5 ways to tidy up and clean your computer

Tips include organizing desktop, deleting old files, clearing browser cache

Let's face it: Our computers can get pretty dirty and cluttered with files after months (or years) of use. Maybe now is the time to finally tidy it up to make it feel brand-new again.

Whether it's the hardware itself or the software and files running on it, here are a few ways to quickly and easily tidy up your computer:

1) Give your hardware a quick cleaning

Is your computer screen covered in fingerprints? Have leftover food crumbs decided to extend their stay on your keyboard? Perhaps this is the first step to take.

Whether your computer is a desktop or a laptop, this step only requires a few items you may already have around your house or in the office and perhaps roughly an hour of your time.

Wired explains some of the items you'll need and how to safely clean the exterior surfaces of your device to make it shine again.

2) Finally organize that cluttered desktop

We've all been there: a desktop with so many files on it you may have forgotten what the background image actually looked like!

One approach is to create desktop folders. Popular Science recommends taking a look at the files currently on the desktop and determining if the files can be categorized, such as downloads, school- or work-related documents or pet photos. You can also set your browser to download files to a dedicated folder, rather than the desktop.

If you're on a Mac, the latest operating system (macOS Mojave) introduced a feature called Stacks, which can group items together by kind, tag or date modified.

3) Delete programs and files from forever ago

While you're cleaning up your desktop, you may find yourself already deleting some files from there. Consider first doing a complete backup of your computer and then removing any files and programs that haven't been in use for some time.

Microsoft offers these tips on how to free up space on a computer running Windows. If you're running a Mac, see these tips from Apple.

Again, always remember to back up any important files first, just to be on the safe side. Don't forget to also empty the Recycle Bin or Trash, which can fill up quickly with deleted files.

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4) Update your computer's operating system

Updating or upgrading your operating system is something you should try to do regularly for the stability and security of your computer.

That said, you might want to do this when you aren't doing any work at the moment on your machine. Updating can take some time as your computer downloads and installs everything and may require you to restart the computer.

If you don't want to handle updates manually, you can also set your computer to automatically install any critical updates over time. To learn how to set up automatic updates for your computer, click here if you're a Windows user or click here if you use a Mac.

5) Clean up your browser

Over time, your browser will save information onto your computer to help speed things up the next time you may revisit a website.

If you find your browser is starting to get a bit sluggish while navigating from site to site or things aren't behaving how they once used to, consider clearing its cache or any cookies. Keep in mind that you may need to log in again to some of these websites if you were already logged in.

For instructions on how to clear your cache and clean up some of this data, click on the browser you tend to use most: Chrome | Firefox | Edge | Internet Explorer | Safari

These are just a few tips to consider in cleaning up your computer, but there are still other things you can do while helping to speed it up, get better organized or even protect your privacy.

Have any computer maintenance tips to pass along? Let us know in the comments below.

About the Author:

Troy Blevins is a Digital Content Editor who has been with Graham Media Group since 2012.