Today is “How-To” Friday (still keeping myself on schedule after four days)! I know I just posted about computer stuff yesterday but I don’t know how to do much else and I already posted a songwriting tutorial on Wednesday. This tutorial was inspired by a program that destroyed my Mac a couple days ago.
If you’re like me then every so often you feel like you want to start fresh. After owning my iMac G5 for 4 years I felt like I wanted to start over but not have to buy a new computer. Well, a little program called Monolingual helped me do that in an unexpected way. Monolingual erases language and CPU architecture support that you don’t want from all the programs on your system which can save you several gigabytes worth of memory. But if you aren’t careful you can end up with a computer full of programs that no longer work. This happened to me and in the process of restoring my computer to glory I discovered how to get a fresh start without the hassle of starting from scratch.
Over time your Mac will probably gather files and folders that become useless and just take up space. OS X isn’t nearly as bad as Windows in this department and usually your system doesn’t suffer too badly but if you have an older Mac then you might notice a subtle sluggishness of your system.
This is because the Mac’s uninstall procedure (while so much better than Windows’) isn’t as clean as you may think. On Windows every program plants part of itself in as many different folders as it can (or at least it seems that way) and when you uninstall a program there are a lot of files left behind. The Mac isn’t too bad with this but it does do it. You think that all you have to do is drag your app to the trash can and its gone. Wrong. While Mac apps don’t put pieces of themselves in a thousand different folders like Will Smith in “Seven Pounds” giving away organs to a bunch of different people (oops, did I spoil the ending? and was that a lame methaphor?) they do add files to a few key directories. Usually in the Application Support folder and and the Preferences folder. If you look in your Library folder you might see folders having to do with apps you deleted long ago. Your System/Library folder will have some too.
There is also the matter of system preferences. You may have used a program like Onyx or Spring Cleaning or Secrets to play around with system settings you normally don’t get to unlock. You might now regret your decision to do this because you can’t figure out how to change them back.
And finally, your computer might just be running slower than usual. Well, I think you’ve had enough of my technical explanations and now you just want to get to it. Here we go…
What you need…
- You need to get an uninstaller program. The one I like most is called AppZapper. It isn’t free but its cheap and it works great. If you want to go the free route there’s AppCleaner (which is my recommendation for a free app), AppTrap, and AppDelete.
- The serial numbers to all your installed programs if any (if you don’t have some or all of them don’t worry, just read on)
- DVDs or CDs to burn or an external HD or some sort of large capacity or many large capacity USB drives
- A copy of your current version of OS X (don’t worry if you upgraded from 10.5.1 to 10.5.6, this doesn’t matter in the end) If you didn’t buy the OS separately then a copy of your operating system came with your computer. Find the discs that came with your Mac, thats what your OS is stored on.
- At this point I recommend making a list of all the programs in your Applications folder in case you lose that folder in the process (which is most likely NOT going to happen) and so that you can follow the rest of these steps
- You will want a program that frees up hard drive space. I highly recommend Xslimmer for the job. Monolingual is a free alternative but you can end up doing more damage than good if you don’t know exactly how the program does what it does.
- Do you have the best programs for the job?
Look over your list of applications. Do they truly work for you or are you just used to them? Go over the list and Google some alternatives for those applications. You may find a lightweight program like Rapidweaver that suits you better than Dreamweaver. Or you may be very attached to your programs and you don’t want to try anything new. That’s fine. Once you’ve acquired your replacement programs either leave them on the disc they came or you downloaded them, back up the installers to disc and in a folder on your desktop or wherever named “To Install”. Leave them alone for now. Do not install them.
- 2. Backup, Archive, Whatever you want to call it
If you follow the instructions in this tutorial you won’t need a backup but mileage always varies and there is going to be a small (miniscule, really) number of people who will track me down and kill me because something went awry. If you’re going to backup your files (which is always recommended no matter what you do) include all your music, photos, iPhoto libraries, documents… you know what you want to keep.
- 3. Uninstall The Space Wasters
Using a program like AppZapper go ahead and uninstall all the programs that you don’t want anymore. Think very hard about what you want and don’t want. Do you really use some of those programs? If not then get rid of them. You should also get rid of programs that you downloaded replacements for in step 1.
Insert the Leopard disc (or whatever disc you have, I only know how this works out for Leopard for sure but it can’t be much different for 10.3 through 10.5). When the window opens click the OS X icon to install the OS.
Your computer will restart and you will see the installer. Its pretty straightforward from there. Once you get to the point where you pick which hard drive to install it on you may think you have a problem. The installer won’t let you install the OS because even though you have the same version you added updates through software update and your system is technically newer than the OS you are trying to install. Click on options and then select “Archive and Install”. This will save your preferences and everything within your home folder in a directory called “Previous Systems”. OS X will automatically transfer 90% of what’s in your current Home folder and use it in the new system. When the installer is finished you will log in and see your desktop and everything else just the way you left it. It seems as though nothing happened but it has. Look through the Previous Systems folder located on Macinstosh HD just below the regular System folder. Make sure there isn’t anything you may need from there. Open any apps you believe may have been affected by the reinstall and make sure they work. They most likely will. If after you check things out and the water is fine delete the Previous Systems folder. This is going to free up a lot of hard drive space.
Remember that folder you made with all those new apps in them? Open up your To Install folder and install your new toys. Go ahead and open everything up and play with your preferences. Get them just right.
Now your Mac should be cleaner, lighter and faster on its feet. But some things like iTunes may not work. This is because you need to update all the default programs installed by Apple. Before going on go to Software Update from the Apple Menu. Once updates are installed and you restart your computer check for updates again. Keep on checking for updates and restarting until Software Update says that your system is up to date. It should take no more than 2 or 3 checks before your system is up to date.
- 7. Put Your Hard Drive on a Diet
If you got Xslimmer then you have made a great choice. If you got Monolingual I suggest you be careful.
- Use the Genie to find all the programs that can be slimmed down. I suggest you don’t change the protections for protected programs. Once the program has scanned your drive open up the preferences for it and make sure that the backup option is selected. Then choose a folder to store your program backups in. Press the Slim button and watch Xslimmer backup then cut out all unnecessary files from your system. You will most likely save a number of gigabytes on your drive. When it finishes make sure all the programs it worked on still launch. If everything is fine then you can delete everything in the backup folder you selected.
- Be warned: If you use this program improperly you can end up having to reinstall OS X all over again.
- You will need to back up every last program on your hard drive manually if you choose to do a backup. Follow the directions and make sure to set the program so that it keeps the languages you want to use. I advise against playing with the Architecture tab. If you do it anyway then whatever happens is on you. But if something does happen remember I warned you. Monolingual deletes one thing at a time. So it will delete the language support first, then you have to go to the next pane and choose your settings and it will delete whatever is next. Architecture files don’t hog much space at all. But if you’re desperate then go ahead.
There you go. Your system should have some more pep now.