Mac Performance

How to Declutter Mac

Many people’s Mac devices don’t run anywhere near their optimal levels because of how cluttered they become. Forgetting to delete duplicate files, not removing apps that you no longer use, and keeping caches that hinder your device’s performance are all too easy as you get caught up in everyday life.


A cluttered Mac can seriously hinder your workflow, and you may also leave your device open to potential damage—such as overheating. Some of the consequences of your Mac being cluttered include:

  • Lack of organization: Cluttered Macs lead to files and folders being disorganized. As a result, you might endure stress when looking for tools that you need to complete projects.
  • Lower productivity: Because you need to longer look for files and folders you need, you might waste a lot of time on pointless tasks. As such, you might not complete what you set out to do on a particular day.
  • Poor computer performance: Too much clutter can result in your Mac needing to work harder, which may ultimately cause it running more slowly. Thus, you might find yourself feeling more frustrated when using your device.

You should also be aware of the potential symptoms that your Mac is cluttered.

  • Frequent spinning pinwheels: Also known as the rainbow wheel, spinning pinwheels appear when apps become unresponsive. If you see them and need to force quit programs frequently, Mac clutter could be the reason.
  • Too much on your desktop: A clear sign that you need to manage Mac storage is too many files, folders, and apps on your desktop. You may notice that some icons overlap when you’ve got too much clutter.
  • Overheating: If your Mac is overheating, it could be due to challenges with performance—and these could be the result of clutter.

To maximize your device’s usage and longevity, I strongly advise you to regularly organize your MacBook. And today, I’ll reveal 14 ways to declutter Mac and help your computer continue performing at an optimal level.


Before we start


Whether you want to clean Mac files or clear Mac cache, manually sifting through your computer is exhausting. MacKeeper’s Safe Cleanup tool automatically finds duplicate files and folders, and you can easily clear caches that might stop browsers and apps from working properly.


To use MacKeeper’s Safe Cleanup:

  1. Download MacKeeper
  2. Go to Cleaning > Safe Cleanup
  3. Click on Start Scan
  4. When the scan has completed, tick the boxes for the programs you want to delete
  5. Select Clean Junk Files
  6. Wait for your Mac to remove the junk files from your computer.

1. Manage storage

Using the Manage Mac storage tool is the first place I’d recommend starting when you declutter your Mac. The feature lets you automatically empty your Trash, and you can also choose which apps you want to delete.


The Manage storage solution also has an Optimize storage option, which deletes Apple TV shows and movies that you’ve already watched.

Here’s how to manage your Mac storage:

  1. Click on the Apple logo and go to System Settings
  2. Go to General > Storage
  3. Turn on the Optimize/Optimise Storage and Empty Bin/Trash Automatically features to clear those aspects
  4. To delete apps, documents, and so on, click on the information icon next to these tabs
  5. Select the apps or documents you want to remove and press Delete.
Select the Apple logo to open System Settting, which will then allow you to access Mac storage. Here, you can declutter your device
Step 1. Apple logo > System Settings
Click on the General tab in System Settings, before selecting Storage. You'll then have access to the removal tools you need
Step 2. General > Storage
Before deleting apps and files, you should empty your Trash and optimize your Apple TV storage. These automate much of the process
Step 3. Optimize storage from Apple TV and empty your Trash
Select the information icon to delete an app or document in Mac storage. This feature then lets you remove files you no longer require
Step 4. Select the information icon
You'll first need to highlight an app to delete an app that you no longer need. Hit Delete and tap Done when you're finished
Step 5. Select the apps you want to delete

For programs and documents you don’t delete, you can organize files in plenty of other ways—such as using stacks.


In addition to the traditional method, you can use MacKeeper’s Safe Cleanup solution to remove the manual work of finding and deleting files and apps.

