Instead of seeing how long you can go without breaking a dreaded New Year’s resolution, use the start of the year to freshen up your Mac. Today we’ll look at some easy-to-perform maintenance tasks that will keep your computer running in good condition.
You’ll need macOS Sierra to perform some of these tasks, which you can download for free from the Mac App Store .
1. Check Free Space
Each year, you use thousands of files on your computer. Some of those probably served one long-forgotten purpose, while others are so large they could be affecting your system’s drive space or performance.
You should always have some idea how much storage remains on your computer. The easiest way to find this information is by visiting Apple > About This Mac > Storage. On this screen, you’ll see how much space your computer is using and where. You can also quickly delete files from this location.
By selecting Manage, you’ll see a breakdown of the type of files installed on your system, including Applications, Documents, iBooks, iCloud Drive, iOS files, iTunes, Mail, Music, Photos, and Trash. You’ll also learn how much space each type of data has consumed.
2. Delete Unnecessary Files and Apps
The arrival of the Mac App Store a few years ago has made it easier to delete applications, as necessary. Use the start of a new year to remove apps from your system that you no longer use. If you need them again, you can just download them!
To do so, select Applications from the top left of your screen and then sort by Kind. Review those applications purchased or downloaded from App Store. Click on the applications you no longer need and select the X button to delete. You’ll need to verify your Mac login each time you select an application for deletion.
You can also delete apps not downloaded from the Mac App Store from this screen. Before doing so, however, confirm that you have a way to install these applications again if needed. If you do not, it’s best to leave the applications where they are unless they are taking up precious space.
3. Remove the Clutter
You should also take a look in the iBooks and iTunes folders for files to delete. These files are easy to restore from iTunes and should be removed from your Mac when they are no longer needed. Media files take up a lot of disk space and can usually be deleted when you’re done with them.
On the right-hand side of the screen is the new Reduce Clutter section in macOS Sierra. By clicking on the Review Files button at this location, you’ll see data grouped by Large Files, Downloads, and File Browser.
Under Large Files, you’ll see files that take up a lot of space on your Mac that Apple suggests can be removed. You can delete unnecessary files by clicking on the X icon that shows up when you hover over a file name.
A good rule of thumb: If you don’t know what a file is, don’t delete it!
Under Downloads, you’ll see files downloaded from a web browser such as Safari . Again, remove the ones you know are no longer necessary.
Finally, under File Browser, you’ll learn which documents and folders use the most storage. For this exercise, concentrate on the files in the Downloads folder only. Remove the files here you no longer need.
4. Remove Large Files
You can use Finder to search for additional huge files. To do so, open Finder and select the volume you’d like to search. Next, select File > Find. Then, click on the Kind pull-down menu and select Other.
Under “Select a search attribute,” select the checkbox for File Size. Next, change the “equals” pop-up menu to “is greater than,” then change the “KB” pop-up menu to “MB.” Enter a minimum file size. Apple recommends 100 MB as a good starting point. The search begins once you select a file size. Delete the files you know that you won’t be using again. Avoid removing applications from this search.
5. Check Login Items
Does it seem like your Mac is slow to boot up? You might have too many applications set to open at startup. Go into System Preferences > Users & Groups and then click on the Login Items tab.
Here you’ll see a list of applications that open when you boot your Mac. Highlight the ones you don’t want to be opened at startup and click the – (minus) sign button to remove. This process does not eliminate the app from your system.
6. Regular Updates
Apple often sends out application and operation system updates. These updates should be installed on a regular basis, and not just at the beginning of each year. Regardless, to find and install these new software versions, go to the Mac App Store and click Updates.
Would you like to avoid this hassle in the future? Turn on automatic updates. To do so, select App Store > Preferences from the Mac App Store. From there, check all the boxes under “Automatically Check for Updates.”
Should You Upgrade Your Mac?
While it’s true that Macs last a long time, the time will eventually come when you’ll need to buy a new one.
When is that time? Each year, Apple updates its vintage and obsolete products list. If your product is on this list, it’s probably time for an upgrade. Since at least 2009, Apple has added the product date to the official name for each Mac model.
You can see the name of your device by going Apple > About this Mac. Compare this name to the models on Apple’s list. If your Mac is getting close to making the list, the time has come to at least consider making a new purchase in the new year.
What does it mean to have an “out of date” Mac? You’ll likely miss out on future new versions of macOS, including security updates, and some new features introduced via iCloud. Consider a refurbished Mac if you need to upgrade but can’t afford what Apple’s asking for a new one.
Macs seem to get smarter with each new software update. Still, even the newest Macs need a manual checkup occasionally. As a new year begins, the time is right to give your computer a quick tune-up. Apple’s machines are typically believed to be fairly “low maintenance” by design, but by being a bit proactive you can help keep your computer running like new.
Are you planning on buying a new Mac in the new year? What model would you like to buy? Leave your comments below.
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