How to Free Up Disk Space on a Mac

By: on November 10, 2021

Has your Mac been running slowly or not updating? Or even worse, is it displaying the dreaded, “Your computer is low on memory” error message?

Slow processing speeds and error messages are signs that your computer’s hard drive is cluttered and needs some spring cleaning.

How to check disk space usage on your Mac computer

What is taking up so much space on your hard drive? The first step in cleaning up your Mac’s hard drive is to know the status of your hard drive’s storage.

1. Locate your Apple menu (the apple icon) at the top of your computer’s home screen.

2. Click on the apple icon and select “About This Mac” from the dropdown menu.

screenshot of the Apple menu on a Mac
Open the Apple menu at the top left of your desktop and select “About This Mac” (Source)

3. Click the “Storage” tab in the toolbar of the window that pops up.

The storage option in the Apple menu on a Mac
In the window that pops up, select the “Storage” tab (Source)

4. You will see how much disk space you have available and an overview of the types of files that are taking up space on your hard drive.

How to see how much disk space you have available on your Mac
Select the “Storage” tab in the “About This Mac” toolbar to see how much disk space you have available (Source)

4 manual ways to free up disk space on Mac

 

1. Empty the Trash

  • Right-click the Trash bin on the far right of the Dock.
  • Select “Empty Trash” from the top right of the box that appears.

How to empty the Trash Bin on a Mac
Right click (or, if using a trackpad, press Control while you click) the Trash bin in the Dock and select “Empty Trash” (Source)

2. Uninstall unnecessary apps and programs

  • Open a new Finder window (half-blue, half-gray face icon located on the left of the Dock).

How to open a new Finder window on a Mac
Open a new Finder window (Source)

  • Click “Applications” in the left navigation pane.

How to select Applications on a Mac
Click “Applications” in the left sidebar (Source)

  • Drag the app you want to delete to the Trash bin located on the far right of the Dock.

screenshot of how to drag an app to the Trash Bin on a Mac
Drag the app you want to delete to the Trash bin (Source)

  • Empty the Trash bin, as explained earlier.

3. Clear your downloaded files

  • As with the above instructions for uninstalling apps, click the Finder icon. (The blue-and-white face icon.)
  • Select “Downloads” in the left pane of the window that appears.
  • Press “Command+A” to select all files.

screenshot of selecting all files in the Downloads folder on a Mac
To select all files, press “Command + A” (Source)

  • Click the File menu in the Finder bar and select “Move to Trash.”

How to move downloaded files to the Trash on a Mac
Click the File menu at the top of the screen and select “Move to Trash” (Source)

  • Empty the Trash bin, as described earlier.

4. Clear your internet cache

Your internet browser stores copies of web pages you visit (called a cache), which allows pages to load faster when you revisit them. Go to your browser’s settings to delete your cache and free up space. The Settings location varies depending on your browser.

How to free up disk space with built-in Mac tools

Apple also has some storage management tools that come pre-installed on your Mac. To locate them, follow these steps:

1. Open the Apple menu from the Finder bar and select “About This Mac.”

2. Click the “Storage” tab and then select “Manage.”

3. Click “Recommendations” in the left navigation pane.

How to access recommendations in the storage menu on a Mac
In the storage management window, click “Recommendations” (Source)

From here, you can:

  • Customize storage for iCloud (such as which files will automatically be stored to iCloud instead of your computer).
  • Select how to optimize storage (such as automatic deletion of shows you’ve watched).
  • Opt to automatically empty your Trash.
  • Further reduce clutter by sorting through large files and apps individually, then deleting them.

Cloud storage options

One of the best ways to avoid a cluttered hard drive is to store your files on a cloud server. This also ensures the safe storage of your documents and files on something other than your device, which means your data (and memories!) are safe even if your computer crashes or is lost or damaged. Check out some of the best cloud storage solutions on the market, and rest easy knowing that your files are safe.
 

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