Digital Konmari: how to tidy up your computer

You can apply Marie Kondo’s ideas from The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up to your digital life. Since we can’t hold a computer interface to see if it sparks joy I’ll help you reduce visual clutter from your computer to make it a more peaceful and comfortable space.

A year after practicing methods from her book I started my digital Konmari with a brand new Macbook. Even new computers come with clutter! I’m sharing my findings four months after my digital Konmari. I had no serious relapses is a signal of success. Your computer is a very personal place, so please take care when discarding files.

Menu Bar

The Menu bar on the top of your screen should be saved for programs where you need quick access or status updates. Many apps will put their icon here automatically. Right click or choose option + click on your keyboard, or do a two finger tap on the icon to open the app’s preferences. From there you can remove it from the menu bar. I recommend changing your clock to 24-hr time to avoid seeing the AM and PM.

You can also download Mac Bartender that helps you hide certain taskbar items behind an icon. This is counter to Konmari’s philosophy to have everything at surface level. But there really are some apps I only need once and a while.

Dock

The Dock is a place at the bottom of your computer screen for commonly used and active apps. These should be the apps getting the most use.

I recommend removing everything from your dock and decide which apps to keep during your daily computing.

Now that you have so few apps in the doc, you won’t need to access it as often. I recommend hiding the doc. Keeping it minimal will help you know when unneeded apps are running.

Desktop

Think of this place as your bedroom floor or a kitchen counter. Marie Kondo insists this is not a place for storage and these items need a home.

  • Use ⌘+spacebar to search for files across your computer.
  • Change your chrome settings to download to the desktop. Once your file lands on the desktop immediately drop it into its proper home that clicks.
Chrome Browser advanced settings

Finder

The Finder is the window into your computer. You likely spend more time here than you realize.

There’s a lot of clutter here by default
  • Left Panel: remove everything except the essentials by right clicking on the list items and choosing “Remove item” or simply drag it out of the window . I recommend access to your applications, desktop, and the single folder where you keep all your files. Ease your eyes by hovering over the devices and tags categories and click Hide if they’re not useful for you.
  • Toolbar: Choose View>Customize toolbar to remove all the features here that don’t serve you. I recommend removing everything and adding in only what you need. You can always re-drag the full set back in if you make a mistake.
  • Hide the Tab Bar, Path Bar, Status Bar, Side Bar or Preview from the View toolbar dropdown. Here’s what worked for me:
  • In Finder Preferences you can change your settings to only search the current folder. I find this feature particularly nice since I use the ⌘+ spacebar to search my entire computer.

Chrome

I use Google Chrome for web browsing. Many chrome extensions put an icon to the right of the URL bar (next to the star). You can remove these too! Right click on each icon and select Hide Button which will keep the extension running but remove the visual clutter. From Window>Extensions you can also remove old extensions you forgot were still running.

In your bookmark toolbar you can also remove the title of the saved link. Since most favorite websites have recognizable icons, you probably don’t need the helper text anyway. Right click on the icon, choose edit and simply delete the title of the bookmark. You will be left with just the icon.

Files

File management is an especially sensitive and personal activity. Unlike a traditional Konmari you can’t lay all the files out on the floor, hold them, move them, and have a feeling with them.

To sort my files, I created a new folder and transferred everything I wanted to keep in the new place and discarded everything I don’t love or need in the old folder. I boldly (and safely) recycled old hard drives and computers that I haven’t been able to access in nearly a decade. This is a very advanced task that should be practiced with care.

Digital Life

Our lives can quickly and subtly get filled with intense visual noise. As an extension of both our mind and home, it’s essential to make our computer a comfortable, joyful, pleasing place. Read Marie Kondo’s book and apply her philosophies to guide your computer tidying. In the end you may find you want to spend more time with people and nature.

Thank you Mary Baldwin for the computer gif.

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