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How to Make Your Old, Slow Laptop Feel Like New Again

Just like the day you got it
IMAGE Unsplash/Luke Chesser
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Using a speedy laptop is infinitely more satisfying than staring at a frozen screen for minutes/hours/days on end.

If you want to give your laptop a spring clean, we've got some tips covering the latest versions of Windows and macOS.

How to clean up Windows

The most effective way to clean up the clutter on Windows is to remove apps you don't use: They take up disk space, they take up memory, and they give the operating system unnecessary work to do. In Windows 10, you can uninstall apps from the Apps section of Settings (which also shows you which apps are taking up most room).

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After you've dealt with apps you don't need, you can turn your attention to personal files. Again, be ruthless with the ones you don't actually need—free tools like CCleaner and Duplicate File Finder can help you hunt down files that aren't doing anything but taking up room, though you do get full control over what's erased and what isn't.

Windows actually has its own cleaning tool that you can find by typing "disk clean-up" into the search box on the taskbar, and clicking on the top match. Select the types of files you want to remove, from temporary installation files to old antivirus definitions (click on any entry for more information), then select OK to start the clean up process.

To really tidy up Windows, you need to get it back to something approaching the state it was in when it was first installed, and thankfully the latest versions of the operating system make this much easier than it used to be. If you open Settings then click Update & Security, you can find the relevant options under Recovery.

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Click Get started under Reset this PC to roll back your Windows software. You have the option to keep your personal files in place if you wish, but all apps and settings will be removed, so it's important to make sure you've got backups of your important data and know how to reinstall your applications again. It's a drastic move, but it can make a big difference in cutting down on the clutter and digital debris on your system.

How to clean up macOS

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A lot of the clutter-cleaning tips we mentioned above for Windows also apply to macOS. For example, you can start by uninstalling all the applications you're not actually using very much—on macOS this is done by dragging the relevant icon from the Applications window to the Trash, or clicking and holding an icon in the Launcher and clicking the cross icon, or using the built-in uninstaller to get rid of a program.

Then, it's on to files—do you really need all those vacation photos your cousin sent you? Or downloaded movies you're never going to watch again? The latest Sierra version of macOS comes with built-in tools that can help here: To find them, open Spotlight (Cmd+Space) then type "Storage Management" and open the top hit.

All of the options here can help you remove files you don't need on your system, whether it's old emails that can be archived or iTunes movies that are safely backed up in the cloud. Work through the recommendations as you need to, or click through the individual entries on the left (applications, documents, and so on) to take a more hands-on approach.

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If you feel the tools integrated into macOS just aren't doing an effective enough job, you can enlist the help of a third-party program like CleanMyMac, which covers everything from redundant program files to old mail attachments. It's smart enough to know what you need to save and what can be safely jettisoned too.

Finally, as we mentioned for Windows, a complete system reset is the most drastic and also the most effective way of cleaning up macOS—just make sure all your important files and folders are backed up first. You need to reboot your machine and launch the Disk Utility to get started, and Apple has a full guide to the process.

This story originally appeared on Popular Mechanics.

* Minor edits have been made by the Esquiremag.ph editors.

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David Nield
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