Liberation: 10 OS X steps to free Mac disk space

liberation 10 os x steps to free mac disk space

Are you running out of space on your Mac? Are you unable to save files because your computer tells you its disk is full? Clean your drive with these 10 simple tips.


[ABOVE: Image c/o Ioan Sameli]

Empty feelings

Check your Trash icon. Does it appear to have paper in it? This means it is full. Empty it (Menu>Finder>Empty Trash). You'd be surprised how many Mac users don't do this.


Most Mac users leave the applications they most rely on running all the time, but many (Safari, Chrome, Photoshop, among others) create temporary cache files while in use. These files continue to grow until you quit and relaunch the app. In most cases this will empty the existing cache and cause a new one to be created until next time you quit and relaunch. Web browsers hog space.

Doom to downloads

Most downloaded files end up in the Downloads Folder. And stay there. Many Mac users download a file, use it, and leave the download there. Over time the things stored inside Downloads accumulate, occupying valuable disk space -- unfortunately some of these are items you want to keep. If you lack time to go through each one to delete those you no longer need then at least delete the bigger files. Open your Downloads folder and sort it by Size. Then delete any larger files you no longer need.

Flushing Flash

Even if you won't go through your Download folder, at least delete all those incredibly annoying AdobeFlashPlayerInstaller updates you have stashed in there. Flush Flash. It sucks.


Restarting your Mac always frees up disk space. Among other things doing so flushes:

  • System caches
  • App caches
  • Virtual memory swap files
  • Sleep swap files
  • More

All these files grow. Restart your Mac. Reclaim the space.


It's important to install System Updates. System Updates you have already downloaded but not yet installed sit there taking valuable disk space. Restart your Mac, install the update and your Mac will delete them as part of the process.

Occupancy check

You might have folders taking up huge amounts of space you don't now about. Many use the free OmniDiskSweeper utility. This scans your drive and lists all directories by size, helping you drill down to files and folders you had forgotten. While you should never delete an essential System file or folder -- in general if you don't know what a file is, or where it came from, don't trash it -- the utility will help you find and delete unwanted things you may have forgotten were there.


If you have installed apps that you no longer use and you are short of disk space you should uninstall them. You can delete them by selecting them in the Applications folder and dropping them into Trash, but many stash associated files elsewhere that also take up space. I use AppZapper or AppCleaner to delete the application and associated files.

Zombie movies

iTunes sucks. If you love music and movies it's the most important app you have, but it needs fixing. For example, check your Movie and TV show folders Music>iTunes>TV Shows or Music>iTunes>Movies. You may have both an HD and non-HD version of a movie stored there. Which version should you keep? Delete the other. How many zombie movies do you need?

Ever been duped?

How many duplicate files do you have installed on your Mac? Install and run Gemini (it's free) to find out. Then delete them while carefully making sure to avoid deleting any file you don't know about.

I hope these tips help you reclaim space to grow in.

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