As our devices continually improve at capturing rich content like 4K video and bursts of high quality photos in a few seconds, and applications become increasingly powerful (and larger), our Macs often fill up faster than we expect.
There is always the option to offload your data to external drives or to iCloud Drive (or other cloud services), but it is often convenient or just preferred to have your information stored locally. After the break we’ll look at the most efficient ways to free up space on your Mac.
A quick option to narrow down large files beyond the general categories that are shown in ‘About this Mac’ is to use Finder and ‘All My Files’ in the sidebar. (You can also select ‘All My Files’ from Finder → Go → All My Files if you’ve removed it from the sidebar).
Once you’ve selected ‘All My Files’ click the gear icon → Arrange By → Size. You’ll now see all your files from largest to smallest.
One important thing to keep in mind, All My Files will include anything local as well as files on iCloud Drive (Dropbox etc. as well). If you want to double check the location before deleting data, make sure ‘Show Path Bar’ is selected.
Once you click ‘Show Path Bar’ you’ll see the path of the selected file at the bottom of the Finder window.
Going to → About this Mac → Storage is useful to see a quick snapshot of your allocation and usage, but it previously wasn’t a very efficient way to free up space. However, a nice improvement in Sierra brings a ‘Manage’ option in the About this Mac → Storage window.
Once you click ‘Manage’ there is a recommendations tab with options to customize how your machine handles storage as well as tabs for looking more closely at various programs, files and the option to delete without leaving the window.
While using Finder as just described is helpful, my favorite approach to tidying things up is with the visual drive analyzer Daisy Disk. It provides an interactive UI that’s as functional as it is beautiful and you can preview and delete files directly within the app. You can also analyze external drives.
I use Daisy Disk three to four times a year, so the $9.99 price tag feels like a bargain for the benefits and time savings. It has 5/5 stars with over 2,800 reviews (for all versions) and Apple has deemed it an App Store ‘Essential.’
One free alternative to Daisy Disk is Disk Cleaner. It gives a bit more control and detail than Finder, but isn’t as robust or slick to use as Daisy Disk. It has 4/5 stars with 153 reviews for all versions.