Do you have any game-changing tips?
I received a white Macbook as my high school graduation present and I thought it was going to make it through all four years. It was going strong until basically the first week of my senior year. The light on the screen went out and it cost more to fix than the laptop was worth by then so I opted for a new Macbook Pro. (Pretty good timing, if you ask me because I could still take advantage of the student discount!)
I really love my Macbook Pro, but I have put it through the ringer in terms of performance. I like a lot of programs running and I’ve collected quite a bit of files over the years. While it’s been teetering on the edge of poor performance for a while, this past week it’s taken a sudden turn for the worse. Truly, it went from manageable (slow at times) to useless (spinning color wheel of death every time I clicked on something). Not to mention the fact that I 100% maxed out my storage. It got to the point where I couldn’t even take a screenshot.
I decided to wipe as much off of my computer as possible, switch to cloud storage, and really overhaul my laptop to get it back up and running. Now, I’m NOT a computer expert by any means, but the methods and approaches I used aren’t super drastic so I think they’re doable for anyone. My laptop is definitely running smoother and I can actually be productive on it, which is a win. I’m sure there is more (drastic things) I can do, but for now… this works.
ONE // Move everything to a hard drive
I have the most random stuff stored on my laptop. I mean, I randomly found a picture of Taylor Swift in preschool that I saved at some point in 2008. I have an external hard drive that is reasonably priced and stores everything I could ever need, and then some. I moved every file that I wanted to save onto this hard drive… including every folder from college and all of the photos I have stored in iPhoto*. It took a lot of time going through all the folders, but it was actually nice to spend time organizing everything I have accumulated. I was able to delete a lot of unnecessary and irrelevant files, too.
TWO // Invest in the cloud
This was the hardest thing to acknowledge, but I finally bit the bullet and decided to start storing things in the cloud. I love Dropbox, so I upgraded to the Pro account. I used to delete files out of there all the time to make room for new stuff. Now that I am not saving things to my computer (but instead backing up what I want to archive on my hard drive), I use Dropbox for the files I need access to. Branding materials, headshot, shared folders with my photographers, etc. I’m excited to see how useful this will become as time goes on and I get more comfortable with saving files long term here. Any tips/advice is 100% welcome.
THREE // DaisyDisk
Garrett was very aware of the frustration I was experiencing with my laptop storage. He encouraged me to download DaisyDisk. It’s $10 in the app store and well worth it. It shows you what exactly is eating up your storage. It breaks it down into a beautiful graph that you can flip through… and wipe things you don’t need right from your hard drive. Even though I had spent time doing this manually, I was SHOCKED to find hidden files basically everywhere. For example, I had manually copied all my iPhoto files to my external hard drive and I thought I cleared out the files from iPhoto, but apparently they were still stored somewhere! Bam! Deleted and done with.
FOUR // New browser
Doing all that, I cleared up quite a bit of space on my laptop**. However, my computer was still freezing up all the time. I thought it was from running multiple programs, but even if I just had one Google chrome window with one tab and everything else shut down, the spinning wheel would appear.
I had an Apple guy explain to me once that your computer’s storage is like the cabinets in the kitchen. Running programs is like using counter space to prep for dinner. You can have organized cabinets and space on the shelves (aka plenty of storage), but if you have a million things being chopped, stirred, and diced on the countertops that’s really causing the mess.
My friend Alison recommended opening up the Activity Monitor on my Macbook because she thought it could be an issue with Chrome. (Apparently she had the same problem as me!) Sure enough Chrome was the culprit. It was making my computer work way, way harder than even my heavy-lifting Photoshop! I deleted Chrome from my computer*** and have been adjusting to Safari. Let me just say… my computer is running like a dream right now.
(I’d be curious if other people found the same solution helpful… let me know.)
* A note about iPhoto: I thought iPhoto was amazing when I first got my laptop. However, the more photos I added over the years, the harder it became to sort through everything. It would crash often and it was kind of a juvenile way to organize photos. I eventually switched to creating folders on my computer and copying/saving photos there. I wish I had done this from the very beginning to cut down on the mess.
** While I made a dent in opening up more space, I still don’t have that much free storage. This is why I’m most excited to see how the external + cloud combination will help over time!
*** Find Chrome in Applications through your finder. Drag the icon to the trash and then empty your trash!
I’m so, so happy I committed some time to getting my laptop back in shape. I know laptops don’t last forever, but I’m hoping my little guy lasts a few more years!