The birds are singing, the flowers are blooming and your Mac is starting to appear a bit sluggish. So let’s spruce things up.

First up is getting rid of the space hogs that are inevitably sucking down hard disk space. My favorite option for finding what is taking up the most space is called Grand Perspective. It’s free and lets you visually see what is taking up the most space on your Mac.

Once you get rid of those old TV episodes, it’s time to get rid of those apps that you aren’t using anymore. My favorite is AppZapper, but it costs $13. A free option is App Cleaner. Hunt down those apps that you haven’t touched in 6 months or more. (You can always redownload them from their respective websites if you find that you need it at a later date.)

Now that we have some space reclaimed on your system, let’s get everything up to date. Launch Software Update from the Apple menu and make sure you’re system is up to date. You should also run the software updaters for Microsoft Office and the Adobe Creative Suite if you have those programs installed.

Just in case things are acting a bit funky, I wanted to mention the built in app, Disk Utility. This is a bit of a first aid kit to get an idea if that if something funky is going on with your hard drive or SSD. Launch Disk Utility from Applications>Utilities (or Spotlight) and run the Verify Disk. If you run into some errors its a good idea to let Disk Utility fix them, but you have to run it again from different drive. If you’re on a Mac without an optical drive you’ll have a bootable recovery partition. If you have a Mac with an optical drive you’ll have to find your Mac OS X Install Discs. Reboot your Mac holding the Option key and select the recovery partition or Install Disc from the list of options. Once you’re booted, look for Disk Utility under the Utility menu option and run Repair Disk. I know it’s a pain, but it can prevent major problems from creeping up down the road. If some weird problem start to prevent Disk Utility for fixing the errors, it’s time for a visit to your local Apple Store. Set up an appointment with a Genius who can better diagnose the problem. (Appointments are free and can be made at Apple’s Retail website.)

Finally, it’s important to back up what you’ve cleaned up. If you have an external drive, use Time Machine (or the semi-free SuperDuper! if you’re not on Leopard) to back everything up. It’s also a good idea to have an off-site copy of your data, just incase something drastic happens and you lose your backup drive. I store everything I can’t stand to lose in Dropbox, but you could easy use a pay for service like CrashPlan.

Hopefully you’ll enjoy a nice, refreshed Mac that is ready to go for the last few weeks of the semester.