"sanitizing" old OS X installation

Discussion in 'Mac Basics and Help' started by MacBH928, Feb 20, 2018.

  1. MacBH928 macrumors 68040


    May 17, 2008
    I have an old mac upgraded over the years until 10.9 and has been used to death.

    I am looking for tips on how to clean out any files, logs, applicatioins residue, browsing history... anything accumulated over the years , that is without affecting system files. Where should I be looking and what should I delete?

    I know the easy solution is to create a new install and move files over.
  2. organicCPU macrumors 6502a


    Aug 8, 2016
    Onyx can make your life easier. Grab the version for Mac OS X 10.9 Mavericks. Except cleaning deleted app residues, it can do quite a lot for you. Before cleaning a system radically, backing up the whole OS is always a good idea.
  3. BrianBaughn macrumors 603


    Feb 13, 2011
    Baltimore, Maryland
    The "easy solution" is the most effective.
  4. ApfelKuchen macrumors 68030

    Aug 28, 2012
    Between the coasts
    Outside of the "cleaner" apps that may sometimes do more harm than good... https://www.etrecheck.com is a good tool for manual clean-ups. Trashing the caches folders also helps.

    The trouble is, most of the work has to be done "under the hood" in the Library and System folders and the ~Library folders of whatever user accounts you may have. This fine if you're careful and moderately knowledgeable, but accidents can happen and may force an OS reinstall anyway, and can be pretty time-consuming.

    As Brian already said,
    It's not the things you manage to clean up that will be the issue, but the things you fail to clean up. For example, there might be some accumulated errors inside plist files (which will survive all conventional cleaning attempts) that continue to cause unexpected behavior. Errors in your disk directory can be repaired by Disk Utility, but a newly-formatted drive gives you a brand-new directory. And so on.
  5. jeremysteele macrumors 6502

    Jul 13, 2011
    When it doubt, clear it out.

    Format the sucker and start fresh!
  6. Hanson Eigilson macrumors regular

    Sep 19, 2016
    I do not know of any good solution for this, for me neither macOs or windows has been well suited to many upgrades without a clean install, good luck though :)
  7. MacBH928 thread starter macrumors 68040


    May 17, 2008
    I would like to clean it as much as possible, even if a 100% clean is not possible.

    I can not format it, i do not even have the Mavericks installation files.
  8. organicCPU macrumors 6502a


    Aug 8, 2016
    After we know that a clean installation is no option, would it be an option to create a new (admin) user and get rid of the old one?
  9. Mr_Brightside_@ macrumors 68030


    Sep 23, 2005
  10. MacBH928 thread starter macrumors 68040


    May 17, 2008
    maybe but how does this will clean the hdd? plus my admin user is my main user

    no I didn't think of that tbh. Does it create a fresh installation?
  11. Mr_Brightside_@ macrumors 68030


    Sep 23, 2005
  12. Fishrrman macrumors P6


    Feb 20, 2009
    The $64 question:
    Even though the OS install may be "old", how does it RUN right now?

    If it still runs well, just "clean out the crud" yourself.

    Most of that probably consists of old preference files and perhaps some folders and support files in the user/application support folder.

    You can use something like the free "EasyFind" to look for them.

    I've used "App Cleaner" in the past, it seems to work ok.

    Again... it may not be necessary to toss out the baby with the bathwater.
    Just drain out some of the bathwater.

    One proviso:
    Before you begin, I'd create a BOOTABLE cloned backup using either CarbonCopyCloner or SuperDuper.
    This way, if you accidentally toss out something essential, and the Mac won't boot or it won't run right, having a bootable cloned backup makes it child's play to get things back up and running.
    Otherwise, you might have trouble!
  13. organicCPU, Feb 23, 2018
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2018

    organicCPU macrumors 6502a


    Aug 8, 2016
    The majority of files that you probably want to wipe (and others that you probably would like to keep) are located in your user account folder. Some more might be in your /Library folder where system wide settings are usually stored.
    That makes things a little more complicated. If you had a standard user account, it would have been a click of a button to delete that and make a new one. It was long time before Apple ID and SIP that I was fiddling around with the root account to get an initial admin account exchanged with a new one including having the same user ID (UID).

    If you don't optimise for disk space, you could just create a new admin account and don't touch the initial one. Then maybe install the combo update, make an Etrecheck to wipe third party plug-ins that were installed system wide and you should have a quite clean working system with a flooded and trashed initial account on it, that doesn't bother you.

    If you don't tolerate the initial admin account, then a factory reset is maybe something to think about. I reckon that part:

    restart in single user mode (Command-s)
    mount -uw /
    rm /var/db/dslocal/nodes/Default/users/<shortname>.plist
    rm -r /Users/<shortname>
    rm /var/db/.AppleSetupDone
    After reboot, you just choose the same short and long user name that you already have and your initial admin account should get overwritten. CAUTION: Some apps that store license keys or other needed files in your user account could refuse to work. I can't test that ATM, so I don't know if it really works, but...

    ...as the others pointed out, you made a full working bootable backup first.
  14. Tech198 macrumors G5

    Mar 21, 2011
    Australia, Perth

    i should use that method as well on my friends.

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13 February 20, 2018