How to Free up Mac Disk Space in 3 Simple Steps

Have you ever heard horror stories about Mac users (usually working with an older machine, such as an iMac) who had such little space left on their hard disk drive that they couldn’t even send an email? A recent column in MacWorld told the story of a woman whose computer miraculously still worked, at 0GB free disk space, but was so slow that it didn’t even have any space left to save an email. Running low on disk space become inevitable, especially if you’ve been using the same Mac for a while now and you’re not in the habit of performing regular maintenance on it. Now, low disk space doesn’t necessarily have to mean that the time has come for you to give up on your computer altogether. More often than not, there is ample leeway space for cleaning up your disk drive. If you’re looking to free up Mac disk space, here are some simple measures you could always start with:

How’s your Activity Monitor?


For those of you less technically inclined, Activity Monitor is a great little maintenance tool, which all OS X versions have built-in. Fire up the utility from Applications/Utilities and click on the Disk Usage tab at the bottom of the window. You’ll see just how much disk space you’ve got left available there – the recommended rule of thumb for this index is to have at least 10GB of space free, or 10 per cent of the disk’s total capacity. If you have less than the smaller of these amounts, no wonder your Mac is acting sluggish. In order to properly function, computers need some room to perform transfers of cached information. If your machine has little to no space left, then it’s time to do something about it.

Got big files?

Do you store movies on your Mac? Do you play any resource-intensive games or use any programs that take up a lot of space? Some of these big files are probably no longer useful for you – movies, multimedia projects such as those generated by Final Cut or Photoshop, photo galleries, etc.. You can store them all in the cloud or on an external hard disk drive, but first you need to locate them. Finding big files is a breeze with apps like Clean My Mac 2, who will do all the work for you, without you having to put in any effort or fiddle with settings. If you want to do it manually, however, you can use the Finder function in Spotlight Search. Press Command-F, click the plus sign, then the Kind pop-up, select Other, select File Size, click OK and then set it up to “File Size is greater than 500MB”. That ought to do it. Make sure to delete all the files you no longer need.

Cache all clear?

Cache files and log files can be useful, but sometimes they will also work toward helping you clear up some much-needed space on your hard drive. Of course, you need to remember that your Mac is going to generate them again – which is particularly relevant in the case of cache files. Logs tend to contain information regarding app crashes and other issues that most users cannot find any utility for and are unlikely to ever need. Some log files can fall victim to a bug, which will make your drive fill up faster than you would ever imagine, so make sure to check and see whether you quickly run out of space, even after deleting log files. As with deleting large files, you can clear your logs and cache manually, or you can install an app to take care of the issue for you – and Clean My Mac 2, which is a highly comprehensive system utility also works in this scenario.