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From the author of Get Rid of E-Mail and Attachments

Get Rid of E-Mail and Attachments

That brings up another hard disk junk heap: e-mail. If your e-mail client is set up to store copies of e-mail messages and attachments on your computer locally, whatever you see in your e-mail client is taking up space on your hard disk.

Lots of people talk about “in-box zero,” but your e-mail in-box is only part of the problem. As you go through your in–box, you file messages and their attachments into subfolders. Those messages and files still reside on your hard disk.

Worse:I If you save an attachment to a folder on disk, that attachment resides in two places on your hard disk: your Mail Attachments folder and the folder to which you saved it.

Want to get an idea of how bad the situation is? If you use Mail, use the File > Get Info command on two folders in the Library folder inside your Home folder: Mail and Mail Downloads. As shown in Figure 8, these two folders occupy over 400 MB of hard disk space on my computer’s hard disk. How much space are they hogging on yours?

Figure 8 The Info windows for the Mail and Mail Downloads folders can tell you exactly how much disk space is occupied by e-mail messages stored on your computer.

The best way to free up space in your e-mail client is to simply delete the messages you no longer need to keep. But don’t just go through your in-box. Be sure to check all the subfolders you may have created to organize your mail. Then, when you’re finished, check the software’s Trash folder; Mail has one. In Mail, use the Mailbox > Erase Deleted Items > In All Accounts command to clear out the deleted messages for good.

Worried that Murphy’s Law will strike and that you’ll need a message after you’ve deleted it? If you use Mail, you can archive a mailbox to disk. Select the mailbox and choose MailBox > Archive Mailbox to get started. Once you save the file to disk, you can back it up onto a CD and remove the file from your computer.

Simplify Your Fonts

One thing that bugs me about major software manufacturers like Microsoft and Adobe is the way they always seem to install a big bunch of fonts with their applications. Add enough of these programs to your computer and your list of fonts exceeds your scrolling patience when you need to find one.

Unless you’re a designer and actually need dozens of fonts for your design work, take a closer look at the installed fonts and remove the ones you don’t need. Again, you can back them up before deleting them so you can always reinstall them if you need to.

Mac OS X comes with a good tool for working with fonts: Font Book. Use Font Book to browse through your installed fonts. Select a font or font family to remove and press Delete. Font Book moves the associated files to the Trash. Quit Font Book, empty the Trash, and you’re done.

To copy the font files to another folder for backup before deleting them, choose File > Export Fonts and specify a folder to copy the fonts to. Once the files have been exported, you can delete them from Font Book. Then back up the exported fonts and delete them from your hard disk.

What’s great is that Font Book can flag duplicate fonts and help you resolve them. As shown in Figure 9, Font Book displays a yellow triangle beside duplicate fonts. You actually have two copies of the flagged font and you certainly don’t need both. Choose Edit > Select Duplicated Fonts to select the affected fonts and font families. Then choose Edit > Resolve Duplicates. You can then go through the list of fonts and delete all the ones that have been marked as Off. I just went through this exercise and regained 6.4 MB of hard disk space, just by deleting duplicate fonts I don’t need!

Figure 9 Font Book displays a yellow triangle beside duplicate fonts.

Best of all, Font book won’t let you delete a System font – one that’s needed by Mac OS X or other applications to function.

Find and Delete Duplicate Files

Saving e-mail attachment files without deleting the e-mail message is just one way to duplicate a file on your hard disk. Sometimes you can create duplicate files by copying files to one disk location, forgetting you put them there, and then copying them again to another location.

It doesn’t matter how a duplicate file got onto your computer. What matters is that it’s there and the file takes up twice the amount of space it needs. Duplicate files can really eat up your disk space – especially if they’re big, fat files like PowerPoint slide decks, images, or movies.

The trick is finding the duplicates. While you could go through your hard disk manually and look for duplicate files, you might prefer software that can do it much more quickly. Arazis Ltd.’s Find Duplicate Files ($15) is one such tool. You can drag one or more folders into a list, then the utility searches through the folders to find duplicate files. What’s neat about Find Duplicate Files is that it compares what’s in the file, not the file name. It then displays all versions of the duplicate file (Figure 10). Click a button to select the copies, and click another button to delete them.

Figure 10 Find Duplicate Files lists all versions of duplicate files it finds folders you specify.

Personally, I’m a bit leery of depending on software to delete duplicate files. In looking through the list Find Duplicate Files found for me, I realized that I actually do need duplicate copies of many of the files it found – and it found over 349 of them in my Documents folder alone! However, many duplicates are images that are linked to different versions of InDesign page layout files. Deleting the linked files would break the links and cause all kinds of headaches if I wanted to work with the InDesign files that relied on them.

But do I really need the older versions of these InDesign documents on my hard disk? I don’t. So I might be better off archiving and removing the folders for each of these documents and then running Find Duplicate Files again to see what else it finds.

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