Wondering how you’ll declutter your laptop? if you’re running out of storage then you’re reading the right article.
1.Use free tools to clear out bloat
If your laptop is running low on storage, Windows’s built-in Disk Cleanup tool can find and wipe unneeded files – just search for it in the Start menu. Mac OS Sierra has a similar feature, but it’s well-hidden: to find it, open the System Information tool, then open the Window menu and select “storage management”. You’ll see options for saving space and clearing out clutter.
For Android smartphones, there’s a good range of third-party cleanup apps; iOS isn’t so well served here, since apps can’t remove files created by other applications.
You can, however, free up space manually by clearing your Safari cache, via Settings > Safari > Clear History and Website Data. Consider streaming music and podcasts rather than downloading them for offline playback – and see 11, below, for our advice on photo storage.
2. Track down space-wasting documents
Old, innocuous-looking files can gobble up huge amounts of space on your laptop, such as backups that are no longer needed, or big downloads that you’d forgotten about. And since these files are unique to you, generic cleanup tools are likely to miss them.
It’s easy to track them down, though. Windows users can use a free utility called WinDirStat; the Mac equivalent, also free, is called Disk Inventory X. These tools scan your hard disk and generate a visual map showing the relative sizes of all folders and files. There’s also a list view, which you can sort by size, to instantly reveal the largest folders. Deleting two or three big unneeded files can often free up more space than clearing out thousands of cache files and cookies.
3. Audit permissions on your mobile apps
Even if there’s plenty of space free on your smartphone, it’s a good idea to keep an eye on which apps can access your personal information, or do costly things such as make phone calls or send text messages. On iOS, you can easily check which apps have access to what under Settings > Privacy. To audit, the permissions used by a specific app, open Settings, scroll down and tap on its name.
Android users meanwhile can go to Settings > Apps, then tap the cogwheel icon to access App Permissions. Here you’ll see a breakdown of permission types – such as Calendar, Camera, Contacts and so forth. Tap on anyone to see which apps have access to those permissions; you can revoke permissions by tapping the switch next to an app’s name.
4. Clear out browser extensions
Browser extensions may slow down your online experience, and they can even compromise your security since they can spy on every site you visit. It’s a good idea to disable or uninstall any you’re not using regularly.
On desktop browsers, this is easy to do. In Chrome, you can check your installed extensions by typing chrome://extensions into the address bar. In Safari, the list is under Safari > Preferences > Extensions. In the new Microsoft Edge browser, click the menu icon in the top right of the window and select Extensions.
Chrome for Android doesn’t support extensions, but apps can add “activities” to Safari for iOS. You can review these by tapping the Share button inside Safari, then scrolling right and tapping on More; you’ll see a list of all installed activities, with switches to disable or enable them individually.
5. Check your connected apps on Facebook
Facebook apps are another privacy concern – plus they can pester you with annoying notifications. To review which apps you have installed, open Facebook in a desktop browser, click the dropdown arrow at the top right of the window and select Settings. Then, on the page that opens, click Apps in the left-hand pane. You’ll now see all your connected apps; click on one to see what personal information they can access, and to choose whether or not each one can send you notifications. Click the “X” next to an app’s icon to remove it from your Facebook profile. Tweeters can similarly check which apps are connected to their Twitter account: open your Twitter timeline in a desktop browser, then click your user icon in the top right, select Settings and privacy, then click Apps in the left-hand column.
6. Free up space in your Gmail account
Enormous attachments can clog up your inbox but it’s easy to find and purge them. Open up Gmail in a desktop browser, then click the down arrow at the right of the search bar. Tick “has attachment”, then click Search to view all emails with attachments. Optionally, you can specify a size limit, to show only the very largest messages; annoyingly, though, to remove an attachment from your inbox you have to delete the whole message.
To make it easier to organise your inbox in future, you can create filters that automatically tag large messages for review. To do this, create a search that finds all the emails you’re interested in, then click the More button, select “Create filter” and click “Create filter with this search”.
7. Get off unwanted mailing lists
Email services weed out a lot of spam, but you probably still get dozens of promotional messages and newsletters every day. Gmail helps by moving promotions and updates into separate views; if you don’t have this feature, click the cogwheel icon and select “Configure inbox”.
For a quieter life, it’s best to get off those mailing lists altogether. A free service called Unroll Me can help: visit http://unroll.me and your inbox will be scanned for promotional emails. You’ll then see a breakdown of all the mailing lists you’re on, with the option to unsubscribe with a single click. To cancel more than five lists, you have to post a link to Unroll Me on Facebook or Twitter, but it’s a small price to pay (and you can always delete it afterwards).