How to free up space on Mac Computer if it runs out of Storage

Back in the days when Macs had hard drives, we all had plenty of space on our Macs, but the SSDs that feature in our Macs now are more limited in capacity, and high-res video, photos, music, and other essential files take up more storage than ever. So more than ever you need to know how to free up space on Mac

Running out of space can really hamper your computing: if you would like your Mac to run quickly you would like to make sure you’ve something like 10 percent of your storage free in the least time otherwise your Mac can really hamper (read: the way to speed up a Mac). at the worst, if you do not delete a number of the items taking over space for storing on your Mac you’ll even find you cannot start it up at some point because the startup disk is full! you’ll be seeing warnings that your start-up disk is nearly full – you should not ignore them.

You may also have to clear some space on your Mac if you’re installing an OS update. When Apple released macOS Big Sur in 2020, for instance, tons of Mac users found that they did not have enough free space to put in the new macOS (read: Not enough space for giant Sur). Under those circumstances, you’re likely to see fast and straightforward ways to release space on a Mac – so finding the way to determine what’s taking over the space on your Mac, and therefore the best thanks to removing it, are going to be your priority.

In this article, we walk you thru simple steps which will assist you to identify what’s taking over space on your Mac, what you’ll and can’t delete, the safest thanks to removing the most important space hogs, and the way to manage the storage on your Mac in order that you never run out of space again. 

How to clear space on Mac quickly

There are many ideas below for freeing up disc space below, but if you’re in a hurry and you do not need tons of space, or if you are not too bothered about ensuring you do not run out of space again, here are a couple of belongings you can do right now: 

  • Click on your Downloads folder, open it within the Finder, and choose the contents, or any files you do not need, right-click and choose Move to Bin/Trash.
  • Open the Finder
  • navigate to your Home folder (press Shift-command-H). 
  • Now press Command-F to open a replacement Find window. Click on the sink beside ‘Kind’ and choose ‘Other’. 
  • Scroll down until you see ‘File Size’ and check the box next thereto . 
  • Click OK. 
  • Now within the next dropdown choose ‘is greater than’. 
  • Change file size to MB and sort 100 into the box besides that. Now select anything that you simply don’t need that’s bigger than 100MB and choose Move to Bin/Trash.
  • You could find an identical search to delete files you haven’t opened within the past year or longer. rather than Kind choose 
  • Last opened date. 
  • rather than ‘is’ choose ‘before’ and alter the date to a year ago. 
  • Select and right-click on files you’re sure you will not need again and choose Move to Bin/Trash.
  • If you’re anything like us your Desktop may be a dumping ground. Open the Finder again and choose the Desktop folder. Sort by Size and delete anything you do not need that’s particularly large. 
  • Alternatively sort by Kind to quickly locate all the Screenshots (which are going to be PNG files). Select those you would like to delete and choose Move to Bin/Trash.

Another way to delete screenshots is to travel to your Desktop and if you haven’t already done so attend the menu and choose View > Use Stacks (you’ll get to have the Desktop selected). Now find your Screenshot folder. Click thereon to open it up then select as many Screenshots as you’re comfortable deleting. you’ll click and drag these to the Trash/Bin. you’ll do an equivalent with other files on your Desktop (it’s where most things find themselves after all).

Now the ultimate and most vital step: Right-click on your Trash/Bin and choose Empty Trash/Empty Bin (we do this last as we’ve just added lots to the Trash!)

This might recover a couple of GB for you, and if that’s all you would like then the job is done! But if you would like to urge tons more room, and if you would like to avoid running low on space again then follow the steps below.

How to see what’s taking over space on Mac

If you’re running out of space your Mac might be slowing down, which is bad enough, but if you run out of space on your Mac you’ll not even be ready to start it up! Before you get to stage take a glance to ascertain what is taking over the space on your Mac because it will determine what you ought to delete.

There are several apps that will show you which of these files are taking over big chunks of disc space, or allow you to order files within the Finder that support their size.

GrandPerspective (free) or from the Mac App Store for £1.99 here and DaisyDisk (£9.99/$9.99, pip out here) give good visual indications while OmniDiskSweeper (free) uses the quality hierarchical file window to point out the sizes of each file and folder. Other apps like CleanMyMac (£34.95) show disk usage as a part of their cleanup features. Parallels Toolbox also features a Clean Drive tool alongside many other useful tools (for £15.99 a year).

However, before you spend any money, it’s actually very easy to urge a summary of what is taking over the space on your Mac.

