How to properly maintain your Mac with regular cleaning

Oryna Lienkova
Apple certified support professional
October 4, 2023
7 minutes to read

Mac computer products are high-quality tools that can last a long time if they are well-cared for. Your Mac can serve you for years if it is properly maintained. For example, we have a MacBook Pro 2012 that runs macOS 10.14 just like a new computer. While certain elements, such as the battery or SSD, might need to be replaced over time for better performance, optimizing the storage space only requires regular attention.

Since the lack of storage space also affects the productivity of your computer, it’s wise to maintain your Mac with regular cleaning. In this article, we will share several tips on how to regularly clean up your Mac to free up disk space.

Clear the downloads folder

By default, the Downloads folder keeps tons of different files downloaded to the Mac. Each time you download music files, videos, images, installation files or any other file from the net, they go to the Downloads folder. Consequently, your Downloads folder is filled with various files that are likely no longer needed. You can manually clear this folder by moving all files to the Trash bin. To prevent cluttering the Downloads folder, we recommend that you use one of the following tips:

  • If you want to change the location for newly-downloaded files on your disk, you should make modifications in your browser preferences. If you are using Safari, take the following steps:
    1. Launch Safari. In the menu bar, click Safari → Settings. Then select the General tab.
    2. Next to the File download location section, click on the drop-down menu and choose one of two options: Other or Ask for each download.
    3. If you want to change Downloads to another particular folder, select Other and create a new folder or select one of the existing folders on your disk.
    4. Or else, select Ask for each download and every time you download a file, you will be asked to choose where to save it.

    delete useless files on mac

  • If you want to clean up your Mac but continue saving files to the Downloads folder, make these actions a habit:
    1. Open Finder → select Downloads.
    2. Arrange files by name, size, kind or date added to find the most convenient way to review data.
    3. Then, skim all the items. Select those files you do not need anymore and move them to the Trash bin. Drag and drop useful files to the appropriate folders to keep them.

    clear downloads folder

It is better to avoid copy-pasting files from the Downloads folder, as you can accidentally create useless copies. Files with the .dmg extension (Apple Disk Image Files) often store software installers. These files can be freely removed once the software has been installed. If you happen to need the DMG file of a particular app again, it’s likely you’ll download a new version of the app and its installer.

Delete old files

Have you ever found a file on your Mac and tried to remember why it was downloaded or created? But then you just move on, planning to deal with it later. Well frankly, we have lots of outdated files on our computers. Some of them are old and large media files, which have become dusty over time.

If you want to get rid of old files to increase your computer’s performance, complete the following simple steps:

  1. Open Finder.
  2. In the menu bar, click File → from the pop-up menu, select New Smart Folder.
  3. In the window that appears, click on the Plus button at the top right corner.
  4. In the next moment, you will see a new field where you can set the file type (i.e. a document, image, music file, PDF, and so on).
  5. Then click on the Plus button once more to add additional parameters. To find old files, select Created date and type the period you want to review.
  6. For your convenience, you can switch the preview display in the menu bar of the window to show the items as icons, a list, in columns, or in a gallery format.
  7. Review all items, select unneeded files, and move them to the Trash bin.

mac cleaning

Remove duplicates

Duplicate files are also useless as they just take up precious storage space on your disk. However, these kinds of files are not so easy to find.

If you want to manually remove unneeded duplicates from your Mac’s hard drive, you can create a new Smart Folder just as with the previous example. To do so, follow the next steps:

  1. Open Finder → click File in the menu bar → select New Smart Folder.
  2. In the window that appears, click Plus to add the search field.
  3. Select Document and click on the Name field to arrange items by title.
  4. Then try to detect duplicate files. Some of the duplicate files will have the word “copy” in their titles with the same file type and size.
  5. Select unneeded copies and move them to the Trash bin.
  6. delete old files on mac

Unfortunately not all duplicates have the same names. You can copy a file from one folder, paste it to another folder, and then rename the new copy. In this case, you will have two or more replicas of the same file with the equal size and type but with different titles. That is why the manual method of removing duplicates is not accurate, not to mention really time-consuming, so we advise using a special software tool for this purpose.

One trusted program is the free Duplicate File Finder app. You can easily remove any duplicate file from your Mac via Duplicate File Finder by taking the next simple steps:

  1. Launch the Duplicate File Finder on your Mac.
  2. Click to add or drop folders you want to scan.
  3. Click Find Duplicates.
  4. In the next moment, you will see a list of all duplicate files detected in the scanned folders.
  5. Select useless copies and click the Review to Remove button.
  6. Review the files you are going to delete and confirm the action.
  7. Duplicate files on Mac
  8. Empty the Trash bin to completely delete duplicate files from your Mac.

Empty Trash

Your Trash folder may also store lots of worthless files. If you do not regularly purge files from the Trash bin, over time these junk items take up significant storage space. Therefore, we recommend selecting one of the following ways to clear out the Trash folder:

  1. Regularly make a right-click on Trash and select Empty Trash to clear it.
  2. You can set your Mac to automatically purge the Trash bin. For this, open Finder → in the menu bar, click Finder → select Settings from the pop-up menu. Within the Settings window, click on the Advanced tab → select Remove items from the Trash after 30 days.
  3. Mac Finder settings window

Remember, you can restore any file from the Trash folder. But once you have selected the Empty Trash button, all files will be permanently deleted from this folder.


Your Mac’s performance basically depends on two factors: the software and hardware condition. In general, resolving the hardware issues involves asking for help from the Apple Support Team. The software issues, however, can be resolved on your own using your Mac’s built-in tools or a specific Mac cleaning tool.

We recommend downloading the free Duplicate File Finder app to easily remove duplicates from your Mac. Learn more about this intuitive, easy-to-use duplicate file remover in the detailed product guide.

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