How do you free up space on your Mac?

Sooner or later it happens to everyone, especially on portable models where the storage disks are less capacious. These are annoying error messages, such as “Your disk is almost full”, significant drops in performance or inability to move essential files for us at the time on the Mac. This is the storage space that is exhausted or running out, which must absolutely be freed.

Useful Links:
Space residue – Space Used – Use Time Machine – Onyx

How much space do I have?

To find out how much space is available on your Mac device, you can choose two ways: access System Information or terminal commands.

  • From menu: apple logo -> “About this Mac” -> “Storage”
  • From terminal: “df -h” without quotes, output:% available

What takes up so much space?

The screen reachable from System Information, which shows the free and occupied space on Mac by dividing the information by sectors.

Choosing the System Information path, as explained in the previous paragraph, you will get to a screen similar to the one shown in the photo.

The window shows us that the harddisk in use on the Mac is a unit called “Macintosh HD”, which has theoretical 500gb of which 499.96gb effective and the free space is 281.41gb. The space occupied, 44% of the total, is divided into Applications (fuchsia part), Documents (green part), iCloud Drive (blue part), iOS File (red part), System (gray part), Other Volumes in the Container ( darker gray part).

By clicking on “Manage …” you can get a first idea of ​​what takes up disk space. The items that will appear on the screen will allow you to see the individual categories of use with the various files which can then be deleted manually.

Space Used by Mac: example screen

How do I free up additional disk space?

Steps to free up disk space on a MacOS system:

  1. Eliminate unnecessary applications
  2. Empty the trash
  3. Delete backups of iOS devices
  4. Use iCloud Drive
  5. Use iCloud Photo Library
  6. Delete old Podcasts, Books, Mail and Messages
  7. Eliminate dated local backups of Time Machine
  8. Use a maintenance software such as Onyx

Eliminate unnecessary applications

To eliminate useless applications, it is better to take a pen and paper, open the Finder and click on “Applications”, and then take note of the unused software, which you would be happy to do without.

Made your choices, to uninstall an application from the Mac, simply drag its icon from the “Applications” item of the Finder to the “Trash”, which will then be emptied with confirmation of the removal of the chosen programs.

Empty the trash

When you delete files or applications from your Mac, they are never permanently and definitely not deleted on the first click. As on Windows, you always have to go through the trash, which, once filled enough, needs a nice empty one.

To do this you can:

  • go back to the “Manage” item, available in “System Information” → “Storage”, then click on “Trash” and finally click on “Empty”
  • bring up the dock, then click with the right mouse button or trackpad on “Trash” and finally click on “Empty”
  • click on “Recycle Bin”, manually deleting the files, ie clicking on them with the right mouse button or trackpad and confirming their removal or by performing the same action in an empty space of the Recycle Bin window, thus emptying all the files in the archive.

Delete dated backups of iOS devices

When you make a local backup via iTunes of our iPhone, iPod or iPad, you take up a few Gigabytes of your space with the information of your portable device. To free up that space, you must go back to the aforementioned “Storage” → “Manage” screen, reachable from the “System Information” of the Apple Menu. You will then have to click on the “IOS File” item and select the backup to be deleted, then you can remove it from the Finder by clicking on “Show on Finder” or proceed with the removal directly from the window by clicking on “Delete”.

As an alternative to Local Backup, you can opt for a backup on iCloud, if the available space allows you.

Use iCloud Drive

ICloud management panel: functionality and residual space

To get to the screen that allows us to adjust iCloud settings, you need to click on the Apple logo in the top menu, then on “System Preference” and “iCloud”.

iCloud Drive is one of several cloud storage services. Compared to its competitors, however, it offers direct integration with the Apple ecosystem. Among the advantages is the optimization of space: in a nutshell, the files of some system folders and the settings are saved on iCloud, I chose the Desktop and the Documents folder.

To enable iCloud Drive, once you arrive in the iCloud screen on Mac, just tick the “iCloud Drive” item and manage the settings by clicking on “Options”.

Use the iCloud photo library

To enable the photo library, you have to go back to the iCloud screen (then again “Apple Menu” → “System Preferences” → “iCloud”). By checking the “Photos” check, the System will start synchronizing the photo library with the Mac as well.

To upload photos to the Photo Library from the Mac, you need to open the “Photos” App and drag the images you want to add to the screen.

Alternatively you can opt for the menu, using the “Import” item.

To free up the iCloud library space, you can export the images from the menu by clicking on “Export”. You will then need to choose a destination folder, including external disks, and confirm the operation.

Delete old podcasts, books, emails and messages

From the usual screen to manage the storage space, you will then have to click on the items “Books”, “iTunes”, “Mail” and “messages” and choose what to delete in complete simplicity.

Delete old local TimeMachine backups

I usually use Time Machine to make Mac backups. After a hard drive failure that stored the information, I had to stay for days without the actual backup. The moment I went to clean the Mac space, I noticed an incredible increase in the “System” entry in the space used. Uses of 140gb or more on 500 of HDD !!

It turns out that once Time Machine has configured its work, it does it anyway, even without the target disk connected, therefore without exporting the backups made.

Time Machine saves a snapshot of the boot disk approximately every hour and keeps it for 24 hours. A further snapshot of the last successful Time Machine backup is retained as long as space is not required for other operations. Also, in High Sierra or later, another snapshot is saved before installing any macOS update.

Information on TimeMachine Local Snapshots:

These backups are not seen on the computer and must be deleted manually:

  • Open the terminal
  • Run (without quotes) “tmutil listlocalsnapshots /”
  • The output will look like “”
    • “”
    • mark the time expressed in the file name, “2018-03-01-002010”
  • Run the command (without quotation marks) “sudo tmutil deletelocalsnapshots partedtemtemataprecenza”
    • For example: “sudo tmutil deletelocalsnapshots 2018-03-01-002010”
  • Run the command for each backup you deem useless.

Use a cleaning software to perform periodic maintenance

View Gallery5 images

There are tools that do the cleaning also on Mac, not only on Windows. I opted for Onyx.

It’s free and you can download it from here : version for- Mojave – High Sierra .

Onyx is a very powerful program, so don’t choose a version compatible with your operating system.

Key features:

  • Maintenance: delete unnecessary files
  • Utility: manage file systems, Time Machines, scripts, consult command manuals, processes and Applications
  • File: manage file related commands such as search method, deletion algorithm checks file checksum and much more
  • Parameters: change the main system settings
  • Info: view system information and free up unused RAM

Was the guide helpful to you? Let me know in the comments and add some other tips that maybe I forgot to list or I might not know!


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