  • Click on the Apple logo.
  • Choose About This Mac.
  • Click on the Storage tab.
  • wait while it calculates. 
  • Eventually you’ll see various bars indicating what proportion storage is given to certain things, and the way much storage is out there .
  • Hover over the various bars to ascertain what each represents and the way much space they’re taking over . for instance , in our case yellow was Photos (less than 10GB because we store them in iCloud, but you’ll have 100GB+ of Photos).
  • This view shows you ways much space certain things are taking over , but how does one delete the things that’s taking over the space?

What are System and Other?

We’ll start with the 2 biggest culprits, a minimum of in our case: Other and System – and that is likely to be the case for you too. you’ll be wondering if you’ll delete Others. that may not be something you’ll do easily – and nor do you have to. We explain the way to delete Others on a Mac during a separate article though.

The same goes for systems. it might be unwise to delete the overwhelming majority of your System files, but there are a couple that you simply can probably do without, like machine snapshots, iOS backups, and so on. We even have a separate article about what’s in the System and what you’ll delete.

Tools like CleanMyMac X can assist you to affect these Other and System files. CleanMyMac is £29.95/$29.95 (download CleanMyMac). We even have a gathering of the simplest Mac Cleaners during which we glance at a variety of alternatives to CleanMyMac including DaisyDisk, MacBooster, Parallels ToolBox, and MacCleaner Pro.

How Apple helps you save space

Moving on from Other and System we are left with a variety of things we will delete from our Macs – and Apple makes it very easy to try to do so.

  • Click on the Apple logo > About This Mac > Storage and now click on Manage.

On the left of this window, Apple shows you ways much space is attributed to the various things on your Mac. apart from System and Other, which are greyed out, you’ll click on any of those and obtain two options that assist you to delete any storage hogs. We’ll undergo each of those options within the sections below.

In the center of the window Apple offers you Recommendations to assist you to regain a number of the space on your Mac. you’ll make various tweaks including choosing to store files in iCloud, optimizing storage, setting your Bin/Trash to empty automatically, or reviewing files to scale back clutter. We’ll explain each of those options within the sections below. 

Store in iCloud

We think that the choice to Store in iCloud should be your first port of call if you would like to reclaim a lot of space on your Mac.

Store in iCloud gives you the choice of storing files in iCloud. it is a great option if you’ve got limited storage on your Mac: get yourself a pleasant chunk of storage within the cloud and keep everything you would like there. If you do not mind paying for it this is often an excellent thanks to extending the storage available to you.

Apple gives users 5GB of iCloud storage for free of charge, but that’s not getting to be of much help here. Apple offers various amounts of storage on a subscription basis, there should be something to suit you. the costs for iCloud storage are as follows:

  • 5GB: free
  • 50GB: 79p/99c a month
  • 200GB: £2.49/$2.99 a month
  • 2TB: £6.99/$9.99 a month

We should also mention that Apple features a bundle offer, referred to as Apple One, where you’ll get iCloud storage as a part of a deal that has Apple Music, Apple TV, and Apple Arcade. Prices start at £14.95/$14.95 a month. Read Should I buy an Apple One? for more information.

If you spend some money on iCloud and store your desktop and documents and every one your photos there, ready to “> you’ll save an enormous chunk of storage and a good bigger bonus is that the incontrovertible fact that you will be able to access those files and photos on any Apple device you own or by logging onto iCloud together with your Apple ID.

Here’s what you would like to try to to to form space on your Mac by moving files and photos to iCloud:

  • Click on the shop in iCloud option (via About This Mac > Storage > Manage).
  • This opens a window asking you to settle on what you would like to store in iCloud. this will be all the files on your Mac Desktop and your Documents folder and every one your Photos. Select both.
  • Click on Store in iCloud.
  • If you would like to actually crop on the quantity of space haunted by your photos we’ll discuss some more changes you’ll make below in our reduce photo library section.

Optimise Storage

Another very easy way to stop your storage from getting clogged abreast of your Mac is to show on Optimise Storage.

If you switch on Optimise Storage it’ll delete TV shows or films that you’ve watched and old email attachments are going to be removed. You needn’t be scared of losing either of those things because the e-mail s will still be stored on the email server anyway, and therefore the shows you had purchased from Apple’s iTunes Store can always be downloaded again for free of charge.

