If you own a Mac, chances are you spent quite a bit of money to buy it. If for no other reason than that, you need to take care of your computer. Not only will it perform better throughout its life, but you can also sell it for more money if you decide to part with it. In this guide, we’ll share some tips on how to take care of your Mac. It is impossible to cover the topic of IT maintenance from all angles, so consider this guide as an introduction to some organizational features and applications that you may not be familiar with.
How to clean your Mac screen and body
While there are many products you can buy specifically designed to help you clean your computer, I’ve found that the simpler approach works the best – and this is it. Apple recommends. To get started, all you’ll need is water in a spray bottle and a clean microfiber cloth. You can use plain or distilled water. The advantage of the latter is that it is much less likely to leave residue on your Mac, especially on the screen. You can buy distilled water at a grocery store or Do it yourself with simple kitchen utensils. Either way, it’s more affordable than dedicated cleaning solutions and more versatile. If you don’t already have microfiber cloths, Amazon sells affordable packs of 24 you can get it for around $ 15.
Two other products that I have found that can make the job easier are Whoosh screen cleaner and a Giottos rocket blower. I can’t say enough good things about the latter. This will save you from buying expensive and unnecessary cans of compressed air. Finally, if you want to disinfect your computer, Apple recently mentionned it is safe to use isopropyl alcohol and Clorox wipes.
When it comes to the process of cleaning your Mac, the most important tip to remember is to start with a clean cloth (which is part of the reason why we recommend buying them in bulk). This will save you time and frustration. Start by shutting down your computer and unplugging it. If you went out and bought a Rocket Blower, use it now to remove dust. Otherwise, take a dry microfiber cloth and run over your computer. Pay special attention to the keys, especially if you have a Mac with a butterfly keyboard.
At this point, you can wipe down your computer with a disinfectant wipe. Otherwise, dampen one side of your cleaning cloth with water or Whoosh. Never spray liquid directly on your computer. You will have more control this way and you will avoid getting moisture into the internal components of your Mac. I always clean the screen first because the last thing I want to do is create more work for myself by transferring dirt from another part of my computer to the screen. The last step is to buff and polish your computer with the dry side of the cloth. That’s all. Your Mac should look clean again.
How to organize your hard drive
One of the hardest parts of cleaning up your Mac’s hard drive is knowing where to start. After all, most of us have apps on our computers that we don’t even remember installing in the first place. Fortunately, macOS comes with a tool to help you with this exact problem.
Go to the “Storage” section of the “About This Mac” menu and click on the “Manage …” option. Here you’ll find a tool that sorts your files into broad categories and offers recommendations on how to free up space on your hard drive. You can use them in combination with the handy “Show in Finder” button at the bottom of the interface to quickly navigate your hard drive. No need to search for files manually.
The section dedicated to applications is particularly useful since you can see the last time you used a program, as well as if it is no longer supported by the operating system or if it is obsolete thanks to a version more recent.
You don’t need me to tell you to uninstall programs you don’t use, but what you might not know is that there is a better way to erase them than to just erase them. drag to the trash. A free program called AppCleaner will help you find all the files and folders that would be left behind if you simply deleted an app.
After you’ve removed all the apps you don’t need, move on to the documents section. The name is somewhat misleading here as you will find more than just text files and Excel spreadsheets. Documents, in this case, turn out to be the tool’s catch-all term for a variety of files, including those that take up a lot of space and DMGs that you might have forgotten to unmount. The other sections of the sidebar are self-explanatory. The only other thing I will mention is that if you have been using an iPhone for a while, there is a good chance that you have some old iOS backups stored on your computer. You can also safely delete them.
At this point, your hard drive should be in fair condition. If you want to take extra steps to clean it, there are dedicated apps that can help. I like a called CleanMyMac X. At $ 51 a year, it’s expensive, but will save you the time and trouble of doing everything I mentioned above (and even some) on your own. It also serves as a malware removal tool.
Tips and Tricks for Keeping a Neat Desktop and Finder
Let’s start with the menu bar. It might not technically be part of the office, but a tidy format can go a long way in making everything else less cluttered. My recommendation here is to download a $ 15 app called Bartender. At first glance, this is a simple program that lets you hide unwanted menu bar items behind a three dot icon. However, the strength of Bartender is that you have plenty of customization options. For example, you can set a trigger that will automatically prevent the battery status icon from hiding when your computer is not connected to a power outlet.
While we’re on the menu bar, take a second to open your Mac’s System Preferences menu and navigate to the “Users & Groups” section. Now click on the ‘Login Items’ tab at the top of the interface and take a look at all the apps that launch when you start your system. You can speed up your system by narrowing this list down to just the programs you use most often.
When it comes to the office itself, the best advice is less is more. Nothing will make your computer look more like a cluttered mess than a busy desk. Folders and stacks can help, but, for most people, I suspect that part of the problem is that they are using their desktop as a way to quickly and easily find the files that are important to them.
If you’ve ever had trouble finding a specific file or folder on your computer, try using your Mac’s markup capabilities instead. Start by opening the Finder preferences menu (“Command” + “,”) and click on the “Tags” tab. You can use the default ones provided by macOS or create your own. Either way, drag the ones you think you’ll use most often to the favorites areas at the bottom of the preferences window. This will make them easily accessible when you want to use them. To add a tag to a file or folder, click on it while holding down the Ctrl key and select the one you want from the drop-down menu. You can also tag a file while working on it in an application. Remember that you can apply multiple tags to a single file or folder. You can even apply them to apps.
What makes tags so useful in macOS is that they can appear in the Finder sidebar and are easily searchable either directly through Finder or using Siri. As long as you have a system for organizing your files, even a simple one, it will be easier for you to keep track of them. As an example, I like to apply an Engadget tag to all files related to my work. I’ll add an “Important” tag if it’s something critical and I want to find it quickly.
How to organize your windows and tabs
There is one last app that I would like to suggest as I wrap up this article. If you’ve used both macOS and Windows 10, you’ll know that Apple’s operating system doesn’t come with the best window management tools. You can click and hold the full screen icon to tile a window on the left or right side of your screen, but that’s about it and the feature has always felt less precise than its Windows counterpart.
My suggestion is to download an application that replicates the capture function of Windows 10. You have several competing options that provide more or less the same functionality. My go-to is a $ 5 program called Magnet. If you want a free alternative, check out Rectangle. Another option is BetterSnapTool, which offers more features than Magnet but does not have such a clean interface. All three apps give you a lot more ways to configure your windows than you get with macOS’s built-in tool. They also come with shortcut support, which means you can quickly set up your windows and get to work.