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#234 Spring Cleaning: Remove Old Files and Applications

May 21, 2014

Does your computer feel cluttered? Here are some quick tips on how to find and remove old files and applications in both Windows and Mac OS X.

Erase Old Files

Files that you don’t use frequently should be removed to free up space on your hard drive.  It is a good practice to periodically go through the folders where you store files and either copy unused files to an external hard drive or to online storage.

  • Reminder: All Penn Law faculty, staff and students receive 50 GB of online storage through Penn+Box.

To find old files in Windows:

  1. Click on the Folder icon in the taskbar to open Windows Explorer.
  2. Navigate to C:\Users\ and open the folder corresponding to your username.
  3. Click on the search bar located in the top right.
  4. Enter the following search terms:
    • datemodified:a long time ago
    • kind:=document

For more detailed information on using search filters in Windows, please see this ITS Tip.

To find old files in Mac OS X:

  1. Click on the Finder icon located in the dock.
  2. Click on File in the gray menu bar at the top and select Find (alternatively, you can press command+F).
  3. A window will pop up with search filters you can add and remove with the - and + buttons to the right of each filter.
  4. There are many search options available in these drop down menus that you can use to make your search more specific, such as searching for file name, contents, date created, and many more under “Other”. Here are the recommended search criteria for clearing out old files:
    • Search: This Mac
    • Kind is Document
    • Last Opened Date is Before 1/1/2014

For more information on searching for files and folders in Mac OS X, please see this Apple Support Article.

Remove Unused Applications

Applications that aren’t being used are just wasting space on your hard drive. You can hold on to install disks, copy the install files to an external drive, or download the app again from the App Store (Mac only) to reinstall these applications at a later time if needed.

To uninstall applications in Windows:

  1. Click on the Start button (circle with the windows logo) in the left corner of the taskbar.
  2. Click on Control Panel.
  3. Click on Programs and Features.
  4. Here you will see a list of all installed applications on your computer.  You can sort them by date of installation by clicking on the Installed On tab at the top of the list.
  5. When you have identified applications to remove, right-click on the application and select Uninstall.

For more information on removing software in Windows, please see this Microsoft Support Guide.

To uninstall applications in Mac OS X:

  1. Open a new Finder window.
  2. Select Applications from the left sidebar.
  3. Drag applications you wish to uninstall to the Trash in the bottom right corner of the dock.
    • Note: Apps can be restored from the Trash if the Trash has not been emptied.

For more information on removing software from Macs, please see this Apple Support Article.


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