Explain it to me as if I were four years old...
October 15, 2012 2:59 PM   Subscribe

How do I "start over" with my Macbook Pro without reinstalling the OS?

So, I guess I've been pretty hard on my Macbook -- lots of downloads and duplicates all over the place, very little space on the hard drive -- it's a mess. A REALLY SLOW mess. I've tried to go through manually and delete files, but I don't know what all of them are and don't want to cause more problems.

I've thought about trying to fix it by just backing up the hard drive and then wiping it clean, but I'm not sure how to best go about this. Complicating things further is the fact that I cannot find my Snow Leopard OS disks.

Is there a way to wipe my Macbook clean and make it fast and happy again without having to uninstall / reinstall the OS? If so, can you take me through the steps?
posted by mingodingo to Technology (6 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
Well, if you buy Mountain Lion, you can create a bootable USB drive, which would allow you to format and reinstall the OS. If you want to stick with SL, you can either order a copy of the disc from Apple ($20, if I remember correctly; you have to call them), borrow a disc, or find it... elsewhere. Once you have a bootable copy of the OS, boot from it, run disk utility, format, and reinstall.

Clean install is really the way to go. As a stopgap, you can create a new user and delete the old one, which would clear out the user library, etc, but not the root library/Applications folder.
posted by supercres at 3:05 PM on October 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

A software package like MacKeeper can help you to find duplicate file to clear hard drive space. For a free Mac maintenance program, try Onyx.

But, low disk space may not be what is slowing you down. First, go into your Energy preferences and make sure Processor Performance is set to Highest. Then, check to see if there are any programs running in the background that you do not need.

And, as supercres said, make s new user account and delete the old one. All Applications will be in the Applications folder, but in some sense, the slate will be "clean".
posted by Tanizaki at 3:10 PM on October 15, 2012

Also, use Disk Utility to repair permissions on the drive, it can make a world of difference
posted by HuronBob at 4:02 PM on October 15, 2012

Have you tried creating a new user account on your system and logging into that instead of your primary account? It should act similarly to a fresh OS install.

You may also want to run something like Disk Inventory X and get a better handle on what's taking up space. Only delete the large files you can identify as ones you don't need.
posted by plasticbugs at 4:59 PM on October 15, 2012

Does the Desktop have a million things on it? OS X doesn't like that.
posted by humboldt32 at 2:13 AM on October 16, 2012

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