- You can free up space on your Mac by manually deleting files and emptying your trash.
- You can also zip files or store them on iCloud to clear space on a Mac.
- Decluttering apps can help to quickly locate junk files or duplicates taking up precious storage space.
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Freeing up space on your Mac can be a tedious task, but it’s an important one to ensure your computer continues to run smoothly and quickly. Doing so on a regular basis will help to reduce clutter and (hopefully) prevent a marathon session of deleting old files when you’re almost or completely out of space.
There are several methods to free up space on your Mac, from cleaning out your Downloads folder to enlisting the help of a free or paid decluttering app. Here’s what you need to know.
How to manually free up space on a Mac
In this section, we’ll cover some basic ways to free up storage space on your Mac, from manually deleting files to zipping them.
Delete files and apps
Take a look through your computer files and apps and see if there’s anything you can delete, particularly larger files like videos or hi-res images. For example, if you often take multiple photos of the same thing to get the best shot, deleting unnecessary duplicates is a good place to start.
To delete a file or app, right-click on the app icon or the name of the file, then click Move to Trash.
As you delete files manually, make sure you’re also emptying your trash to ensure you’re actually clearing up space and not just moving things from one place to another. To empty your trash, right-click on the trash icon, then click Empty Trash.
For large files or folders that you don’t want to delete, you can zip those files to save space without having to delete them. Zipping compresses files so that they take up less space.
Clear temporary files
Deleting temporary files is another way to free up some space on your Mac, but most of them will end up returning to your Mac as you continue to use it. Temporary files take up space on your Mac’s hard drive, and you don’t typically need them.
To locate temporary files, click the Go tab on Finder. Select Go to Folder, type in ~/Library/Caches, then click Go. This will lead you to a Caches folder. To delete files in the folder, right-click on the file(s) you want to delete, then click Move to Trash. An app like CleanMyMac can also locate and delete these temporary files for you.
Remove language files
Many Mac apps support various languages, and thus come with language files. To remove language files you don’t need (since you’re likely using just one language on your Mac), use an app like CleanMyMac or Monolingual.
Clean out your Downloads folder
From old work presentations to restaurant menus that automatically downloaded without you realizing, your Downloads folder is another place to find unnecessary files to delete. In Finder, click the Go tab, then Downloads to open the Downloads folder. To delete files in the folder, right-click on the file you want to delete, then click Move to Trash.
It can also be helpful to keep a shortcut to your Downloads folder in your Dock so that it’s easily accessible. To do this, simply drag the Downloads folder from your Finder to your dock.
Store files on iCloud
Storing your content on iCloud, Apple’s cloud storage service, helps you save space on your computer while still having easy access to your files. When storing files on iCloud, you can choose from one of three options:
- Desktop and Documents: iCloud stores all of the files located in these two folders. When your Mac is low on storage, only recently opened files are stored on your Mac. Files stored in iCloud have a download icon (a cloud with an arrow pointing down). To access files stored in iCloud, simply double-click the icon to download the file.
- Photos: iCloud stores all of your photos and videos in their original, full-resolution form. When your Mac is low on storage, only space-saving versions of your photos are stored on your Mac. To download the original version of the photo or video, simply click it to open the file.
- Messages: iCloud stores all your messages and attachments. When your Mac is low on storage, only recently opened messages and attachments are stored on your Mac.
Note that Apple users are automatically given 5 GB of storage space for free, but if you need more you can buy more iCloud storage for a monthly fee starting at 50 GB for $US0.99 ($AU1) a month.
To store files in iCloud, follow these steps:
1. Click the Apple icon at the top-left of your screen. Select About This Mac.
2. Click the Storage tab, then select Manage.
3. Click Store in iCloud.
4. In the pop-up menu, click the boxes corresponding to the types of files you want to store in iCloud. When you’re finished, click Store in iCloud.
Third-party apps to free up space on your Mac
Check out these popular apps that help you free up space on your Mac:
- CleanMyMac X: This “all-in-one” app functions as a macOS cleaner, a performance monitor, a malware remover, and more. It removes unneeded files and clutter in apps like iTunes, Mail, and Photos. There’s a free version and a paid version. The free trial removes up to 500 MB of junk files, and after that you’ll need to upgrade to a subscription which unlocks all of the app’s features.
- Gemini 2: This app finds and deletes duplicate files. It can also spot similar files (like duplicate photos of the same thing) and deletes the ones you don’t need. The free trial version scans your Mac as many times as you want and will clean up to 500 MB of data. If you want to keep the app and have it continue to flag and delete duplicates, you’ll need to purchase a subscription.
- Disk Doctor: This disk-cleaning app doesn’t have a free version, but it costs just $US2.99 ($AU4) (while Gemini 2 costs $US19.95 ($AU27) for a yearly subscription and CleanMyMac X costs $US39.95 ($AU54) per year). Disk Doctor scans your computer to find and remove unneeded files. An In-Depth Cleaning feature unclogs Application Caches, Logs, Browser Data, Mail Downloads, and Downloads Folder, while also identifying large files.