Do You Know How to Really Clean Your Computer?

Buying a new computer is kind of like moving. When you move, you’re inspired to clean out, give away or throw away your clutter because the last thing you want to see in your new dwelling is your old junk.

I recently felt the same way when I purchased a new laptop. I still love and prefer using my desktop computer at home but I wanted to duplicate the apps and files from my desktop to my new laptop. This presented a “moving clutter dilemma” for me. There were so many unnecessary and junk files on my desktop that I first needed to clean it up before copying the good files to my new laptop.

The process of cleaning out old files on a computer is as tedious and unappealing to me as cleaning out the basement. But, like moving into a new place with fewer belongings, a digital cleanse is heavenly.

You Need a System

I decided on a two-step process to clean up the old computer. First, delete duplicate files, which especially occurred in my photos. Second, organize the remaining files into folders that make sense and delete those no longer needed.

I could have spent the next three years trying to find the duplicate files, photos and videos one by one! To maintain my sanity, I decided to search for an app to do the dreary job. When it comes to choosing software, I always check for reviews and recommendations on lifehacker.com. I like their explanations and have never been disappointed with their top picks.

My old computer is an iMac and my new laptop is a Macbook Pro. Lifehacker recommended Gemini (http://macpaw.com/gemini), which costs $10. For PC users, Lifehacker recommends a free app called dupeGuru (http://www.hardcoded.net/dupeguru/). dupeGuru also has a Mac version, but I decided to stick with the number one Mac recommendation, Gemini.

If you have many photos, videos or music files, it may take the duplicate finder hours to completely search and clean up your computer. After Gemini found and deleted my duplicates, the re-organization of the remaining files was required. This was manual labor on my part and took a few days, off and on. I reviewed every file and folder on my iMac, not including system or application files. I’ll share my process with you.

  1. Decide where you want all of your file folders to be located. On a Mac, I recommend under your user name, rather than Documents. On a PC, however, I do recommend that you use the My Documents location.
  2. Every file must be in a folder. Create folders within folders. No folder should have a mixture of files and folders, i.e. the last folder within a group of folders should only have files in it. This one rule can keep you super organized.
  3. Completely cleanup the Downloads folder by deleting all .dmg files on a Mac or .exe files on PC’s. These are the files that install software you have downloaded to your computer. Deleting them will not delete your installed applications. If it bothers you to delete these files, at least move them into a folder called Software Downloads in your chosen folder location. Move other documents to proper folders or delete. The goal is to end up with an empty Downloads folder.
  4. If you are really feeling inspired, uninstall programs that you no longer use. You will need to have administrator privileges and know your password to do this.
    • On a PC
      1. Click Windows Start icon >Control Panel>Programs>Programs and Features.
      2. Select a program and click Uninstall.
      3. Enter your PC password if requested.
    • On an Apple (for most applications)
      1. Open the Applications folder in Finder.
      2. If the app to be uninstalled is in a folder, open the folder. If you see Uninstall or Uninstaller, double-click on it and follow the instructions.
      3. If the app to be uninstalled is not in a folder, drag and drop the application into the Trash can icon in the dock.