Mac Performance

How to Free Up Space on Mac

Running out of storage space on your Mac? Well, you’re among 80 percent of Mac users who experience the same issue with their Macs. But don’t start guarding your wallet quite yet. We'll show you how to free up disk space on Mac.

 

 

Before we start

 

If you’re trying to clean up disk space on your Mac, give MacKeeper a try. Its Safe Cleanup tool clears out junk and cached files, leaving you with a cleaner, lighter machine that performs optimally.  

  1. Download MacKeeper and select Safe Cleanup in the sidebar.
  2. Click the Start Scan button.
  3. Hit the Clean Junk Files button when the scan is complete.

It’s essential to know the state of your Mac’s storage before taking actions that will affect it. When you’ve determined how much storage space currently exists on your Mac, you can decide how much space you need to free up. You can easily check the storage on your Mac and clarify what’s taking up storage.

 

To see how much storage is being used on your Mac, follow these steps:

  1. Go to the Apple menu and click System Settings.
  2. Select General > Storage.
Enter System Settings by clickin on the Apple logo from the menu bar and click on corresponding tab.
Step 1. Apple icon > System Settings
Choose Storage tab from the General settings to see its configurations
Step 2. General > Storage
By clicking on each segement is Storage you will be able to see what files and apps take the most of space and delete them.
Step 3. Click each segment for more details

Check the methods advised by our team to learn how to free up disk space on Mac:

1. Optimize storage with built-in tools

Can you ever have enough space on your Mac device? Probably not! If you find there’s not enough disk space on your Mac, the good news is that Apple has developed storage management tools and tricks to help optimize your storage. Here’s how to access them:

  1. Open the Apple menu and click System Preferences > Apple ID > iCloud.
  2. Check the box next to Optimize Mac Storage toward the bottom of the window.
You can never have enough space. Fortunately, you can optimize storage with Mac's built-in tools. To do this, open the Apple menu and click System Preferences > Apple ID > iCloud.
Step 1. Go to the Apple menu and select System Preferences > Apple ID > iCloud
To optimize your Mac's storage with built-in tools, head to the bottom of the page. Check the box next to Optimize Mac Storage.
Step 2. Select Optimize Mac Storage

2. Save files to the cloud

Apple’s own iCloud is a handy way to save space on your Mac. Here’s how to use iCloud to save space on your Mac’s hard drive:

  1. Click the Apple icon in your menu bar and select System Settings.
  2. From the sidebar, select General, and click Storage.
  3. Next, click Store in iCloud.
  4. Ensure both Desktop and Documents and Photos are selected, then click Store in iCloud. Click Done at the end.
Highlighted Store in iCloud button to start backing up files.
Step 1. Opening iCloud storage
A pop up menu that asks to select items to store in iCloud bu moving the corresponding tumbler and clicking on Store in iCloud.
Step 2. Selecting what to store in iCloud

3. Remove unused apps and all their leftovers

Unused apps can waste a lot of space on your Mac. Thankfully, macOS offers several ways of deleting unused applications.

With Finder

The simplest method of getting rid of unwanted apps is with Finder—do the following:

  1. Go to Finder and select Applications.
  2. Grab a useless app, drag it to the Trash, then empty the Trash.
Opened and highlighted Application folder to see the list of apps installed on your Mac.
Step 1. Opening Finder
After dragging the useless app to the Trash, click on the Trash icon in the dock and hit the Empty button in the upper-right corner of the window. This should help free up more space on your Mac.
Step 2. Emptying the Trash

With Launchpad

The second way to remove unwanted apps is with the Launchpad. Follow these steps to delete unused apps via Launchpad:

  1. Open Launchpad.
  2. Click and hold an app icon until it starts shaking, then click the X symbol next to the app.
A pop up window in opened Launchpad window to uninstall apps.

