Top 10 Tips for Finding Disk Space on Your Mac

October 5, 2011, By Christian Cawley

Successfully managing hard disk space on your Mac can mean the difference between a slow computer and a super-fast computer. There are many ways in which you can do this without spending too much time sorting things out.

For instance, you might clean your Internet history, or simply empty the Trash folder. Both of these options can free up acres of hard disk space in just a matter of minutes.

Our list of the top 10 space saving tips for your Mac can all help you to free up some long-lost hard disk drive space, but remember: while useful on an individual basis, they are best used as a group!

Top 10 Tips for Finding Space on Your Mac

1: Empty the Trash – you wouldn’t be the first to assume that just because data has been dragged to the Trash it has been deleted from your Mac. Of course, you need to use the Empty Trash option in the Finder menu to fully delete these files.

2: Remove duplicates – Singlemizer is a great piece of software available from the App Store that detects and removes duplicate files on your computer. While some of these files might be intentional, many are likely the same file downloaded multiple times. Singlemizer checks the contents of the file rather than the filename, so you can be sure that things won’t be deleted incorrectly.

3: Clearing junk – it is often difficult to determine exactly where capacity is being eaten up, and browsing through the Finder to check directory sizes isn’t the best use of your time. Fortunately you can use the DaisyDisk app to find these.

4: Browser downloads – if you have regularly downloaded data from the web (for instance apps or media files) then these can often end up in your Downloads folder. Checking this for space-eating data is a great tip!

5: Email attachments – similarly, any information downloaded via the Mail client can be tidied up. Attachments are stored in Library/Mail Downloads, and by deleting any old and irrelevant data you can save up a lot of space.

6: Archival and compression – the ZIP file format allows you to create data archives, compressed folders of similar data types that can be stored away until you need to use them again. This is easily done in OS X by opening the directory in the Finder, choosing the files or folders you wish to compress and then selecting File > Compress…; you can then delete the originals.

7: Clearing browser history – you wouldn’t believe the amount of data that you download to your computer when browsing the web! This information is stored in a cache, the idea of which is to speed up browsing when you return to the site in question. As there is no cap on the size of the temporary cache, you don’t know how big it is going to get! In Safari, selecting Safari > Empty Cache can speed things up considerably.

8: Using an app cleaning tool – we’ve all got apps installed that we barely use, or software lingering on our Macs that should have been deleted by the operating system last time something was uninstalled. Sadly this doesn’t always go according to plan, but the AppCleaner tool will help you out, ensuring that software is fully removed from your Mac.

9: Lighter apps – no one wants to wait for apps to load, and few of us want to put up with endless bells and whistles. This is why alternative apps are so popular – for instance, you might choose a low-footprint PDF reader rather than the official Adobe Reader app. Check for more great ideas.

10: iLife and media files – whether you use iLife or simply have lots of video and MP3 files on your Mac, the chances are these media files are taking up a big chunk of space on your Mac. Both iPhoto and iMovie have their own Trash areas, so these need to be emptied (the data will be transferred to the main Trash, which you will need to empty again).

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