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Your Startup Disk is Full? 6 Useful Tips to Free up Space on Mac!

How to free up space on my iMac? I only have 6 GB left free on my iMac's hard drive and my startup disk is almost full. What are my options for freeing up disk space on it. I am considering uploading photos and other files to thumb drives and other files. Is this a good idea? Or, do I need another application (e.g. Mac Clean) to clean up my hard drive or some software about duplicate file finder mac? Any advice will be appreciated. - From Paul Claflin who wants to get more space on iMac.

Though it is possible for you to buy a Mac with a 750 GB hard disk, but Mac’s space will be filled up quickly if you have lots of media files such as movies, music and photos. Even a modest iTunes or iPhoto library can quickly fill up a MacBook Air’s 64GB or 128GB SSD, leaving little room for anything else. It is very terrible to have low space on Mac, and you’ll get crazy when your Mac runs slowly, but don’t worry, here we will show you how to clean disk space on Mac. Before starting to free up space on Mac,there are two things you have to do:

After you have done the above things, you can follow below tips to clean disk space on mac.

Check Available Disk Space on Mac

Before I show you how to free up space on Mac, you need to find out how much disk space you have and check how much space you are using for different categories such asaudio, movies, photos and applications. This information could be useful when your hard drive is nearly full and you need to clean up unimportant files. Below is how to check to the available hard drive space on your Mac:

  1. From the Apple menu, select “About This Mac”. The Overview window appears.
  2. Click Storage. The window shown below appears.

Backup Your Mac Important or Useful Files

In order to avoid accidentally removing important files, you can backup your Mac files to Time Machine or to external hard drive first. Once you backup your file, you will get them back easily, otherwise you will need some data recovery software for Mac to recover your important files. But many free data recovery software can’t actually recover all your files if you don’t backup them. So you’d better backup files before cleaning up your Mac, follow this guide: Backup Mac in Three Easy Ways.

Find and Remove Mac Duplicate Files

You have to admit that lots of duplicate files take up much space on your Mac, and it is especially true if you have been using the Mac for a long time. Duplicate files are annoying and useless. Fortunately there are powerful apps like Cisdem Duplicate Finder that can be used to find and remove duplicate files with fast speed and easy interface. With this duplicate file finder, you don't need a bigger hard drive, all you need is to clean things up. You can download it below and use it to free up space on Mac.

Download trial version of Cisdem DuplicateFinder for Mac

Uninstall Mac Unused Applications and Empty App Caches

Applications are rarely used or unused, these apps also take up lots of space. You can uninstall apps you got from Mac App Store or other websites. But you can’t uninstall apps that are part of OS X, such as Safari and Mail. And applications use caches to store various bits of information, but these files can grow very large over time and consume valuable disk space. You’d better empty these caches on Mac. More information about empty Safari cache, you can check this article: Clear Cache Safari on Mac.

Uninstall unused apps: Click the Launchpad icon in the Dock, hold down an app’s icon until all the icons begin to jiggle, then click an app’s delete button . If you later want the app, you can re-install it from the Mac App Store.

Apps that don’t have an uninstaller: In the Finder sidebar, click Applications. Drag the app from the Applications folder to the Trash (located at the end of the Dock), then choose Finder > Empty Trash.

Empty Application Caches: Most applications store their caches in one of the following two folders, and these cache files can be safely deleted, because an application will just create a new one when needed.

The system wide cache folder at /Macintosh HD/Library/Caches.

Your local user’s cache folder at  ~/Library/Caches.

To clear your user cache and system cache, do the following:

  1. Open Finder and select "Go to Folder" in the Go menu.
  2. Type in ~/Library/Caches and hit enter to proceed to this folder.
  3. Go into each of the folders and clean out everything.It is recommended to remove the insides of these folders, but not the folders themselves. You can also highlight and copy everything to a different folder just in case something goes wrong before clearing cache.

Locate and Delete Mac Large Files

To find large files on your Mac, you don’t have to buy a third-party software. You can use Mac’s built-in search tool to find large files and then you can delete unimportant large files or move useful large files to another disk. To find particularly large files on your Mac’s hard disk, the quickest way is to use Finder.

  1. Open a new Finder window. And click "All My Files" or other hard drive devices name. Then it will list a number of files.
  2. Then click "Action" in the menu bar and choose "Arrange By", select Size. And you will see your files listed in different size groups. Choose the larger one that you don't need to delete and you will get more free hard drive space.

