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Mac Spring Cleaning

mac-spring-cleaning

Spring is here! Celebrate the vernal equinox with us by taking some time to clean up your Mac. Our guide will provide some places to start your Mac spring cleaning along with some great, free and paid tools. Typically the Mac handles optimization on-the-fly and most maintenance is done in the background. You have probably noticed during installation of new software a point where it is “Optimizing” during the end of the installation. Still from time to time Applications can not operate as expected, so try some quick solutions first.

Have you tried turning it off and on again?

The ol’ trusty restart can in some cases be a good place to start when an application isn’t performing up-to-par. Sometimes it’s as easy as quitting and re-opening the problem application. It’s always a good idea to do a backup and save work before trying any troubleshooting. Rarely but in some circumstances, shutting down or restarting can make matters worse, especially if you’re not prepared with a backup. Typically this only emerges when your Mac is running slow as molasses signaling a possible drive failure or file system problem.

My friend said permission repairs fix everything.

Another great thing about your Mac is it comes with tools built-in called Utilities to help you out. Seasoned Mac users know about these tools found under the Go menu in Finder. One gem application in particular is Disk Utility.

It gives you details about the health and space of your hard drives and allows you to fix application access issues and check your file structure. Sometimes an application doesn’t work correctly because it’s trying to access something that the operating system (OS) is prohibiting due to access issues. That’s what choosing your boot drive, typically named “Macintosh HD,” on the left side and choosing Repair Permissions can do. It only really helps when your apps aren’t working as expected. It’s far from a magic fix-all, but it can help troubleshoot an issue. Don’t be surprised if running the permission repair multiple times yields the same messages. It’s almost never something to be alarmed about, but informative to developers to update their app. Verification of the Disk can warn you about a more serious issue, and it will take a chunk of time suspending use of the Mac.

Some others worth checking out in the utility folder are Console, Activity Monitor, and Keychain. Activity Monitor and Console can give you insight into what is happening in the moment. Sometimes you can see what app is messing up, but often it’s hard for even professionals to decode. The Keychain can help with password issues, but be warned you could end up resetting a ton of passwords if you mess up the keychain. It’s better to check it’s health in preferences and make a backup before touching the individual items listed.

I’ll try a PRAM reset after I clear Cache. That always seems to fix it.

Cache lives on your Mac to help speed things up. Sometimes an application is reading the cache instead of what you want it to do. Clearing this forces everything from the application down to the kernel (lowest-level) to stop relying on bad information found in the cache. Clearing your cache folder found in ~/Library/ and /Library/ can help ( The “~” means your home folder in which the hidden Library lives). The system folder also has it’s own version, but wiping any of  these out can cause problems (This is why it’s hidden). There are programs that can help out which you can read about in the next section.

Another classic recommendation is resetting the PRAM. Typically this does nothing more than make your Mac chime twice during boot, but even seasoned professionals try this one almost immediately out of habit. However, newer Macs don’t rely on this as heavily as before. You could lose important log files and make unintended changes by doing this action and clearing your NVRAM (non-volatile RAM). This only seems to help with booting issues and devices plugged into your post, so please learn more about this on Apple’s support site before jumping the gun: https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT204063

Automate it with the __________ application.

These days most home users and professionals have an endless amount of Mac apps available via the App Store or online, which is where the uneducated user can fubar everything with only a few clicks and a password. Anytime you give your password while installing or running an application you better either know what the app is or why it needs that password. Otherwise you could be willingly installing malware (bad stuff that can spy on you and/or infect your Mac). You may be thinking your saving yourself a trip to the Apple Store or to your local Apple Consultant or Apple Service Provider, but you could end up shooting yourself in the foot. That’s why when my tooth hurts I don’t get a hammer, screwdriver, and pliers to fix it myself, but instead I call my Dental Professional. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying some floss in this example couldn’t save me a trip, but I need to exhaust what I know to do before getting help. Below are some great free applications to help give you ideas, but use with caution and understand these programs can wreck everything and ruin your day if not used properly (like using a knife incorrectly):

  • Time Machine (built-in) can help create a backup for you beforehand. If you proceed in life without a backup, you will loose data at some point in life I promise. Alternatively you can pay us for a great inexpensive, easy solution called Backblaze.  Not bad to have two backups running just in case.
  • Disk Inventory X can give you a nice graph showing how much data you filled up on your Mac. Always good to keep at a minimum 10% of your total space free and available.
  • Onyx can help force maintenance and automate some of the items we discussed. It’s important to get the correct version and use a beta version with caution.
  • Hazel can help you manage your downloads folder if it’s out of control.

Thanks for reading! Feel free to comment your own suggestions or contact us for help.

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