Mac Performance

How to Free Up Space on Mac High Sierra

Running low on storage on your High Sierra Mac? Fear not, there are several ways you can get back some much-needed space:

  1. Empty trash.
  2. Remove unnecessary programs.
  3. Use iCloud and other cloud drivers.
  4. Delete temporary files.
  5. Clear the downloads folder.
  6. Determine if you have a large amount of system disk usage.
  7. Purge local backups via Terminal.
  8. Configure automatic storage optimization.

When your Mac runs out of space, it can slow your system down and make it difficult to download files and install apps. Follow our guide, and your High Sierra machine will have more than enough space for your needs.


Not on High Sierra? Check out our general guide on how to free up space on Mac.


Before we start


Looking for a quick way to free up disk space? Try MacKeeper’s Safe Cleanup feature:

  1. Download the MacKeeper app.
  2. Open Safe Cleanup in MacKeeper.
  3. Click Start Scan.
  4. When the scan is done, select what to remove and click Remove Selected.
  5. Click Remove to confirm.

That’s just one of many ways MacKeeper can give you back some storage. Learn more tips below.



How to check free space on Mac High Sierra

Checking your Mac’s storage in macOS 10.13 (High Sierra) is easy. Follow these steps:

  1. In Finder, click the Apple icon in the menu bar, followed by About This Mac.
  2. Click on the Storage tab, and macOS will show you a quick summary of what’s using your Mac’s disk space.
On your High Sierra Mac, go to the menu bar at the top of your screen, and click the Apple icon, followed by 'About This Mac'.
Step 1. Open About This Mac
Click 'Storage' to see how much disk space you have left on your Mac, as well as a quick summary of the kind of data on your High Sierra system.
Step 2. Open the Storage tab

Why you need to optimize Mac storage on macOS High Sierra

When your Mac’s disk space is getting full, there are several reasons to start taking action:

  • macOS uses disk space for virtual memory, which means your Mac may slow down.
  • Your Mac needs purgeable storage for caches, iCloud storage, and Time Machine backups.
  • You may not have enough space for downloads, large projects, and new apps.

Ways to free up disk space on macOS High Sierra

If you identify a low storage issue, you have a few options to clear space on your High Sierra Mac:

  1. Empty trash
  2. Remove unnecessary programs
  3. Use iCloud and other cloud drivers
  4. Delete temporary files
  5. Clearing downloads folder
  6. Determine if you have a large amount of “System” disk usage
  7. Purge local backups via Terminal
  8. Configure automatic storage optimization

1. Empty trash

Your Mac’s Trash can quickly begin to fill up, and it only takes a moment to delete everything in it:

  1. Click the trash in your dock, then click Empty in the Finder window.
  2. Alternatively, right-click on trash, and select Empty.
  3. You can also press Cmd + Shift + Backspace. In all cases, click Empty Trash to confirm your choice.
You can empty your trash on macOS High Sierraby first clicking on the trash icon in your dock, then simply clicking the Empty button in the Finder window.
Step 1. Click the Empty button
Another way to empty your Mac's trash on macOS High Sierra is to right-click the trash icon in your dock, then selecting 'Empty Trash' from the context menu.
Step 2. Right-click your trash and select Empty Trash
However, you choose to empty your trash on macOS High Sierra, you'll need confirm that you want to do it, permanently deleting any emptied files.
Step 3. Confirm emptying of trash

2. Remove unnecessary programs

It’s easy to remove unwanted apps to get clear space on your Mac running High Sierra:

  1. Go to Applications, and drag any unwanted apps to your trash.
  2. You can also right-click an app, and select Move to Trash.
  3. Or you can select an app, and press Cmd + Backspace.
One way to delete apps from your High Sierra Mac is to drag them from the Applications folder to the trash icon in your dock.
Step 1. Drag unwanted apps to trash
You can also delete apps on macOS High Sierra by opening your Applications folder, then right-clicking on app. Select Move to Trash.
Step 2. Right-click an app, and choose Move to Trash

