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10 spring cleaning tips for your Windows PC

A laptop sitting on a table outside on a sunny day.
Leigh Prather / Shutterstock.com

Do not forget your computer when you clean all our things. From software to hardware, there are some easy ways to get Windows 1

0 laptops or desktops cleaned up and running in top shape.

Uninstall applications you are not using

This tip may seem obvious, but it’s a good place to start. Many apps you install add startup programs or background system services that take longer for your PC to boot, and that use resources in the background. Some programs rotate File Explorer context menus with options. Others – especially PC games – can only use a lot of disk space.

It’s fine if you use these programs and find them beneficial, but it’s easy to install a large number of applications and find that you are not using them at all. To clean things up, uninstall the applications you are not using.

On Windows 10, go to Settings> Apps> Apps and Features to see a list of applications you can uninstall. You can also access the traditional “Uninstall or change a program” pane in the classic control panel.

As you go through the list, keep in mind that certain programs in it are “addictions” that other programs need. For example, there’s a good chance you’ll see a number of “Microsoft Visual C ++ Redistributable” elements here. You want to leave them installed.

If you do not know what a program is or what it does, you can perform a web search for it. You may find that the program is a necessary and useful tool for your PC hardware, for example.

RELATED: How to access the old uninstaller panel on Windows 10

Remove browser extensions you do not need

Browser extensions are similar to apps. It’s easy to install a bunch and find out you are not using them. However, browser extensions can slow down your browsing, and most of them have access to everything you do in your browser. This makes them a security and privacy risk, especially if they are created by a company or person you do not trust.

If you have installed the official browser extension created by the password management company you already trust, there is one thing. But if you have installed a small extension that at times provides a useful feature, and it was created by an unknown person – well, maybe you feel better without it installed.

Review your browser’s installed extensions and remove the ones you do not use – or trust. For example, in Google Chrome, click the menu> More Tools> Extensions to find them. In Mozilla Firefox, click Menu> Add-ons. In Microsoft Edge, click Menu> Extensions.

RELATED: Did you know that browser extensions look at your bank account?

Adjust your startup programs

We recommend that you uninstall programs that you do not need and do not use. However, you may want to leave a program installed while preventing it from starting at startup. Then you can only start the program when you need it. This can speed up the startup process and clean up the system tray or notification area.

To find the launcher controls on Windows 10, right-click the taskbar and select “Task Manager” (or press Ctrl + Shift + Esc). Click on the “Startup” tab – and if you do not see it, first click on “More Details”. (You can also find a similar tool under Settings> Apps> Boot.)

Disable any programs you do not want to run at startup. Many of them will not be necessary. Keep in mind that this may affect functionality – for example, if you choose not to run Microsoft OneDrive or Dropbox at startup, they will not start and sync your files automatically. You must open them when the computer startup process is complete for this to happen.

RELATED: How to manage startup applications in Windows 8 or 10

Organize your desktop and files

A clean, empty Windows 10 desktop and taskbar.

Spring cleaning is not just about getting your PC running faster. It’s also about making you faster to use it. Having a properly organized file structure will make it easier for you to find the files you need without the files you need getting in the way.

Cleaning up your cluttered desk is a big part of it. And if you do not want to clean up your desktop, consider just hiding desktop icons, which you can easily do by right-clicking on the desktop and unchecking View> Show Desktop Icons.

Beyond that, you should consider opening File Explorer and organizing your personal files and folders. There is a good chance that your download folder in particular needs cleaning up – or just something to quickly delete old downloads you no longer need. Whatever folders you use frequently, consider attaching them to the Quick Access sidebar in File Explorer for easier access to your belongings.

RELATED: How to organize (and keep it) your cluttered Windows desktop

Clean up the taskbar and start menu

While you’re at it, you should crop or rearrange the icons on the taskbar. If your taskbar is full of icons for applications you do not need, release them by right-clicking on them and selecting “Release from the taskbar.” Rearrange them with drag and drop to place them anywhere on the taskbar.

Take a look at customizing the Start menu as well. Windows 10’s default Start menu is packed with shortcut tiles that you are unlikely to use. If you have never customized it, now is a good time to make sure that only the applications you actually use are attached to the tiles.

