In day one of this series, we cleaned up your Desktop and had you organize your files into the already built in groupings in the Home directory on your Mac. Today, I’m going to focus on two other areas on your Mac that are easily cluttered, and near impossible to ignore – the Dock and the Menubar. Here are some suggestions for how to deal with those:
The Dock is a very useful feature of your Mac and it’s purpose is to allow you to launch frequently accessed programs quickly. Frequency is the key here. Certain programs you probably launch everyday, many times a day, or pretty much run constantly from the moment you log in to your Mac. Those are the sorts of items that belong in the Dock.
There are many applications that automatically place icons in your Dock upon installation for programs you may use only infrequently, if at all. Microsoft Office is one example (the 2008 version puts 7 icons in your Dock). Even Apple is guilty of this with the iLife and iWork suites. In addition, many people still keep an icon in the Dock long after they have stopped using the application. I argue that such items have no place in the Dock.
Take the time to look at each icon in your Dock and evaluate with honesty which ones fall into which of the above criteria. Any that fall into the later, click-hold and drag those directly up then release them and breathe a sigh of relief with every saucy little poof.
Like your Dock, there are many applications that put an icon in your menubar upon installation. In increasingly more cases, the menubar icon is the application. And don’t even get me started on the applications that put an icon in your Dock and your Menubar on installation even if in prior versions of that aplication you have told it you prefer one over the other (Droplr, you know I am looking at you right?).
There are some other scenarios I can think of where a Menubar icon may exist for a service that is rarely used. I have seen many people with desktop Macs that are networked via ethernet that, despite not being used, have the Airport Menubar item active. Or Bluetooth when no such devices are being used. Just because Apple put them there does not mean you need to keep them.
Therefore, just like your Dock, it can be a slippery and fast path to a lot of icons for applications and utilities that you rarely use. If you use a Menubar icon for a service or application, keep it in there. If an application has both a Dock icon and a Menubar item that perform essentially the same functions, choose one over the other.
If neither of these is true, why have a Menubar item at all. With many of them, command-clicking and dragging out of the Dock will remove it. Others have it in a preference panel or pane. Still others you simply must quit the application to make it go away.
Tomorrow, we will look at how to deal with some of that stuff you cleaned up off your Desktop on day one. Stay tuned…
Inspired by, and shamelessly riffing on, the wonderful Unclutter Your Life in One Week, the next 5 days will show you how you can apply some quick and simple steps to get your Mac into ship-shape.
We are going to start with cleaning up your Desktop (and keeping it that way). A computer desktop can get cluttered very quickly with files and folders. After all, it is intended to operate just like a real world desktop – a place to hold items you are working on. But, just like the real world, that spot operates best when it is being used to hold only the items you are working on. Luckily, the Mac makes it easy to file and organize these items into fairly logical grouping which will make them easy to find should you need them again. Much of this may seem rudimentary to you but, trust me, there are many that can benefit from this info.
In the Finder, go to the “View” menu, click on “Arrange by” and choose “Kind.” This will group items based on the type of file they are.
Open a Finder window and navigate to your “Home” folder. One of the nice things about the Mac is that it actually encourages you to organize into some logical groupings. Documents, Pictures, Music… It is all right there ready for you to get your org-fu on.
Take the files on your Desktop, now grouped by kind, and organize them into these folders. Place Documents into Documents, Pictures into Pictures, etc. Don’t worry about their final resting place (iTunes, iPhoto, etc.) right now. The goal here is simply to get your Desktop cleaned up.
While doing this, think about the things you don’t need to keep and can go straight to the Trash. This includes .DMG files for applications you have already installed. .ZIP files for archives you have already unzipped, etc. If you don’t need it there is no reason to file it anywhere but that circular file in your Dock.
A clean Desktop is easy to keep that way. Commit to taking a few seconds at the end of every day to file away items no longer needed at the ready using the steps above. The fewer the items, the less time it will take.