Need more space on your Mac? Well, it’s probably time to clean it up. You could do it manually or use a couple of programs that can help you save some of your precious time. Either way, you can clean up your Mac to have more space.
If your Mac’s hard drive is bursting at the seams—slowing things down and leaving no room for new music, photos, and documents—it’s time to do a little cleaning. You could try your hand at manually weeding out unnecessary files, or you can turn to a few programs that will automate much of the process.
The first thing you can do is to check all your files. This way, you’ll know what’s taking up so much space and you can delete the files that you don’t really need.
The bigger the files you can delete, the more space you can free up—so let’s go hunting. Click the Apple menu in the top-left corner of the menu bar and choose About This Mac.
If that overview says you’re running macOS 10.12 Sierra or higher, then you can merely click the Storage tab to get a basic idea of what’s taking up so much space on your drive—like documents, photos, music, and so on. If you discover you have 100GB of music on a 128GB drive, for example, then it’s a fair bet you should clean up that iTunes library.
Click the Manage button and you will have the option to see a much more detailed breakdown. The left sidebar shows you each of the aforementioned categories, and you can click on them to see the biggest files of that type. For example, you may find that you have multiple gigabytes of video from an old project you no longer need, or huge iOS backups from devices you no longer own.
Right-click any of these files to delete them, and you should be able to free up a decent amount of space. (Just don’t forget to empty the Trash when you’re done—if files are in the Trash, they’re still taking up space on your Mac!)
If you don’t have macOS Sierra, or you want to drill down even further into your system, you can accomplish similar things with a tool like Disk Inventory X. It may not be the prettiest disk space analyzer available for macOS, but it’s free and offers an exhaustive list of which folders, files, and file types are hogging your hard drive.
You can also use a software than can help you find duplicate files.
The best way to find duplicate files is with a third-party app like Gemini 2. It’s rather expensive for a full license, but the free trial should be all you need for a quick duplicate search—just run the scan, and click the drop-down arrows next to each of the results to see which files are actually duplicates you can delete.
The paid version will clean up those files automatically, while the free version makes you do it one-by-one. We recommend the latter anyway, so you don’t accidentally delete something you need.
Moving your files to the cloud is another practical way to clean up your Mac. You might have to pay for a cloud service. It depends on what you choose.
You can also choose to store documents, photos, and/or messages in iCloud instead of on your computer. You’ll likely need to buy iCloud storagefor this feature to be useful, though.
If you use another cloud syncing service, like Dropbox, open its settings and make sure you’re only syncing the folders you need. If you have large files in the cloud that you don’t access regularly on this machine—perhaps you only have them there for backup purposes—you can de-select those folders in the settings of your cloud storage app so they don’t sync to your Mac. They’ll still be available from Dropbox.com if you need them, but they won’t take up space on your computer.
For more space on your Mac, consider clearing caches and removing temporary files.
Your computer keeps a collection of temporary files on its hard drive so it can re-access them later. Many people advocate clearing these caches occasionally to free up space, but unlike the above tricks, clearing temporary files only helps you…well, temporarily.
Those caches will fill right back up as you continue using your computer, so this is only worthwhile if you’re extremely low on space and just need to get by for a few days while you finish that large project, or wait for a bigger hard drive in the mail.
CCleaner is a free program that will scan your system for temporary internet files, system logs, and other unnecessary files. Install the app, open it up, and click the Analyze button in the bottom-right corner. It’ll present you with a list of removable files, and you can click Run Cleaner to delete them.
If you want something more thorough, CleanMyMac X was able to find even more deletable files on my system, but it costs $35 for a one-year license.
If you really need more space, you can either upgrade your internal storage or get yourself an external drive.
If you’re still low on space after going through all the above steps, it may be time to bite the bullet and upgrade your storage. You can upgrade the internal drive on some older Macs, but most of Apple’s modern offerings solder the storage onto the motherboard. As a result, you are then forced to buy a new Mac if you want more internal storage. (Google your specific model of Mac and see what your options are.)
If you can’t upgrade the internal storage, hope is not lost: you can still grab an external drive and offload some of your less-used files to that instead.
Obviously, it’s pretty easy to clean up your Mac. It’s something you can do yourself. Simple tasks such as finding and deleting files are a no-brainer. But what if you accidentally delete something and you’re not able to find it anymore? There’s a possibility that you can end up doing that while cleaning up your Mac.
If you seemed to have deleted a file accidentally, you would need someone who is trained to do Mac data recovery.