The Tech Tip in the Spring 2021 issue of ILSA’s CyberWatch newsletter comes from Amanda LeNoir, our Operations Supervisor. But she shared so much great information on “spring cleaning” for your computer that it seems a shame to make you wait to read the rest of it!
Spring is the time when traditionally we de-clutter and deep clean our living and workspaces. But are you including your computer in that ritual?
Leaving unused applications on your computer can cause serious harm. Such programs take up storage space and make your operating system work harder than necessary. They force your computer to incorporate entries in the Start menu, sift through settings files, and install updates for programs that you’re not actually using. These applications also can become a target for hackers or data-mining companies. Thus, the fewer you maintain, the better.
How to Get Rid of Unused Applications
Identify the programs you no longer use and uninstall them. Remember, you can always reinstall them later if you change your mind.
For systems running Windows, open the Start menu, go to the Settings panel. Here, you’ll click the System icon, and then on the Apps & features icon. (NOTE: In some versions, the Apps icon may appear separately on the Settings panel. If it does, you can go directly to Apps.)
You can sort apps by size or date to weed out the ones you don’t need. Click on an app to bring up the option to Uninstall it. It’s important to remember that deleting a shortcut from your desktop doesn’t uninstall the application.
On devices running macOS, open Launchpad. Click on and hold any application, and hit the Delete button. Some programs may require you to launch an uninstall utility. To do so, open the Applications folder and look for the Uninstall program. If it doesn’t have one, then just drag the app’s entry from Applications to the Trash.
BONUS TIP: It’s important to check for updates on all programs you choose to keep. Make sure you are running the latest version.
How to Clean Up Your Browser
Browsers are another area where you can do some serious clean-up. In Chrome, go to Settings and click Show Advanced Settings followed by Clear Browsing Data to erase cached files, browsing history, plug-in data, and more. This should make your browser a little lighter on its feet. On Firefox, the option is under Preferences, Advanced, Network, and Cached Web Content. In Microsoft Edge, you need to go to Settings then Clear browsing data. Finally, in Safari, open the App menu and choose Clear History.
Additionally, removing unused browser extensions can have the same benefits as uninstalling unused applications. This action will streamline your browser, lowering its demands on your computer’s resources, and keeping you safer as well. Open up your browser’s extensions or plug-ins page and see if there are any add-ons you can do without.
How to Tidy Up Your Downloads Folder
Finally, check your Downloads folder for files you’ve forgotten about. Sit down and spend an hour or so deleting those photos you’re never really going to look back on and clearing out old documents and spreadsheets that are no longer relevant. Deleting these items will free up space on your system.
Hope these Spring Cleaning tips help you get your information system in shape for summer!