And while you’re at it, you may have a number of applications running in the background that have a system tray icon. You can hide the notification area icons with a quick drag-and-drop so that the program runs while you get the icon from the taskbar.

RELATED: 10 ways to customize the Windows 10 Start menu

Clean up your browser and bookmarks

You probably spend a lot of time in your computer browser. If you use the bookmark feature, consider taking some time to rearrange your bookmarks in a way that makes sense.

It’s easiest to do this from your browser’s bookmark manager instead of fiddling with the bookmarks toolbar. In Google Chrome, click the menu> Bookmarks> Bookmark Manager to launch it. Consider backing up your bookmarks before proceeding, in case you want them back in the future. We have many tips on how to remove your bookmarks.

RELATED: How to remove bookmarks in the browser

Run disk cleanup to free up space

To clean up temporary files and free up some disk space, try using the Disk Cleanup Tool built into Windows. In Windows 10, open the Start menu, search for “Disk Cleanup” using the search box, and click “Disk Cleanup” to start it. Click the “Clean up system files” button to ensure that you clean up both the Windows user account files and system-wide files.

Depending on how long it’s been since you last ran this tool, you may be able to free up gigabytes of unnecessary files – such as files related to old Windows updates. Carefully review the list of things that Disk Cleanup plans to delete to ensure that the tool does not delete anything you want to keep.

RELATED: Is it safe to delete everything in Windows Disk Cleanup?

Dust out the PC

A dusty fan inside a PC case.
MelnikovSergei / Shutterstock.com

If you have a desktop PC, you should open it regularly and give it a quick dusting. (Remember to turn off the PC first!) It may also be necessary to dust the laptop.

Dust often accumulates in PC fans and other components, which reduces cooling efficiency. As a result, the PC may run hotter, or at least the fan must work harder to provide the same amount of cooling.

Even if you do not have to go crazy cleaning all parts of your PC thoroughly, we recommend that you turn off your PC and clean it with compressed air (such as Falcon Dust-Off or a similar brand). Never use a vacuum for this!

An important tool

Falcon Dust-Off Electronics Duster

Compressed air provides a great, safe way to clean dust from inside the PC. It can also help when cleaning other components, such as the keyboard.

RELATED: How to clean a dirty desktop computer

Clean the dirty keyboard, screen and more

Dust inside the PC can affect performance and cooling. But there is probably dust elsewhere: on the screen of the computer screen, between the keys on the keyboard and more.

Spring cleaning is a great time to do a nice, deep cleaning. To clean your screen, all you need is a standard microfiber cloth, of the same type you want to use to wipe off a pair of glasses.

To deep clean the keyboard, you can usually remove the keys and use compressed air or vacuum to remove the accumulated debris.

We have tips for cleaning all other external devices on the PC. You can buy a wide range of different products that promise to speed up the cleaning process.

RELATED: How to clean and disinfect all your gadgets

Optional: Consider “resetting” Windows 10

Let’s end with a nerdy tip: If you feel you want to start with a fresh, clean Windows installation, consider resetting Windows 10. Do not confuse this with restarting your PC – it’s more like a factory reset on other devices.

In Windows 10, it’s similar to “resetting” Windows to reinstall it. You get a standard factory environment without the programs you have installed and the settings you have changed. You can then start fresh. (You can choose to keep your personal files while going through the reset process.)

While resetting Windows, you can choose to perform a “Fresh Start”, which will actually delete any manufacturer-installed bloatware and give you a new, straight-from-Microsoft Windows 10 system. If your PC came with a lot of manufacturer-installed junk, this is a great option to try.

Warning: If you try this, you should be aware that afterwards you will need to spend time reinstalling the software and configuring Windows 10 the way you want it. We also recommend backing up your files before going through this process, just in case: the recovery process can keep your files if you choose the right options, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. It is always best to have an updated backup at all times.

Do not want a new Windows installation? Skip this step! If you followed our other tips, your PC should already be up and running.

RELATED: How to use Windows 10s “Fresh Start” on the May 2020 update

Now your PC is cleaned up and ready to use. Why not clean everything else? Take LifeSavvy’s Spring Cleaning Challenge to redecorate your home in 30 days.

RELATED: Spring cleaning Day 1: Recycle the kitchen sink

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