January is a time for fresh starts, so it makes perfect sense that January is National Clean Up Your Computer Month. Cleaning up and organizing your computer is a great way to have a nice organized start to the new year. We’ve compiled some tips to start 2023 off right by cleaning up your computer.
The first step is to back up all of your data. You can back everything up to an external hard drive or to the Cloud. At the very least, copy your most important files onto a flash drive.
- Clean Up the Desktop
Do you have a million icons on your desktop? It’s easy to quickly save something to your desktop but a few icons can quickly balloon into many. Move things into folders, like Documents or Pictures, and delete any files you no longer need to clear the desktop. Then you can dive deeper into organizing all those files.
How many pictures have you taken or saved from the internet? They really add up! And they probably have a string of numbers and letters as file names that make no sense. Starting your organizing with photos can clear out space quickly and also be fun! Delete any accidental pictures or ones you don’t like, or those memes you saved to send to a friend and never deleted afterward. Your can also now name your photos something that makes sense to you. Vacation Day 2 Mount Rushmore.jpg is a lot easier to find than 286img4478d09m11y.jpg. You can then make folders by year, month, event, or whatever else makes sense to you and sort your pictures into them.
Going through documents might not be as easy as photos. There are likely things you know you can go ahead and delete, but there will likely be things you’re not sure about. If you have digital copies of important paper documents, you can look up retention guidelines for those documents. For instance, tax returns should be kept for at least seven years. For anything you’re unsure about, a Google search can help you determine how long to keep it. Make sure that your documents have clearly identifiable names and sort them into folders in a way that makes sense to you.
- Programs, Downloads, and Software
Look for programs you don’t use and downloads that you no longer need. You can typically send downloads straight to the recycling bin, but make sure you uninstall any programs you want to delete.
If you want to get even more organized, you can tackle your email. You can create different folders to sort your emails into just like you did with your photos and documents on your computer. Go through and delete old emails that are no longer needed. This is also a good time to deal with any email lists you’re on. Unsubscribe to any email lists you’re no longer interested in. You can use a service like Unroll.me to see all of your subscription emails, easily unsubscribe from what you’re no longer interested in, and even have all of those emails consolidated into one daily email.
You can also organize your online settings and bookmarks. Go through your settings and delete any saved usernames and passwords that you no longer use. Take a look at your bookmarks and delete anything you no longer need. You can rename your bookmarks to make them easier to find, and like your photos and documents you can sort them into folders.
- Delete, Delete, Delete
Make sure that you regularly empty your computer’s recycle bin. To delete the temporary files your computer creates while you’re working, Windows users can use the Disk Cleanup app. On Mac, just rebooting will delete those temporary files. On the internet, delete your cookies and the cache.
Getting started cleaning up your computer if you haven’t done it in a while, or ever, is a lot of daunting work! Take your time with it. You don’t have to do it all in a day, or even all this month. Once it’s done and your computer is nicely organized, it’ll be easier to keep it that way in the future. Happy organizing!