There are also app leftovers that can use up to 10 percent of your storage space, depending on your Mac usage. To safely and thoroughly delete apps and system junk using a cleaning utility in MacKeeper:

  1. Open MacKeeper and select Smart Uninstaller.
  2. Select the apps you want to delete and click Remove Selected > Remove.
Uninstall apps from the Application tab using Smart Uninstaller feature in MacKeeper.
Step 1. Selecting apps in MacKeeper
Uninstall apps from the Application tab using Smart Uninstaller feature in MacKeeper.
Step 2. Deleting apps in MacKeeper

4. Find and remove duplicate files

When your Mac’s disk space is reaching its limits, find and delete duplicate files as a part of the cleaning process. This can be done manually in Finder or with third-party apps. First, follow these steps to delete duplicate files using the Smart Folder feature in Finder:

  1. Click on Finder in the Dock and select File > New Smart Folder in the menu bar.
  2. Hit the plus (+) icon on the right side of the New Smart Folder window, then use the arrows to filter your search by file kind and file type. It’s probably easier to sort the results by name, so you can readily spot duplicates. If your current view isn’t ideal, consider switching to the list view by clicking the arrows at the top of the window and choosing the as List option.
Find and remove duplicate files manually in Finder. To do this, click on Finder in the Dock and select File > New Smart Folder in the menu bar.
Step 1. Click on Finder > File > New Smart Folder
To manually remove duplicate files on a Mac, hit the plus (+) icon on the right side of the New Smart Folder window, then use the arrows to filter your search by file kind and file type.
Step 2. Hit the plus (+) icon and filter your search using the arrows

Hint from our team:

 

The manual method of removing duplicate files on a Mac can result in some duplicates being forgotten and continuing to take up space on your Mac’s disk. That’s why we advise using a third-party tool like MacKeeper’s Duplicates Finder to get the job done thoroughly. It finds identical files and makes space on your Mac in a matter of minutes.

 

It goes like this:

  1. Launch MacKeeper, select Duplicates Finder on the left, and click the Start Scan button.
  2. Check the auto-selection box and click Remove Duplicates.
MacKeeper's Duplicates Finder is an excellent tool to remove unnecessary copies of files and create more space on your Mac. To use it, open the MacKeeper app, select Duplicates Finder, and click Start Scan.
Step 1. Scanning a Mac for duplicates
Delete duplicate files by clicking on the Remove Duplicates button in the Duplicate Finder feature
Step 2. Removing duplicates with MacKeeper

5. Empty the Trash

Automating the process of emptying the Trash ensures that files are deleted permanently. It can save up to 30 percent of your hard drive (HDD) space each month. Here’s how to do it:

  1. From any Finder window, select Finder > Finder in the top menu bar > Preferences > Advanced.
  2. Ensure Remove items from the Trash after 30 days is selected.
Automatic trash emptying feature with highlighted option called Remove items from the Trash after 30 days

There’s a simpler way to empty trash on your Mac. Instead of permanently removing its contents after 30 days, it enables you to delete files immediately after sending items to the Trash. It’s a great way of maintaining your disk on the go. Follow these steps to manually clear your Trash folder on a Mac:

  1. Click on the Trash icon in the Dock.
  2. Hit the Empty button in the upper-right corner of the window. Alternatively, right-click on the Trash icon in the Dock and select the Empty Trash option.
Empty the trash to free up disk space on a Mac. Follow these steps to manually clear your Trash folder: First, click on the Trash icon in the Dock.
Step 1. Click on the Trash icon in the Dock
To manually empty the Trash on your Mac, hit the Empty button in the upper-right corner of the window. Alternatively, right-click on the Trash icon in the Dock and select the Empty Trash option.
Step 2. Hit the Empty button

An alternative method to emptying the trash is with MacKeeper’s Safe Cleanup feature. It unclogs your laptop by deleting all junk files and improves performance when the Mac is running slow. Here’s how to use it:

  1. In the MacKeeper app, choose Safe Cleanup and click Start Scan.
  2. Click Clean Junk Files when the scan is done.
An alternative way to empty the trash and free up Mac space is with MacKeeper’s Safe Cleanup feature. To use it, open MacKeeper, choose Safe Cleanup in the sidebar, and click the Start Scan button.
Step 1. Scanning for junk files
The final step in clearing the trash to free up space on your Mac is to click the large, blue Clean Junk Files button at the bottom of the MacKeeper window when the scan is done.
Step 2. Deleting junk files

6. Clear browser cache and cookies

With most browsers, clearing your cache deletes cookies simultaneously. When you clear cache, it helps you free up several hundred megabytes of space. Additionally, it refreshes your browser content to show you the most updated version and helps apps run more smoothly by troubleshooting app issues. However, take note that clearing browser cache removes your personal data on apps and websites, which means you’ll have to sign in to those platforms the next time you use them.

