How to check and optimize your Mac’s memory

One of the best ways to keep your Mac performing and to optimize its performance is to regularly clean your hard drive. An overloaded hard drive slows data retrieval, you may find that your computer takes longer to start, or your apps take longer to use.

A clean computer desktop and hard drive are just as important as a clean household – when everything on and next to the computer is where it needs to be, everything runs much better. If you find that your computer is not performing as fast as it used to be, or it has been a few seasons too long since your last digital spring cleaning, follow these steps.

Check your Mac’s storage space

The first thing we should ask ourselves when cleaning up our data is, ‘What is all of my hard drive space taking up?’ Sometimes our precious memory can be used entirely from a photo shoot where we somehow took a thousand photos. Or maybe there is a movie we downloaded a year ago and forgot to delete it when we finished watching it. In addition, there are dozens of relatively “small” things that we no longer need and that take up a large amount of memory.

So how do we find out where our hard drive space should go?

Step 1: Click the Apple icon in the top left corner of your screen. Click About This Mac.

Step 2: Click the Storage tab. It may take a while for your Mac to figure out where your storage space is being used.

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Step 3: Once everything is loaded you will see where all of your hard drive space is being used. Each category has its color.

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As you can see, most of the space on this hard drive is used by photos in yellow, followed by even smaller rectangles of different colors. You can hover your mouse over each color block to see how much space is used for that category.

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As you can see, iCloud is using about 44GB of storage space on this Mac.

Step 4: Click the “Manage” button on the right side of the window.

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Step 5: A new window opens with four different options for managing your storage space. On the left hand side, you can see the total space used by each category to help understand the other things that are taking up space on your Mac.

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Clicking through each of the tabs on the left will tell you which files are taking up your precious hard drive space. You can open these files from here to refresh your memory (after all, who can remember a little thumbnail what IMG_7024 is?) And decide whether or not to keep this file.

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On the right side we have many options for optimizing our hard drive space.

In the iCloud

The first one shows you what documents you can save in iCloud. To the example, Photos (especially high resolution and high quality) take up a lot of space on your hard drive. If you put it in the Cloud save more space on your hard drive.

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Optimize your storage

Below the iCloud storage there is the option to optimize the storage. This feature removes movies and series that you’ve already watched, leaving more room for new movies and series.

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Empty the trash

Have you ever tossed the box of your microwave food and had to fish it out of the trash to remember the next step? Fortunately, our computers are built the same way – we can still search our trash cans to find our deleted files.

However, much like our trash, we have to throw it away entirely to make more space. The Auto Empty Trash setting is a useful tool if you forget to regularly empty your trash every 30 days.

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Reduce clutter

If you’re the “out of sight, out of mind” person, chances are you have files that you haven’t opened in a while. The Reduce Clutter option lists files that you haven’t opened in different categories. Then, under each tab, you will be presented with files in that folder that you might want to delete.

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Out with the old, in with the new

Optimizing hard drive space is great for reducing your computer’s processing power. Keeping your device efficient and optimized will make using your Mac smoother and free up space for the media and files that serve you best.

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