Mac computers have so many features that are quite essential for their users, however, one thing that it doesn’t often have enough is – space.
In those days, with our hard drives, we were sure of having enough space in our Mac computers. These days, the SSDs have limited space, especially when compared to Windows PCs that could have up to 1TB of HDD or SSD.
Even if your Mac has a considerable amount of storage space, it is still possible to encounter the annoying “Your startup disk is almost full” message.
Yes, we have so much to download, take a look at GTA V that is about 70Gig, or a full movie series from iTunes that can amount up to 100GIG at 10GiG per season, with so much data to consume, it is normal for us to run low on storage space.
When we talk about a good Mac disk clean-up, we don’t just mean you deleting some movies we want or don’t want.
It is more than that; they are many places we can reclaim space like our language files, emptying our trash can, removing duplicate files, deleting attachments, and a few more things you will see below.
Ways to free up disk space on Mac
In this section, we will give you 10 ways on how to clear space on Mac. Don’t worry, you will be able to install that new video editing software and never encounter the “not enough disk space” error on your Mac again.
Before we go into the topic of the day, follow the steps below to see what is consuming your space.
I mean, if you are running a 250GB Mac and have 200GB worth of media files, it’s best you walk into iTunes and take out what you don’t want again.
- Open the Apple Menu.
- Then click on About This Mac.
- Locate and click on the More Info button then select the Storage tab.
Mac then displays a summary of each category and how much space they contain.
Note that the bigger the file(s) you delete, the bigger space you reclaim.
1. Clear the Trash
This remains my first go-to solution. Although you did trash that file, Mac didn’t completely get rid of it. It sends the deleted file to its Trash folder. This feature acts as a kind of backup in case you need the removed file.
Files kept in your Trash folder still consume almost the amount of space they did before you deleted them. Yes, Mac may have good reasons for keeping the file as a kind of backup. It may seem unproductive if you carry out a periodic backup of your device.
What you will do here is right-click or CTRL-click the Trash icon, which is often at your dock’s right-bottom. Then select the Empty Trash option. This then frees up space on your Mac.
Applications like iPhoto, iMovie, and Mail have their Trash, locate these and empty too.
our Mail trash can be configured to delete its unwanted data periodically automatically. For most users, this solution will do, nevertheless, if you are still plagued with this menace, go to solution two.
2. Upload your Files on Cloud
Storing your data on the cloud is one famous go-to solution. When you store them in the cloud, you are kind of “eating your cake and having it.”
Dropbox, OneDrive, iCloud, Google Drive, and a few others are the most prominent cloud storage means we have out there.
The downside of cloud storage is the limited space it offers in its free plan. Apple’s iCloud has just 5GB of free storage, and there’s Dropbox with only 2 GB.
To get more, you will need to pay, and some may require you to download their apps first. If you can get past this, you’ll enjoy using cloud storage.
Another advantage of cloud storage is that you won’t be faced with the dilemma of what to delete or not as you’ll simply upload them to your cloud and access them remotely over an internet connection.
With cloud storage, you can also sync specific folders and files and easily share your uploaded media with family and friends.
3. Find and Remove Duplicate Files
One funny thing that could be consuming your storage space might be duplicate files. Many things could cause this.
A good example is when you set your iTunes to add songs from your device by configuring it to “Copy files to iTunes Media folder when adding to library” instead of moving them.
Mac leaves the original track in its folder with that configuration; due to this, you’ll have the same song twice.
Having two similar songs of let’s say 10MB each may seem too small to make you run into the not enough disk space error on Mac.
However, when you picture this happening to over a thousand songs, you will be dealing with 10 GB worth of storage poorly used.
Another possible cause of duplication is Apple Mail. This service stores all attachments in its download folder.
So, if you attached big files, you should also check there. The best way to free up space on Mac Catalina or other Mac computers is by using a third-party app to help identify and dumb duplicate data such as Gemini.
Gemini is a software renowned for doing this effectively. Its paid version may seem too expensive, although it finds duplicate files automatically; however, the free version is enough.
