How to free up disk space on a Mac

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I keep getting a message that the disk is full on my Mac running OSX. More than half of the disk space is occidental by "other." What is "other?" How can I free up some disk space?
 

bobtomay

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Use Grand Perspective to see your files. The bigger the square, the bigger the file.
GrandPerspective
 
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I keep getting a message that the disk is full on my Mac running OSX. More than half of the disk space is occidental by "other."

Say what?
If you do not have an external drive, then do you have TimeMachine set up to put backups on your main hard drive? (Ok, now someone is probably going to tell me that this is such a bad idea that Apple made it impossible...)
 

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Say what?
If you do not have an external drive, then do you have TimeMachine set up to put backups on your main hard drive? (Ok, now someone is probably going to tell me that this is such a bad idea that Apple made it impossible...)

No it's not impossible but it's not something the user has direct control over either. Recent iterations of Time Machine have a feature called "local snapshot" which is enabled if the OP has Time Machine running and is using a notebook.

Time Machine includes a feature called "local snapshots" in OS X Lion and later. This feature keeps copies of files you create, modify or delete on your internal disk when your backup drive is not available.

In theory these local snapshots are removed if the internal drive gets too full or when the external Time Machine drive is reconnected but the deletion doesn't happen immediately.

See here for a description of when the snapshots are removed.
 
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Try these 5 things i do. :)
1. Empty Your Trash Cans
2. Uninstall Unused Applications
3. Clear Temporary Files
4. Analyze Disk Space
5. Remove Language Files
 

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Delete unusual file from your Mac. Thus you can save disk space.
I'd be careful with this - a lot of things appear "unusual" but are necessary for the operation of your Mac. For example, there's a kernel extension at /System/Library/Extensions/ called "Dont Steal Mac OS X.kext/." That kext is responsible for decrypting a whole collection of Apple provided software (crucial stuff like the Dock) so getting rid of it would be damaging. That's just one example.
 

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Ditto. I meant to mention that in the other post.
 
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I have about 14 GB available and used 304 GB. I decided to get WhatSize after playing with the trial version a bit. Now how do I tell what files are needed and what aren't. For example, do I need previous systems.localized? There are at least 4 Libraries in different places. Are they all needed? Any advice on how to sift through all this info?
Thanks!!
 
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There are at least 4 Libraries in different places. Are they all needed? Any advice on how to sift through all this info?

Yes, they have different purposes. Rule number one on deleting things: If you don't know what it does, leave it be!
 
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...Rule number one on deleting things: If you don't know what it does, leave it be!

Excellent advice. This advice applies to PC an GNU/Linux distributions as well.
 
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bobtomay

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I have about 14 GB available and used 304 GB. I decided to get WhatSize after playing with the trial version a bit. Now how do I tell what files are needed and what aren't. For example, do I need previous systems.localized? There are at least 4 Libraries in different places. Are they all needed? Any advice on how to sift through all this info?
Thanks!!

Read this whole thing - twice - before you do anything below.

I would strongly encourage you to backup your hard drive prior to doing anything.

After you empty the trash, downloads folder... and are using WhatSize or one of the other similar apps.

When you are running out of space on a drive, removing stuff that takes up MB of data does not help you - removing localization files that take up 1 GB of space does not help you. You need to get rid of 50-80 GB of stuff.

Quit looking at system data - if you don't know what it is - you are not going to touch it
And besides that, by the time you have a full drive, none of it takes up the amount of space you need to free up.

You are going to have to delete personal data that "you" installed and know what it is...

e.g. unused applications, games, movies, music, documents, etc.

If you bought the newest version (6) of WhatSize, use the "Browser" view and head for the folders with the most space being used. In mine I can find WoW taking 30 GB, a couple of Steam games taking over 50 GB, a guitar lesson app taking 10 GB, GarageBand taking up 17 GB... Because I have well over 120 apps installed, I could probably find at least 10 apps taking 1 GB each that I haven't used in the past year.

Also head for the lock at the top right of the Window and click on that, put in your password and have it run as administrator instead of user - you may need to click on the 'remeasure' button after doing so.

Need to look in the root "Applications" folder and in your home folder...
Applications
Movies
Music
iTunes library
Documents

There are a few applications that install their data into the home folder/Library/Application Support
Steam is the biggest culprit I've found of doing this, but, there are others.


I will occasionally look at, but I do not use the cleaner, delocalizer nor the duplicates finder in WhatSize nor in any other app (except OnyX) that does those things - you are only asking for problems with your system at some point in time by using them.

If you have no personal data you want to get rid of - then it is time for you to purchase a new larger drive to install in your computer.
 
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Slydude

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Read this whole thing - twice - before you do anything below.

I would strongly encourage you to backup your hard drive prior to doing anything.

Quit looking at system data - if you don't know what it is - you are not going to touch it
And besides that, by the time you have a full drive, none of it takes up the amount of space you need to free up.

You are going to have to delete personal data that "you" installed and know what it is...

e.g. unused applications, games, movies, music, documents, etc.


If you have no personal data you want to get rid of - then it is time for you to purchase a new larger drive to install in your computer.

Ditto. Can't stress this enough.
 

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I agree wholeheartedly with all of the above. In my experience the files using up the most space are media files in particular movies and large games. These can easily be moved to an external drive as movies are mostly self contained files. Games, although they have lots of associated files should mostly be in a single folder. After getting files onto an external drive do a search to ensure you don't have copies in other formats of the same file, e.g. a movie in mp4 as well as avi format.
Although some members frown on memory cleaning apps and rightly so because there are some very harmful ones out there I personally can recommend CleanMyMac 2. I have been using it since inception in 2009 on 5 consecutive Mac Book's with never a problem. It is a pay for app but I have found MacPaw (the developers) very good with updates and easy to deal with in general especially support. It has some very handy features such as listing large files in order of size and how long since they have been used. It also can remove leftovers from previously removed apps. It can clean up iPhoto duplicates, broken preferences, updated files, and remove unwanted language files as well(if desired). In total it has removed 286.64 Gb of unwanted stuff from my current 2012 MBP. You can have complete control of what this app does but I now use it on Auto Clean without concern.
It is true that what CMM2 does can be done manually but if you want an easier way and you don't wish to learn a lot of new skills this is definitely the simple way. But first BACKUP everything.
 
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Thanks. the advice has been really helpful. I used WhatSize to identify duplicate folders of photos that were taking up about 80 GB of space. I also started deleting old, no longer used Apps from iTunes. Finally, I found a file in the Library entitled Mail Downloads that had a copy of everything I've ever downloaded that was attached to an e-mail. Most of this was either old or saved elsewhere so I was able to clean out that file. I'm good for now but will come back to this discussion as needed.
 

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