How to Clean Up a Mac OS X Hard Drive

By Joshua Duvauchelle

Mac OS X is an operating system developed by Apple. While the Mac OS X is traditionally viewed as being simpler and less complex than the Windows alternative, the hard drive in your Mac computer can still become slow if bogged down by too many files and folders. You can clean up a Mac OS X hard drive and delete extraneous files to free up space and help your Mac run faster.

Step 1

Back up your hard drive. This helps protect your personal files if you accidentally delete a file while cleaning up the Mac OS X hard drive. Use a portable hard drive or flash disk, blank CDs or DVDs or an online backup service.

Step 2

Empty your Mac OS X trash bin. When you delete an item on a Mac, it is placed in the "Trash" in your Mac OS X dock. However, it still takes up hard drive space until you clean out the Mac hard drive by emptying the trash. Click "Finder" in the top menu bar and select "Empty Trash" from the drop-down menu.

Step 3

Archive files that you do not regularly use. This consolidates multiple files and folders into a single file and also compresses the data size so that it takes up less room on your Mac OS X hard drive. Drag any documents, pictures or folders into a single folder. Right-click on the folder and select "Archive" from the pop-up menu. Mac OS X will compress each individual file into a single file. Optionally, drag this archived file onto a backup volume (such as a blank CD) and delete the original off of your Mac OS X hard drive.

Step 4

Run a "cron" cleanup software program to delete unused system files and logs that may be taking up space on your Mac OS X hard drive. Examples include Monolingual and Cocktail. Both programs run automated scripts that quickly scan and erase unused system folders.

Step 5

Uninstall unused applications. Over the course of time, you may have cluttered your Mac OS X hard drive with various software installations. Click "Applications" in your dock and drag any unused programs to the trash bin. Empty the trash.

Tips & Warnings

  • Clean up your Mac OS X hard drive regularly to keep space free and boost the overall speed of your Mac OS X system.