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Like this article? We recommend If All Else Fails, Nuke It

If All Else Fails, Nuke It

This may sound drastic, but there’s one thing you can do that’ll not only clean out all the files you don’t need, but help your Mac to run better. I call it the “nuclear option”: back up all your documents and format your hard disk. Then reinstall all of your applications and just the document files you need. If you’re honest with yourself and don’t put the same old junk back on your hard disk, I guarantee you’ll regain at least half your hard disk space.

This task, however, is not something you can do in a few minutes. As you might know if you’ve ever had a hard disk failure and were forced to do this, it could take a whole day or more. But there’s no denying that your hard disk will look huge and empty again when you’re done.

Look at it this way, though: If your home’s closets, cabinets, and garage were dirty and cluttered, would it be easier to simply clean them out or to move all your stuff out, bulldoze your home, rebuild from scratch, and move your stuff back in?

I know which task I’d prefer.

My Advice

My first bit of advice is to never let your hard disk fill up. If you always archive and remove files you don’t need to have on your hard disk, you’ll never be faced with the problem of running out of space.

But since you probably won’t do that – who does? – try this: The next time you’re on hold waiting for customer service or technical support, pick one of the areas I covered in this article and follow the instructions I provide to remove the clutter. If you do this once a week, you should be able to prevent your hard disk from becoming too full to get work done.

Maria Langer is a freelance writer and the author of Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard: Visual QuickStart Guide for Peachpit Press. She’s been working with and writing about Macs since 1989 and is faced daily with the challenge of keeping hard disk space free on the three Macs she uses to get her work done. Visit Maria on the Web at

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