How to Clean up, Revive, and Optimize your Mac® System

Keeping your Mac in good working order is key to getting as much benefit as possible out of your Apple® system. Follow our guide to clean up and optimize your Mac, making it faster and more responsive.

Optimize the inside of your Mac with a clean-up

The first way to clean up your Mac is to clean the inside. It takes a little time, but it’s worth it!

Step One: Update your software

The first step to optimizing the inside of your Mac is to update your software. Install any patches, security updates, and application updates. It’s important to accept updates from Apple to maintain the security of your computer and to receive any new features and enhancements. Software updates often streamline the application and are more efficient.

Step Two: Tidy up your start up

Check for programs that automatically start when you turn on the computer. Delete the programs or remove them from the start up menu.

To find the items that are opening automatically and running in the background, follow these steps:

  1. Click on System Preferences, then Users & Accounts, select the Login tab
  2. Look through the items and remove anything that you don’t need to start automatically

It’s also important to turn off your system completely about once a week. Turning off the computer clears the memory and closes any programs that might be running in the background.

Step Three: Clean out unused apps

Look at your desktop and remove the shortcuts for any programs and documents that you’re no longer using. Delete the programs and documents or move them to storage. Use Software Update to uninstall unnecessary apps.

To get to Software Update, click the apple icon, then select App Store and update or uninstall programs.

Step Four: Clean out the downloads folder

Your downloads folder can get bogged down with a lot of old downloads. Move everything in the folder to storage or delete it if it’s no longer used.

Screenshot of the Downloads folder pop-up window on a Mac

Step Five: Tidy up your storage disk

To further optimize your system, check and fix your storage disk:

  1. Click Choose Applications, then Utilities, and Disk Utility
  2. Choose your storage drive, then click Verify Disk.
  3. If any errors are returned, click Repair Disk
Screenshot of the Disk Utility pop-up window on a Mac


If you’re running OS X Sierra, you can also optimize your storage automatically. This feature will also move some of your items to iCloud®. To set up your iCloud account, go to System Preferences, then click iCloud.

It’s a good idea to go through the files on your storage disk and remove anything you no longer want; programs you don’t use, games you don’t play, and files you don’t need to keep. Freeing up space on your storage drive will help the computer respond faster.

If you find that your Mac is running out of storage space, it might be time for an upgrade. If you’re using a hard drive, consider getting a solid state drive (SSD).

Step Six: Clean out the cache

Your system can also be optimized by cleaning out the cache your system saves every time you go to a website.

If you’re using Safari as your web browser, follow these instructions:

  1. Open Safari, click Preferences
  2. Click Advanced, then Show Develop Menu
  3. Click Check Develop Menu and Empty Caches

Be sure to back up your data regularly, as well.

Find out more about increasing the speed of your Mac.

Step 7: Remove resource-hungry programs

Some programs use more processor and memory resources than others.

Here’s how to find out which apps are using memory resources:

  • In the Finder app, click Applications > Utilities > Activity Monitor > then click the Memory tab and the CPU tab
  • You’ll see the processes listed in order of how much memory they’re using

Decide if you need to use the programs that are using the most resources, or if you can close them.

Screenshot of the Activity Monitor (My Processes) window on a Mac

If you consistently need to use programs that use a lot of memory, consider getting more memory (RAM).

Step 8: Take out the trash

Be sure to empty the trash after you’ve removed apps and other deleted items

Screenshot of the Empty Trash option on a Mac

Clean the outside of your Mac and more

Cleaning the outside of your Mac prevents dust and grime from interfering with the keyboard and vents. It also gives you a psychological boost to clean your desk area.

Turn off and unplug your computer, then use a damp cloth to clean the accumulated dust from your any surfaces, but be careful what kind of chemicals you use, especially on your screen or monitor. Spray the cleaner on a cloth to avoid getting moisture in any of the ports. Use compressed air to clean around the keys on the keyboard and in the vents. For MacBooks®, use short bursts of air to clean the vents without harming the fans on the inside. Find out more about how to dust your computer.

Take this opportunity to identify and tidy up the cables that are tangled around each other. It will be much easier to swap out peripheral equipment if you don’t have to work through the rat’s nest each time.

These tips will help clean up and optimize your Mac so you can work and play quickly.

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