Mac OS X: How to free up hard disk space

This article describes several ways to free-up space on your Mac so that you can increase available space on your computer:

Related: Mac OS X: What is “other” storage and how to remove

1.Determine how much disk space you have

Open Disk Utility (Finder > Applications > Utilities > Disk Utility), then click your disk then click info, as seen in the following screen shot:

disk utility info

2.Delete items you no longer need

Move files you do not need to the Trash or select an item you want to delete and press command+delete. Then empty your trash by selecting Empty Trash from the Finder menu.

empty trash

Also note that some applications, such as iPhoto, iMovie and Mail, have their own Trash. So you may want to empty their trash too. Here is how:

  • Mail:  click Mailbox > Erase Deleted Items > In All Accounts, and Mailbox > Erase Junk Mail. (instead of deleting, you may also consider archiving your email, see #6: Compress your items below)
  • iPhoto: click iPhoto > Empty iPhoto Trash.
  • iMovie: click File > Move to Trash or File > Move Rejected Clips to Trash.

3.Delete Downloads

Anything you download from the Internet are stored in the Downloads folder. You may want to delete these items.  First check to make sure that you do not need any of these items.  Click Finder then download. And drag any item you do not need to the Trash then empty the trash. For instance you may want to delete the disk image (.dmg) files.

delete downloads

4.Delete apps you no longer use

Open your Applications folder and delete any apps that you no longer use. If you want to delete/uninstall an app that you purchased from the Mac App Store, open Launchpad then press and hold down the app icon that you want to remove, when they jiggle, click the delete (x) button.  If you want to remove other apps, drag the app icon to the trash then empty the trash.

delete uninstall apps Mac

5.Move files to another disk

You may want to consider moving items (such as photos, large files, movies, etc.) to another disk, such as an external drive, USB drive, DVD, or cloud storage.

6.Compress large items

You may want to compress your files because compressed files take up less storage space. Here is how you can locate large files so you can compress:

  • Select Finder > Go > Home > File > Find then open the Kind menu, then select Other. Now check the checkbox for File Size. Now enter a file size (e.g. 50MB) and find items that are larger than 50MB.
  • To compress items, simple choose a file to compress and press control+click then choose Compress.

find large files mac

  • If you want to archive your emails, launch the Mail app, select a folder to archive, e.g. the Inbox, drag it to the desktop. Now you will see a mbox folder. Then  control-click on this folder and select “Create Archive of ‘Inbox.mbox'” then delete the messages from Mail.

7.Clean up temporary files, system caches and logs

You may clean up a variety of System logs and temporary files to increase your Mac’s disk space. Use third party utilities like MainMenu or Onyx can help you. Download and install, if you want to run these maintenance scripts.

8.Clear your browser’s cache

Clearing the cache could free space on your Mac. If you are using Safari, you can do this in Safari by clicking Safari > Reset Safari. You can do the same in other browsers as well, Chrome, Firefox etc.


  1. Ex2bot says

    Suggestion: don’t clear caches all the time. There’s a reason why browsers have a cache, and that is to speed up browsing the web.

  2. Colin Crane says

    I also faced the problem regarding the space in m mac, there are lots of junk files or unneeded files on my system. I can’t delete them manually, so i searched over Mac App Store and found this app named Tweak and Tuneup and believe me it’s a nice app and has a good user interface. I cleaned junk files in just a few minutes by using it’s one-click feature.
    Superb app.

  3. annika says

    Awesome. Thanks so much. Just getting rid of my trash and downloads got my 50GB. Thanks. No doubt it will occur again, but at least I know how to clear it more. Any ideas about how I find out the “other” that is taking up most of my startup disc?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *