Your Mac only has a limited amount of available disk space – even more so if you’re using a laptop. You might feel like you’re locked in a constant battle for breathing room, trying to squeeze every last morsel of space from your computer on a daily basis.
It’s time to fight back and free up some serious space on your Mac.
Empty The Trash Can
This is a no-brainer. Allowing your trash to accumulate only takes up precious space (just like your apartment). Empty it periodically and you will be surprised how much space you will get back. Especially if the trash is full of video files.
Use Selective Sync To Remove Cloud Storage Folders
Next, cast a critical eye on your cloud storage folders. The big services – Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive – allow you to choose which folders you want downloaded and synced to your computer, and which ones should remain in the cloud. This is critical for managing your space on various devices.
Right-click on each service’s icon in your menu bar and navigate to the preferences for your provider. There should be an option for each that allows you to choose which folders to sync, simply uncheck the ones you’re not interested in. Then watch the folders disappear, and reclaim that disk space.
Find Out Exactly Where Your Disk Space Has Gone
There is an absolutely spiffing piece of software available for the Mac called Disk Inventory X. This first scans your hard-drive and then tells you which folders and files are to blame for your current situation. You can then decide whether or not to delete or keep the files. This app has helped me enormously in keeping my limited MacBook Air’s space under control.
Depending on how much data you have on your hard-drive, the scanning can take some time – and will take significantly longer on hard disk drives as opposed to speedy solid state drives.
It’s a case of ticking the boxes and hitting a button. Choose all of your browsers, but with everything else choose carefully. The cardinal rule here is always, if you don’t know what it is or does, then leave it well alone.
Using this method alone I managed to reclaim a whopping 3 GB! I’m having a pretty good day.
Move your iPhoto & iTunes Libraries Elsewhere
This is one I had to research online, because I don’t use iPhoto, and all of my music is on Amazon Cloud Player. I still have an iTunes library though for the backups of my apps and photos. If your iPhoto and iTunes libraries are quite full, then moving them to a removable hard drive or even a USB stick could free up masses of space.
We’ve covered this little trick in the past, so head on over to James’ article all about storing libraries remotely to find out how. There’s also Apple’s official documentation about doing this with an iPhoto and iTunes library.
Use Web Apps Instead
In the mad and frenzied rush to install the latest and greatest software, it may not occur to you that there are many equally good – if not better – alternatives online. Does one of your desktop apps also have a web app? One example that springs to mind is Spotify, which has both a desktop app and a web app. Skype is about to roll out a web-based version which will render the desktop version obsolete.
Others to think about include Slack, Amazon Music, Evernote, Pocket, Instapaper, Twitter and many online image editing suites. Imagine all the space you could make if you removed them all and bookmarked their web versions instead?
Remove All Other Unnecessary Software
I also think it’s necessary, perhaps once a week, to review your installed software, and see if anything can be chopped. Take a good long look at each one, and ask yourself the following questions :
- When was the last time I used this?
- Am I ever likely to use it again?
- Is there another tool on the computer that does the same job, allowing me to uninstall this?
- What is that annoying rash?
Keep on top of that task every week or so, and you’ll be golden. I just reclaimed 9GB by removing apps I never use.
Dictation is a neat little party trick, but on the Mac, it’s very much a hit-and-miss affair. Being so uncultured, it doesn’t understand my deep Scottish brogue, so when I say “thank you for your recent letter”, it comes out with “tanqu fore yoor racy lutter”. So in all honesty, I prefer to use Dragon Dictate if I need to do any dictating.
Someone on the MacRumors forum claims you can get back 1GB of RAM by disabling Dictation. Your mileage may vary!
To disable dictation – and remove the dictionary that was installed with it – go to System Preferences–>Dictation & Speech.
Uncheck Enhanced Dictation (ignore the warning it then throws up), and then click the Off option under Dictation.
I can’t say that I have noticed that 1GB appearing, but I have gained about 500MB in space – and every little counts.
If All Else Fails…
You could always try reinstalling Mac OS X and starting over!
What tips do you have for making more space on your Mac? Let it rip in the comments below.