Tip from our experts: 


Note that uninstalled Mac apps may leave behind files in other parts of your OS. With MacKeeper’s Smart Uninstaller, you can erase apps and clean out the leftover files simultaneously:

  1. In MacKeeper, select Smart Uninstaller, and click Start Scan.
  2. When the scan is done, select Applications. Choose what to remove, and click Remove Selected.
  3. Click Remove to confirm.
Open the Smart Uninstaller in MacKeeper, and select Start Scan. MacKeeper will start looking for apps that you can delete.
Step 1. Click Start Scan
Once the scan is done, you can select any apps that you want to uninstall, then click 'Remove Selected'. You can also remove other data here too.
Step 2. Choose app to remove
MacKeeper will give you a final chance to change your mind. If you're sure you want to proceed, click 'Remove' to confirm the removal of apps.
Step 3. Confirm removal of apps

3. Use iCloud and other cloud drivers

You can use your iCloud storage to free up disk space on macOS running High Sierra:

  1. Select Apple > About This Mac in your menu bar. Then select Storage > Manage.
  2. Click Store in iCloud.
  3. Choose what you want to erase, and click Store in iCloud.
  4. You can also store files using other cloud services like Google Drive, Box, and Dropbox.
In the About This Mac window on macOS High Sierra, go to the Storage tab, and click the 'Manage' button to manage your machine's disk space.
Step 1. Click Manage
In your High Sierra Mac's storage management window, click the 'Store in Cloud' button, which should be at the top of the window.
Step 2. Open Store in iCloud
Select what you to store in your iCloud account, including messages and photos, then click the 'Store in Cloud' button on macOS High Sierra to confirm.
Step 3. Click Store in iCloud

4. Delete temporary files

Your Mac stores all kinds of temporary data, such as cookies, in your user cache. Here’s how to find and delete them:

  1. Press Cmd + Shift + G, enter ~/Library/Caches/, and press Return.
  2. You’ll see a lot of folders. These are caches for different apps on your Mac. Delete folders to clear out these caches.
Using the macOS High Sierra 'Go to the folder' tool, type in '~/Library/Caches/', and press the Return key or click 'Go'. This will open Caches.
Step 1. Navigate to your caches folder
In the Caches folder, you'll find a huge number of folders. Each of these contains cached data for the various apps stored on your High Sierra Mac.
Step 2. Delete a folder to clear out an app's cache

Manually deleting temporary files takes a long time, and you need to know what you erase. Find and remove cached data in seconds with MacKeeper’s Safe Cleanup tool:

  1. In MacKeeper, open Safe Cleanup, and click Start Scan.
  2. When the scan is done, make sure Caches is selected, and click Clean Junk Files.
  3. Click Empty Trash.
MacKeeper's Safe Cleanup feature will delete all kinds of junk from your Mac. That includes emptying out cached data in just a few clicks.
Step 1. In Safe Clean, click Start Scan
Once you've finished a scan with MacKeeper, select 'Caches' and any other junk that you want to remove from your Mac. Clean Junk Files.
Step 2. Click Clean Junk Files
To confirm the removal of junk data with MacKeeper, click the 'Empty Trash' button or the 'Skip Trash' button. Your junk data will be removed.
Step 3. Click Empty Trash

5. Clear downloads folder

Whatever the specs of your Mac, you need to clean up your download folder now and then:

  1. In Finder, go to your Downloads folder.
  2. Hold down Cmd, and select what you want to remove.
  3. Send everything to trash, and then empty it.
Open a Finder window on macOS High Sierra, then click 'Downloads' in your sidebar to open up your Downloads folder. You may find a lot to delete here.
Step 1. Open your Downloads
Select any downloads on macOS High Sierra that you no longer want to keep. If you hold down the Command key, you can select multiple files at once.
Step 2. Select what to remove
Once you've selected the downloads you want to delete, send them to the trash then empty the trash to delete the files on your High Sierra Mac.
Step 3. Move selected downloads to trash

6. Determine if you have a large amount of system disk usage

Here’s how to check if your storage is being eaten up by system data:

