Mac Maintenance Routine – The macOS operating system in Apple’s desktop and laptop computers comes bundled with self-maintenance features, such as automatic backups, memory management, and file system checks.
While these features help ensure your experience is as trouble-free as possible, conducting your own maintenance routine has many benefits. Simple, regular tasks can help prolong your Mac’s lifespan, preserve its performance, and prevent operational issues.
Use the following tips and recommendations to keep your MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, iMac, or any other Apple computer in optimal condition.
Table of Contents
1. Keep Your macOS and Apps Updated
Keeping your operating system up-to-date is one of the simplest yet most important maintenance tasks. The OS helps ensure your device stays compatible with your apps and benefits from the latest security patches, performance optimizations, and operating system features.
Checking whether your Mac needs an update is easy. Simply follow these steps:
- Click on the Apple menu, go into System Settings, and then click General in the sidebar.
- Click the Software Update option. Your Mac will check for updates and, if needed, install the latest version.
You can also configure your Mac device to install software updates automatically in the same menu. Click the Info button and then select any of the features you want:
- Check for updates: Ensures your Mac automatically looks for updates, notifying you when a new one is ready to download.
- Download new updates when available: Enable this to let your Mac download new updates without asking first.
- Install macOS updates: Enable this to let your Mac install new updates automatically.
2. Turn on Automatic App Updates
Keeping your apps up-to-date can also ensure system stability and give you access to the latest features. From the Info menu, you can ensure apps and critical system features are updated with the latest versions with the following options:
- Install application updates from the App Store: Turning this option on ensures all App Store apps on your Mac device automatically download and install updates.
- Install Security Responses and system files: This option ensures your device downloads current system files and Rapid Security Responses, maximizing system safety.
3. Manage Your Login Items
A login item (formerly known as a startup item) on macOS is a service, application, or software process designed to launch when you turn your device on.
While many of these can be useful, the more login items you have, the longer your Mac may take to boot. Too many login items can also increase resource consumption and reduce your laptop battery’s lifespan, leading you to find a laptop battery replacement.
You can review the list of login items by opening the Apple Menu and navigating to System Settings, General, and then Login Items. Use the Add button to add a new process, and use the Remove button to remove existing login items.
Regularly review your login item list and remove any applications, documents, or processes you don’t need to use daily. Keeping your login item list clean will help optimize your Mac device’s performance and, for MacBooks, battery lifespan.
4. Regularly Clean Your Hard Drive
Another easy way to optimize your Mac device’s performance is by cleaning up your hard drive. Regularly clearing your storage space can free up system resources, reduce file search times, and make automatic backups faster.
Generally, you should try to leave about 15 percent of your Mac’s primary hard drive free. It will help ensure your system performs optimally. You can manage disk space by opening your Apple Menu and navigating to System Settings, General, and Storage. Your device may suggest one of the following methods:
- Store in iCloud: You can store files on your Desktop and Documents folder in your iCloud account, including documents, photos, videos, messages, and attachments. It will ensure only the most recently opened files remain on your device, storing most of the others in remote cloud storage and freeing hard drive space.
- Apple TV optimized storage: This option will automatically remove any downloaded movies and TV shows you’ve already watched from your drive, keeping only the most recent ones.
- Empty trash automatically: This option lets your Mac device automatically erase files in the Trash if they’ve been there for more than the set period. The default period is 30 days.
Each option is configurable. For example, you can choose which files iCloud will send to your iCloud Drive or iCloud Photos accounts. You can also set how many days your OS must wait before erasing files in the Trash.
Consider trying these other file organization methods to keep your hard drive clean and organized:
- Take advantage of features in Finder to keep your folders organized and find files faster, such as tags and colors, folder merging, and Smart folders. They can also help you remove unnecessary documents and declutter the disk.
- Use a duplicate finder app to look for and delete duplicate files.
- Regularly visit your Downloads folder and delete old or unnecessary downloaded files.
5. Perform Routine Disk Utility Checks
Disk Utility is a disk health and storage management tool integrated into macOS. You can access it from the Launchpad, Finder, or while in Recovery Mode.
Disk Utility has many features — you can format and manage storage volumes, create disk images, or combine multiple hard drives into RAID arrays. However, the most commonly used feature is the First Aid mode, which helps you check and repair storage errors. Follow these steps to use First Aid:
- Select the volume you want to check in Disk Utility and then open First Aid from the sidebar.
- Click Run and then follow the displayed instructions. Let the process run.
- Repeat the process for all other volumes.
Once First Aid has completed its process, here’s how to read the report:
- OK or repaired: No further action is necessary. If First Aid completed repairs, click Show Details to read further information.
- Overlapped extent allocation: Two or more files are allocated to the same space on your disk, meaning they may be corrupted. Check each file individually in the list and back up any important data. Delete them if you don’t need them or can replace them.
- Process failed or can’t repair: Try to use First Aid on your selected disk again. If it fails to repair the affected storage volume despite multiple attempts, backup as much data as possible, and then reformat the disk. If the affected disk was your primary, you may need to reinstall macOS. If these still haven’t solved your problems, the hardware may be physically damaged and require replacement.
Perform a First Aid check at least once every three months to monitor your disk health accurately and conduct necessary repairs frequently. If you aren’t comfortable reformatting your drive or backing up your data, seek professional Mac support for further assistance.
6. Monitor Your Mac’s Performance
You can check your Mac’s performance with Activity Monitor. It helps you view your device’s processor (CPU), memory (RAM), battery energy, disk, and network usage in real-time. To open the Activity Monitor, open a Finder window, click Applications, Utilities, and then Activity Monitor.
The Activity Monitor can help you identify which applications and processes use the most system resources. If any applications you don’t use are running in the background, you can use Activity Monitor to check their resource consumption and close them. This can help improve your Mac’s performance.
If your device is a laptop, such as a MacBook Pro, closing unnecessary or heavy applications can also help limit energy consumption, increasing your battery’s lifespan.
Be Proactive to Extend the Life of Your Mac
Establishing a maintenance routine with your device helps extend your Mac device’s lifespan in multiple ways. Using your Mac’s integrated diagnostics and repair tools gives you everything you need to keep your system’s health in check — from software updates to storage management and real-time resource checking.
Regular system maintenance extends your hardware’s lifespan, prolongs battery life on MacBook laptops, and ensures your system performs as advertised for as long as possible.