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From the author of Clear Out Unnecessary Language Files

Clear Out Unnecessary Language Files

One of the great things about Mac OS – as far as developers are concerned, anyway – is the fact that it’s a multi-language operating system. If you’re a programmer and want your language to display menus in a variety of languages, all you need to do is include language files for each language you want to support. This sure beats releasing multiple versions of the same program.

Unfortunately, since language files are often included with software, your hard disk may include the files to display menus in Albanian or Bulgarian or Persian in one or more applications. Is this something you need? I doubt it.

You can often free up disk space by deleting these language files. An open source software program called Monolingual (free) makes this very easy to do. Just launch the program and turn on the check boxes for each language you want to remove (Figure 11).

Figure 11 Monolingual lets you check off the languages you don’t need.

By default, it selects all the languages that are not listed in the Language panel of the Language & Text preferences pane. Click the Remove button, then click Continue (if you really want to continue) in the Warning dialog that appears. You’ll have to type in an administrator password, too. Then sit back and let Monolingual go to work. When it was finished on my computer, I’d regained roughly 2 GB of hard disk space.

Find and Delete Big, Fat Files

In performing the cleanup tasks recommended so far, you may have missed one or more really large files that you don’t need to have on disk. Use the Finder’s Find feature to search for files with a Size greater than an amount you specify. Figure 12 shows an example of the files on my hard disk greater than 100 MB in size. It found 142 of them! If I deleted them all, I’d regain 14 GB of hard disk space.

Figure 12 Big, fat files lurk in the dark spaces on everyone’s hard disk.

While I’m not suggesting that you delete files just because they’re big, I am suggesting that you consider them first if you’re interested in freeing up some space quickly. In this example, I found a bunch of old television episodes in iTunes and some raw video files. Do I need them on my hard disk? Can I archive them to DVD and delete them from my hard disk? Or maybe I can just delete them and forget they every existed? (Heck, I can watch old episodes of Monk or Battlestar Galactica on Netflix or Hulu.)

Uninstall Unused Applications

All too many of us have been sucked in by the latest software promo offered by numerous organizations on the Web. You know the ones I mean. You pay one low price and get 10 or 12 software programs, only one of which you’re really interested in. Yet you download them all and may even install them. After trying them once or twice, you never open them again. They languish on your hard disk, taking up space that could be used for other files.

Or you may have other applications that you installed and used to use – but no longer need. Maybe additional Web browsers or text editing applications. Or games – we all know what disk hogs they can be. Did you recently switch from Microsoft Office to iWork? If so, you might consider removing the 950 MB worth of files in your Microsoft Office 2008 folder.

There are a few things you need to consider before removing applications:

  • Does the application’s folder contain any documents you created and need to save? If you’re smart, you save your documents inside the Documents folder in your home folder and this should not be an issue.
  • Is the application registered or activated for use on your computer? If so, you might want to unregister/deactivate it so you can use it on another computer. Adobe Photoshop is a good example. It’s licensed for use on two computers owned by the same person and has to be activated on each computer. If you delete it without deactivating the software first, you might not be able to use it on another computer later. Be sure to deactivate before uninstalling.
  • Most applications create preferences and settings files that they store in other locations on your computer’s hard disk. To uninstall properly, you need to remove these files as well.

Some applications include their own uninstallers that can cleanly remove the applications and their support files from your computer. Most don’t. I use a program called AppZapper by Austin Sarner and Brian Ball ($12.95) to uninstall the programs I no longer use. It’s pretty straightforward: simply drag the main application onto the AppZapper icon. AppZapper launches and displays a window with the application and all of its support files (Figure 13).

Figure 13 AppZapper lists not only the application you want to delete but its support files, which were likely buried in various system folders.

Click Zap and the application and support files are deleted. (And yes, you can disable that annoying zap sound effect.)

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