Spring Cleaning for your Mac

cleaning supplies

Sierra has included some new tools to manage storage on your Mac. However, if you have an earlier version of Mac OSX, these options are not available.  Cleaning your Mac is an important step in maintenance, and includes cleaning the hard drive, as well as the outside of your device.

Clean the Hardware

First off, turn off your computer and unplug it from power. Take your computer out of the case. Get a microfiber cloth, dampen it slightly, and wipe down your computer. You can also use the damp microfiber cloth on the screen. If you keyboard is extra dirty (I’ve seen some keyboards that I didn’t want to touch), use a soft toothbrush to get between the keys. Lifehacker explains that you can use a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser if you computer is greasy. We also have some LCD cleaning foam in the Idea Lab. Here are the official cleaning instructions from Apple.

Update your Software

Now’s a good time to update your software as well. I usually recommend that people do security updates as soon as they come out. Update your apps in the App Store, as well as your operating system, if your hardware is compatible.

Also, clean up your login items, those are the applications that automatically open when you start your computer. Go to System Preferences | Users and Groups | Login items, and delete the items that you don’t want to automatically open when you start your computer.

Make Space on your Hard Drive

  1. It’s okay to delete apps that you never use on your laptop. You may have installed something for testing, or for a short time, and kept it installed. If you no longer need it, delete it. You can do that by dragging them to the trash can. For a cleaner uninstall, you could use an app like AppCleaner.
  2. Clean out your old photos and videos, remove duplicates, and empty your Photos’ trash.
    • export old photos to an external drive
    • save old photos to Google Photos or to iCloud with optimized storage turned on (only available in Mac OSX Sierra)
  3. Clean out your download folders. Either move files into Documents or delete them.
  4. Organize your desktop. Delete saved screenshots that you no longer need, and move files into folders in Documents. If you can’t see your desktop, it’s a good idea to clean it up. If you want to move a file but be able to quickly access it from the Desktop, make an alias to the file on the Desktop after you move the file.icon for alias
    • To make an alias, click on the file with two finders and select Make Alias.
    • Drag the alias (it’s not a real file, just a pointer to a file as seen by the arrow on it) to the Desktop
  5. Use an app like Disk Inventory X to see the size of folders, or use the Finder to find large files.

To use finder to find large files:

  1. Open Finder, 
  2. Go to File | Find (shortcut CMD – F)
  3. Change Kind to File Size.
  4. Set the minimum File Size requirement e.g. 100 MB

find large files gif

Back Up

Use Time Machine to back up your hard drive, or copy your necessary files over to a back up hard drive. It’s a good idea to schedule a weekly back-up time in your calendar. I encourage you do that now, if  you haven’t done it before.

Cloud Storage Using Google Drive

ISP assigns Google Apps accounts to children from Grade 3. This automatically provides each child with a storage space in Google Drive. We could use Google classroom, but we’ve continued our legacy processes. Here’s how we set up storage:

  • Each student creates a class folder with subfolders for each subject
  • The class folder is shared with the classroom teacher with edit privileges
  • Folders for single subject/specialist teachers are shared with them with edit privileges
  • Each teacher creates a Class Students 2015-2016 folder and adds each student’s folder to it
  • The teacher creates a folder to share work with students (read only by students)
  • The teacher creates a folder where students can share items with each other or with the teacher

Naming conventions are very important when using Google Drive. They enable users to search and find files more efficiently. We use the naming convention of Class Firstname Description e.g. 4P Damianne Math. When there are 2 or more students with the same first name, we append the first initial of the last name e.g. 4P DamianneP Math. Get in the habit yourself and get students in the habit of naming files and folders accurately when they create them, and putting them in the correct folder from the start.

If you do this in Google Classroom, and find the process to be more streamlined with a similar setup, please let me a comment.

Cloud Storage using Shared Devices

There are many different tools that you can use for digital storage on shared devices. I’ve been reading about Seesaw, a digital portfolio tool, various blogging platforms among other options, Box, etc. At ISP, we subscribe to a paid Dropbox account that is shared between Kindergarten and Grade 1 classes using shared iPads. A free account only gets you 2GB free, but you can gain more space through referrals and other invitations on the Dropbox website.

There are different options of how to set up your Dropbox. First, you have to decide if you’d like students to have individual folders for their work, or if you’d like students to store work by subject.

Whichever option you choose, students will invariable save something in the wrong place at some point. They may also move folders accidentally. For that reason, I suggest following a naming convention for example:

  • Every file or folder name begins with the class e.g. 4R or Room206 (even though my images do not show this).

This way, if something gets moved accidentally, it can be identified by anyone who finds it.

It doesn’t matter what tool you use for students to save their work, but it may save you some stress if you think about how you want to set up any shared spaces, and how students should name files for ease of identification, as well as searching.

Bits, Bytes and Nibbles?

Photo source: MedienGuerilla

It’s the time of the school year for quizzes and tests. Do you know anything about how computers store information? Let’s start with bits. A bit is a binary digit, a 0 or a 1. Eight bits (b) make up a byte (B). Then we also have kilobytes (KB), megabytes (MB), gigabytes (GB), terabytes (TB), etc.

  • 1 TB = 1024 Gb
  • 1 GB = 1024 MB
  • 1 MB = 1024 KB
  • 1 kb = 1024 bytes (B)

You may sometimes see 1024 replaced by 1000. There is a bit of controversy and discussion about the use of base 2 notation (1024 = 2^10) instead of base 10 notation (10^3). Humans generally live and work with base 10 (digits 0 – 9) but computers operate with base 2 (digits 0 and 1)


Quiz question (taken from Grade 9 curriculum): How many 512 MB flash disk USB drives can you fit in an 80 Gb hard drive?

I leave you with this final question: What is a nibble?


Free iDevice Apps (limited time only)


Links to Explore