  1. Go to Cleaning > Safe Cleanup > Start Scan
  2. Tick the boxes you want to delete and tap Clean Junk Files
  3. Confirm your choice with the pop-up window.
You can click on Start Scan after picking the Safe Cleanup tool, which will begin the process of uninstalling caches etc. from your Mac
Step 1. Cleaning > Safe Cleanup > Start Scan
Choose the boxes you'd like to remove and select Clean Junk Files. You can then continue onwards to delete these permanently
Step 2. Clean Junk Files
Depending on what you choose, you'll see an option to confirm your deletion. You should then say that you want to continue
Step 3. Confirm the deletion

2. Organize your desktop

Knowing how to organize Mac desktop is another easy way to declutter your device and enhance your productivity. Creating files and folders is the best way to do this.

  1. Click on your Mac desktop by pressing control + trackpad simultaneously
  2. Select New Folder when the dropdown menu appears
  3. Drag and drop the files and folders that you need. Repeat this process until you’re happy with your Mac’s desktop layout.
After tapping on Control + trackpad, you can click on New Folder to create something new on your page. Then, you can drag and drop files
Step 1. Select New Folder from the dropdown menu
Rename your folder after creating it on your desktop. You'll then be able to easily identify it when you need those files later
Step 2. Rename your folder

3. Clear out your downloads folder

The Downloads folder is one of the biggest contributors to a cluttered Mac. Speaking from personal experience, I sometimes find it easy to forget about downloaded images, documents, and so on—until I realize that I don’t have as much storage space as I’d like.


Thankfully, clearing your Downloads folder is easy.

  1. Go to the Spotlight icon and type Downloads in the search bar
  2. Highlight all of the files in your folder
  3. Drag and drop them to your Trash
  4. Press Empty in the top right-hand corner
  5. When the pop-up window appears, confirm your choice by selecting Empty Bin/Trash.
Open Spotlight and click on the Downloads option. You can then access all of your downloaded files and folders that you've not yet cleared
Step 1. Spotlight > Downloads
You can highlight your downloaded files in the Downloads folder, and it's then easy to drag and drop these into your Trash
Step 2. Highlight downloaded files
You can empty your Trash folder easily after transferring all of your Downloads folder files here. Tap Empty and confirm your choice
Step 3. Empty your Trash/Bin folder

4. Tidy up your emails

Tidying up your Mail app probably won’t clear as much space as deleting larger files on your device. However, you can still contribute to decluttering your device—and having an organized inbox makes accessing important emails much easier.

  1. Open the Mail app on your Mac
  2. Go through your files and folders. When you see emails or drafts that you no longer need, click on and highlight them. Then, select the trash icon at the top.

You can highlight multiple emails by pressing and holding onto both the control button and trackpad. Alternatively, press control + trackpad and move the cursor up or down until you’ve selected all messages within a folder.

5. Uninstall inessential apps

I recommend two options for uninstalling apps you no longer need: the traditional method and MacKeeper’s Smart Uninstaller. Below, I’ll provide instructions for both.


Let’s start by looking at the traditional method:

  1. Open Finder and go to the Applications folder
  2. Highlight the apps you want to uninstall and move them to the Trash folder. Then, select Empty Trash.
Open Finder and go to Applications. Here, you can choose all of the apps you want to delete and move them to your Trash folder
Step 1. Finder > Applications
Highlighting apps will then allow you to drag and drop them to your Trash folder. Here, you can choose to delete these permanently
Step 2. Highlight, drag, and drop apps you want to delete to the Trash

Also, you might need to use an uninstaller for some apps:

  1. Open Finder and go to Applications
  2. Choose the app folder for the program you’d like to remove
  3. You should see a file called Uninstall [App] or similar. Click on this and follow the instructions for your app.

Alternatively, use MacKeeper’s Smart Uninstaller to get rid of apps you no longer need:

  1. Go to Cleaning > Smart Uninstaller
  2. Click on Start Scan
  3. Choose Remove Selected after ticking the boxes next to apps you want to uninstall
  4. Confirm your choice by clicking on Remove in the pop-up window.
Clicking on the Start Full Scan button will allow your computer to begin scanning for apps. Then, you can begin deleting them
Step 1. Cleaning > Smart Uninstaller
When you click on Start Scan, your Mac will begin looking for apps on your device. You can then pick which ones you should delete
Step 2. Start Scan
Choose the apps you want to delete in MacKeeper by ticking the boxes, before clicking on Remove Selected and commencing
Step 3. Select apps and hit Remove Selected
After tapping Remove Selected, your app deletion will begin. After that, you should have more free space and less clutter on your Mac
Step 4. Click on Remove Selected

6. Review and delete bookmarks

Removing unnecessary bookmarks in your browser can help you surf the web more effectively.


Here’s how to delete bookmarks in Safari:

  1. Go to sidebar > Bookmarks
  2. When you see a bookmark you want to delete, click on it with control + trackpad
  3. Tap Delete when the dropdown menu appears.
You can click on the sidebar in Safari to access your computer's bookmarks. Here, you've got the option to delete what you no longer need
Step 1. Safari > Sidebar > Bookmarks
Clear bookmarks from your  Safari browser by tapping control + trackpad, and choosing the Delete option. The bookmark will then disappear
Step 2. Delete bookmarks you no longer need

You can also remove bookmarks in Google Chrome:

  1. Open Google Chrome and click on the bookmark you want to remove beneath your URL bar
  2. Select Delete.

7. Clean your contacts

Removing contacts is a great way to declutter any device, including your Mac. Here’s how you can delete details for people you no longer speak to:

  1. Open the Contacts app
  2. Press control + trackpad on the contact you want to remove
  3. Select Delete Card
  4. Press Delete when the pop-up window appears.
Delete a contact card in the Contacts app on Mac. You should first select it, before tapping Delete Card when the menu appears
Step 1. Contact card > Delete Card
Click on Delete when the pop-up window asking you to do so shows up. Your contact card will then be removed from the app
Step 2. Confirm that you want to delete a contact card

8. Clean your system junk

If you have junk from apps or programs that you’ve deleted, you can always clear these out with the Finder app.

  1. Open Finder and search for a term that’s applicable to you in the search bar
  2. When you see junk files you want to delete, drag and drop them to your Trash
  3. If needed, use Touch ID or enter your password to confirm your decision
  4. Empty your Trash folder to delete the junk files permanently.
Search for junk files on your Mac in Finder. You can then delete these if you no longer use the app; your computer should then run optimally
Step 1. Finder > Search for your junk files
Your Mac will ask you to enter your password or enter Touch ID for some folders you wish to delete. Do these when prompted
Step 2. Use Touch ID or password to remove these files

Though the traditional method works, MacKeeper’s Safe Cleanup will achieve the same result in less time. So, you may wish to consider using that program instead.

9. Tidy your login items

Having programs upon login is useful for getting quickly to work, but it can also become a bottleneck if you give too many apps this right.


Here’s how you can clean up your login item permissions:

  1. Open System Settings and go to General > Login Items
  2. Select the app(s) you want to stop from opening at login and hit the - option.
System Settings has an option called General > Login Items, which you can use to choose which apps you allow to open when signing in
Step 1. System Settings > General > Login Items
Select the - icon in Login Items. You'll then remove the login item from your Mac, but this won't delete the app altogether from your device
Step 2. Select - to remove a login item

Alternatively, use MacKeeper’s app to clean your login items:

  1. Open MacKeeper and go to Performance > Login Items
  2. Click on Start Scan
  3. Tick the items you want to remove and select Remove Selected Items.
Going to Login Items will allow you to start scanning for programs in MacKeeper. You'll then be able to remove any that don't fit your needs
Step 1. Performance > Login Items > Start Scan
You can tick a box next to login items you want to stop, before selecting Remove Selected Items. You'll then have the changes take effect
Step 2. Tick the box on the left and select Remove Selected Items

10. Clear Mac cache

Clearing caches can help free up space and ensure that programs that previously weren’t working will begin functioning at an optimal level again. If you want to use the traditional method, you can open Finder and follow the instructions outlined in this clear cache guide.


Alternatively, you can use MacKeeper’s Safe Cleanup and scan for caches that you may wish to remove. From there, you can opt to delete them in a quick, safe, and efficient manner.