  • To choose this feature attend About My Mac > Storage > Manage and click on on Optimise Storage.
  • Once you’ve chosen this feature your storage are going to be optimised automatically.
  • Empty Trash Automatically

We already mentioned emptying the trash together of the fast ways to urge more storage on your Mac.

The easiest way to empty your trash is to right-click on the ashcan icon and choose Empty Trash/Empty Bin.

However, you’ll also click on Bin/Trash within the sidebar on the left of your About My Mac > Storage > Manage window and delete it there.

It’s a specialized practice to empty your Trash regularly though and Apple features a good way to automate this action.

If you select Apple’s Empty Trash Automatically recommendation it’ll empty files out of your Trash (or Bin if you’re within the UK) after they need been there for 30 days.

  • Switch this feature on in About My Mac > Storage > Manage.
  • Choose the Empty Trash Automatically option.
  • Click Turn On…

You will see an alert asking if you’re sure you would like to erase Trash automatically. It should be pretty safe as 30 days may be a while to understand you didn’t mean to delete something, so we recommend you click activate.

Reduce Clutter

This is Apple’s final Recommendation found in About My Mac > Storage > Manage.

Reduce Clutter will review the content of your Mac and make it easy for you to delete files you do not need.

TIP: instead of opening files or documents to ascertain what you’re considering deleting, select the file and press the key to ascertain a preview.

Click on Review Files and you’ll be taken to a pane that shows tabs for giant Files, Downloads, Unsupported Apps, Containers, and a File Browser (depending on which version of macOS you have). this is often actually an equivalent view you’d see if you clicked on Documents within the sidebar on the left. 

We don’t have any Large Files on our MacBook Pro, but if we did we’d be ready to see them here. you’ll determine whether to delete them or not support the knowledge provided which incorporates once you accessed them last and their size.

The next option is Downloads. Here you will see the files you’ve got downloaded from the web. Like the trash, it is a good idea to delete the contents of this folder from time to time because it is surprising what proportion of space a couple of downloads can take up.

To delete what’s in your Downloads immediately select the files you would like to get rid of and choose Delete. the great thing about deleting Downloads in this manner is that it won’t just move them to your Trash. If you delete directly from the Downloads folder you’ll get to Empty Trash too.

If you’ve got any Unsupported Apps you’ll see them therein section. you would possibly see old 32-bit apps here, for instance.

We’ll skip Containers as it’s unlikely that there’ll be anything in view for you to delete.

In File Browser you’ll quickly access folders for Pictures, Desktop, Music, Movies, Documents then on.

Those are the steps that Apple offers to assist you to manage the storage available on your Mac. We’ll now enter into a touch more detail on a number of the opposite ways to save lots of space, of which there are many. 

Reduce your Mac photo library

If you’ve got an outsized photo library you would possibly be thinking that you simply could save space by deleting the many blurry or not-so-good photos. While there are apps that will offer to delete duplicate photos on your Mac. However, there’s a way fewer effort thanks to reducing the number of photos on your Mac.

How to move them to iCloud.

We already touched on the Photos above, once we mentioned that if you select the shop in iCloud option in About This Mac > Storage > Manage you’ll prefer to store your photos in iCloud.

The advantage of using iCloud Photo Library is that any photos you upload to your Mac within the future also appear on your other devices: iPhone, iPad than on.

The photo library was 96GB. We started off by paying for the 200GB of space Apple offers. Months later we had upgraded to the complete 2TB as we were storing all our documents, desktop, photos, and more in iCloud.

You might have turned on iCloud Photo Library, but if you haven’t already you’ll do so within the Photos app. attend Photos > Preferences.

Check the box beside iCloud Photos.

This is important: Select Optimise Mac Storage to make sure that your full-resolution photos are replaced with low-res versions (you can always download the full-res version if you would like it).

With that setting, your library should eventually shrink because the high res versions of your images are switched to low-res versions. But note that you simply also will get low res versions of all the pictures you’ve got on all of your devices, so it’s possible that you simply might not save tons of space.

Beware that if you delete photos from your Mac they’re going to be deleted from iCloud too: iCloud isn’t how to copy your photos in order that you’ll delete them from your Mac.

If you would like to get rid of your photo library to release space check out our next suggestion.

Move photos to auxiliary storage 

Another option is to release space on your Mac by moving your photo library to an external disk drive. We have a separate article that describes the way to move your photo library from your Mac to a drive, but we’ll summarise the steps below.

Quit Photos.

