For a pretty penny, you can get a Mac with plenty of storage – up to 8TB on certain models. But what if you have an old MacBook Air and you can't even install Big Sur because it has a tiny 128GB drive? Why does this “other” category take up so much space?
This guide will show you how to free up space on your Mac. Some of the instructions are rather simple, while others require a trip to the terminal. We even recommend some third-party alternatives if you don't want to dive deep into macOS.
Hopefully your Mac will have a little more breathing space by the end. It can even have an extra spring in its tier.
Clear browser data
Web browsers download and save data such as HTML files and images to display on your screen. Usually, this cache stays on your Mac, especially on websites that you use the most. All browsers have tools to erase this data. However, in Safari you will learn:
Step 1: With Safari open, select History from the menu bar.
Step 2: Select Clear History from the drop-down menu.
Step 3: Click the blue arrows next to the Clear box and select Last Hour, Today, Today and Yesterday, or All History from the drop-down menu.
Step 4: When done, click the Clear History button.
Use the macOS storage manager
MacOS has built-in tools to aid in memory management. How to access these tools:
Step 1: Click on the Apple icon at the left end of the menu bar.
Step 2: Select About This Mac from the drop-down menu.
Step 3: In the pop-up window, select the Storage tab.
Wait for macOS to calculate your storage. You will eventually see that capacity is broken down into several color-coded categories. Hover over each category for more details. When you're ready, move on to the next step.
Step 4: Click the Manage button.
Step 5: On the following screen, in the Optimize Storage section, click the Optimize button, if available. This will delete all TV shows and movies purchased through the Music and Apple TV apps. In addition, old e-mail attachments are deleted.
Step 6: In the Automatically empty the recycle bin section, click the Activate button if you want the recycle bin to delete your discarded files immediately. Otherwise, the files in the Trash will remain on your Mac's drive for 30 days in case you change your mind.
Step 7: In the Reduce Clutter section, click the Review Files button. Here you can browse applications, documents, your iCloud drive, email, messages, and photos to delete the files that don't need to be stored locally on your Mac.
For example, select the Applications category on the left and you'll see a list of all apps on the right. Click the Size option to sort the list from largest to smallest in descending order. This is a quick way to free up space taken up by large, unwanted apps. Just select the app and hit the delete button.
Everything you download falls under Documents under the Downloads tab. Messages can also be a big culprit when they save pictures, movies, etc. locally on your Mac.
Manually delete music and music videos
While Optimize Storage already does this in bulk, use the instructions below to delete specific albums, tracks, and music videos while leaving others intact on your Mac.
Step 1: Open the Music app.
Step 2: Find the locally stored music that you want to remove from your Mac.
Step 3: Click the three-dot More button.
Step 4: Select Remove Download from the drop-down list. Select Don't delete from library unless you no longer want to own the music.
Manually delete movies and TV shows
Here, too, Optimize Storage is already doing this in large quantities. However, use the instructions below to delete certain movies and TV shows while keeping others intact on your Mac.
Step 1: Open the Apple TV app.
Step 2: Find the movie or TV show that you want to remove from your Mac.
Step 3: Click on the three-dot More icon.
Step 4: Select Remove Download from the drop-down list. Select Don't delete from library unless you no longer want to own the media.
Manually delete downloaded files
Don't forget to clean up this folder if you're downloading a lot of files from outside the Apple ecosystem.
Step 1: Open the Finder.
Step 2: Select the downloads listed on the left.
Step 3: Right-click the download you want to delete and choose Move to Trash from the pop-up menu.
Step 4: Right-click the trash can icon in the Dock and choose Empty Trash from the pop-up menu.
Delete junk email
Your collection of emails and attachments can also use up your Mac's storage. To clean up Apple's native Mail app:
Step 1: Open the Mail app.
Step 2: Select Mailbox listed in the menu bar.
Step 3: Choose Delete Junk Mail from the drop-down menu.
Step 4: Select Delete Deleted Items from the drop-down menu, followed by In All Accounts, On My Mac, or iCloud from the rollout menu.
Clean up the "other" data
This is difficult because MacOS places any data that cannot be categorized under the "Other" label. It can be time consuming to determine what is under this roof. MacOS Sierra and newer versions can classify these files better. However, they may be larger than any other category listed. The problem is, unlike any application or document, you cannot directly access the content in this category.
Here are some examples of "other" files:
- Cache of apps you don't use.
- Temporary data.
- Downloads that do not fall under the typical categories.
- App plugins.
Remove cache folder
Apps, programs, and even macOS store local files, also known as cache. Usually the older cache is not needed and can be safely removed. However, you need to investigate which cache can work and what your Mac currently needs before you are satisfied with the delete feature. You can find the entire cache here:
Step 1: Open the Finder and select Go from the menu bar.
Step 2: From the drop-down menu, choose Go to Folder.
Step 3: Enter ~ / Library / Caches in the text box, then click the Go button as shown above.
Step 4: A list of files and folders is displayed. Right click on the app folder you want to delete and select Move to Trash from the pop-up menu.
Step 5: Right-click the trash can icon in the Dock and choose Empty Trash from the pop-up menu.
Remove unnecessary Time Machine backups
MacOS stores old Time Machine backups on your Mac. This can be problematic on 128GB devices as the backups are not easily accessible and take up a lot of storage space. You have to use the terminal and use commands to delete them one by one. Here's how:
Step 1: Open the Finder and select the applications listed on the left.
Step 2: Double-click to open the Utilities folder.
Step 3: Double click to open the Terminal app.
Step 4: Type the following command and press Enter:
tmutil listlocalsnapshots /
As shown above, you will see a list of the local Time Machine snapshots stored on your Mac. These files begin with com.apple.TimeMachine and contain the acquisition date. The files end with the extension .local.
Step 5: Enter the following command, add a space and enter the numeric order in the file name:
sudo tmutil deletelocalsnapshots (spaces) (numeric sequence)
For example, the sudo tmutil command can read deletelocalsnapshots 2020-12-22-130031.
Step 6: Press Enter.
Step 7: Repeat step 5 for any remaining Time Machine backups. If the commands were entered successfully, the terminal responds with the message Delete local snapshot.
Remove additional unwanted files
Another lengthy way to delete unwanted files is to enter a file extension and list the related files by size. That way, the largest ones will show up at the top so you can get space back up quickly. Here's how:
Step 1: On the desktop, press Command + F at the same time.
Step 2: In the pop-up window next to Search, make sure This Mac is selected.
Step 3: In the first search attribute field, click the arrows and select Other from the drop-down menu.
Step 4: In the following pop-up, check the box next to File size and file extension and then click the OK button.
Step 5: Enter a file extension in the search box to see a list of related files such as PDF or MOV.
Step 6: Right click the file and choose Move to Trash from the pop-up menu.
Step 7: Right-click the trash can icon in the Dock and choose Empty Trash from the pop-up menu.
Use third party software
If you'd rather use a third-party solution to clean the house, here are some great options:
CCleaner: This version of macOS was originally designed for Windows and is an easy way to clean up underlying junk files. The premium version offers real-time monitoring, automatic updates, and premium support for $ 20.
CleanMyMac X: The free version cleans up up to 500 MB. If you need to free up additional storage, the premium version starts at $ 35.
Disk Doctor: This utility costs only $ 3 and has a simple toggle button that makes it easy for you to decide which files to delete, such as: B. Application caches and logs.
Twins 2: This app specifically hunts duplicate files that can consume storage space. You can purchase this app for a one-time purchase of $ 48.95 or subscribe for $ 23.95 per year.