11. Sort your files in stacks

Creating stacks can help to keep files and folders more organized on your Mac desktop. All you need to do is click control + trackpad on your desktop, before selecting Use Stacks when you see the dropdown menu. You’ll then see your files appear as stacks on your device.

 Use Stacks is easy to implement. First, go to your Mac desktop and then, use the control + trackpad to reveal a dropdown menu
Step 1. Control + trackpad > Use Stacks
You'll see your Stacks on your Mac desktop after implementing the feature. Click on the folders you need when necessary after
Step 2. Access your Stacks when they appear on your desktop

12. Delete duplicate files

If you know the name of your duplicate files, you can remove them in Finder.

  1. Open Finder
  2. Search for your file name(s) in the search bar
  3. Remove any duplicates you see.

As an alternative method, I’d personally recommend using MacKeeper’s Duplicates Finder, which eliminates all of the annoying manual work associated with removing duplicates on your device.

  1. Go to Cleaning > Duplicates Finder and select Start Scan
  2. When the scan has completed, tick the box next to Duplicates
  3. Tap Remove Selected
  4. Click on Remove when the pop-up window asking to confirm your choice appears.
Clicking on the Duplicates Finder in MacKeeper will allow you to access and begin scanning your files more efficiently on a Mac
Step 1. Cleaning > Duplicates Finder > Start Scan
Remove selected files on your Mac after ticking the boxes on your app. Your computer will then begin to delete the files after confirming
Step 2. Tick the boxes and click on Remove Selected
Remove files by confirming the choice when a pop-up window appears. Your files will then begin to delete from your device
Step 3. Confirm that you want to remove files on MacKeeper

13. Use SpeedUp Mac software

SpeedUp Mac is a tool that lets you quickly declutter your computer and improve performance.

  1. Download SpeedUp Mac
  2. Select Scan after clicking on the Speed Up tab
  3. Tick the boxes you want to delete and tap CleanUp Now.

14. Delete DMG files

DMG files let developers create Mac apps without listing them on the App Store. But for the end user, you might not need them if you no longer use the app they were designed for.


You can easily remove DMG files from your Mac with the steps below:

  1. Open Finder on your Mac
  2. Search for the DMG file you want to delete
  3. Click on it by selecting control + trackpad
  4. Drag and drop the DMG file in your Trash folder
  5. Empty your Trash.

You can also use MacKeeper’s Smart Uninstaller to delete DMG files that you don’t know the names of.

Keep your Mac running better, for longer

Knowing how to declutter your Mac is crucial if you want to reduce the risk of needing to replace your computer every few years. You can use several third-party tools to automate much of the decluttering process, but the traditional methods will also work if you find them more convenient.


After decluttering your MacBook, you’ll find accessing files, apps, and documents that you need much easier. Moreover, you might notice an increase in your computer’s performance.


You can use MacKeeper’s Safe Cleanup solution to locate many of the files that might be cluttering your device and remove these efficiently.

Use your Mac to the fullest! Sign up and get:
Effective tips on how to fix Mac issues
Reliable advice on how to stay safe online
Mac-world news and updates

Thank you!

You’ll love exploring your Mac with us.

Oops, something went wrong.

Try again or reload a page.

Here’s another sign you need to upgrade your macOS ASAP:

30% off your MacKeeper subscription

Сopy the code now and use it in the MacKeeper checkout after the upgrade.

Copy Code

Please be aware that this code cannot be combined with any other discounts, offers, or promotions.

Tech troubles? We can help!

Receive expert guidance and find perfect solutions for your tech challenges.



MacKeeper - your all-in-one solution for more space and maximum security.

Try Now

Read more

Organize Emails
Organize Emails
How to Reduce the Windowserver CPU Usage on Mac
How to Reduce the Windowserver CPU Usage on Mac

Run Application


Click Continue


Click Install


Your macOS version is lower than OS 10.11. We’d like to offer you MacKeeper 4 to solve the cleaning, privacy, and security issues of your macOS.