Your new Mac will work like a charm for few months after purchasing. Over period you will start noticing the system becomes slow and lagging in performance. A major part of performance problems in Mac comes due to lack of maintenance activities. As with any other product, you have to maintain the Mac properly and carry out certain tasks periodically. Here is a simple Mac maintenance guide for beginners to keep your system on track.
Mac Maintenance Guide
MacBook uses the robust macOS as operating system to protect your system from malicious software. However, you also need to follow some basic maintenance tasks for the following reasons:
- Clean up the system and release storage space.
- Speed up Mac to perform well.
- Improve the security.
- Protect your data.
1. Keep macOS and Apps Updated
The first regular maintenance task is to keep your operating system up to date. You can either do this manually or schedule an automatic update to save time. Go to “Apple Menu > System Preferences…” section and then click on “Software Update” icon. It will open a pop-up like below and the system will automatically check if there are updates available. If an update is available, then you can plan to install as per your convenient time.
For automatic updates, click on the “Advanced” button and enable all the check boxes. You will show a notification whenever there is an update available.
Similar to OS, it is also necessary to keep all your apps up to date. As you see in the above screen, you can simply enable “Install app updates from the App Store” option to automatically update your apps in the background. Alternatively, you can go to “Updates” section in App Store and update the apps manually. If you use third-party apps not available in App Store, make sure to update them regularly so they are compatible with your OS version.
2. Do Regular Backup
Next task is to backup your Mac regularly to an external disk. This will help you to recover the files and folders if you have wrongly deleted or restore the entire system. Though this will not help in improving Mac’s performance, keeping a regular back will provide a peace of mind that your data is safely available in duplicate. When you are in “System Preferences…” section, go to “Time Machine” option. Connect your external hard drive and select the that as your backup disk. You can also enable “Back Up Automatically” option so that your Mac will automatically start the backup whenever you connect the specific hard disk. Remember, it will take long time for the first time backup and then less time for further snapshots.
Enable “Show Time Machine in menu bar” option to add the icon on the top menu bar. Then click on the “Time Machine” icon and select “Enter Time Machine” option to navigate through all your previous backups and select the files/folders to restore when needed.
3. Delete Temporary Files and Cache
Over period, you will start accumulating cache and temporary files on your Mac. It could be the browser caching on your Safari browser or temporary system files. For Safari, you can simply delete the browsing history by navigating to “History > Clear History” menu.
For other temporary files, follow the instructions in this article to clean up them.
4. Cleanup Junk and Duplicate Files
Another maintenance task is to find and clean up large/junk files. If you are using lot of audio and video files, this will help to clean up space as well as improve the speed. There are many third-party apps available for finding duplicate and junk files in your Mac. However, we recommend using the default storage cleaning option first before you try any third-party app.
- Go to “Apple Menu > About The Mac” section.
- It will show a pop-up and click on “Storage” tab.
- Click on the “Manage…” button to open the recommendations for managing your storage.
- Click on “Review Files” against “Reduce Clutter” option.
- On the next screen that appears, you can navigate through “Large Files”, “Downloads” and “Unsupported Apps” section. If you find a large file (for example, you might have downloaded and forgot that file), select and click “Delete” button to remove the file. You can also use “File Browser” to scan through different folders and find which files are occupying large storage space on your Mac.
If this does not help then go to App Store and download and disk cleaner app. Third-party apps work similarly to scan your Mac for large, duplicate files and delete them.
5. Fix Disk Errors
Many users do not know that Mac has lot of built-in utilities. Disk Utility is one such a tool to view and fix hard disk errors. Use Spotlight Search to find Disk Utility app and open it. You can use this app for creating new volume/partition in hard disk when starting using the Mac. If you are entire hard drive as single volume, it is a good idea to create additional partitions to keep your data away from system files.
For fixing disk errors, click on “First Aid” option and confirm the action by clicking on “Run” button. This will analyze your disk for errors and repair them if possible. In this way, you can fix disk errors and improve the storage capacity as well as performance of your Mac.
6. Delete Unused User Accounts
Some time you may need to provide access to others for using your Mac. You can easily do this by allowing the users as a guest. However, guest users can only access Safari app if you have FileVault enabled. In addition, Mac will delete all the files when guest user log out of the account. Due to this reason, many users create new “Standard” user account for storing the files. If you have created many user accounts, it is a good idea to review all of them and delete unnecessary accounts. This will release large storage space and delete cluttered account files on your Mac. When you are in “System Preferences…” section, go to “Users & Groups” settings. Review the available user account and delete all those unnecessary accounts. Remember, you should be an administrator to delete other user accounts in your Mac.
7. Scan for Malicious Files and Viruses
The last maintenance task is to scan your Mac for malicious files and viruses. By default, Mac has strong OS that will prevent external files from affecting system files. It has an in-built antivirus software to block apps from running when the malware is detected. If you have disciplined habit of browsing and using the system, then probably you do not need this task at all.
However, if you download and install third-party apps it is a good idea to scan your system periodically for malicious files. There are many third-party antivirus software available for Mac like Norton, Bitdefender, etc. Unfortunately, most of these apps are only available on the developer’s website and not on the App Store. You can purchase the subscription for one of these antivirus software to use on your Mac. There are also apps like CleanMyMac X which offers packaged features for cleaning junk files, app data, memory cache and scan for threats.
Though we have given basic maintenance tasks for beginners in the above guide, the actual tasks may vary depending upon how you use the system. For example, if you are installing too many for playing HD games, then the first task would be to delete all app/memory caches and uninstall unnecessary games. This will free up space and memory thus improving the performance. On other hand, if you are using Mac for routine tasks like email checking, social interactions and browsing then you can make a schedule of the above maintenance tasks and carry out them periodically.