How do I clean my (Mac) computer and start over? I want to keep all my software and keep the computer the same as it is now – how can I do that?
The easy no frills way is to drag everything you don't want to the trash and empty the trash.
If you want to completely clean the drive, boot from the OS disk (insert the disk and hold down the C key when you restart). Run disk utilities and completely erase the drive and then reinstall the OS and any other apps you use.
If you were so inclined, I've always been curious as to what happens when you go into your hard drive on the command line and type in sudo rm -R
Do it for science!
You can clean your Mac by using many apps like ccleaner, Stellar Speed Up Mac, OnyX etc.. These tools helps you to clean all unwanted data from your Mac.
If you just want to clean out the crap files, try Piriforms new Ccleaner for Mac
Your wishes don't really go together.
Keeping the computer the way it is basically means doing nothing, done.
And the only true way to start over is to reinstall OS X and all Applications.
You can read the following articles about certain things you could do but this only scratches the surface of things.
All in all it's a lot of manual work and with every files or folder you delete there is a chance you break or lose something, especially if you are not sure what the individual files and folders are used for.
I believe the important question is why you want to clean your system?
If you are having storage issues (not enough free space) this cleaning effort might help or not at all. Usually the biggest part is used up by user data, e.g. emails, images, music, videos etc.
If you are having issues (speed, crashes, errors) all together I suggest creating a new user profile, play a bit around (you can't really "use" it since it's empty) and see if this would solve your problem. In that case it's an issue within your user profile.
If your issues persist even under a new user it's an issue with OS X, third-party software or the hardware. The best way to go about here is a full reinstallation because investing into the issue is usually more time consuming than installing OS X, all applications and restoring the user from a backup and see if they are still there (which usually hints at a hardware fault).
Firstly,before doing anything,you must have a backup of all of your data.Then follow the instructions given below -
OS X Lion: Erase and reinstall Mac OS X
1. Start computer up, holding OPTION key
2. Select Recovery
3. Select language (I'll choose English)
4. Disc Utility
5. Macintosh HD
6. Select Erase tab
7. Erase Disc
8. back to OSX Utilities - Select Reinstall OSX (this makes it so your most recently installed operating system will be restored. I bought my Macbook as a Leopard, but it runs Mountain Lion now.)
9. Reinstall to Mac HD
You mean deleting all the user settings and data? Or are you talking doing a fresh install? that would be the best/cleanest way. After you do that, jsut reinstall all the software.
Also, if you are keeping the software, its not really starting over.
This. You can keep all of your programs and settings or you can start over – you can't really do both. Contradiction.
Rebooting a MacBook Pro to Its Factory Settings
OS X: About OS X Recovery
By cleaning, do you mean you want to whip all the data?