Mac Performance

How to Clear System Data on Mac

Is the System category taking up too much disk space on your Mac? It’s difficult to clear up System files when your Mac doesn’t tell you exactly what or where they are. But we have some good news—you have plenty of methods to clear system data on Mac manually and automatically.


Keep reading to learn how to empty system storage on Mac and delete unnecessary software.


Before we start


When you’re trying to clear out some disk space, the last thing you want is duplicate files. But finding them manually can be painstaking work. Still, it’s easy to delete hidden duplicates and lower system data on Mac with MacKeeper’s Safe Cleanup tool.


Here’s how:

  1. Download MacKeeper.
  2. Go to Cleaning and select Safe Cleanup.
  3. Choose Start Scan and wait for the program to search through your Mac.  
  4. When the results appear, tick the boxes next to everything you want to delete.
  5. Click on Clean Junk Files.
  6. A pop-up window will appear asking if you want to empty your Trash at the same time. Either choose Skip Trash or Empty Trash.
  7. MacKeeper will then work toward deleting the caches, files, and folders that you’ve asked it to remove. When the process has completed, you can return to whatever you were doing.

What is System Data on Mac?

System Data is a storage category that covers many essential functions on your Mac. The thing is your computer will group almost everything that doesn’t fit the other sections into this one. Some programs are helpful for operating different apps on your device, but you can decrease system storage on Mac by removing some not to worry about performance issues.


System Data appears whether you have a MacBook or iMac, and it covers each of the following:

  • Essential macOS operating system files
  • Time Machine snapshot backups
  • Downloaded macOS updates
  • Library and System cache files
  • App support files

How to check system storage on Mac?

You can find system storage on Mac very easily. The process is identical to checking other categories of memory on your computer, such as macOS and Photos.


Here are the steps to check your Mac’s system storage:

  1. Go to the Apple logo in the top left-hand corner and select System Settings.
  2. Navigate to General > Storage.
  3. Hover your cursor over the different bars within your system storage. System Data is dark gray. As you can see from my example, this category consumes 34.5 gigabytes of my overall computer memory.
Decrease system data on Mac by first checking to see how much you have. Going to Apple logo > System Settings is the first step.
Step 1. Apple logo > System Settings
In the General tab, you'll see a section called Storage. Click on this to see how much space System Data is consuming on your Mac.
Step 2. General > Storage
When you see the storage bar, System Data appears in dark gray. It sits alongside iOS files, Applications, and other categories.
Step 3. Hover your cursor to see how much space System Data consumes

Hint from our expert: 


If you feel like you constantly need more space on your Mac, it’s easy to get more storage by purchasing through iCloud.

How much System Data is normal on Mac?

System Data includes your annual major macOS updates, each of which takes up over 10GB of space. But considering the other programs, caches, and so on that the category includes, you can expect anywhere between 12GB and 40GB to be relatively normal. Ideally, though, you’ll stay closer to the smaller end of that scale. You should strongly work to minimize system storage on Mac if your data approaches or exceeds 100GB.

Why does System Data take so much space on Mac?

Sometimes, your Mac builds up an unnecessary amount of System files due to a bug. But most of the time, it’s a normal part of how the operating system works. As you run out of storage space, your Mac should automatically erase the System files it doesn’t need anymore, so you don’t need to worry about it.


But in the instance that doesn’t happen automatically, I’ll show you how to clear up System storage from your Mac yourself—move to the next section for it.

How to clear system storage on Mac manually

The best way to clean junk files and System storage on your Mac depends on the kind of System files that are taking up your space. Since your computer doesn’t actually show you which specific files are using your System Data, you’ll need to try out all the methods below to find one that works instead.

1. Back up your Mac to remove Time Machine snapshots

Normally, Time Machine creates regular backups of your Mac to an external drive. But when your Mac isn’t connected to your backup drive, it saves snapshots of those backups to your System storage instead.


If you haven’t created a backup in a while, a build-up of Time Machine snapshots could be responsible for a lot of the System storage on your Mac. Therefore, it’s in your best interests to get rid of them. Go to System Settings > Time Machine to check. To fix the problem, connect an external drive and use Time Machine to back up your Mac.

Сlear system storage on Mac by deleting Time Machine snapshots. You can use Time Machine by going to System Settings > Time Machine.

