How To Clean Up Your Mac’s Hard Drive

Is your Mac running out of space? Is it just slowing down, and you feel that getting rid of some of the extra stuff you don’t use might speed things up a bit. Well you might be right, but there’s only one way to know for sure, and that’s cleaning up your hard drive and seeing what happens! So how do you go about cleaning up your Mac’s drive for increased storage space and flexibility, as well as speed? Read on and find out!

Where do I start?

The first steps in purging unnecessary files from your drive is finding out what you have that you can get rid of! First, check in your “Users/YourUserNameHere/Documents” and “Users/YourUserName/Downloads” (Particularly that Downloads folder) for files you don’t need, or downloads that you don’t use anymore. For instance, if you download applications from the internet and install them, but never clear this folder out, in all likelihood, this folder is chock full of disk image files for those applications. If you have no more use for these installers, you can safely deleted them to get back those precious megabytes.

That’s great, but what about applications or other files?

Another way to find big (and useless) files is by using Omni Disk Sweeper to point out the huge files that are taking up your disk space. Download and run OmniDiskSweeper and you’ll be met with this screen:

omni-disk-sweeper-ss1

Select your main hard drive, in my case, “Macintosh HD” and double click it. You’ll be greeted with something similar to the following, although your files of course will be different:

omni-disk-sweeper-ss2

You can now start analyzing which folders are the biggest and why, as well as what apps you may have installed that you no longer use. Before deleting those apps though, you probably want to install AppTrap. AppTrap monitors your Trash bin and when you delete an application, alerts you to associated files that wouldn’t otherwise have been deleted when the application was removed, and let’s you quickly and easily remove those files.

What about system files?

OS X (and other Unix based operating systems) come with maintenance scripts pre-installed. These scripts are used to clean up system logs and temporary files that your Mac created without you even knowing it. By default, maintenance scripts are set to run automatically so that you don’t need to do anything to benefit from them. The problem though, is that they’re set to run between 3:15 am and 5:30 am, and if your Mac is asleep or shut down during this period, it never gets done. The easiest way to fix this problem is an application called Yasu. Yasu is a graphical interface for your Mac’s maintenance scripts, allowing you to run them, and even choose certain ones to run or not run, whenever you want.

yasu-for-os-x

Don’t forget about languages!

Another set of files you won’t find grouped together, but that might take up a ton of room on your drive, are language files. When you install OS X and select easy install, or have the default install when you bought the computer, there are a huge amount of language files installed for languages you likely don’t speak, and probably won’t ever run into on the internet. Additionally, every time you install an application, it comes with its own set of (probably useless for you) language packages. These take up a ton of space on your hard drive.

Monolingual is a super simple application that allows you to simply select what languages you want to get rid of (and it defaults to keeping the most common ones, so you’ll probably be ready to go as soon as you open the app) and then deletes all of them for you. All you need to do is double check the languages (for instance, I kept all the versions of English, not just the most common one,) hit “Remove”, follow by “Okay”, and Monolingual will do all the work for you. After just a few minutes, Monolingual got me back nearly 200MB of room!

monolingual-mac-os-x

Last steps – don’t forget the trash

You may have cleared up some room already, but don’t forget the final, and most important, step – empty the trash! This will actually delete most of the files from your drive, and with the help of AppTrap, you’ll get every last file out of your system.

Do you know any other programs to help with the cleanup process? Or any other tips or tricks to keep your hard drive running smoothly? If so, let us know in the comments!

Image credit: Toronja Azul