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Guide to Mac Cleaning: 8 Steps


The importance of cleaning and optimising your Mac for a faster computer experience

Keeping your Mac clean and optimised is one of the best ways to ensure it continues running fast and smoothly for years to come. A cluttered Mac tends to slow down over time as old files, unused apps, and system junk accumulate. Taking the time to do some “spring cleaning” for your Mac can dramatically speed it up and improve performance.

Cleaning and optimising your Mac has a wide range of benefits including:

  • Faster boot-up and launch times for apps
  • More available storage space on your hard drive
  • Less crashing and freezing
  • Better battery life
  • Enhanced security by removing vulnerable old software

Following the cleaning steps in this guide can potentially give an older Mac years more useful life. Even brand-new Macs will benefit from periodic cleaning sessions to keep them running as fast as the day you took them out of the box.

This guide will still walk through the manual cleaning steps so you understand what is happening under the hood.

Delete large and old files

Explanation of the benefits of deleting large and old files

One of the best ways to free up storage space on your Mac is by deleting large files you no longer need. This includes things like:

  • Old backups
  • Unused installers
  • Downloaded movies/shows
  • Large apps you don’t use anymore
  • Old photos and videos

You might be surprised how much space this alone can clear up. And having more free space on your hard drive will speed up your Mac’s performance.

Less storage space means more disk fragmentation as files get crammed into small open spaces on the drive. Fragmentation slows down read/write times. So deleting large old files improves speed and performance.

Instructions on how to identify and delete these files

Here are the steps to find and delete large and old files on your Mac:

  1. Open Finder and click on your hard drive in the left sidebar
  2. In the Finder menu select “Arrange by size” to sort files from largest to smallest
  3. Scroll down and look for files that are large and you no longer need
  4. Delete unused installers, old backups, movies, etc
  5. Empty Trash to free up the storage space

An app like CleanMyMac X makes this even easier by automatically finding large files to delete based on age and type. It safely identifies files you likely don’t need anymore without deleting anything important.

Clean up system junk and useless files

Explanation of the benefits of cleaning up system junk and useless files

Over time, “junk” files accumulate on your Mac that serve no purpose. This includes:

  • Corrupted app data
  • Unneeded system logs
  • Cache files
  • Broken preference files
  • Unused localisations

Cleaning up these useless files speeds up your Mac by freeing up storage space and eliminating clutter. It also protects your privacy by removing unneeded system logs and cached data.

Introduction to CleanMyMac X’s ability to remove junk files

Manually finding and removing junk files is extremely tedious. CleanMyMac X makes it easy with its Junk Files cleaning module.

It scans your entire system and safely removes all unnecessary system files, broken app data, cache, logs, localisations, and more. This frees up storage space and speeds up system performance.

CleanMyMac X knows which files are safe to remove versus those needed by macOS and apps. This prevents any stability or functionality issues.

Clear cache

Explanation of the benefits of clearing cache

Apps on your Mac store temporary data in caches to optimise performance. This includes things like:

  • Web page elements
  • Images
  • Game data
  • App settings

Over time, these caches grow and start to slow things down. Regularly clearing app caches can speed up performance.

Instructions on how to clear the cache on a Mac

Here are the steps to clear cache files on your Mac:

  1. Open Finder and select Go > Go to Folder
  2. Enter the path: ~/Library/Caches
  3. Delete the files inside the Caches folder
  4. Empty Trash to free up space

Be careful not to delete anything important in the Caches folder. An app like CleanMyMac X is optimised to clear app caches safely.

Step 4: Remove unused apps

Explanation of the benefits of removing unused apps

It’s common to download apps over time that you eventually stop using. Having lots of unused apps on your system creates clutter and slows things down by:

  • Using up disk space
  • Increasing memory usage
  • Adding extra files on the disk
  • Slowing down app launch times

Regularly removing apps you no longer need helps optimise your Mac’s performance and free up storage space.

Instructions on how to uninstall apps on a Mac

Here are the steps to uninstall apps on your Mac:

  1. Open Finder and go to Applications
  2. Drag any unused apps to the Trash
  3. Empty Trash to uninstall the apps and free up space

Be careful not to delete any active apps. An optimiser like CleanMyMac X safely scans and removes unused apps to avoid any issues.