 

Likewise, resetting your browser to its default settings offers a myriad of benefits, including improving performance and security by removing malware. One way to do this is to clear cookies in your browser.

Google Chrome

Chrome’s cache and cookies can be cleared in two easy steps Chrome’s Settings.To clear Chrome’s cache and cookies:

  1. Open Chrome and click the three-dot icon at the top right > Clear Browsing Data.
  2. Choose a time range to clear the browsing data and select Browsing history, Cookies and other site data, and Cached images and files > Clear data.
To clear Chrome’s cache and cookies, open Chrome and click the three-dot icon at the top right, followed by Clear Browsing Data. This can help free up disk space on a Mac.
Step 1. Opening Chrome settings
Once you've selected Clear Browsing Data, choose a time range to clear the browsing data and select Browsing history, Cookies and other site data, and Cached images and files, then click Clear data. This will help create more disk space.
Step 2. Clearing Chrome data

Safari

The process of clearing cookies and cache files in Safari is a little different than in Google Chrome. To clear Safari’s cache and cookies:

  1. Open Safari and go to Safari > Preferences > Advanced. Then select Show Developer menu in the menu bar.
  2. Click Develop in the top menu > Empty caches.
  3. Next, from the menu bar, select History > Clear History > Clear all history > Clear History.
 Click on Clear History button to delete browsing data in Safari browser

Firefox

Firefox’s cache and cookie-clearing process is as straightforward as that of Google Chrome. To clear Firefox’s cache and cookies:

  1. Click the menu and choose Settings.
  2. Select Privacy & Security > Cookies and Site Data > Clear Data.
Click on Clear Data button to delete browsing data in Firefox from firefox privacy & security tab

7. Delete unused language files

Your Mac stores over 180 languages in localization files that take up approximately 1.5 GB of hard drive space. Follow these steps to remove unused language files:

  1. Go to the Applications folder.
  2. Right-click an app and select Show Package Contents > Contents > Resources.
  3. Delete all subfolders that end with .lproj, except those you need.
  4. Empty the Trash.
Resources folder with the example of language package contents for removing

You don’t need all the language files your Mac comes packed with. They also take up space, so you might want to delete localization files and other system junk to lighten the load on your MacBook device.

8. Clean up desktop

Miscellaneous files are strewn all over the desktop. Cleaning them will help your Mac work faster. To clean up desktop manually:

  1. Open Finder and click Desktop.
  2. Under View, choose as List.
  3. Sort the items by size and delete the largest files.
Open the Desktop folder from the Finder to clear desktop manually

If you’re running macOS Mojave or later, click anywhere on your Desktop and select Use Stacks in the new window.

9. Delete mail attachments and junk mail

Once opened, email attachments keep gigabytes of useful storage space for themselves. Unless, of course, you delete mail attachments:

  1. In the Mail app, go to Preferences.
  2. In the General tab, find the Remove unedited downloads option and set it to After Message is Deleted.
Select the After Message is Deleted option to delete mail attachments and junk mail from the General tool in Mail app Preferences.

Consider getting rid of junk mail. You know, those promotional messages that companies regularly send you. Here’s how to find storage on Mac by deleting junk mail:

  1. In the Mail app, go to Mail > Preferences.
  2. In the Accounts tab, find the Erase junk messages option, select Mailbox Behaviors, and set it to After one month.
Select After one month option from the drop-down menu in the Accounts ssettings to remove junk messages.

Another effective way to carve out useful hard drive space is to store your emails in iCloud. To set up iCloud mail on your Mac, follow these steps:

  1. Go to the Apple menu and select System Preferences.
  2. Click Apple ID > iCloud and check the box next to Mail.
Creating more disk space on your Mac is also possible by storing your Mail in your iCloud account. To do this, go to the Apple menu and select System Preferences. Click Apple ID > iCloud and check the box next to Mail.