Compress Files and Folders on Mac

Compressing files and folders into an archive that takes up less space is an effective way to free up space on Mac. Generally speaking, a zip file will be about 10% smaller than all of the files were before they were compressed, this feature works best with medium size files. So if you have many large files on Mac, you’d better compress them into an archive.

  1. Select multiple files and folders by holding down the Shift key (for multiple items) or the Command key (for several individual items) and clicking.
  2. Right click the files and folders, choose “Compress Items” and a compressed file with the .zip extension will be created. And you can delete the original files and folders.

If you want to expand an item, just double-click the .zip file. And you can classify your files and folders. Folders classification makes it easier for you to find what you want.

Move Mac Files to External Hard Disk

If your Mac storage space are almost occupied, you’d better move files and folders you don’t often use to an external disk. A hard disk drive is a data storage device used for storing and retrieving digital information using one or more rigid ("hard") rapidly rotating disks (platters) coated with magnetic material, you can buy one from the market. Below are the steps to move your files to external hard disk.

  1. Connect the external hard disk to your Mac using the USB cable.
  2. Select all your files you want to move and drag them to the hard disk.
  3. After all your files are moved to hard disk, you can eject the hard disk by clicking the eject button next to the hard disk’s name.

Clean up Mac Useless Files and Empty the Trash

The easiest for you to free up some space on Mac is to move some of the stuff that you don’t really need to trash and empty the trash. You can delete old and unwanted media files which often take up a large space. But these useless files you deleted before were moved to the trash and they are still on your Mac and take up your disk space. So how to clean disk on mac to free up hard drive space, you need to actually empty your Mac trash. Below are the guidance to clean up disk files and empty the trash.

  1. Move your useless files to the trash by directly dragging the files to trash. And a warning will pop up, reminding you that once your trash is gone, it is gone.
  2. Click Finder > Empty Trash, and a small window will pop up, click OK. You can also choose Finder > Secure Empty Trash if you’re absolutely, positively certain that you want to get rid of the files, once you delete them, you won’t get them back.

If you want to prevent the Trash warning message from appearing, just turn off the warning in the Advanced pane of Finder preferences. Choose Finder > Preferences, click Advanced, then deselect “Show warning before emptying the Trash”.

These tips can help your clean up disk space on Mac. Do you have any other idea to free up space on Mac? Share them with all of us by leaving comments below. 

/ Posted by to Duplicate File Finder Mac Follow @ Rosa

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11 Responses

  • Samuse

    These tips solved my "start up disk is full" problem. And all my duplicate files are cleaned, thanks.

    7 months ago REPLY
  • Jeryme

    How to reclaim Mac hard disk space? These ways are workable for me, thanks!

    1 years ago REPLY
  • Vito

    This is what i really want.Thanks for sharing.

    1 years ago REPLY
  • Regina

    I purchase an external hard drive to store my mac large files. Aha! Money always can solve some problems.

    1 years ago REPLY
  • fawaan

    Is there a way to move the local mail files to an external drive ?

    1 years ago REPLY
  • Rosa Reyes

    Hi, fawaan, I think the direct way is to move the files to external hard drive manually. Just copy or cut the local mail files and paste them into the external hard drive.

    1 years ago REPLY
  • lokesh

    Plz tell me where can i find my backup & recovery folder in mac book and also tell me can i delete my old backup & recovery files from mac book

    1 years ago REPLY
  • Rosa Reyes

    Hi, lokesh, backup&recovery folder stores your data to avoid unexpected data loss, so in my opinion, you'd better not delete them.

    1 years ago REPLY
  • Odelia

    very useful tips and I followed these tips to free up space, I found many duplicate files with the help of Cisdem Duplicate Finder and trashed them. My Mac worked faster than before.

    1 years ago REPLY
  • Rafael

    Cisdem Duplicate Finder did exactly what I needed. I had no space left on my Mac and it found duplicates. I deleted them and saved over 12GB. I’m sure a lot of people will get more space back than I did.

    1 years ago REPLY
  • Zoe

    Very useful tips, my Mac are filled with duplicate photos and musics, and they take up much space, Cisdem duplicate finder do help me find and remove them all. Now, my Mac has more free space to store other useful files.

    1 years ago REPLY

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