Disk space is limited, there is a finite amount of it. Today’s post is going to show you a variety of different methods which you can use to clean your disk and free up those needed bytes and bits. There are a variety of methods to employ, some of which are simple and can be done regularly. Some are more complicated and require a little bit of work. If you are ever short of disk space and you are seeing the error message that you are about to run out. Using one of these tips will help.
Search and Delete For Large Files
One of the quickest way to delete files and free up hard drive space is to find the big files. Open a Finder window, using the advance search options you can select logical size as a search option. Then simply set the search option to find files that are greater than 500MB (you can use any size you find appropriate). This command will return the biggest files on your system. If you include system files you may be able to find some hidden files that are taking up some space.
If you want a more visual methods of file sizes I recommend Daisy Disk, a personal favourite of mine which allows you to see where the space on your disk is being used.
Using Clean My Mac
A lot of tips and tricks tell you to delete languages, printers, unused binaries and other difficult to get to files. This is really difficult most of the time and usually requires many different pieces of software. One app that I recommend is Clean My Mac. I have previously reviewed this application. It allows you to easily delete cache files, unneeded localisations and a lot of other neat tricks. If you find yourself regularly running out of space, this app can help.
Empty the Trash
A personal favourite and a go to action is to empty the Trash. I always forget that when you delete a file or folder that it really isn’t gone and is just in the Trash. Over the weeks it soon builds up with all of the files that you don’t need. Go to the Trash and empty the files within. You may find that you can clean a good portion of your disk and free up a lot of space.
Empty iPhoto and iMovie Trash
The previous tip can also be extended to iPhoto and iMovie. They have there own Trash. Open each application and select each of there Trash option respectively and empty them. If you are a heavy user of iPhoto you can save a fair bit of space. Within iMovie, remove the clips and projects you don’t need.
Reboot To Clear Caches and Swap Files
This is an interesting tip that was given to me the other day. Restart your Mac. My Mac lasts months on end without a restart, my personal best is 3 months. Although you don’t need to regularly restart it may be good restart to clear caches, and clean up swap files. If you use Finder ‘Go To Folder’ option to open
/private/var/vm there are many files in this folder that are created by your Mac. You shouldn’t delete these files yourself, however they will be cleaned up and organised upon restarting.
Remove Unneeded Applications and Files
One option that doesn’t get enough attention is to audit and check which files you don’t need. I collect a lot of applications, some free, some paid, that I don’t use or don’t need. These do take up space. Delete them from your system and claim back the disk space. Another obvious, but useful, tip is to go through your documents folder and see which files you don’t need. I cleaned up my university folder and save a gigabyte of space.
This trick can also be extended to iPhoto and iTunes. Go through some of the old (or even new in the age of happy snapping) photos and see which images you don’t need. Most people don’t need many of the images we take, a lot of them are very boring. The same goes for iTunes, are you really going to listen to that track you bought when you were a teenager, if you look at my iTunes library there are many music tracks I don’t mind seeing the back of.
Clean Application Files
This trick takes a little bit more work but is very doable. There are variety of different areas in which files are stored that you can remove these are:
- ~/Music/GarageBand/ – for demo songs
- ~/Pictures/iChat Icons/
- ~/Library/Application Support/Steam/ – for Steam games you don’t use.
- ~/Library/Caches/ – for apps you don’t use
- ~/Library/Preferences/ – again for applications not installed.
- ~/Library/Mail/Mailboxes/ – For out of control mail boxes which you can clean up
Clean Up Downloads Folder (including Mail)
Another big space hog (which may be cleaned with the first tip) is your downloads folder. Every file you download in Safari or another web browser goes into your downloads folder. If you are an active web user this can soon grow. Check the size of your Downloads folder and see just how much space it is using. A lot of these files are usually rather small, there just tends to be a lot of them.
Another place to check is ~/Library/Mail Downloads/ this is where Mail stores its downloads. When you save an attachment this is where it goes.
Delete Mail Messages With Attachments
If you are using POP3 (which downloads emails to your Mac) or IMAP (where they are stored on your email providers server) there will be plenty of messages which have attachments. If you use Finder you can search for messages which have attachments. Using the search box start typing ‘attachments’ and an option should appear which says ‘Message has attachments’. When selected this will show you every email message which has an attachments. Delete the ones you don’t need.
Find Duplicate Files
What is the point in having the same files twice. Its not like real life where you can have a physical backup. Having the same file twice on your Mac server no real purpose other than filling up disk space. This problem is compounded if you have a lot of duplicate large files.
To find duplicate files run the app Gemini, which I have previously reviewed. This will search a folder (which can be expanded to your hard disk) and can be used to find duplicate files. Delete the duplicate and save one disk space.
Buying A New Hard Drive
If worst comes to worst, the final thing to do is buy a new hard drive. There are many cheap, and large, external hard drives which you can buy. If you move off files that you don’t need, you can certainly save a lot of hard disk space.
There are many ways in which you can claim back hard disk space. The quickest methods are to empty your Trash and search for large files in Finder. However, there are many other ways to make sure you don’t store files that are not needed.
If you have any tips or tricks please leave a comment.