Menu
If your right-click context menu is lagging behind, not to worry. OnyX, an advanced system maintenance and configuration application, can help us throw out ghosts and duplicates alike.
In OnyX, go to Maintenance -> Rebuild, tick off the checkbox next to “LaunchServices”, and hit the Execute button in the lower right corner of the screen. This may take a minute or two. When it finishes, your context menu should be up to date again.
2.b Removing Specific Entries
Fine-tweaking the applications listed in the context menu is also possible, but a bit trickier.
Careful! You’ll be rummaging around inside the application package. If you do something wrong, it’s possible you’ll corrupt the application, leading to improper functioning or application crashes. Only do this if you know what you’re doing.
Go to the application you want to remove from the context list for a specific filetype. Right-click the application icon and select “Show Package Contents”. You’ll find a file called “Info.plist” in the Context folder. Open it with TextEdit, or a property list editor.
Search the file for recurrences of the string “<key>CFBundleTypeExtensions</key><array>” (without quotes). There’ll be one search result for each file association. When you find the result associated with the filetype you’re looking for, select the dictionary entry containing the result, denoted by the <dict> begin-tag and </dict> end-tag (inclusive) and delete it from the file.
If the file is locked, you may have to save it as a copy in another folder. You can then make a back-up of the original file, and replace it. Finally, rebuild LaunchServices as described above to refresh the applications listed in the context menu.
3. Tidy Up Your Desktop
If you’re anything like me, your Desktop needs a regular spring cleaning. Downloads, photos, temporary files, application shortcuts; a lot of these are added to your desktop and subsequently forgotten. Clutter and frustration ensues, until you reorganize the arbitrary collection of files and the whole cycle starts over again.
Clean is a very simple, ingenious application that might be just what you need to keep your Desktop tidy. At fixed intervals, the application will move all the junk on your Desktop to a specified folder, where the files can be optionally grouped by month, or day. Is there any important stuff you do want to keep around? Simple. Just tell Clean to skip labeled items, and give your important file one by using the right-click context menu.
What are your tips to us, and your fellow readers to keep your Mac tidy? Let us know in the comments section below the article!
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