Taking care of your Mac: Clean the desktop

When customers come in with computers that are running a little slowly — the dreaded beach ball that appears when the computer has to stop and think. There are a few things we look at over the counter to try to correct the issue, and we thought we’d talk about a few of them. We’ll start with your desktop.

Sometimes, when we start up a sick computer, we’ll see a desktop that is completely covered in icons — folders, pictures, documents, mounted discs, etc. Having a large amount of data stored on your desktop will slow the computer down (Jim likes to liken it to having a physical desk — if you have a messy desk and the piece of paper you are looking for is at the bottom of the mess, you have to wade through all the piled up junk before finding it). 

We understand, though, that the rationale for that full desktop is having things easy to hand when you need them, and visible. Luckily, there are two easy solutions to let you continue to have a structure that makes sense for you. 


The Dock

The dock across the bottom of the computer is more than just a home for your commonly used apps. You can place folders there, and be able to access them with just a click. Simply take the folder you’d like access to and drag it down to the right side of the dock, near the trash can (be careful not to accidentally trash the folder!). Any existing icons there will move over to make space for your item.

 Now, when you want to access the folder, you just need to click on it to see its contents.


If you absolutely must have icons of your folders on your desk, aliases can do the trick. An alias is simply a link to the true location of the item. Your documents folder may be tucked away safely within your user folder, but an alias on the desktop will allow you to open it with just a double click. Here’s how to create one. 

Navigate to the folder, and right or control click on it. From the drop down menu, chose “create alias”.

Once the alias is created, you can drag it to your desktop or to any location. When you click on the alias, it opens up the original folder for you. You can always tell an alias by the little arrow on the lower right of the icon.


There are another couple of things that we look at with slow computers, and in the next few days we’ll talk about those, too.