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Friday, April 8, 2016

Spring Cleaning Your Mac-Article 3-Moving It off the hard drive without causing more problems

Now that you’ve identified your space hogs, what do you do with them? I suggest these steps:


1. Copy them over to an external hard drive so that you don’t accidentally delete one you really wanted.

2. Decide which files and apps you don’t want on your boot drive.

3. Delete them with care, using the correct procedures. Think Before Hitting the Delete Key!

4. If you do not want to delete them, decide where to archive them for future reference. 

5. Remember, your goal is to ensure you have at least 20% of your hard drive free for the use of OS X itself. 


Copying Files to an External Hard Drive and the Choices it involves 

You have three choices for copying files over to an external hard drive:

1. The easy way. Just clone the fat hard drive to a bigger external hard drive. You can use at least two different utility programs for this 

2. Picking and choosing which files and folders to copy over to the external hard drive, then using the Finder or another file manager to drag and drop between windows. 

3. Copy folders using the command line based ditto command. This involves the Terminal.


Just Clone the Whole Hot Mess and be done with it!

I have used two excellent applications to clone my hard drives in the past. They are:

1. Super-Duper by shirt pocket software. This is the one I use and bought a license for. 

2. Carbon Copy Cloner by Bombich Software. I have tried this one out and it worked just fine. 


Both applications offer generous trial periods. Follow the instructions and you’ll clone that fat drive to a fresh external drive overnight or while you go to work or school. 

Just a Few Files to Copy

If you want to copy over files in small groups, you can use the Finder or another file manager program.

I use Pathfinder 7 by Cocoatech. It is the best one I know of, with just about every feature you could want. It’s $39.95 with upgrade pricing when new versions come out. It has a 30 day trial period. 



If you want a two-pane file manager for free, then I would suggest Commander One by Eltima Software. They wrote it as an exercise to learn how to use Apple’s new Swift programming language. It comes free in the basic version and they will try to upgrade you into buying the Pro Pack which adds more features. 


Commander One download Page

 For the purpose of this article, you just need the basic version. 

Commander One in operation



Whoa, I’ve got a lot of big files to copy but I don’t want to clone the whole deal

In some situation, you will need to copy a lot of files quickly. May I suggest a way to copy a whole lot of big files quicker than with a graphical file manager?


That method involves the Terminal app, which scares a lot of people. Read over the next part, which I am stealing from M.  Christopher Stevens of MacSales, to see how it works.


Makin’ Copies

…though other options do exist, I found that the ditto command in Terminal served this purpose nicely, as it is efficient, effective and easy. The syntax of the command, as we’ll be using it here, is as follows:


ditto -V /source  /destination

There’s actually quite a bit here, so let’s break it down a little.


ditto - this is the command itself

-V - this flag is optional, but I find it useful, as it allows you to see what’s being copied, and verifies the command is still running, rather than just waiting for the next command prompt

/source - This is the path to the original folder you’re moving . On a stock setup, it will be /Users/

/destination - This is the path to where you wish to put your copied data.


There’s a lot that can be mistyped here, but you can reduce the chances of making a mistake by doing the following:

1. In the Terminal window, type ditto -V (followed by a space) 

Terminal showing ditto  V with space following


2. Drag your source folder into the Terminal window; the path to that folder should show with a space after it. Release your mouse button, the source path will snap into its place on the command line automatically.

Adding source folder to the ditto command line


3. Create a new folder on your external hard drive and name it.

4. Now click and drag that folder from the Finder (file manager) window  into the Terminal window. Do Not Freak Out over the extra backspaces and spaces in the path to your destination folder. Terminal is smart enough to add those without you knowing how to type them in. So relax and just drag the destination line into the Terminal window. Now release your mouse button. 

Terminal showing finished command line for ditto


5. Now hit the Return key.

6. You should see all the files copied from source to destination, ending up with you back at the command prompt.

Terminal showing the ditto command starting


Terminal showing diitto command finishing



M. Christopher Stevens’ original article is here. Thanks again and all the copyrights are the property of their original owners. 


How to Delete Files and Folders without Screwing Up your Mac

If you want to delete files and folders from Mac apps that are databases at their hearts, you must exercise caution and not just delete at will.

