Unclutter Your Mac in One Week – Day 3

On day one of this series, we cleaned up your Desktop and had you organize your files into the already built in groupings on your Mac. The main goal was to get them off of your Desktop and into manageable bunches. Today, let’s take the time to put some of those items where they ideally belong. Once again, I wish to preface that this series may seem rudimentary to some of you “pros” but hang in there with the rest of the folks (Who knows? You may even learn a thing or two).

Just as Apple has created ready made folders in your “Home” directory to sort like items into, they have made applications to help you further organize and enjoy those files. Photos and Music are two obvious examples (iPhoto and iTunes). Here is how to handle these:

Photos

If you moved any photos into the Pictures folder of your Home directory on day one, consider adding those to iPhoto (Choose Import to Library… in the File menu). This is really where photos belong. Once they are in iPhoto you can safely delete the originals from your Pictures folder.

There may be some images you wish not to have in iPhoto. For instance, lots of people I know who do design work keep various images for ideas and inspiration. There are a number of 3rd party tools for that very thing that I won’t cover here, but I will challenge you to add those to iPhoto instead.

If you don’t want certain photos mixed in with the family photos, no problem. After adding these, select them and choose “Hide Photo” from the Photo menu. Then, create a new Smart Album (File: New Smart Album) and set the criteria to “Photo is Hidden”. Now, these photos will only show up when you click on the Smart Album. This tip is also good for all of those other photos you grabbed off the net that you don’t want to show up when showing off your new puppy… Don’t pretend you don’t know what I’m talking about.

My point is this, there is nothing that should stop you from storing any photo you wish to keep in iPhoto and not keep any stray ones around elsewhere.

Oh, and here is an iPhoto pro-tip: You do know that photos you “delete” in iPhoto don’t really delete but get moved into iPhoto’s own special Trash, right? Well, now you do. Go to the iPhoto menu and choose “Empty iPhoto Trash” and get back a bit of disk space. You’re welcome.

Music

Similar deal here. That Radiohead album that you downloaded, unzipped, and added to iTunes. Yep, that one. Are you still holding onto the downloaded copy? Even the zip file? Why? Once it is in iTunes, trash the original. If you are worried about having a “backup” have a real backup of everything on your hard drive – one onsite and one off. That really cool mixtape.mp3, that audio interview with the productivity guru, that ringtone of your buddy’s pet bunny sniffing into a mic – stick that stuff in iTunes (File: Add to Library) and then delete it.

Also, just like iPhoto, Smart Playlists are your clutterphobic best friend. Create a new Smart Playlist where the criteria is “Playcount is less than 1”. These are all the things in your library you have never listened to. As I see it, you have two choices here – Hit the play button or hit the delete key. Perhaps you might even find some things where you hit the delete key moments after hitting the play button.

Next up…

Tomorrow, we will do a little “getting real” with your Applications folder.

Modest Goals for 2010

Here is my list of Modest Goals for the coming year. This time, I discovered a theme had kind of grown around the initial list of things I have been jotting down the last few weeks. The theme of doing things “well”, which, when used as an adverb, Merriam-Webster defines as “in a good or proper manner”. This is what I wish to focus on for this year, doing everything in a good or proper manner:

* Eat Well – Continuing the theme of my [post of a couple of weeks back](http://patrickrhone.com/2009/12/13/eat-well/) (I’ll save you the drumbeating – go read the post), I have committed myself to eating in a manner that is consistent with humane, sustainable, and low-impact practices as much as possible. I am sure I will have my failings at this. For instance, I enjoyed every bit of the baked potato, smothered with nebulous foodstuff ingredients from questionable sources, I had at a suburban restaurant last night – at least while I was eating it. Today, I wish I had made a better choice that was more consistent with who I would like to be going forward. The way to get there is simply one meal at a time.