With the free version, you’ll manually have to delete the files one after the other.
To be on the safer side, I recommend using the free version, so you’ll adequately confirm what you are deleting.
4. Uninstall unwanted applications
If you’ve used your Mac for a long, there’s a chance you have a substantial amount of applications you will never use again; these applications often consume your space.
You can find out the number of space applications on your Mac is consuming by opening a Finder window and selecting Applications then Show items in a list from the toolbar.
To sort your applications based on the sizes, click on the Size heading to arrange them for you in an ascending or descending order.
Getting rid of these applications is relatively easy; however, deleting their support files is where the problem lies. These files make up for a fair amount of space.
Most apps include an Uninstaller of some sort (often in the support folder) to help you get rid of the app and its support files, then some don’t.
Since Mac doesn’t provide a one-stop uninstaller, we will turn to a third-party mac cleaner like AppCleaner (free on Mac App Store), AppZapper, many others to completely delete these app’s support folders and clear storage on Mac.
5. Clear iTunes Backups
Most of us store our iDevice backups on iTunes (Mac). This is understandable since our Mac’s storage is often way bigger than our iPhones’. If you’ve backed up your 64 Gig iPhone quite a number of times to your 250 Gig Mac, you can imagine how much space your backup is consuming.
To free up more space on Mac, you’ll need to get rid of those unwanted or old backups. You can either copy and paste this file path
In your Search/Magnifier or you follow the path. That path leads you to the backup folder for your iDevices whose backup originated from iTunes. Go through the folders there and delete according to what you find useless.
Alternatively, you can use the CleanMyMac third-party app, which will translate the folders’ names into identifiable names.
6. Manually Remove temporary files
The often you use your computer, the more temporary files it creates. These files may seem small at first, but they begin to take up much space as they keep accumulating.
One prominent culprit is our browsers, Google Chrome and Safari are renowned for storing temporary files often called Cache files.
These files are meant to make your internet surfing seamless, but when they get too much, you’ll have to get rid of them. To tackle this issue, macOS removes some temporary files after you restart your computer.
However, again this isn’t enough, so you’ll have to remove them manually.
Your browser should provide an option to clear out these browsing data quickly. To find Chrome cache files, open the drop-down menu, which is represented by three horizontal dots at the top-right of your Chrome window.
Next click on More Tools then Clear Browsing Data.
Yes, clearing these caches could help, but this remedy is temporal and often not advisable.
As you keep browsing, your browser will recreate those files again, often causing the web pages to load a bit slow. There’s also the possibility of you clearing your saved logins, so unless you are sure of what you are doing you can avoid deleting your browser’s cache files.
Nevertheless, they are other temporal files you don’t need that are from other apps.
To clear these files, open up Mac Finder, next select Go then click Go to Folder, with ~/Library/Caches you’ll locate them.
Here, Mac presents you with different folders belonging to apps or services that have created temporary files on your machine, go through them and delete what you want.
Alternatively, you can use a third-party app like CleanMyMac X or CCleaner these apps are created for this.
I’ll prefer you to use a third-party app because Mac doesn’t display those folders by their direct name. However, apps like CleanMyMac will make it easier for you to know what you are deleting.
7. Backup to an external storage device
Another way to deal with not having enough space issues is by uploading some of your files to external storage.
This is one simple and relatively easy fix.
All you have to do is get an external hard drive and then upload files you won’t use anytime soon.
8. Remove Languages you will never use
Mac comes equipped with about 25 languages; there’s every possibility you won’t be using up to 20 of those languages, so there’s almost no point having them. These language files sometimes amount to 100 megabytes, so if you are barely managing with your 250 Gig Mac, it’s best you take out these files.
You can find them in the package contents of respective applications on your Mac.
They are in the Resources folder, and they have a “.lproj” file extension (ending). Each folder has a language file in it, the names on the folders are often the languages or their shortening. Locate them and delete the app accordingly.
Alternatively, you can use a program like CleanMyMac, which will make things easier for you.