  1. Go to Apple > About This Mac in your menu bar, and click Storage.
  2. Click System to view the space being used.
In about the 'About This Mac' window on macOS High Sierra , go to the Storage section, and you'll see a summary of your Mac's disk space, broken down into categories.
Step 1. Open the Storage tab in About This Mac
If you click on the System section of the graph in the Storage tab, you can see how much of your Mac's disk is taken up by this kind of data on your High Sierra Mac.
Step 2. Click on the System section

High System usage may be caused by local Time Machine snapshots, but these should be deleted automatically by High Sierra.

7. Purge local backups via Terminal

If you’re running low on space, you can manually delete Time Machine backups:

  1. Open Terminal from Applications > Utilities. Type tmutil listlocalsnapshotdates, and press Return.
  2. Look at the list of backups, and note the date of the one you want to delete.
  3. Type tmutil deletelocalsnapshots, followed by that date. Press Return.
  4. Do the same with any other backups you want to delete.
Open the macOS Terminal tool, and type in this command to bring up a list of the local Time Machine snapshots stored on your High Sierra Mac.
Step 1. Bring up a list of your Time Machine snapshots
Each Time Machine snapshot on your High Sierra Mac will have a date identifier. Take a note of any that you plan to delete. You can copy and paste these too.
Step 2. Make a note of the snapshots
Type in this command then type or paste in the date identifier of any snapshots that you want to delete from your High Sierra Mac.
Step 3. Delete your chosen snapshot
Delete any Time Machine snapshots you don't want, and you should end up with more free space on your High Sierra Mac.
Step 4. Delete any other snapshots you don't need

8. Configure automatic storage optimization

A quick way to clear up storage space is to use High Sierra’s automatic optimization:

  1. Select Apple > About This Mac from your menu bar. Then go to Storage, and click Manage. Click Optimize next to Optimize Storage.
  2. Click Optimize. This will optimize email attachments, as well as iTunes films and TV shows.
In the macOS storage management tool, you can choose to automatically optimize your storage by removing unneeded data on your High Sierra Mac.
Step 1. Click the Optimize button
Choose what you want to remove from your High Sierra Mac, including old video files and email attachments, then click the 'Optimize' button.
Step 2. Choose what to remove and click Optimize

Keeping your Mac’s storage free of junk

If your Mac is low on disk space, it could also be caused by malware or a serious tech malfunction, and in extreme cases, you may need to factory reset your Mac to get your storage back to normal. Read our guide on how to create a High Sierra bootable USB for more information. If you can't install macOS High Sierra, we can also help.


In general, though, low storage isn’t serious and can be managed in a few ways:

  • Deleting old installers and downloads
  • Uninstalling unused apps
  • Offloading file storage to cloud services
  • Moving files to external storage
  • Deleting TV shows and movies you’ve watched
  • Compressing archived data

You can also save a lot of space using MacKeeper’s Safe Cleanup. With just a few clicks, you can clear up gigabytes of space, deleting all kinds of unnecessary junk.

Use your Mac to the fullest! Sign up and get:
Effective tips on how to fix Mac issues
Reliable advice on how to stay safe online
Mac-world news and updates

Thank you!

You’ll love exploring your Mac with us.

Oops, something went wrong.

Try again or reload a page.

Here’s another sign you need to upgrade your macOS ASAP:

30% off your MacKeeper subscription

Сopy the code now and use it in the MacKeeper checkout after the upgrade.

Copy Code

Please be aware that this code cannot be combined with any other discounts, offers, or promotions.



MacKeeper - your all-in-one solution for more space and maximum security.

Try Now

Read more

How to Speed Up macOS Monterey
How to Speed Up macOS Monterey
Secure Empty Trash on macOS Ventura
Secure Empty Trash on macOS Ventura

Run Application


Click Continue


Click Install


Your macOS version is lower than OS 10.11. We’d like to offer you MacKeeper 4 to solve the cleaning, privacy, and security issues of your macOS.