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8 ways to manage storage on your Mac

We show you how to free up space on your Mac manually using its default tools

mac storage

Sadly, Mac disk space isn’t limitless. At some point, your computer will alert you that your storage is too crowded and it cannot handle resource-heavy processes. That alert can catch you flat-footed, so it’s a good rule to check how much free space you have on your Mac from time to time.

You can do it by going to the Apple menuAbout this MacStorage. If you see that your Mac is careening towards a dangerously small percentage of free disk space, it’s time to handle your disk storage. In this post, we go over the most common methods to manage space on your disk. 

What makes your disk space go overboard?

Mac computers can potentially suffer from improper storage usage, including old files, unused apps, deleted files, temporary files, to name a few. It means that clearing disk space, you need to pay attention to the following kinds of data: 

  • Downloads;
  • Sizable files;
  • Files in the Bin;
  • Apps you no longer need;
  • The cache (temporary files storage);
  • Mail attachments. 

Now, let’s see how you can deal with your space-hungry items. 

How to use the Manage Storage option

There are several ways to manage disk space on your Mac. The most common one is using macOS pre-installed tools. Follow this path to find them: Apple menu – About this Mac – Storage – Manage. Here you’ll find four space-clearing options designed by the macOS team. Let’s take a closer look at them:

  • Store in Cloud. This one lets you move your data to its “virtual” home, including files from the desktop, photos, and email folders. If you still haven’t used up your free 5 GB of space, it may be the time for you to grab it. Otherwise, feel free to subscribe to a monthly plan and make some room on your Mac.
  • Optimize Storage. Chances are you leave your watched movies sitting on your Mac, which may cause your Mac to run low on storage sooner than you expected it to. Optimize Storage helps you deal with already watched content. No worries, you can always download it again, free of charge. 
  • Clear the Bin Automatically. The Bin can weigh more than all of your files combined. That’s because when we delete files, we don’t really get rid of them until we clear the Bin. This feature helps you remove the files that you moved to the Bin 30 or more days ago. 
  • Reduce Clutter. By Clutter, Apple means everything you keep on your Mac but no longer need to keep around. With this in mind, hit the Review Files button near this option to go over all files you have on your Mac and remove the unneeded ones. 

So there you go, that’s how you can manage storage using macOS’s built-in tools. Now let’s take a look at additional steps you can take to gain more free space. 

Delete unused apps. This is a proven method to win back a significant chunk of disk space. You can get the complete picture of your apps via Finder – Applications. Clicking “Date Last Opened” will show you the rarely used files you probably want to delete. 

Clear the cache. The cache is a type of storage that contains temporary data generated by your apps, macOS, and browser. Each of these categories has its own cache, so you need to clear them separately. For example, Chrome offers an easy way to clear the cache, speeding up your browser. 

Get rid of backup files. If you’re using Time Machine, your Mac storage can be chock full of backup items. Although Time Machine wipes them by default, your storage may still exceed the needed 20% free space to function correctly. When that occurs, you can stop Time Machine from saving backups on your disk in the following way:

  1. Launch Time Machine – Preferences (in the menu bar);
  2. Ban the Back Up Automatically option, which will remove the backup files from your disk momentarily;
  3. Enable Back Up Automatically. 

Finally, remove Mail Attachments. The Mail app saves attachments from your emails to your disk by default. If you didn’t transfer your Mail attachments to iCloud as we showed you above, it’s time to handle them: Launch Mail – Settings – Accounts – Account Information – Load Attachments. Then, choose whether you want to keep or remove an attachment. 

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