* Live Well – As part of the above, I want to take better care of my body in general and be more active. I now have the Fitbit to help track my progress. What’s a Fitbit? Merlin Mann provides a [pretty good bulleted overview](http://www.kungfugrippe.com/post/279233449/liking-the-fitbit-theres-already-more-than). What I think I like is the idea of having a practically hands off way to get real data metrics on your activities and using that data to set realistic exercise/activity/sleep goals. I have such great shops and restaurants all around me where we live. This is a very walkable neighborhood, more so then even other parts of the city. I plan to navigate it on foot as much as possible. I also want to put the practically new, but barely used, bike I own to greater use.

* Observe Well – We were walking through the warehouse section of our local IKEA the other day, when Beatrix took the time to stop, look directly up, point and yell “Fan!” with the glee only a two year old can muster. Above us was, in fact, a giant ceiling fan – I’d guess at least 20 feet in diameter. As we stood there, heads craned in wonder, looking a little closer, I noticed something even more surprising. The brand name on the fan was [Big Ass Fan](http://www.bigassfans.com/). That’s right, it’s a real company that makes, well, big ass fans. Despite the near endless chuckle this discovery gave me, it taught me something else more important – Take the time to notice. Delight in the small details that are revealed and, when you think you have seen all there is too see – look a little closer. I plan to do this more from now on.

* Give Well – I want to be more active in the giving of my time, resources, talent, and, of course, money to the projects and people I care about. That means a lot of things, from charity to volunteering to more posting here and the other projects I craft to guest posting on other blogs. I also want to be mindful of my consumption by acknowledging that for everything we take, someone else has to give.

Unclutter Your Mac in One Week – Day 2

In day one of this series, we cleaned up your Desktop and had you organize your files into the already built in groupings in the Home directory on your Mac. Today, I’m going to focus on two other areas on your Mac that are easily cluttered, and near impossible to ignore – the Dock and the Menubar. Here are some suggestions for how to deal with those:

The Dock

The Dock is a very useful feature of your Mac and it’s purpose is to allow you to launch frequently accessed programs quickly. Frequency is the key here. Certain programs you probably launch everyday, many times a day, or pretty much run constantly from the moment you log in to your Mac. Those are the sorts of items that belong in the Dock.

There are many applications that automatically place icons in your Dock upon installation for programs you may use only infrequently, if at all. Microsoft Office is one example (the 2008 version puts 7 icons in your Dock). Even Apple is guilty of this with the iLife and iWork suites. In addition, many people still keep an icon in the Dock long after they have stopped using the application. I argue that such items have no place in the Dock.

Take the time to look at each icon in your Dock and evaluate with honesty which ones fall into which of the above criteria. Any that fall into the later, click-hold and drag those directly up then release them and breathe a sigh of relief with every saucy little poof.

The Menubar

Like your Dock, there are many applications that put an icon in your menubar upon installation. In increasingly more cases, the menubar icon is the application. And don’t even get me started on the applications that put an icon in your Dock and your Menubar on installation even if in prior versions of that aplication you have told it you prefer one over the other (Droplr, you know I am looking at you right?).

There are some other scenarios I can think of where a Menubar icon may exist for a service that is rarely used. I have seen many people with desktop Macs that are networked via ethernet that, despite not being used, have the Airport Menubar item active. Or Bluetooth when no such devices are being used. Just because Apple put them there does not mean you need to keep them.

Therefore, just like your Dock, it can be a slippery and fast path to a lot of icons for applications and utilities that you rarely use. If you use a Menubar icon for a service or application, keep it in there. If an application has both a Dock icon and a Menubar item that perform essentially the same functions, choose one over the other.

If neither of these is true, why have a Menubar item at all. With many of them, command-clicking and dragging out of the Dock will remove it. Others have it in a preference panel or pane. Still others you simply must quit the application to make it go away.

Coming soon

Tomorrow, we will look at how to deal with some of that stuff you cleaned up off your Desktop on day one. Stay tuned…

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