Modern computers, including those made by Apple and known as “Macs,” come standard with hard drives that boast huge amounts of space. A new iMac can easily have 500GB to 1TB of storage space. The average MacBook has about 250GB. That’s a lot of space when you consider how far hard drives have come. However, even with that much available memory, given the size and scope of graphics programs and files, you may find that you need to know how to free up space on Mac.
The very first computers took up an entire room and had only about 5 MB hard drive space. And that’s not a typo. Just 5 MB. That’s smaller than most photo files today. However, these first machines weren’t designed to keep data for the long run. They were created to compute numbers, to find the answers to numerical questions There wasn’t a great need to store the information for later use. The first “small” disk drives were 24 to 14 inches wide and held about 2 MB worth of data. At the time, no one could conceive of why you would need more space than that. In the 1960s, computers were used to run numbers for business or military applications, that was their limit. However, the next few decades changed things.
Now, we can fill up a 250GB hard drive in no time. Pictures, music, home videos, and other streaming content take up a lot of room. As Americans, we can take hundreds of pictures in one day. We need space to store these things, so we’re filling up hard drives faster than it seems possible. If your Mac is full and you need more storage, this article will show you how to free up space on Mac.
What Files Use the Most Space on Mac?
The files that take up the most space on any computer are generally photo, music, and video files. This is why iTunes backups, storing family photos, and downloading movies can make your Mac slow down significantly. As you’ll see below, it’s a good idea to store your media on an external drive or back them up to the cloud to keep your Mac running efficiently.
Letting files piles up in the trash can is another way to use a lot of space and not realize it. Every time you delete something, it stays in the “trash can” until it is emptied. Even if you delete a bunch of larger, media files, they’re not gone if they’re sitting in the trash can. This is an easy thing to forget, and it takes up a lot of space.
How Do I Know I Need to Free Up Space on Mac?
The most obvious sign that you need to free up space on your Mac is when it begins to run slowly. If your computer is taking a long time to open applications, to save documents, or to show your thumbnails, it’s struggling. You may also find it needs to restart often or has the occasional error. Eventually, you may start getting warnings about the lack of space. When you see these things, it’s time to do a thorough cleaning of your Mac to keep it running in top form. Now, let's look at how to free up space on Mac.
How to Free Up Space on Mac: 10 Easy Tricks
We’re going to take a look at 10 easy tricks you can use to clean up and create space on your Mac. However, if you’re not up to doing the work yourself and you’d rather leave the computer cleaning to professional, there are a couple of highly recommended programs that will do most of this for you. They are called CleanMyMac 3 and Gemini 2. They can both be purchased for $100 and you can use them over and over again. Using programs like this will guarantee you don’t miss anything, but they can be costly. If you’re not totally sold on them, they offer a free trial at:https://cleanmymac.macpaw.com. Now, let’s look at how to free up space on Mac.
Locate and Remove Duplicate Files
After you’ve used for a computer for a certain amount of time, you build up piles of old, unused files that are just sitting on your hard drive. It’s easy to forget they’re there or to have them get lost in the daily shuffle. You could go through and cull your files yourself, but this can take a long time. The easiest thing to do is to use an online app to locate files that are no longer in use and remove them.
Empty the Trash Can
Both PC and Mac have a version of the “trash can.” It’s called a “trash can” on Mac and a “Recycle Bin” on PC. Files are stored here when you delete them in case you need to restore them. To permanently delete the files, you need to empty the trash can. This is as simple as right-clicking on the “trash can” icon and selecting “empty trash.” However, other apps often have their own, separate trash cans. iPhoto, iMovie, and Mail have their own cans. To make sure you get all the trash emptied, go into these applications and right-click on their unique trash can to empty.
Remove Unused Applications
Anything you install on your Mac is taking up space. Most people have at least a few old applications that they no longer use. These apps are just taking up space that you could be using for other things. It’s a good idea to go through your apps once in a while and purge things you no longer need. To remove apps, open the Finder, select Applications in the sidebar, and drag things you don’t need into the trash can. Remember, to make sure everything is really gone you have to empty the trash can.
Remove iTunes and iPhone Backups
Backing up your files can be a good thing, but backing up your iPhone or iPad through iTunes can take up a huge amount of space. You may be able to free up about 200GB of space by removing these backup files. The safest way to delete these files is to use CleanMyMac because it clarifies which folders are storing what.
Delete Your Temporary Files
Most Macs have a bunch of temporary files you don’t need. They just take up space without serving a purpose. Mac OS X will try to remove them, but you can find and remove more of them if you use an application designed to find them. The web browser has a built-in option that you can use to clear your browsing data. This will save you a little space but might cause you a headache. The files store data that help web pages load faster. If you delete the files, sites you visit often will load more slowly. Your Mac will rebuild the cache anyway. You can delete a lot of temporary files by going to the Finder and opening ~/Library/Caches. There are lots of folders there that can be deleted. If all else fails, you can use CleanMyMac to remove temporary files. It will not only help you delete unnecessary files, but it will clarify what those files are. Temporary files come back, so you’ll have to do this regularly.
Examine the Disk to Find What Is Taking Up Space
A great tool for examining your hard drive is Disk Inventory X. This app will scan the hard drive on your Mac and show you what files and folders are taking up the most space and give you an idea how to free up space on Mac. Delete what you don’t need to clear up big chunks of space. If they are important files, consider moving them to external media to help your Mac run more efficiently. Make sure you don’t accidentally delete any important system files. Focus on files in the directory /User/name.
Remove Language Files
Your Mac applications have files for every single language they support. This is so you can switch languages quickly at any moment. However, most people don’t need that many other languages. These files are just using up space. To remove them, you can use a tool like CleanMyMac or something similar. The app Monolingual does the same thing.
Remove Large Mail Attachments
MacOS has a built-in mail application. If you’ve had the same account for a while, it may have large attachments hanging out in it. Those may take up several GBs of space. It’s a good idea to check them out and see what you can delete. You could also change your mail settings so attachments are not automatically downloaded. Then can save you some space. Other mail services like Gmail have settings where you can limit how many messages are synced so the attachments aren’t downloaded.
Clean Up the Downloads Folder
Everything you have downloaded sits in your downloads folder, and it’s an easy place to forget about. All you have to do is open Finder and then open the Downloads folder. You’ll have to go through the list and decide what you don’t need. Delete all of your unwanted files.
Use the MacOS High Sierra Storage Tools
The Mac operating system has a new tool that will help clean out the junk on your Mac. To find it, go to the menu and choose “About This Mac.” Go to the storage tab.
Use the Storage Tools in macOS High Sierra
The latest version of macOS Sierra has a new tool designed to show you how to free up space on Mac. Just go to the menu and choose “About This Mac” and then flip over to the Storage tab. Here, you can change your settings to what makes sense for you. Some of your options are:
A slow computer can be very frustrating. However, before you call an IT professional to help you solve the problem, consider how to free up space on Mac yourself. Using the tips listed above, you may be able to clear out a lot of the stuff that’s bogging down your Mac. You’ll be surprised how much better it will run with just a thorough cleaning.