Spring tends to get the lion’s share of attention as the season for cleaning, but for true procrastinators that job is inevitably shifted to much later in the year. If you’re finally ready to tackle such tidying up, these tips can help you get started. (For more advice on clearing up, see ‘Unclutter your hard drive’, www.macworld.com/6057.) SEE ALSO: 17 ways to clean up any Mac.

Tackle cable clutter
If you haven’t taken a peek at the back of your iMac or Mac Pro lately, now’s the time. Trace the cables you find back there and see where they lead. You may discover USB cables connected to nothing whatsoever or to a spare photo printer that you haven’t used all year. While you’re in rummaging mode, check any power strips to see if they’re connected to power supplies that aren’t serving a useful purpose.

Really take out the Trash
Just about every Mac user is aware that the items tossed into the Trash remain there until you remember to choose Empty Trash from the Finder menu (or you click and hold on the Dock’s Trash icon and select Empty Trash from the menu that appears). Fewer, however, know that some applications maintain Trash of their own that, left unemptied, can also add unwanted bloat. Apple’s iPhoto is the first place to look. When you delete pictures and movies, they go into iPhoto’s Trash – located in iPhoto’s sidebar – where they remain until you Control-click (or right-click) on iPhoto’s Trash and choose Empty Trash.

Apple’s Mail has Trash too, though by default Mail is configured to dispose of messages after a month. You can get rid of them sooner than this by opening Mail’s preferences, clicking the Accounts tab, selecting an account, selecting the Mailbox Behaviors tab, then choosing a different option in the Trash area of the window. To delete all trashed messages immediately, Control-click (or right-click) on the Trash icon in Mail’s sidebar and select Erase Deleted Items.

Deal with duplicate data
If you’ve been using the same Mac for a while, it’s likely that you have duplicate items cluttering up your computer. Fortunately, some applications have built-in tools for easily dealing with those items.

For example, open Apple’s Address Book and choose Card > Look For Duplicates. Address Book will do exactly that and eventually produce a sheet that details the number of duplicate cards and duplicate entries. Click Merge and the information from cards deemed duplicates will be merged into a single card.

Clear the desk
Many Mac users believe the Desktop is the perfect place to store files. After all, it puts the files you use most often front and centre. The problem is that the Finder treats any folder or file on the Desktop as a window. That window designation is benign if you don’t have many items on the Desktop, but clutter it with files and folders, and the Finder will slow significantly. If you’ve noticed that the Finder has become poky and you have a lot of items on the Desktop, there’s your answer – too much clutter. It’s time to pick up your junk.