I refer to such apps as iTunes, iPhoto, Photos, If you just rip a data file out, you’ll screw it up. 

So exercise caution and delete from within the app. Not from the Finder.

For files whose apps don’t depend on a database to track them, like TextEdit and Word, you can delete word processing files from the Finder or another file manager. 

For photos you don’t have indexed in iPhoto or Photos, yes, you can delete them with Finder or another file manager.

Uninstalling OS X Apps

Unlike Windows and Linux, OS X does not come with built-in app uninstallation capabilities. Apple says all you need to do is just drag the app to the Trash and empty the Trash.

Well, that works in many instances, but that doesn’t get rid of the preference files. So you would have to go back to locate the preference files, which isn’t that easy.

So I would suggest you get an app uninstaller, either as a stand-alone program or as part of a utility suite. Here are some suggestions:

1. AppCleaner by free  This is free software available in versions covering 10.4 to 10.11. 

AppCleaner is a small application which allows you to thoroughly uninstall unwanted apps. 

Installation an application distributes many files throughout your System, using space of your Hard Drive unnecessarily  

AppCleaner finder all these small files and safely deletes them. 

Simply drop an application onto the AppCleaner window. It will for the related files and you can delete them by clicking the delete button

Thank you, Again, all copyrights belong to the original owners. 


2. Want more features that you’ll pay $7.99? Go to AppDelete by Reggie Ashworth:

AppDelete is an uninstaller for Macs that will remove not only Applications but also Widgets, Preference Panes, Plugins, and Screensavers along with their associated files. Without AppDelete these associated items will be left behind to take up space and potentially cause issues. For a proper uninstall don’t just delete but be sure to AppDelete!” 

Mr. Ashworth offers a trial period before you commit to buying the app.


3. I previously mentioned MacClean by iMobie. It’s a free light utility suite that includes an uninstaller.  

 4. If you want a heavyweight utility package, try CleanMyMac 3 by MacPaw It’s $39.95. I use it and like it.

 5. If you’ve worked with Windows, you’ve heard of CCCleaner. Well, they make a version for the Mac, too. Both a free version and a Pro version for $24.95


 Archiving Files for future reference

As you go through your files, you will come across some that take up space, but that you don’t want to delete. You just want to move them off your boot drive. 

Let’s go through some of these:

1. Old word-processing or PDF files. You can move these to an external drive safely. Preview, TextEdit, or Word doesn’t store information about these in a database. 

2. Your bulging iTunes files. I mentioned the case earlier of a CD ripped to a lossless and uncompressed format. Now I own this CD so I can just delete the fat files and rip the CD to a smaller format. 

But what if you don’t have access to the CD anymore? What can you do? I have two ideas.

First, move the extra files to a second iTunes library. What?! You can set up more than 1 iTunes library?!

Alt  and Itunes ask which  llibrary to access

Just hold down the Alt/Option as you start iTunes. 

Itunes library file to choose


You will find your iTunes library file with an .itl extension in  your iTunes folder. To make it easy for you, iTunes will grey out the other files. You HAVE to pick the iTunes Library file!


 Follow the instructions in the article I linked to above. You can set up the second library on another drive connected to your Mac by USB or Firewire. I can’t guarantee this will work with a network connection. Your Mileage May Vary.


Second, set up an iTunes server. I have written several articles about this here and here.

Jeremy Horwitz of 9to5 Mac wrote an excellent article about using one of those Intel computers on a stick to set up an iTunes Media Server tucked behind a flatscreen TV.

Johnny Winter (not the guitarist, though) of TutsPlus+ wrote about repurposing an old G4 Mac as an iTunes Music Server here  

All of us wrote about repurposing old or cheap computers instead of shelling out big bucks for a new Mac.  The goal is to spend as little money as possible. 

My preferred solution is to use the forked-daapd Linux iTunes Music Server with a repurposed Windows machine otherwise taking up space in your house. All these solutions offer an alternative to an overstuffed iTunes library on your Mac or Windows machine.

3. iPhotos/Photos files. Same idea as with iTunes. You set up a second library on an external drive and archive photos you don’t use regularly to it. Hold down the Alt/Option key as you start up Photos or iPhoto

Screen Shot 2016 04 08 at 8 16 32 PM





Tom Briant

Editor, MacValley Blog



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