With the first days of March comes the welcome reminder that spring is just around the corner, and with it that oh-so-necessary task of spring cleaning. This year, in addition to tidying your home, consider tidying your digital home, too. We’ve come up with six easy steps to spring clean your computer and eliminate digital clutter from your life.
1. Clear off your desktop: If your computer looks cleaner, it will feel cleaner. Start at the surface and organize desktop files into folders by category: pictures, screenshots, downloads, personal files, work files, etc. Then decide what is truly essential to keep on your desktop and what can be moved elsewhere. And of course, don’t forget to throw some things away! The more you can take off your desktop the better–every time you turn on your computer, it has to load up each of these files. The less you have on your desktop, the faster your computer will turn on.
2. Delete old screenshots: This is easy. Just do a simple search on your computer for files including the word “screenshot” and sift through the ones you can get rid of. You’ll probably discover that this is most of them.
3. Sift through your downloads folder: Oftentimes the files we download take up a lot of space and we don’t end up needing them more than once. If you take a moment to go through this folder you’ll be able to toss out a lot of unnecessary stuff.
4. Delete old drafts of documents: Once you’ve finalized a document, you no longer need to be holding onto each iteration it went through to get to the final copy. Delete all the old versions except the final (or if this makes you uneasy move them to an external drive in a folder entitled “Old Drafts”). This will save you time when you’re looking for the document later, and also conserve space on your computer’s hard drive. For the future, consider including _V01, _V02, etc. to the end of your file names so later you can easily identify which is the most recent version you worked on (it’s much cleaner than “workproject-NEW-NEW-NEWEST-FINAL.doc”).
5. Re-organize files into folders by year: This serves two purposes. First, it allows you to search for files quickly and efficiently because you’ll be able to know when you used them. Second, it allows you to identify old files you are likely not using on a day-to-day basis anymore.
6. Move old files to an external drive: Anything you haven’t opened in the last year can be moved to an external drive. Fortunately, it will be easy to tell now how old everything is because you’ve just sorted everything into folders by year. Chances are, anything you were working on over a year ago you don’t need so frequently that it’s necessary to keep it on your actual computer rather than on an external hard drive.
And lastly, empty your recycle bin! Do you have any other digital spring cleaning secrets? Share them here!