How To Free up Mac Storage Space

As cybercrime keeps growing, experts estimate it to cost the world over $10 trillion by 2025. From stealing data, funds, and even identities, cybercriminals can do all that and more.

Outdated computer hardware and software, in turn, can pave the way for such crimes. After all, these out-of-date technologies are susceptible to malware. A 2019 study even revealed how a third of security breaches are due to unpatched software.

Not having enough Mac storage space is one way to become vulnerable to such threats. Without adequate available storage, your Mac can’t download and install software updates. Besides, having a full hard drive means you can no longer save new data on your device.

For those reasons, it’s vital to learn how to free up space in your Mac. We’ll share some of the top strategies on how to do this, so be sure to read on.

Determine What’s Eating Up Your Mac Hard Drive

When you click on the Apple menu (upper left-hand corner of your screen), the first option you’ll see is “About This Mac.” This launches the System Information app (called System Profiler in some macOS versions). This app, in turn, provides detailed information about your Mac’s hardware and software.

The About This Mac window will give you an overview of your device’s specs, such as memory and storage. The “Storage” tab provides a breakdown of what’s using up your Mac hard drive. Once you click the Storage tab, you should see a status bar with various colored partitions.

Each partition refers to a specific type of data that currently uses storage space in your Mac. For example, if you mouse over the first section, a tiny balloon labeled “iOS Files” should appear. It should also tell you how much space (in GB) those files use.

The other partitions are for apps, documents, messages (if you use iMessage), and system. The “Other” contains data that doesn’t fit the other classes, such as cache and temporary files. The very last section (usually colored dark gray) is the free space still available on your Mac hard disk.

You can use the data provided by the System Information app as a guide when deleting data from your Mac. For example, if the apps section shows 100 GB and the documents show 50 GB, it’s time to get rid of some apps and documents.

Delete Unneeded Apps and Useless Files

When you launch a Finder window, the left tab should show a list of your favorite folders. These are the folders you access the most, such as your desktop, apps, documents, or downloads. You can delete most apps and files you no longer need straight from these folders.

For example, if you click applications, the next thing you should see is a complete list of all apps on your Mac. Go through this list, secondary click on an app you don’t really need, and select “Move to Trash.” You can do this on all non-Apple apps you installed on your Mac.

Once you’ve finished uninstalling apps, move on to your other folders. Send as many unnecessary files as possible to your Trash folder to free up tons of space in your Mac storage.

Empty Your Trash Folders

Data you send to your Mac’s main Trash folder stays there for up to 30 days unless you manually empty it. This sounds tedious, but it’s a useful protective feature against accidental deletions. Do note that up to 50% of data loss incidents occur due to human error.

So, be sure to empty the primary Trash folder only once you’re 100% sure you don’t need any of the items in it. In this case, simply secondary click the Trash icon on your dock and then hit the click Empty Trash option. Another window should appear asking you if you’re sure; hit the Empty Trash button to confirm.

Other apps, such as Photo, Mail, and iMovie, have their own Trash folders. You need to empty these, too, if you deleted files from within the apps.

Take Advantage of iCloud

Apple’s cloud service, iCloud, lets you store photos, videos, documents, and even apps in it. As an Apple ID account holder, you get 5 GB of iCloud space for free. Once you have an iCloud account, you only need to sign in to it via your Mac’s Apple ID service.

From there, you can move some of your data to iCloud and delete the original stored in your Mac. Doing so frees up some of your Mac storage space. If you need to access the files you moved to iCloud, log in to the iCloud web app, and they should be in your account.

You also have the option to upgrade your iCloud account to 50 GB, which costs only $0.99 a month. Still not enough? Then go for 200GB, priced at $2.99 monthly, or 1 TB for $9.99 a month.

Move Some of Your Data to an External Hard Drive (EHD)

Connecting an EHD to your Mac allows you to move files out of your Mac and create back-ups. You can transfer almost all types of data, from documents to multimedia, from your Mac to the synced EHD. Once successfully moved, you can delete the original files from your Mac storage.

With an EHD, you can also enable Time Machine, the app that automates your Mac’s data backup creation. The app creates daily, weekly, and monthly back-ups of your data.

Do note that you need to format most brand new EHDs to make them compatible with macOS. Most EHDs come in formats like NTFS or HFS+, which Macs can’t read. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to format an external hard drive Mac users, such as yourself, can follow.

Free up Mac Storage Space To Keep Those Updates Coming

As you can see, there are many ways to make more of your Mac storage space available again. It all starts with knowing what’s eating up so much space, and from there, deleting stuff you no longer need. Don’t forget to take advantage of iCloud and Time Machine, as both can also help you prevent data loss.

The most important thing is to free up space in your Mac now. This way, you don’t have to worry about missing crucial software updates.

Ready for more tips to hone your tech-savviness? Then please feel free to stick around to read our other informative how-to guides!

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