Receiving the dreadful “your disk is full” message is an error many Mac owners can relate to. Knowing how to manage disk space is integral to using your Mac effectively.
Nowadays, disk storage is a premium, with many Apple laptops only starting with 256 GB of storage capacity.
That’s why it’s imperative that you know all the tips and tricks for managing disk storage. This guide will cover various ways to identify what is clogging up space on your Mac so that you know what to delete and never run out of space again.
How Old Files Clog Up Your Storage
It’s common for Mac users to forget about their disk storage. You’ve likely accumulated and clogged storage from all the downloaded files over the years.
There are many reasons why you’re Mac disc space might be full:
- Downloaded Too Many Files: This frequently happens to people who prefer to download music and movies on their devices rather than stream online.
- Large Duplicate Files: It’s common to save multiple copies of the project we’re working on or download the same file twice by mistake.
- Cache from Third-Party Applications: Caches are temporary service files developed by applications. An accumulation of cache files can expand from some MBs to several GBs. Your Mac accumulates temporary files and cache daily, so you’ll need to remove them regularly.
- Browser Data: Browsing on the internet builds up web history, images, cache, cookies, and other data that takes up a lot of storage space.
- iOS and iTunes Data: When syncing your iOS device to your Mac, it automatically stores the iTunes Sync application data, podcasts, and backups onto your computer.
- Language Files: The macOS features many applications with localizations to different languages. Localization files occupy a ton of disk storage space. Removing the languages you don’t use on your Mac can free up more room.
- Logs and Application Support Files: Most applications contain support files. However, sometimes when removing apps, the support files remain. The logs folder stores the logs of apps, systems, and mobile devices, which can be safely removed.
The reasons why your Mac storage might be wasted are endless. There’s another issue you might’ve encountered using a Mac, and that’s keeping track of the storage.
How it’s Tough to Keep Track of Storage
Knowing what is occupying your Mac storage is the first step. However, tracking the storage is becoming increasingly difficult until it affects your machine’s performance.
Your Mac won’t send any reminders or warnings before running out of storage space.
Unfortunately, macOS applications don’t provide a simple solution for finding unwanted files and junk on your computer. You’ll have to review all the files to determine what to eliminate manually.
Also, you need to go through the system logs and cache files to find hidden data clogging up your storage space.
Finding unnecessary data within apps is another not-so-obvious factor when cleaning up your storage. Web browser extensions and application plugins are installed automatically as part of the webpage or in the application packages.
Another example is mail attachments, which can be listed under your email app. These attachments are downloaded onto your Mac for viewing online and can quickly stack up over time.
Tracking storage on Mac is difficult because it’s not obvious or convenient to track your system’s hidden and unwanted data. It doesn’t inform you when your disk space is running low.
But to make your life easy, here are some of the best ways to check and take action to free up your Mac’s storage.
About This Mac Option
In recent Mac versions, you can check the storage via the About this option.
Here’s how it’s done:
Step 1: Open the Apple menu and select the option ‘About this Mac.’ It’s the very first option on the menu.
Step 2: To see the storage status on your Mac, click on the Storage tab in the window that opens after clicking the About this Mac option. Depending on how much storage is full, the Mac will take some time to calculate it. Here’s what you will see.
Step 3: This step is for those who want to delete files manually from the Mac. Click on Manage, and a new window will open. Go through the recommendations and see what tips you can utilize.
If you think recommendations won’t work, you can click on Applications and delete the files manually.
You can also check the storage of your Mac via the Disk utility option available in Spotlight.
Just search for Disk Utility in the search bar of Spotlight by clicking on the magnifying glass on the top menu bar.
Get Info In Finder
Getting storage info from Finder is quick if you have an old Macbook (not with an M1 or M2 chip).
You can open the Finder, right-click on the disk and click on ‘Get Info.’ Your Mac will show you the amount of space available and used.
Nektony disk space analyzer is a tool to analyze disk usage and identify unwanted files to free up space.
- Fast Scanning: Helps you scan your drive and receive results in under a minute
- Hidden Files Detection: Finds hidden data clogging up space, such as caches of apps, logs, and browser data
- Compatibility: Supports removable USB drives, HDD volumes, DVDs, and CDs, and mounted DMG images and folders with FileVault protection
- Apple-Notarization: The software is Apple-notarized and regularly updated for the latest macOS systems
- Clearing Purgeable Space: Automatically optimizes your storage by creating purgeable space by identifying points of usage that can be deleted
- Disk Cleanup: Recover valuable disk space on your Mac by deleting unnecessary files
- Visualization: Receive a sunburst diagram to see your disk usage visually
Disk Space Analyzer offers a free plan, but you’ll need to upgrade to any of its paid plans to receive the full set of features. It has 3 premium plans, but it’s pretty affordable.
DaisyDisk is a Mac storage space visualizer providing an easy-to-understand circular graphical display of your disk usage.
- Scan: DaisyDisk scans your Mac, and within a few seconds, you receive a detailed spherical representation of your usage, which you can hover over to find large unwanted files or applications
- Drag-and-Drop: Simply drag and drop the files from the visual representation to the bottom and delete those items
- Compatibility: DaisyDisk supports all kinds of disks, such as from your Mac, external disks, internal hard, and time capsule disks
Users can enjoy a free trial or get the full version of DaisyDisk at affordable prices, which is much cheaper than buying additional storage space, an external hard drive, or even a new computer.
Disk Inventory X
Disk Inventory X gives you an analysis of disk space that can graphically display a summary of your disk usage on your machine.
- TreeMap: The treemap is the color-coded representation of your disk usage, so you can click and identify what is taking up the most space
- Legend: On the right side, you’ll see a legend that tells you specifically what the file is, the file type, and the size
- Support Forum: The website offers a support forum to receive answers about bugs, features, or any other related topics about the software
- Move to Trash: With the move to trash button, you can easily select all the files you want to be removed
The tool is a little outdated and doesn’t work for newer Macs (with M1 or M2 chips), so if you have the latest Mac, you might as well look for another storage checker for Mac.
Disk Drills from Cleverfiles is a budget-friendly disk space analyzer that lets you identify files jamming up your Mac storage and move or delete them.
- Disk Analyze: The software quickly analyzes your Mac to see what’s ‘eating’ your disk space
- Delete: Move unneeded files and duplicates to the trash with a single click
- Filter: You can filter your files by keyword, type, and size
- Recovery: Recovers any data lost, such as accidentally deleted files; it supports any file type and all major systems
Unlike other disk space analyzers, Disk Drills helps you recover files accidentally deleted or lost by pulling data from crash hard drives.
The OmniDiskSweeper from Omni Labs displays all the files on your hard drive, sorted from largest to smallest, and allows you to open, review, and delete them.
- Compatibility: OmniDiskSwepper is compatible with macOS versions 10.4 and beyond
- Scan: Identifies all files to find unwanted large files in your system and sorts them according to size
- Trash: Quickly move any item to the trash or open them
The OmniDiskSweeper is a free tool, making it convenient for any Mac owner.
While viewing your Mac’s storage without a third-party app is possible, using tools makes your job much easier.
Many Mac cleaner tools are silver-bullet solutions that can check your remaining memory, track disk space, and clean up your computer with one click.
Now it’s your turn to implement one of these strategies to manage your computer space.
Enjoy reclaiming your Mac storage!
Next, you can check out the best software for Mac data recovery.