4 Replies Latest reply: Feb 15, 2009 2:46 PM by Texas Mac Man
crease_up Level 1 (0 points)

I have had my Mac a while now and my hard drive is filling up. I'd like to clear out all the old dead files that are taking up space. What is the best way to do this? With Windows you can right click the C drive and select clean up to remove all relevant temp files.

Is there something similar I can do on the Mac, where should I be looking?

Basically I would like some workflow ideas for a general spring clean.

Thanks in advance for your help

iMac24, Mac OS X (10.4.8)
  • Antonio Rocco Level 6 (10,517 points)

    Reboot the mac and hold down the shift key. Keep it depressed until you see the log in window. It should show a reference to Safe Mode or Safe Boot. Log in and empty the trash. Essentially you've performed a 'deep scrape' (fsck works a lot harder and goes a lot deeper when booting in Safe Mode) as well as clearing a lot of dead cache files. Launch Disk Utility and repair privs/perms.

    There are also 3rd-Party Utilities that you could use although I personally would not recommend them. I'm sure there will be plenty of others who'll post and recommend Onyx, AppleJack etc etc. Not that there is anything wrong with them. However - and this is my view only - the best thing you can do to 'clean up your mac' and by implication 'service it' is to back up everything of importance and reformat and reinstall. That includes any 3rd-Party applications. Restore any pertinent data/settings from your backup. It really is the best thing you can do for your mac (or PC for that matter).

    Once a year is a good rule of thumb or, depending on usage, twice. Make it part of your regular routine.

  • crease_up Level 1 (0 points)
    Hi Tony,

    Thanks for the advice. I'm a little nervous of reformatting and reinstalling as I have never done it before. Are there any good step by step tutorials you can recommend?
  • Antonio Rocco Level 6 (10,517 points)

    I can understand your reluctance. It's not for the faint hearted however once you realize what's involved its not difficult at all. You can google for yourself as there are variations of the same theme. However an excellent resource is here:


    What you could do is use the built-in CD/DVD Burner and backup any pertinent data. Make a note (write them down) of key settings for mail, passwords etc. Better still purchase an external hard drive. I would recommend you do this anyway for backup purposes. Something I feel sure you regularly do? You could 'clone' (an exact bootable copy) your existing drive onto that. Test it before going any further by booting from it. When you're happy insert the Installer Disk that came with your mac, boot from it, select Erase and Install. Once installation has finished restart, create your account exactly as before. Re-instate any pertinent network settings for internet access etc and get it fully up to date. When you're happy attach the external drive and use Migration Assistant to transfer what you want thereafter.

    You could do this manually using the external drive. Drag/drop pertinent data: Music, Photos, Mail etc to the drive. Once you're happy continue with the Erase and Install. Copy back when you're happy. Install any additional Software using the installer disks.

    I would also search the Forum as it is a subject that has been tackled many times. Perhaps you failed to notice the three links listed at the top of this Forum page? This one is probably relevant:


    Seeing as there is actually nothing 'wrong' with your computer you could simply ignore this advice? Remember all advice is not necessarily correct for you or your situation. It's a good idea to wait and see what others have to offer so as you reach a balanced judgment.

    You could hone your skills with a 'test' backup and reformat and reinstall once you're certain your cloned back up works. Once you've refined your skills clone back again. You've lost nothing yet you've gained a skill you did not have before plus added confidence.

    Simply shutting down your mac 'cleans it up' to a certain degree. The OS does its own housekeeping on shutdown. Something that most people who leave theirs on 24/7 fail to realize.

  • Texas Mac Man Level 8 (46,565 points)
    Look at these links.

    Where did my disk space go?
    Download & use WhatSize described in this link or Disk Inventory X @ http://www.derlien.com/

    Freeing space on your Mac OS X startup disk

    Amazing Disappearing Drive Space

    Increase HD Free Space
    http://macosx.com/forums/howto-faqs/275191-how-easily-increase-hd-free-space-lap top.html

    How to free up my disk space

     Cheers, Tom