12 surprisingly quick ways to clean up your Mac
So you’ve had your Mac for a while, and things don’t feel as fresh and clean as they used to? Although Macs don’t require a lot of maintenance for cleaning, those temporary files, app leftovers, and system cache do accumulate. These files may slow down your machine and take up a lot of valuable space. In this article, we share quick and easy ways to clean up your MacBook. If you want to clean up your Mac manually, jump to the section linked below. Let’s get started!
How to clean your Mac automatically
Here’s a simple diagram to explain the most common types of computer junk, sorted by size. Some of these, like Trash bin files, are easily reachable, while others are stored away in hidden system folders. Sadly, there’s no easy way to clear them up without special skills.
If you don’t feel like spending the next several hours cleaning your Mac manually, you can use a powerful cleaning tool CleanMyMac X to find and remove all the clutter your Mac contains. It knows which files are useless, how to find and remove them completely. CleanMyMac X has everything to finish the 3-hour task of a Mac cleanup in under 5 minutes. It will even clean up the junk you didn’t know about and give your computer a speed boost.
How to clean up system storage on Mac with CleanMyMac X:
- Download CleanMyMac X for free here.
- Run the app and go to System Junk.
- Click Scan.
- Press Clean to get rid of all junk.
Done! Now your Mac looks much better!
How to Clean Mac Hard Drive Manually
If you never performed an automatic or manual system cleaning — it means that your Mac has been collecting unnecessary files and clutter for years. You can quickly clean up your Mac with these easy steps.
1. Clean up cache
You’ve probably heard “Remove your cache” as a web browser troubleshooting tip. In fact, your Mac stores a lot of information in files called caches, allowing fast access to that data and reducing the need to get it from the original source again. Unfortunately, those files take a lot of space on your Mac, and instead of speeding things up, they slow your computer down. Therefore, if you want to give your system a boost, clean your Mac from the cache files.
There are two ways to do that: you can delete them manually or use a MacBook cleaner like CleanMyMac X to do the job for you. Of course, the second way is an easy and fast one. However, if you decide to clean up the cache manually, check out a comprehensive guide on “How to Clear Cache on a Mac.”
2. Uninstall apps you don’t use
The applications you’ve installed on your Mac take up space, of course. And over time when your Mac becomes full of different apps, it may start running slowly. How to clean MacBook? In the first place, you need to remove the apps you no longer use or need. To do this, right-click on the app you want to remove and choose Move to Bin.
You may be surprised to find out that sending an app to the Trash will not uninstall it completely because the app leftovers still remain on your Mac taking up a lot of storage. So, if you want to be a responsible Mac user, you need to uninstall applications the right way. Here’s a step-by-step guide on “How to Uninstall Apps on a Mac.”
Extra step: Trim down your login items
Login items are applications that run automatically upon startup. Nowadays, every second app tries to become as prominent as possible and get into your Login Items. First of all, you may not even know what they are (not all of them appear in the Dock). Secondly, such apps consume memory. That's enough reason to get rid of extra login items you don't need.
- Open System Settings.
- Go to General > Login Items.
- Disable startup programs.
3. Clean out useless duplicates
Identical photos, music tracks you’ve added one time too many, saved and re-saved PDF files… all of that sits on your Mac and gobbles up storage. The storage that could be used for better purposes.
So how do you quickly weed them out? The fastest way is to use Gemini 2: The Duplicate Cleaner.
- Download and launch the app
- Click “Scan for Duplicates”, and watch as it quickly fetches them from different corners of your Mac.
- Once the scan is done, hit Review Results and check which copies you want to remove.
- Click Smart Cleanup to delete everything you’ve selected.
That's it. Now your Mac should be completely duplicate-free.
4. Empty the Trash
Even though you’ve deleted the files, they reside in your Trash bin taking up a lot of storage on your Mac. They are just waiting to be removed completely. If you want your precious hard drive space back, you need to empty the Trash.
Here’s how to clean your MacBook from the trash:
- Click and hold on the Trash can icon in the Dock.
- Click Empty and then Empty Trash.
The process is quite simple, right? There is even a more effortless way to clear Trash. CleanMyMac X scans your Mac for junk and lets you remove all trashed files. To do that, launch CleanMyMac X and press Scan. When the scan is completed, click Review Details to see what exactly CleanMyMac X has found.
I’ve already cleaned Bin a couple of weeks before, but over some time, almost a gigabyte of trashed files has accumulated. Now, I can simply click Back to Summary and then Run to clean Trash and system junk.
5. Reduce clutter
Apple has already thought about the clutter that can be generated on the Macs and provided a possible solution. Here’s how to reduce clutter on your Mac:
- Go to System Settings.
