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Is your Mac or PC feeling sluggish? One way to speed things up is by cleaning up your RAM memory. In this week’s 5 minute data task I’m challenging you to tackle your downloaded files.

Often my clients don’t realize a big piece of their “virtual pie” is eaten up by the items in their downloads folder. These files are duplicates likely downloaded then saved elsewhere on the hard drive.

How to access Downloads on a Mac

The Downloads folder is easily accessed from Finder’s sidebar. If you don’t see it under Favorites, go to Finder > Preferences, and turn it on in the Sidebar tab. You can also quickly get to it from Go > Downloads (Option+Command+L).

The Downloads folder is aptly named, since it’s where anything you download from Safari – or other browsers – ends up. This setting can be changed: in Safari go to Safari > Preferences, click General, choose Other from File download location, and then select a different folder. Most people, though, stick with the default.
Browsers typically make it easy to quickly get to downloaded files. In Safari’s case, a download button appears in the toolbar, which you click to view a list of recent downloads. Clicking the magnifying glass button next to an item reveals the downloaded file in Finder.

Managing your downloaded files on a Mac

The Downloads folder can become a messy mix of semi-abandoned files and items you actually need. You might download music from Amazon but then import it into iTunes, making the original downloads redundant. Perhaps these files will end up nestled with app installers, PDF copies of bills you need for your taxes, photos a friend sent you in an email attachment, and other accumulated documents you haven’t yet got around to filling properly.

In order to filter what you find, use Finder’s column view. Sorting items by size can help you quickly discover and trash large items. Sorting by kind you can quickly go through documents of a certain type, or by date, and find items that have been hanging out in this folder for months or even years!

The Challenge:

Take 5 minutes to clean out this folder!  Decide for yourself which files you need to locate to their proper folder and which items are duplicates you can delete. If there are any Installers or Executable files those can be deleted without hesitation as they are one time use files to install new softwares you added to your machine. Do this each month and you will keep your RAM usage low and your computer running much faster!

How to access Downloads on a PC

The Internet browser you use when downloading a file can determine where the file is saved. Most browsers save a file to a Downloads folder in your User profile folder on your computer.

Tip: The fastest way to view your recent downloads in Chrome, Microsoft Edge, Internet Explorer, Firefox, and Opera, is to press Ctrl+J on your keyboard. After the shortcut key combination is pressed, a downloads tab or window (shown below) will appear.

Tip: In the Internet browser options or settings, you can find where your download files are saved. You can then change that download location or leave it as it is.

To access via the Start Menu:

To access your downloads outside the browser, click then press the Windows key, type downloads, and press Enter. In some cases, when you download a file, you may be presented with a pop-up box asking if you want to Save the file or Run the file. If you select the Save option you can specify where to save the file including the desktop, documents folder, or any other location.

To access via the Explorer Window:

You can also find your Downloads file in any File Explorer window. Open a new explorer window by pressing Windows Key+E.  Or click the File Explorer icon in your Taskbar. Now navigate to your Downloads folder using the shortcut in the left pane or by clicking on Downloads under other headings like Frequent Folders.

Managing your downloaded Files on a PC

Much like on a Mac, the downloads folder can become a messy mix of semi-abandoned files and items you actually need. Most of these files here are duplicates and large executables that can be deleted. Sort your files by type and determine if you need to keep the file or if it can be deleted. Music files, executable files, .run files, and photos are generally all duplicates and should be moved to the trash. Don’t forget to then empty the trash! 🙂

The Challenge:

Take 5 minutes to clean out this folder! Decide for yourself which files need to be relocated to their proper folder and which items are duplicates you can delete. Do this each month and you will keep your RAM usage low and your computer running much faster!

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How To: Create Better Passwords

How To: Create Better Passwords

Raise your hand if you're using the same password for every account because remembering them all would be impossible. Everyone is guilty of the multiple password sin but when doing so you're leaving yourself wide open to a major security breach. Imagine your password...

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