  • Copy your Photos Library to a drive . (To save having to delete them again afterwards, press the control key once you drag the files over in order that they’re moved, with the first files automatically deleted, instead of copied.)
  • Once the files have finished copying, hold down the Option/Alt key while beginning Photos.
  • In Photos select Photos > Preferences and generally choose Use as System Photo Library.
  • If you’ve got iCloud Photo Library enabled, the Mac may get busy because it works out which photos reside in iCloud, but should eventually complete without requiring a huge data transfer.
  • Move your music library
  • Your Music library (iTunes in older versions of macOS) could be another candidate for reclaiming disc space , especially if you spent tons of your time importing CDs a few years ago. If your iTunes library holds a couple of GB worth of music you’ve got a couple of options.

You can copy the entire thing from your Music directory to an external disk drive and point Music/iTunes thereto from Preferences. That’s great if your Mac may be a desktop model, but not ideal if it is a notebook – unless you’ve got a NAS drive to which you connect wirelessly. We have a separate tutorial on the way to move your iTunes library to an external disk drive.

Another option is to pay £21.99/year to subscribe to iTunes Match. Here’s the way to find out iTunes Match. Note: If you’ve got an Apple Music membership, you get all of the advantages of iTunes Match, plus access to the whole Apple Music catalog. So you do not need both.

Once you’ve set it up, iTunes Match allows you to access all the music in your music library on Apple’s servers, meaning you do not need to have it stored locally in the least. you will need to be connected to the web so as to play music, but aside from that, it’s a bit like using Music/iTunes with locally stored music.

And, as a bonus, if you opt at a later date that you simply want to download your music from iTunes Match, you get 256-bit AAC files which are probably of higher quality than those you had stored on your Mac.

The final option here is to subscribe to Apple Music, Apple’s service that for £9.99 a month gives you access to its whole music library, so assuming that each one the music you enjoy is on iTunes you’ll delete all of your music from your Mac and just stream the music from Apple Music instead.

If at a later date you opt to not subscribe anymore, you’ll always be ready to download for free of charge any tracks you purchased from the iTunes Music Store before you took out the subscription, but note that unless you’ve got iTunes Match you will not be ready to download tracks that you simply uploaded to your iTunes library yourself, so you don’t have to throw out those CDs just yet.

Remove unwanted apps

  • There is an option in Mac > Storage > Manage to get rid of unsupported apps, but what about the opposite apps you’ve got installed but don’t use and do not need?
  • Deleting apps is pretty simple on a Mac – normally – and that we cover it intimately here: the way to Uninstall Mac Apps.
  • You can either delete an app from the Applications folder within the Finder: right-click on the app and choose Move to Bin/Trash.
  • Or you can press F4 to open up Launchpad, find the app, press Alt/Option and hover over the app. 
  • Tap on the x to delete it.

However, some macOS apps have preferences and application support files and these can exist in a number of places on your Mac. In those cases, the methods above won’t delete all the associated files and libraries related to an app.

If you would like to be absolutely sure that each trace of an app is gone then you’ll try an app that deletes apps thoroughly.

Some major apps include an uninstaller. as an example, you will find one among these within the Additional Tools folder of Microsoft Office. Sometimes an app’s installer doubles as an uninstaller. But the shortage of a fanatical uninstaller in macOS may be a serious omission.

Fortunately, there are a variety of third-party options. AppCleaner , AppDelete ($7.99) and AppZapper ($12.95) are good options, as are CleanMyMac X, Uninstaller and CleanApp.

Another tip is to make sure you quit apps running within the background. Quitting apps that are open for several days or more, or maybe restarting your Mac completely on a daily basis, also will help release disc space.

Applications create temporary files to store data and therefore the longer they run without quitting, the larger those files become. Once you quit the app, the cache files are deleted and therefore the disc space is returned.

Remove duplicate files

Identifying and dumping duplicate files is another great way of freeing up disc space. Gemini costs £15.95 on the Mac App Store and allows you to scan your Mac for duplicate files so you’ll dump one copy.

  • Archive or backup

You might be thinking I want the space, but I do not want to delete anything! If you actually are the proverbial data squirrel, here are a couple of simple suggestions:

Archive any files you’re unlikely to wish regularly. Ctrl-click on a folder and choose the compress option. (Here’s more info on the way to zip Mac files.) The space saved will vary consistent with the sort of file being archived: JPEGs and DMGs, for instance, are unlikely to compress considerably. Once created, archives can either remain on your Mac or be saved to a drive.

Finally, if you are making the choice to delete files or folders, always back them up first.