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00 Full Storage.jpgI once had a 20GB hard drive and it was always full. I thought that with bigger space – 40 or 80 Gigs – I could have some storage to spare. I couldn’t be more wrong.

My 160GB was filled in no time. Even the new 500GB external hard drive is already at the last quarter of it’s remaining space. I wonder what’s eating the free space out. :)

Where Has All The Free Space Gone?

I have found five alternative applications to analyze hard drive space and determine what occupies the storage space. Here they are in no particular order.

  1. Finder: Every Mac user should be familiar with this app. Even though it’s designed as a general purpose file manager, Finder could be used to help you determine which ones are the biggest hogs of all. However, you need to do some modifications before you could use it for the hogs hunt. It’s because, by default, Finder will not reveal all the sizes.

    01a Finder Hides Sizes.jpg

    Open the “View Options” window by using Command + J (or by clicking the Action Button and choosing “Show View Options“)

    01b Show View Options.jpg

    Tick the “Calculate all sizes” box.

    01c Calculate all sizes.jpg

    By sorting the view by file size, you could see which ones are the biggest culprit.

    01d Sort by size-1.jpg

    This setting will only be applied to the folder that you are currently viewing. If you want to apply it to all the open Finder windows, press “Use as default“. But please remember, having to calculate all of the sizes will slow your machine down. Especially for older systems.

  2. Omni Disk Sweeper: There’s a better and easier way to analyze hard drive space to determine which files are taking up the most space by using Omni Disk Sweeper. This app is specifically designed to do just that.The first time you open it, Omni Disk Sweeper will show you all the drives attached to your Mac.

    02a Omni Disk Sweeper Drive List.jpg

    Pick one and press the “Sweep the selected drive” button. The app will do the “sizing” process for a while. The time required for this process from start to finish will depend on the size of your drive and the speed of your machine.

    02b ODS sizing process.jpg

    You will have an easy-to-navigate Finder-like list of files and folders, automatically sorted by the size. The biggest one is at the top. A delete button is available in the lower part of the window so you can easily delete the ones that you don’t need.

    02c List of folders.jpg

    Just be sure that you really want to eliminate the selected file.

    02d Destroy confirmation.jpg

  3. Grand Perspective: This is another application specially designed to analyze hard drive space and give users a general picture of what is inside the hard disk. But this one take a different approach: visual. Upon opening Grand Perspective, it will ask you which disk you want to scan.

    03a Scan folder.jpg

    The app will then scan the chosen hard drive.

    03b Scanning in progress.jpg

    After the lenghty scanning process, you will see some kind of map, showing you the content of your hard drive. Every box represents a file.

    03b Picture of hard drive.jpg

There are two other alternatives suited to analyze hard drive space, they are: Disk Inventory X and WhatSize. The reason why Disk Inventory X didn’t make it to the list is because it’s been so long since the last updates (2005). While for WhatSize, it was kicked out of the list because it’s no longer freeware.

Do you know any other alternatives for troubleshooting your shrinking disk space?  If so, please share using the comments below.

  1. Filmberichte
    March 7, 2010 at 5:31 pm

    Thanks for the article, it was very helpfull.

  2. broit
    December 28, 2009 at 7:37 am

    I use ONYX for many years, from 10.4, than 10.5 and now 10.6 and must admit I can always keep my HD fit and mean. Whenever I feel it overloaded or slumpimg, I give him a brush up with ONYX different tools onboard, and it helps dramatically

  3. Justin
    December 20, 2009 at 11:48 am

    Sean: Snow Leopard reveals sizes when you use List View (View ... as List or CMD+2). It basically makes the "Calculate all sizes" option obsolete.

  4. Sean
    December 11, 2009 at 9:17 pm

    Which OSX are you using? I can't seem to find the option that says "Calculate all sizes." Maybe its a Snow Leopard only thing (that is, if you are using Snow Leopard) or you modified something else?

  5. Paf
    December 10, 2009 at 6:16 pm
  6. Glenn C.
    December 10, 2009 at 1:15 pm

    There's also DaisyDisk [mac]:
    with a colorful, sunburst visualization style.

  7. Glenn C.
    December 10, 2009 at 1:11 pm

    There's also DaisyDisk [mac]:
    with a colorful, sunburst visualization style.

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