It’s that time of year again, Spring Cleaning your teacher laptop. Each year in the state of Maine, teachers and students that have state issued laptops (MLTI) are required to turn in their laptops during the summer for a re-image of the computer’s hard drive. This is where the state sends new and updated software packages to each school district, so that the local tech team can revamp the laptop for the upcoming school year. Therefore it is important that all teachers and students backup their files prior to turning their machines in for this re-image.
A step that is often neglected in the backup process is the cleanup step. Most people backup all of their files without looking at them and hope to one day go through and organize it all out. Right, that’s why my attic is so well organized too! 🙂 Cleaning up, or deleting, unwanted files can save time and space during the backup phase and will help you better organize your files. I say this because I have seen some teachers hang on to AppleWorks files for many years, and as far as I know the program doesn’t even exist on one computer in our district any longer. Trust me, it’s worth the time to organize your personal and professional files.
Most Mac users will only need to cleanup/backup their five major folders on their hard drive; Desktop, Documents, Movies, Music and Pictures. Unless you have saved files to other locations on your hard drive, or you use certain programs like iWeb or Stickies, your files are all located in these five folders.
First things first! Go through your Desktop and Documents folders and weed out unwanted files. Remember to drag these to the trash, but to also empty the trash when you are done to save space. Also, the Desktop is really setup for immediate work on something that is time pressing or used over-and-over again on a daily basis. If you have other files that have not been touched on the Desktop in a while think about moving these files to one of the other four locations; Documents, Movies, Music or Pictures based on the file type.
Cleaning up your Movies, Music and Pictures folders can be as easy as opening iMovie, iTunes and iPhoto to clean them out. This is especially true if when you open your folders, and all you see is iTunes Library, iPhoto Library and iMovie Events and iMovie Projects.
Let’s start with iPhoto. Below is a short tutorial on how to cleanup your iPhoto Library directly from iPhoto. Of course, if you have sub nested folders in your Pictures folder, you may want to manually go through those as well and trash the ones you don’t need.
It’s always a good idea to clean out your movie files as well before you backup your laptop, especially since these files will take up the most amount of room on your laptop’s hard drive and your backup source (i.e. pen drive, external hard drive, or web space).
Since I use iMovie I would want to open iMovie and clean out any projects or events that I no longer need. If I have published videos to YouTube or another online source, remember this is like having a backup of the finished project. The only reason I would want to keep the raw footage, project files, or event files from this project is if I wanted to re-edit the project in the future using these same clips. If I just want to watch the final video again, deleting the files in iMovie saves a lot of space and you can direct your audience to your YouTube channel or web page that you have published the finished video to this year. This saves a lot of space before you backup your Movies folder. Below is a short tutorial on how to cleanup your unwanted projects and events in iMovie.
Another file type that can take up a bit of room is your music files. Especially if you have a fairly large iTunes library. I find that I sometimes download songs from the Internet for school projects that I really don’t need in future years. For this case, it is a good idea to delete these songs, or song duplicates, from my iTunes library before I backup my Music folder on my laptop. Below is a short tutorial on how to remove unwanted songs, movies, and playlists from iTunes before you backup your Music folder.
You have now cleaned out your five major folders; Desktop, Documents, Movies, Music and Pictures. There are only a few more things to consider before you backup your laptop before being re-imaged. Do you use Stickies or iWeb? Do you want to save your Bookmarks from Safari, Firefox or Chrome? What about any programs that you added to MyApps this year?
If you use Stickies you will need to either copy and paste the notes into another program and save the file to your Desktop or Documents, or you can actually save the Stickies Database and export it to your Desktop or Documents before you backup. Remember, this is only if you need these notes for future use. If you use Stickies for quick reminders, you may not need to save them, but if you have important information stored in a sticky note such as your Internet subscription passwords, then you will want to back these up as well. This short tutorial explains how to do that.
Do you use iWeb for your school web page, or have you used it for part of your web page? If it was a one time project, the web site will not disappear until you delete it yourself, or you leave the district. However, if you are using it and wish to edit it again in the future without recreating your iWeb page, you will need to find a small little file called the domain file and save it to your Desktop or Documents folder before you backup your laptop. In this short video tutorial I will show you how to find the domain file and save it to your Desktop for future use.
Do you rely on bookmarks when you are navigating the web? Well, then you will probably want to save these bookmarks for next year. I personally can never remember the link for the HelpDesk Ticket system, PowerSchool or our School’s Web Filter site. Therefore, it’s important to save these bookmarks and export them to your Desktop or Documents folder before you backup your laptop so that you will have them this summer or next year. In this short tutorial, I will show you how to save your Bookmarks from Firefox, Safari or Chrome and export them into a file for your Desktop. You can them import this file next year to re-establish your bookmarks.
The last thing you may want to consider before you backup all of your files in the five major folders; Desktop, Documents, Movies, Music and Pictures is to grab any programs you may have downloaded yourself this year to the MyApps folder under your Teacher home directory. This entire folder can be dragged onto your external hard drive or pen drive as well. This way you can drag them back from your external hard drive into your MyApps folder on your freshly re-imaged laptop when you get it back.
I hope this helps before you backup your laptop. If you need help seeing how to backup your files you can watch this short little tutorial on backing up the five major folders; Desktop, Documents, Movies, Music and Pictures to an external hard drive.