How to clean up, declutter and speed up your Mac for Chinese New Year

Sure, you may be spring cleaning your home now, but how about your Mac? It deserves a little refreshing now and then too. Here are apps, both free and paid, to help you clean up, declutter and speed up your Mac for Chinese New Year.

1. Run a virus and malware scan

You never know these days if your Mac caught a bug from somewhere. Avira Free Antivirus for Mac is a free app that helps you scan your Mac and remove worms, Trojans, rootlets, spyware, and all sorts of nasty stuff.

Avira does install an annoying menu bar icon, and if you’re particular about that kind of thing, a simpler malware scanner to try is Malwarebytes’ Anti-Malware.

2. Delete large old files

Delete large, old files off your Mac to free up disk space. DaisyDisk is a beautiful app that analyzes and then visualizes the biggest files taking up space on your hard drive. It can even do the same for your external drives.

DaisyDisk normally sells at US$10, but is on offer at the time of this writing for US$4.99.

3. Uninstall old apps

Uninstalling old apps can also free up space on your Mac. Uninstalling apps on the Mac is as easy as deleting them from the Applications folder, but sometimes associated files hidden elsewhere remain behind.

To make sure you do a complete clean, use an uninstaller like AppCleaner (free) or AppZapper (US$13).

4. Run First Aid on your Mac

Use your Mac’s built-in Disk Utility to verify and check your hard disk. If you’re running OS X Yosemite and below, you’ll need to open Disk Utility and click ‘Verify Disk.’ If any errors appear, click ‘Repair Disk.’

If you’re running OS X El Capitan, you might notice that Disk Utility has been completely redesigned. Instead of ‘Verify’ and ‘Repair Disk,’ there’s a single option to run called ‘First Aid.’

(Not sure where Disk Utility is? Use Spotlight, the magnifying glass on the top right corner of your menu bar, to search for it.)

5. Optimize your Mac

Sure, Mac users don’t have to deal with defragging, but there are still things you can do to optimize your Mac. OnyX from Titanium Software is a free app that you can use to perform system maintenance and clean up. Another (paid) option is MacPaw’s CleanMyMac 3.

Bonus Tip: Set up Time Machine

You should always back up your computer, and OS X’s Time Machine backup feature makes it so easy that there’s really no excuse.

Get an external hard disk and plug it into your Mac. When you’re asked if you want to use it for Time Machine, just say yes. Alternatively, if you already have an external hard disk attached to your Mac, click on ‘Time Machine’ in System Preferences and select the disk you want to use for backups.

Because Time Machine compresses its backups, you don’t need to use an external hard disk that has the same amount of hard disk space that your Mac has to do a backup.