2. Delete Time Machine snapshots using Terminal

If you can’t connect an external drive to complete a new Time Machine backup, you can manually delete them and lessen system storage on Mac by using Terminal instead.


To do this, follow our brief instructions:

  1. Open Terminal on your Mac by typing Terminal into Spotlight.
  2. Enter the following command: tmutil listlocalsnapshotdates.
  3. Now, you should see a list of all the dates your Mac saved Time Machine snapshots for. To delete one, enter the date into the following command: tmutil deletelocalsnapshots [snapshot date].
Go to Spotlight and type Terminal. The app will feature as a top result, and you should then click on it to remove Time Machine snapshots.
Step 1. Spotlight > Terminal
Decrease system storage on Mac by typing  tmutil listlocalsnapshotdates. You can then delete these Time Machine updates.
Step 2. Type  tmutil listlocalsnapshotdates and delete whichever snapshots you want to remove

3. Delete cache files

Caches store login details and other bits of information, but they also consume significant space. To clean up System Data on Mac, the Caches folder is our next destination.


To clear system cache on your Mac:

  1. Open Finder.
  2. Tap Go and select Go to Folder.
  3. Type in ~/Library/Caches/ and hit the Enter key.
  4. You'll see your Mac's Caches folder. Now, you can choose what to delete.
Reduce system data on Mac by clearing your cache files. Go to Finder and select Go > Go to Folder to begin.
Step 1. Finder > Go > Go to Folder
 Type ~/Library/Caches/ in Finder to reveal the caches on your Mac. You can then go and delete any caches that you feel are no longer necessary on your device
Step 2. Type ~/Library/Caches/
You can lower system data on Mac by dragging and dropping your cache folders into the Trash. After that, your Mac will also hopefully perform better.
Step 3. Drag and drop your cache folders into the Trash

4. Clean up your Downloads folder

Your Downloads folder contains images from the web, along with installation packages and more. Most of the time, you don’t need what’s in your Downloads—so, deleting everything in this folder is an excellent way to minimize system storage on Mac.


Follow these steps to clean up your Downloads folder:

  1. Type Downloads into Spotlight and tap the folder.
  2. Highlight everything in your folder.
  3. Drag and drop all the content into your Trash.
Clear system storage on Mac by going to Spotlight and searching for the Downloads folder. Then, drag and drop your files to your Trash.

If you’re wondering why is your Mac so slow, you can perform numerous steps to speed up your device. For example, you can get more random access memory (RAM) and scan your Mac for malware.

5. Clear application logs and support files to make System Data smaller on Mac

Another way to get rid of system data on Mac is by clearing application logs and support files. Application logs are mostly reports that you submit to Apple when a problem occurs, such as Safari quitting unexpectedly. Support files have useful information like your in-app settings. So, unlike application logs, you should only delete support files when you no longer use the app. Otherwise, you could cause the program to malfunction.


Here’s how to clean system data on your Mac by clearing application logs:

  1. Open Finder and pick Go > Go to Folder.
  2. Write ~/Library/Logs and hit the Enter key.
  3. Delete any application logs that you no longer feel like you need by dragging and dropping them to your Trash.
Minimize system storage on Mac by typing ~/Library/Logs. From here, you can access your various application logs in one place.

If you want to remove app support files for an app you no longer use, follow these steps.

  1. Go to Finder > Go > Go to Folder and type ~/Library/Application Support.
  2. Hit the Enter key on your Mac.
  3. Drag and drop any folders you no longer need to the Trash.
In Finder, navigate to Go > Go to Folder. Then, type ~/Library/Application Support to access your support folders. Only delete these for apps you don't use.

6. Delete data from the System folder

One of the most underused ways to erase System Data on Mac is removing information from the System folder. Here’s how to do that:

  1. Open Spotlight and type System. Click on the System folder when it appears; it’ll be in the Folders section.
  2. Click on Library and remove the folders you think are necessary.
In the System folder, you'll see another called Library. Here, you can delete data and clear some of your device's system storage.

7. Empty the Trash

Even if you move files to the Trash, they still consume storage space. So, regularly emptying your Trash is one of the easiest ways to clear a good chunk of System Data on your Mac.


