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7 Ways to Free Up Storage on Your Mac

Gone are the days when your Mac was brand-new, with an empty hard drive, ready to take on the world. Operations have slowed down since then, and you’re afraid of what will happen if you download one more thing.

Do not fear! There is a way to get your Mac running smoothly again by removing all the junk weighing it down in the first place.

This guide will teach you how to check your Mac storage, free up space, and keep it that way!

How to Check Your Mac Storage

To free up your Mac storage space, you will first want to know how much of it is being used. During this step, you can also check to see which apps are using the most space.

Start by clicking on the Apple menu at the top-left corner of your screen. Go to About This Mac > Storage.

You should see a number representing your total storage space available. Below it there’s a bar representing your storage, segmented into categories like Photos, Music, and Apps.  

Take note of the largest categories. This knowledge will be helpful for the next steps where we begin to free up storage.

How to Free up Storage Space

Next, you will begin removing things from your storage that you don’t need. Be mindful of any important files on your computer. Move forward as slowly as you need to.

If something does get removed by accident, you will be able to find it in the Trash before it’s lost:

1. Remove Unused Apps

Chances are you downloaded apps that aren’t playing an active role anymore. Go to Finder > Applications. Here you will see all of the apps on your Mac displayed.

Click the size filter so that the apps are organized from largest to smallest. Removing apps you don’t use that take up the most space will have the biggest impact.

You can do this by right-clicking an app inside of the Finder, and selecting Move to Trash. (You may also left-click and drag the app into the Trash.)

Once you’re confident in the apps you’ve chosen to get rid of, right-click the Trash emblem and select Empty Trash.

https://setapp.com/ recommends paying attention to any readme.txt files you might come across while deleting apps. Developers will often include special uninstallation instructions here if you need them!

If you run across an app that does not allow you to delete it, then open it by double-clicking it in the Finder. If the developers included a readme.txt file, then you will find it here.

2. Remove Useless Files

Pointless files can add up quickly on your Mac. Things to look for: installation files used to install an app, and duplicate files and photos:

  • Open the Finder
  • Select Downloads
  • Move useless downloads into the trash

Look for anything that has “installer” or “.dmg” at the end of the name. These were most likely used to install an app and are not necessary any longer.

Next, repeat what you just did in Downloads but select Files this time. Remember to empty the Trash once you are done:

  • Open the Finder
  • Select Files
  • Move useless files into the Trash

3. Optimize Trash Settings

There is a setting you can turn on that will dump files from your trash automatically after 30 days. This is great if you ever forget to clear out the trash, but it’s especially useful when you’re running low on storage.

To toggle this setting on:

  • Select the Apple menu
  • Go to Storage > Manage Storage
  • Look for where it says Empty Trash Automatically
  • Select Turn On

4. Clear Browser Cache

IT people usually start diagnosing problems on any computer by clearing the browser cache. (After turning the computer off and then back on, of course.)

As you explore the web, temporary files are created. They’re intended to help your computer load pages faster, but too many of them can have the opposite effect.

Clearing your browser cache helps save storage space and it’s easy to do. Here’s how to do it for two of the most popular web browsers.

Clearing the Google Chrome cache:

  • Select the three dots at the top right of your screen
  • Select More Tools
  • Select Clear browsing data
  • Select the option to Clear cached images and files

Clearing the Safari cache:

  • Select Safari
  • Select Preferences and then click Advanced
  • Select Develop from the top menu
  • Select Empty caches

5. Organize Your Desktop

This is a good place to end your journey to free up storage space. You should have significantly more room on your hard drive after deleting your largest unused programs. Plus, we got rid of all those junk files.

Your desktop is the first thing you see when you start your Mac. Keeping it neat and organized can improve the user experience.

You can get started by viewing your actual desktop screen, left-click unused files, and dragging them into the trash.

You can also follow a similar route to the last steps:

  • Open Finder, select Desktop
  • Click Size to organize the files from largest to smallest
  • Move unnecessary items into the trash

6. Use Cloud Storage

Now that you have free storage space, you probably don’t want to repeat this process all over again. To keep your Mac organized, use tools to help you stay accountable.

Apple offers paid storage plans in the iCloud. If you followed these steps and don’t have nearly the space you need, then cloud storage might be worth it for you. The iCloud offers anywhere from 50 GB to 2 TB of space depending on your needs.

7. Use Digital Tools

If your Mac still isn’t as cleaned-out as you hoped for, there are also programs to help complete the storage cleaning process for you.

There are storage-friendly alternatives to the most popular programs used today. For example, you can use Google Docs to draft text-heavy files. These are automatically stored outside of your computer, in Google’s own cloud storage.

If you have an app that you desperately need, but it’s taking up too much space, then search for a storage-friendly equivalent.

Keep Moving Forward

You cleaned out duplicate photos, unused apps, and organized your Mac storage. You even checked out fancy tools to prevent clutter in the future.

You are the master of your hard drive!

Now that you’re feeling empowered, keep that momentum moving forward. Continue reading more of our latest technology articles to stay up to date on the latest news.

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