MacKeeper’s Safe Cleanup tool is another method you can use to delete mail attachments and junk mail. It helps optimize storage by keeping your Mac clean. Here’s how to use it:

  1. In the MacKeeper app, click Safe Cleanup > Start Scan.
  2. Hit the Clear Junk Files button.
An alternative way to empty the trash and free up Mac space is with MacKeeper’s Safe Cleanup feature. To use it, open MacKeeper, choose Safe Cleanup in the sidebar, and click the Start Scan button.
Step 1. Scanning for junk files
The final step in clearing the trash to free up space on your Mac is to click the large, blue Clean Junk Files button at the bottom of the MacKeeper window when the scan is done.
Step 2. Deleting junk files

10. Delete old iOS backups

iOS backups are supposed to be temporary files rather than permanent residents on your Mac. Plus, it’s fairly easy to optimize storage by deleting old iOS backups. Here is how to delete temporary files and old iOS backups:

  1. Plug your iPhone or iPad into your MacBook Pro, Air, iMac, or Mac mini and select it from the sidebar.
  2. Click Manage Backups.
  3. Select the backups you want to delete, then click Delete Backup > Delete.
Manage Backups button to start removin iOS backups
Step 1. Managing Backups
On the pop up window, select the needed iOS backup and click on Delete Backup button
Step 2. Deleting backups
On the pop up window, select the needed iOS backup and click on Delete Backup button
Step 3. Confirming deletion

11. Clean up the Downloads folder

Dumping old downloads is a tried-and-true way to reduce clutter on your Mac and clear up disk space on Mac for other useful files. Here’s how to delete downloads:

  1. Open Finder and select Downloads.
  2. Right-click the files, select Move to Trash, then empty the Trash.
Clean the Downloads folder by entering the corresponding folder from the Finder, select and move to Trash unneded files.

12. Delete old and unwanted media files

Consider deleting media files you no longer want. This is an easy way to create disk space on a Mac.

Music

When you forget to delete the downloaded songs or playlists you no longer fancy, they hog up much-needed space on your Mac. Delete music from your Mac like this:

  1. Open Apple Music (not iTunes), then select Songs or Albums from the sidebar.
  2. From the menu bar, select View > Only Downloaded Music.
  3. Click the three dots next to an album or song.
  4. Select Remove Download.
Open the Albums and Songs tab in Apple Music to start removing items from library
Step 1. Opening albums
From the menu bar select the View tab and click on Only Downloaded Music to see the list of saved music
Step 2. Viewing downloaded music
Click on the three dots next to Album or song next to the item you want to delete.
Step 3. Clicking track menu
From the three-dot menu seldrop-down menu select the Remove Download option to start removing tracks.
Step 4. Removing downloads

Movies

Movies take up significantly more space than other files, so you must proactively delete movies you no longer watch to create room for useful files on your Mac. Follow these steps to delete movies from your Mac:

  1. Open Apple TV, and then select the Library tab.
  2. Select Downloaded from the sidebar.
  3. Click the three dots next to a movie or show and select Remove Download.
Open the Apple TV app and select Library to see the list of saved movies.
Step 1. Apple TV home screen
In the library folder select the Downloaded tab from the left-side menu
Step 2. Apple TV downloaded files
Click on the three dots next to the item you want to delete and confirm removal by clicking the Remove Download option.
Step 3. Removing downloaded files

Podcasts

If you go through multiple podcast downloads weekly, chances are you’re not deleting them all after listening to them. Removing podcasts from your Mac can be done like this:

  1. Open the Podcasts app and select Downloaded from the sidebar.
  2. Choose the podcast you want to delete downloads from.
  3. To delete a single episode, click its download icon and select Remove Download.
  4. To delete all downloaded episodes for the current podcast, go back to the Downloaded page, hover over the podcast, and click the three-dot menu > Remove Downloads > Remove Downloads.
Open the Podcasts app and select Downloaded tab from the left-side menu.
Step 1. Opening Podcasts
In the newly opened window you will see the downloaded podcast on your device
Step 2. Opening downloads
In the newly opened window you will see the downloaded podcast on your device
Step 3. Clicking the downloads button
Removing podcast downloads is a method to free up disk space on a Mac. To remove all of a podcast's downloads at once, hover over the podcast, click the three-dot icon, and select Remove Downloads. Click the Remove Downloads button to confirm.
Step 4. Deleting podcast downloads

13. Move photos to external storage

Individual photos can quickly accumulate on your Mac. Move them to an external hard drive (not Macintosh HD), especially if you encounter issues like "external hard drive not showing up," and delete them from your Mac to manage storage capacity.