After the scan is done, go to System Junk, click Review details, next uncheck the other items you don’t want to remove while leaving the language files you want deleted still checked.
Finally, proceed to clear them.
9. Make use of the Reduce Clutter feature
Mac has a feature called Reduce Clutter which can come in handy to free up disk space on Mac. With this tool, you can identify large files, especially those you may never need again, and quickly get rid of them.
After opening Review Clutter, click on the Review Files button and select any of the files categories from the left sidebar such as Books, Applications, Music, Trash, etc.
Depending on the category you pick, Reduce Clutter will show you the size of files in it, the date it was last accessed, and sometimes give you an option to delete it there. Suppose you can’t find a delete option there.
In that case, you have to minimize Reduce Clutter then locate the app and delete accordingly.
10. Clean up your Download folder
This option sometimes may seem irrelevant, but on closer look, it is something significant. Our download folders often contain pictures we temporarily needed, large PDFs, disk images, and older versions of already installed applications.
These files often consume so much space, carrying out a Download folder clean-up will help free up space on Mac.
You should seek the files in your Download folder listed based on their sizes in descending order to take out the biggest unwanted files first.
How to clear system storage on Mac?
We all will get irked. Having high system storage isn’t a pleasant sight for anybody.
Although most of the apps responsible for this are pre-installed, you can still optimize them to further free up your space. Before we see ways to clear system storage, let’s see how to find the exact percentage of your overall storage it is consuming.
1. Click on the Apple menu then select About this Mac.
2. When in, click on the Storage tab and allow Mac to calculate the storage distribution.
3. Mac displays a bar that shows you different colors representing the different file categories and your overall storage percentage. System apps are in grey.
To clear system storage on Mac.
1. Create more space on Mac
After accessing your system storage, identify the culprits responsible for the increase in size, then go to all the folders and delete all files you won’t need again.
2. Delete iTunes backup
Our iTunes backups sometimes contribute to this. These backups amount over time, and unless you overwrite them or delete them, they’ll keep accumulating.
– Launch iTunes then click on the iTunes button which is often at the top left corner.
– Locate and select Preferences then click on Devices. Here, you’ll find all the different backups for your iTunes account
– Press the Ctrl key then select any backup on the list.
– Click the Show in Finder option then Mac opens it in their storage location.
– Now identify the backups and delete them. Please, don’t delete very recent backups as you may need it. Unless you have a reason not to, go ahead and delete your old backups.
3. Clean up other Folders
You should also clean up your downloads folder and Trash folder as stipulated above. iTunes is notorious for increasing your system storage. Besides deleting the old backups, consider deleting media files you no longer need like movies and videos.
In this section, I’ve answered the most frequently asked questions as detailed as possible.
How to see what’s taking up space on Mac
When you start running low on space, Mac gives you an alert of the current condition; this message includes a link to the storage preference; from there, you can manage your storage. However, if you want to access this storage without waiting for this alert, follow the steps below.
1. From the top left of your screen, click on the Apple logo and select the About This Mac option.
2. Next, select the Storage tab from the top of your screen. Mac then shows you a bar that indicates how much space is given to different data types on your device.
What is system storage on Mac?
System storage refers to the space your Mac designates for system apps and services. These apps are sometimes pre-installed. When you install a new macOS, it always seems that the newer they are, the more system storage they consume, this is so because new updates download new features which will consume space.
This space is often taken from your ROM. Files stored in the system storage are sometimes difficult to locate. They may be log files, email messages, logs for core files, docker images, and others.
Why is system storage so high on Mac?
Most system programs and applications keep creating more files (often caches), as you usually use your device. The longer you go without cleaning up these files, the more they accumulate and finally amounting to your system storage being high. An app like iTunes is notorious for doing this.
This article has shown you how to clear space on Mac with ten different methods. Further, in the article, we talked about the steps to locate what is taking your system’s space; we then explained what system storage is and why it sometimes gets high. We later documented ways to clear system storage on Mac and delete files and folders in Other storage. Thank you for visiting us, please leave a comment below.