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A Thorough Declutter for Your Digital Space

With winter break coming to an end, a new semester is ahead of us waiting to take up even more of our already overcrowded digital space, and the constant hoarding can slow down your working devices and give you an unpleasant learning experience. While we do declutter our wardrobe and personal spaces for the new year, why not also consider downsizing your digital life?


Declutter documents and files 

1. Desktop sweep

Although it might be easy to save documents to your laptop desktop, it could look very unorganized overtime, making it hard to find what you need at specific times. Delete what you no longer need and move the rest into folders if you already have a folder system going. If not, start by creating an “undecided” folder and go through them later.

2. Delete downloads

Downloads folder might be the second messiest place. These are usually temporary files downloaded from the web and that have never been opened since. Clear them out so that it could be filled with new exciting things!

3. Store and backup files

Before backing files up onto external hard drives or other online backup services, make sure you have an organized folder system with a standard naming convention so that you do not have to rummage through a sea of files in the future.

4. Empty the trash can

What else is more satisfying other than clearing out all the junk at once? Remember to check your trash folder one last time as you never know what you will find in there — it could be your important paper that you accidentally dragged in.


Declutter photos

1. Delete duplicates 

We all have those selfies that look nearly identical, why not start tackling them and free up some of your precious storage? If you want to speed up the process, you can always download a duplicate photo finder app to assist you.

2. Do not forget to check your social media albums

Like Snapchat, there is the option of saving snaps to your phone and your Snapchat account. While you do go through the ones on your phone gallery, it is easy to neglect the ones that are still in your account.

3. Store and backup photos

After some rigorous sorting, it is time to clear them out from your phone camera roll.

Remember to store them in one organized place, whether that would be an external hard drive or an online storage space like iCloud and Google Drive, pick one that best suits you and organize them into subfolders by year, event or place.


Declutter emails and other accounts

1. Unsubscribe from emails

Most of those unopened emails are made up of email subscriptions. If you do want to keep most of them, consider having an email address dedicated to receiving those emails to avoid your important emails getting drowned in your inbox. You can start developing the habit of unsubscribing every time you receive them, or you could use an email unsubscribe service to speed up the process.

2. Delete accounts you no longer use

Sometimes it is difficult to keep track of all the usernames and passwords for accounts that you simply signed up for free discount codes and one-time use purposes. Delete those you have not used in a while to stay away from potential exposure to hackers.

3. Keep passwords in one place

You might still have a lot of account names and passwords to remember even after completing the above step, this is when a password manager service comes in handy. On Apple devices, we have the keychain access that stores all that information. Even though we have the convenience of these services, it is still beneficial to keep a record on a piece of paper or notebook.


Declutter apps

1. Uninstall unused applications

Unlike photos and downloaded files, apps take up a lot of storage and can consume battery with their background activities. Similar to email subscriptions, you can always re-download when you need them.

2. One app for each purpose

A lot of the apps provide similar services and are used for the same purpose. Stick to your favourite one for each category to avoid the overlap of functions and features.

3. Clear notes and voice memo

Built-in apps such as notes and voice memo are often neglected when it comes to digital decluttering. Move the ones you need into your laptop or external hard drive folders and delete them from the apps themselves.


Declutter social media

1. Delete group chats that are no longer active

Remove one-time conversations and old group chats. These serve no significant purpose and would only create distractions and make the message list unnecessarily long.

2. Reduce the number of following

Maybe you still follow someone who is a bad influencer, or someone who shares different values with you. It is time to minimize and tailor the list to who you are truly interested in.

3. Go through archived and saved files

Do not forget the archived and saved folders like the ones on your Instagram and Tik Tok accounts. These things also contribute to the amount of storage your apps take up, and just because you do not see them does not mean they do not exist.


The decluttering process could be very tedious. If this is your first time doing it, you should set aside a few days and go through it gradually as it would probably be overwhelming at first. The end goal of this is to get your digital life under control and practice good habits to keep it organized for a prolonged period of time. So, what are you still waiting for? Get your jams started and snacks ready for a decluttering party!

Catherine Yu

McMaster '23

Catherine is a second-year McMaster student majoring in Kinesiology, and hopes to minor in Economics. Outside of school, she loves to sing, dance, and go on hikes with friends and family! You will often catch her at the candy aisle in the grocery store.
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