How to Maintain Your Mac Computer

We all know that owning a computer or laptop can be a pain at times. From random flashing, to slow load times, nothing is more stressful than when you need to get something done and your equipment just won’t cooperate.

Well, we’ve put together 10 great maintenance tips anyone can follow to help keep their mac at its best.

Tip #1: Defrag your disk

This may SOUND complicated, and I’ve seen people opt out of doing this just because they don’t want to mess with something they don’t understand. There is nothing to fear – you’re actually helping your mac, and here’s how easy it is to do:

In Finder, view Applications and search for ‘Disk Utility’. When you open it you should see the box below:

defrag your disk

Click on the very first box in the top menu, labeled “First Aid” and let it run.

This really helps clean up some space after weeks of downloading files or deleting caches or other temporary documents.

Tip # 2: Install Updates

This is by far the most overlooked way to keep your computer running great, and it’s honestly so easy.

If you’re not sure whether your computer is up to date or not, you can simply check the app store or click on the apple icon in your top menu bar and choose ‘About This Mac’. In the below screenshot, you can see a button for ‘Software Update…’

install-updates

Tip #3: Clean Your Desktop 

Cleaning your Mac’s desktop can actually help it run more smoothly; especially upon first turning on your computer.

The more files you have on your desktop, the longer it takes to load up your computer when you start it up. If you’re looking for a quick solution, just create a single folder and drop all of your files into it. That way, it’s still easy to access for you, but loading individual files won’t slow you down.

Protip: Many of the files that clutter people’s desktops are actually screen shots! Next time you take a quick screen shot (usually command+shift+4), add in the ‘control’ key as well; it will save the image to the clipboard so you can paste it where you need it without saving an unnecessary copy to your desktop. 

Tip #4: Empty Your Trash

This sounds simple, maybe this is one you already do. As an IT professional, I come across a lot of computers that have trash cans full of files that people just haven’t emptied…ever.

These files are still taking up space on your hard drive until they’re permanently deleted. Try to empty your trash at least once a week.

Tip #5: Double Check All Startup Applications in Use

Due to some application default settings, there could be many applications that startup with the computer and run in the background that you don’t even know about or use.

Many of these applications can be seen on the top menu bar:

menu-bar

To improve startup and load speeds, you can choose which applications open on startup by clicking the Apple Icon in your top menu bar, choosing System Preferences, and clicking into Users & Groups. The screen may default to ‘Password’, but you can click over to ‘Login Items’ using the toggle at the top to see which applications are starting up with your computer.double-check-applications-in-use

Choosing only the Applications that matter to you will help reduce clutter and decrease load times.

Tip #6: Restart Your Computer

Restarting your computer cleans your cache and RAM (random access memory). Think of RAM as the jet fuel that keeps your plane in the air… the more fuel you have the longer you can stay flying. When your computer is on for extended periods of time, you will run out of memory and your computer will slow down.

I recommend restarting your computer at least once a week. Depending on your workload, you may have to restart more often than that.

Tip #7: Unplug Your Laptop 

If you are using a Mac laptop at home or at work, don’t forget to unplug it every couple of days. This will improve the longevity of your battery.

However, you shouldn’t be running your battery down to 0% either. Of course, we all have situations where we just need to use our computer for a few more minutes on a plane or somewhere we can’t plug in, but just note that running to 0% will impact the battery negatively if done enough over time.

Tip #8: Check Out Activity Monitor 

If your computer fan sounds like it’s working double-time, or the computer is getting hotter than normal, try checking your ‘activity monitor’ in your spotlight search (command+space).

This app will give you a breakdown of all your computer’s current and past processes; so you can see which applications are putting strain on your CPU.

activity-monitor

Tip #9: Buy Some Maintenance Apps 

Some of the best ways to keep your computer running fast can be found right in the app store. Two recommended apps to use are “Memory Clean” and “DaisyDisk” – both of which make it easier to keep your hard drive and RAM clean.

Memory Clean is particularly useful if you are working with a memory-intensive program like Photoshop, or another type of editing software.

memory-clean

This app allows you to clean the cache on your RAM without restarting your computer. And even better, the results are pretty much instantaneous!

DaisyDisk is great for deleting both temporary and cache files on a regular basis. These files are generally very small, but can add up quickly; taking up the majority of your hard drive space.

daisy-disk

This app gives you a great visualization of which files are taking up the most space, and where they are located so you can delete them if no longer needed.

Tip #10: Reformat Your Mac

After months or years of use, your computer will slow down for many reasons:

  • Fragmented or corrupt files
  • Unnecessary programs you no longer use
  • General wear and tear of your hardware

The ultimate solution for any of these problems is the simple, albeit daunting task of reformatting your hard drive.

It’s actually pretty easy to do, however, it does take up a lot of time and it requires you to your current hard drive so you don’t lose everything you need.

Once you have all your essentials backed up (there are programs for this, but I recommend doing it manually), all you have to do is hold command+R after restarting your computer, and “erase” your hard drive in the Disk Utility application.

Doing so will force you to reinstall your operating system and all applications. Once this has been completed successfully, your computer should behave as if it is new.

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Aaron is the Media Expert and I.T. at Brandetize. When he isn’t making awesome promo videos for Brandetize clients, Aaron likes playing basketball, going hiking, and making and watching movies.