Step 5: Run a macOS system update

Explanation of the benefits of running a macOS system update

Apple periodically releases software updates for macOS that include bug fixes, security patches, and performance improvements. Keeping your system up-to-date provides several benefits:

  • Fixes bugs and crashes
  • Patches security vulnerabilities
  • Improves overall system performance
  • Adds new features and enhancements

Falling behind on updates can leave your system more unstable, slower, and more vulnerable to malware. So it’s important to regularly update to the latest macOS version.

Instructions on how to run a macOS system update

Here are the steps to update macOS to the latest version:

  1. Click the Apple menu and select App Store
  2. Click Updates in the App Store toolbar
  3. Install any macOS updates shown
  4. Restart your computer to finish installing the updates

Make sure to run Software Update regularly to keep your Mac optimised with the latest improvements.

Upgrade your RAM

Explanation of the benefits of upgrading your RAM

One of the best hardware upgrades for improving your Mac’s speed is to add more RAM (Random Access Memory). More RAM provides several performance benefits:

  • Allows more apps to run simultaneously
  • Speeds up app launch times
  • Makes professional apps like video editors faster
  • Improves gaming performance
  • Allows faster switching between apps

Upgrading to the maximum RAM supported by your Mac is one of the most impactful upgrades you can do. Even an extra 4GB can make a noticeable speed difference.

Instructions on how to upgrade your Mac’s RAM

Upgrading RAM on a Mac involves:

  1. Getting compatible RAM modules for your specific Mac model
  2. Booting into Recovery mode and running the Apple Hardware Test
  3. Opening the RAM access panel and inserting new RAM
  4. Booting back into macOS to verify the RAM upgrade

Apple provides detailed instructions in their support guide for how to upgrade RAM on a Mac. Be sure to get RAM specifically compatible with your Mac.

Swap your HDD for an SSD

Explanation of the benefits of swapping an HDD for an SSD

Replacing a traditional hard disk drive (HDD) with a solid-state drive (SSD) can dramatically speed up your Mac. SSD benefits include:

  • Faster boot times
  • Quick app launches
  • Improved responsiveness
  • Faster file copying
  • Less noise and power consumption

SSDs have much faster read/write speeds compared to HDDs. Replacing an old HDD with an SSD will make your Mac feel like new again.

Instructions on how to swap HDD for an SSD on a Mac

Here is an overview of the steps to replace your Mac’s HDD with an SSD:

  1. Buy an SSD compatible with your Mac model
  2. Create a Time Machine or Clone backup
  3. Open Mac case and swap out old HDD for new SSD
  4. Do a clean install of macOS on the new SSD
  5. Migrate data and apps from the backup

Apple has a detailed support article explaining how to replace your Mac’s hard drive with an SSD. Take time to create a full system backup first before upgrading to avoid data loss.

Reduce visual effects

Explanation of the benefits of reducing visual effects

macOS includes many graphical effects like translucent menus, animated windows, and smooth scrolling. While visually appealing, these effects can slow down overall system performance.

Turning off unnecessary visual effects reduces the graphics processing load. This can provide a performance boost on older Macs with limited graphics power.

Instructions on how to reduce visual effects on a Mac

Here are the steps to turn off visual effects on a Mac:

  1. Go to System Preferences > Accessibility
  2. Click Display on the left sidebar
  3. Check the “Reduce transparency” option
  4. Uncheck any animations like “Animate windows” etc

Experiment with different visual effect settings to find the right balance of aesthetics versus performance for your Mac.


Recap of the 8 steps to clean and optimise a Mac

Cleaning and optimising your Mac does not need to be a complex or tedious process. Following these 8 key steps will keep your system running fast and smoothly:

  1. Delete large and old files
  2. Clean up system junk and useless files
  3. Clear cache
  4. Remove unused apps
  5. Run a macOS system update
  6. Upgrade your RAM
  7. Swap your HDD for an SSD
  8. Reduce visual effects

Setting aside an hour or two to do this cleanup every few months will maintain that fresh feeling of a new Mac. Your system will boot faster, launch apps quicker, and feel much more responsive.

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