Delete photos

While you can move your photos off your Mac (more on that below), you can also delete photos to free up space. This option is best when you’re holding onto old, unneeded photos and redundant screenshots or if you’ve backed up the photos elsewhere. Follow this process to move your photos off your Mac:

  1. If Photos is open, press Cmd + Q to quit it.
  2. Navigate to where your Photos library is saved (your Pictures folder).
  3. Drag your Photos library to the external drive, then double-click it.
  4. Click Switch.
  5. You can now delete your Photo library from your Mac.
Look for the Photo Library archive in the Pictures folder.
Step 1. Opening Photos library
Move the Photo Library from your Mac to the external drive.
Step 2. Moving Photos library
In the opened pop up confirm the Photo Libraries Switch
Step 3. Switching Photos library
To remove the Photo library, right-click on the file select the Move to Bin option
Step 4. Deleting old Photos library

Note from our experts: 

 

To get this done, you’ll need to reformat external hard drive in APFS or Mac OS Extended (Journaled) format.

14. Manage large files

Removing big files is one of the quickest ways to save space on your Mac’s hard drive. Here’s how to find and delete large files in macOS:

  1. In System Settings, select General > Storage.
  2. Scroll down, and click the i icon next to Documents.
  3. Select the Large Files tab.
  4. Select what you want to delete, then click Delete.
  5. Click Delete to confirm.
Click on the information button next to Documents in Storage settings to see large files
Step 1. Getting Documents information
In the opened window you will see the list of files that take the most of the space on your Mac.
Step 2. Opening large files
Select specific files or just all of them to remove the large files from your Mac
Step 3. Selecting large files
In the pop up that appeared click on the delete button to confirm the removal.
Step 4. Deleting large files

15. Compress and archive data

Rather than remove data from your Mac, you can make it smaller using the Mac’s compression tool. To compress data on your Mac, do the following:

  1. Select files, then right-click and select Compress.
  2. macOS will create a new zip file called Archive.zip.
  3. Delete the files you’ve compressed.
Select the group of files right-click on them and select Compress option from the appeared menu.
Step 1. Compressing files
Look for the created Archive from the previously grouped files.
Step 2. Selecting archive file

If you double-click the zip file, your Mac will create an entirely new folder with the uncompressed files. You’ll have two copies of your files, making compression best for when you’re archiving files that you won’t access very often.

How to manage storage on Mac

Managing your Mac’s storage is an easy way to make room on your disk. The simplest method involves deleting backups. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Go to System Preferences and select Apple ID > iCloud > Manage.
  2. Select the relevant category in the sidebar and click the Delete button that pops up, followed by Done.
Managing iCloud backups can help you free up space. To do this, open System Preferences and select iCloud, followed by Manage.
Step 1. Opening iCloud settings
Now start freeing up disk space by selecting a category and clicking the Delete button. Click Done. Note that this will turn off iCloud backups, so you may have to save your data elsewhere.
Step 2. Deleting backups in iCloud

Pro tip from us: 

 

Back up your files in lots of places for recovery purposes, like a USB flash or stick. It’s also worth checking if the technology offers encryption—this is an easy way to tell how secure it is. If encryption and backup files are missing, it means your files won’t be secure, and it may be worth looking for other services available on the market that you can upgrade to.

Parting thoughts

As a computer owner, freeing up space comes with the territory. Save valuable time by using an app uninstaller for Mac.

 

Besides, we recommend using MacKeeper’s Safe Cleanup software to get rid of useless files that are clogging up your Mac’s disk space. Your Mac will reward you with better performance, increased productivity, and more space. You can use MacKeeper on most Mac models and OS X versions, including:

Use your Mac to the fullest! Sign up and get:
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