Mac Maintenance: From Inside and Out

There’s no doubt that there have been a lot of updates for Macs lately. Aside from the routine software updates, the new operating system, OS X Lion, has put a hamper on many Apple computers. With systems being stressed, most Macs are crying for a break and hoping for a little maintenance. Aside from cleaning up a spot on the keyboard or freeing a few megabytes, most individuals don’t go into their system for thorough maintenance. The fact remains that individuals just don’t know how to do it. Here’s my process of full Mac maintenance, inside and out.

Correctly Clear Useless Files

I am sorry to tell you, but cleaning your trash bin on your Mac doesn’t do the job when clearing files. This clears the files that you have already deleted, like documents and other files, however you must go deep into your Mac to delete the heavy files. This is how you should do it.

First, you should go to the finder application on your Mac.

Mac Finder in the dock

From there, go to “All My Files”. This will show every file in your Mac.

Finder All My Files

To make the job easier, sort your files in order of size. This is done by clicking the settings wheel, “Arrange By”, then click “Size”.

Finder sort files by size

As you can see, the files are not only sorted in order, but also grouped by file size. Files are grouped in categories of 100MB to 10GB, 1MB to 100MB and so on. Preferably, you should take a look at each group, not just the larger ones. The larger files are what is bearing down on your system, however the smaller files are mostly cache and saved versions. These may seem harmless at first, but ignoring these files can snowball into a large system stress.

Finder File Size

After clearing large files in the Finder application, it is also recommended to check out iMovie files and iPhoto files. Depending on the camera the photos were taken on, these files can be quite large due to resolution. It is important to go to the iPhoto application, clicking “iPhoto” at the top bar and going to “Empty iPhoto Trash“.

mac-empty-iphoto-trash

The same thing can be done in iMovie as well. All you have to do is go to “File”, “Space Saver”, then choose which rejected clips should be deleted. The clips not used in a movie will be sent to the trash along with its respective cache.

iMovie SpaceSaver

After each deletion, don’t forget to clear your trash. This may surprise you, but all of these deleted files will stay in the trash bin until you clear it. Sorry, but you have to do your chores!

Choosing Useful Applications

Before I took my own advice, I had three Twitter applications, four emailing clients, and a ton of other applications and games. It can be hard remembering to delete unused applications when they aren’t of use for me anymore. There is a good bet that you won’t find a use for multiple Twitter applications and emailing clients either. Instead of having a group of “okay” applications, try to have only quality and useful applications in your dock.

Expanding Your Memory

If you find that your memory still isn’t up to your required levels, then maybe it’s not you, but your Mac. This is where you should consider expanding your memory internally or externally. Apple allows you to upgrade your internal memory for $200, this gives you 4GB of extra memory. If you want 8GB, you can expect to pay upwards of $400. For many individuals, this is well over their price range.

Mac External Hard Drive

A great alternative is an external hard drive. These usually run between $60 and $200, the size options can range from 500GB to 2TB. So, the question remains, why do people spend so much for little memory? When you upgrade the memory internally, you’ll find that the processing speeds also are faster, this creates an overall enjoyable Mac experience. External memory main moves the files and documents to another venue, not increasing the processor quality directly.

Cleaning Your Screen

Whether you’re pointing out a specific fact in a document or trying to swipe off a smudge with your finger, you’ll find marks all over your screen if it isn’t regularly cleaned. If the marks stay on long enough, they can become a permanent part of your screen. Taking the time to have a monthly (or even a biweekly) cleaning will keep your screen fresh and new. Here’s how to do it.

Power Down Your Computer

Mac Power Shutdown

Find a soft cloth, similar to an eyeglasses cloth, and lightly swipe every corner and inch of your screen. Your goal isn’t to have a complete clean from this alone, it will remove any loose or fresh dirt.

Mac Wipe Monitor

The messes left behind are the heavy marks. This will require a little more work. It is best to stay away from chemicals, they will decrease the LCD’s quality. Instead, get about a half a cup of water and a half a cup of vinegar. Then, mix this solution together to create a natural, computer safe, concoction.

Mac Water Vinegar Solution

Wipe in soft, circular motions until the marks are completely gone.

Mac wipe monitor 2

How to Clean the Crevices – Correctly

The computer is the center of many individual’s lives. Some people work from a computer all day, others may do assignment, play games online, or perform other activities. This means that we may find ourselves eating near our computer from time to time. The crumbs from the food can get caught in the crevices of your computer. A couple of tools can be used to combat the crumbs left behind. Here’s how to clean you keyboard effectively.

Grab a clean, soft cloth and do a quick wipe through on the keyboard. This removes loose and fresh dirt on it.

Mac Keyboard wipe

If available, grab compressed air to clean within the keyboard. If you don’t have compressed air, a vacuum is a great alternative.

Mac Keyboard Vacuum

You should then focus on the track pad. The track pad usually isn’t as dirty as the keyboard, however, you should use the clean, soft cloth we mentioned in step one to perform a quick wipe through of the track pad.

Mac Trackpad Wipe

The fan should also receive some attention. The fan directly under the screen can collect food, dust and even bugs when used outside. A quick blow through with compressed air or a vacuum will do the trick.

Mac Vacuum2

Finally, the ports and CD drive can be blown with compressed air to prevent and remove built up dust. When you’re done, your Mac will be officially clean. Expect your Mac to improve in performance immediately!

Mac CDdrive

Invest in a Case

Now that your Mac is fully cleaned, treat your computer with a protective case, if you don’t have one already. This won’t prevent dust, but it will lessen dirt and keep the outside protected from drops and scuffs.

mac-external-case

Your best bet in terms of cases are hard surfaced ones. The rubber cases are dust and lint magnets and can actually increase the amount of dust that lands on your Mac. Hard surfaces, like plastics and metals, provide a clean slate that doesn’t require as much maintenance. A quick wipe through is all that’s needed. Most cases range from $20 – $50, Apple has a wonderful selection, however other retailers may be more willing to give you a deal or discount.

That’s all that is to it. Regular maintenance will show the appreciation that your Mac deserves.