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…