Follow these steps to Empty the Trash:

  1. Open the Trash folder.
  2. Tap Empty.
  3. Confirm that you want to empty the Trash.
Easily free up system data storage space on your Mac by emptying the Trash. Tap the Empty button in the top right-hand corner.
Step 1. Select Empty Trash
Select Empty Bin or Empty Trash when the pop-up menu appears. Your Mac will then delete all of the files in this area of your device.
Step 2. Select Empty Trash or Empty Bin

Tip from our team: You can also go to System Settings > Storage and turn on Empty Trash automatically. After activating this feature, your Mac will delete items after 30 days in your Trash.

8. Reduce storage usage with the Optimized Storage feature

If you’re running out of space because System files are using all your storage, the Optimized Storage feature in macOS might help. It automatically removes unnecessary files, like old TV shows, movies and email attachments, to make space for new ones.


To enable Optimized Storage in macOS:

  1. Go to System Settings > General > Storage.
  2. Look to Optimize Storage and select Optimize.
  3. Confirm that you want to turn on Optimized Storage when you see the pop-up window.
Turn on Optimized Storage to automatically delete movies and programs that you've watched on Apple TV. Go to System Settings > Storage.
Step 1. System Settings > Storage > Optimize Storage
After turning on Optimized Storage, you'll first need to confirm your decision. Tap the blue Optimize button to bring it into effect.
Step 2. Select Optimize when the pop-up menu appears

9. Update macOS

If your Mac downloaded a new macOS update but didn’t install it yet, it could be taking up a lot of System storage on your hard disk. The simplest solution is to update your Mac to the latest operating system, which clears out any updates you already downloaded.


Follow these steps to update your macOS software:

  1. Go to System Settings > General > Software Update.
  2. If you see a software update ready to install, select Update Now.
  3. Agree to Apple’s licensing agreement and wait for the software to update.
Updating your macOS software can help remove bugs that might result in system files consuming too much data. Go to System Settings > General > Software Update
Step 1. System Settings > General > Software Update
If a software update appears, select Update now. You'll then need to comply with Apple's licensing agreement to commence.
Step 2. Select Update Now

It’s also possible that System files are taking up too much space on your Mac because of a macOS bug. Updating your Mac is likely to fix this issue as well.

How to clear system storage on Mac automatically

Although you can delete System Data on Mac manually, it’s much easier to let MacKeeper do it for you automatically. That way, you never need to worry about it again.


First, you should use the Find & Fix tool. This feature automatically scans for junk files, performance improvements, and security risks.


To set up a MacKeeper’s Auto-scan:

  1. Click Find & Fix from the MacKeeper sidebar.
  2. Select Start Full Scan.
  3. Tap Fix Items Safely if dangers or discrepancies are detected.
  4. Select Continue after reviewing what needs to be fixed.
  5. When asked, choose to either Empty Trash or Skip.
Start using Find & Fix by going to MacKeeper and selecting Find & Fix. Then, tap Start Full Scan to commence the scanning process on your device.
Step 1. Find & Fix > Start Full Scan
If MacKeeper identifies issues with your computer, you can select Fix Items Safely. Doing this will automate the clearout process.
Step 2. Fix Items Safely
A pop-up window will ask you to review what's needed if you want. Select Continue to commence with this next step.
Step 3. Select Continue when the next pop-up window appears

After using Find & Fix, switch to removing needless content on your device with Safe Cleanup:

  1. Go to Cleaning > Safe Cleanup in the MacKeeper app.
  2. Select Start Scan.
  3. Choose the files, programs, and folders you want to delete.
  4. Tap Clean Junk Files and confirm your decision.
Go to MacKeeper and select Safe Cleanup, which you'll find under Cleaning. Here, you can then also tap Start Scan to move forward.
Step 1. Cleaning > Safe Cleanup > Start Scan
After your Mac has found the various junk files on your device, you can review them. When you're ready to delete, tap Clean Junk Files.
Step 2. Clean Junk Files
MacKeeper also lets you empty the Trash while using Safe Cleanup. You don't have to, though, so pick whichever one meets your needs better.
Step 3. Choose Empty Trash or Skip Trash

Proven ways to reduce System Data on Mac

The best way to clean up your Mac’s System storage depends on the type of files that are using up all your disk space. Most of the time, those are likely to be Time Machine snapshots, but since your Mac doesn’t show you a breakdown of this storage, you might also need to look for duplicate files, install macOS updates, and even look for unused System files.


Of course, the easiest method is to simply use MacKeeper’s Safe Cleanup tool. Our tool automatically scans for excess caches, files, and more—so you never need to worry about doing those things yourself.


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