- Click General and then Storage. Here you can see how much free space is left on your computer.
Here're some recommendations for saving space on your Mac. You can choose to Store in iCloud to transfer your data to the cloud or Optimise Storage to remove large media files.
Click the info icon next to any category (Applications, Bin, Documents, etc.). You'll see the list of files or apps stored. Select an item and click Delete to remove it and optimize space. Look through other recommendations and make the necessary changes to use your Mac's space more efficiently.
6. Delete large and old files
It has always been a rule of thumb among computer geeks, that you should keep a minimum of 15-20% of free space on your main hard drive. This is just a rough estimation, but the more free space you have, the faster your Mac works. A computer magazine once performed a test on this, which concluded that the difference in speed can reach as much as 35%. If you work with heavy graphics or video rendering, even more free space is recommended.
How to have more free space? Delete large and old files.
The first way is totally manual and requires you to find them one by one, while for the second way, you just need to make two clicks and CleanMyMac X will do the job for you.
How to clean up Mac with CleanMyMac X:
- Download CleanMyMac X (a link to a free edition of the app)
- Launch the program.
- Go to the Large and Old Files section on the menu.
- Click Scan.
- Review the details, select what to clean, and then click Clean.
7. Remove old iOS backups
Having your files backed up is a wonderful thing. But over time your Mac becomes overloaded with old backups that take gigabytes of storage on your hard drive. That’s why you should consider removing the old iOS backups you no longer need.
Each backup remains stored on your computer and is accessible via iTunes. To delete the old backups, you need to do the following:
- Choose the Apple menu and then select System Settings.
- Go to General and click Storage.
- Click the "i" icon next to iOS Files.
- Select the backup you want to remove and click Delete.
- Click Done to close the window.
That’s it! The backup files are gone from your Mac forever.
8. Wipe out Language files
Unused language localizations take up about 1 GB of storage space. Mac applications come with language files for every language they support. It allows starting using the app in that language immediately. Cool, right? Not always. Just consider: when was the last time you used the app in Bengali or Korean? Since you don’t speak those languages, such files just waste space on your Mac. You need to remove the unnecessary language files and clean MacBook from that clutter.
How to delete the language files? Go to Finder > Applications, then right-click the app which language files you want to remove and choose Show Package Contents. Open the Resources folder and then find folders ending with “.lproj.” Every folder contains language files for one particular language. Note that for every app you should manually find and select the files to remove. But there is an automatic way to delete the language files that will save you tons of time — CleanMyMac X. Just download the application (for free) and it will do the job for you.
9. Delete old DMGs
Disk images (DMGs) often take up valuable space on your Mac. Here’s how to perform a Mac cleanup and get rid of those files:
- Open Finder and type “.dmg” in the search bar.
- Then delete all files that have .dmg extensions. Don’t forget to remove them from Trash as well.
CleanMyMac X allows you to locate and delete DMGs quicker. With its System Junk module you can remove unused disk image with a single click of a button:
Just press Clean and it’s done!
10. Sort your Downloads folder
Do you also download things and never get rid of them? Then, your Downloads folder probably needs a good old sort out. If you’re too scared to face that enormous pile of files, here’s a quick trick: sort all your downloaded items by date added. Then, scroll till the end of the folder, and you’ll see the dusty files that have been there for a while. Command-click to highlight multiple files and send them to the Trash.
11. Tidy up your desktop
Many people use Desktop as their primary destination for files. But this could be tricky because your OS treats every file on a desktop as an active window. When items on your desktop are too many, Finder gets substantially slower. This leads us to the most compelling advice in this article — cleaning up desktop does miracles!
Rather than just leaving every file on your desktop, organize them into folders. The latest macOS does that automatically thanks to the Stacks feature: right-click your Desktop and choose Use Stacks. Now all your files are grouped and you can delete them with a click. You can also use Google Drive, Dropbox, or any external storage device to save your files and keep your desktop tidy.
12. Clean your Mac’s keyboard
Our last but not least advice is to wipe your Mac’s keyboard. As you use your keyboard daily, it quickly gets dirty. Moreover, all those crumbs may live under the keys forever!
If you were wondering how to clean Mac’s keyboard, there are no special rules here. You can try blowing the dust and other particles out of your keyboard once in a while. Disinfecting wipes and alcohol-based sprays may also prove useful. Just choose the piece of fabric and wipe the keys gently to make them clean and shiny!
All in all, be careful with your system files. Don’t delete things you’re not sure about. If you are not completely confident that you can manage the task by yourself, better use a dedicated utility like CleanMyMac X to get a fresh and clean Mac in just two clicks.