8/6/08
6:31 am

MacMost Now 116: Finding Large Files on Your Hard Drive

Gary Rosenzweig shows you how to find the largest files on your hard drive and clean them up to create more space.

Video Transcript
Hi, this is Gary Rosenzweig with MacMost Now. Today I'm going to show you how to find large files on your macs hard drive so you can clean it up. When my hard drive starts to get full the first thing I suspect is that there are a couple very large files there that I probably don't need. So I go looking for these large files as a quick way to free up some space. Now there are several ways to do this. One is I go ahead and look in some usual locations where some large files are stored. Another is to search, either using the finder or the terminal, for some large files. There's also a lot of shareware applications out there that will help you find large files.
Looking for large files on the hard drive, there are a couple of usual suspects. The first thing I do is I go to my primary user directory and then I can view all the subdirectories in it. Then I look in places like "movies" and I look to see if there's any imovie events or imovie projects. Maybe it was somethig that I finished up months ago and don't really mean to be lying around. And of course if I do need it sometimes I'll archive it to a cd or dvd before deleting it. Another place to look of course is the music folder. Maybe you have got a lot of music. Maybe you have just converted a bunch of cds to mp3 files and you no longer need them around on the drive or you want to archive them and move them out. Same thing with pictures. You may have a lot of different pictures or you may have stored a lot of different movies from your regular photo camera in the pictures folder and you can archive and get rid of them.
So I check all those places and of course I look also on the desktop in documents to see if anything catches my eye. The next thing I do is a search for large files. So I usually press command "F" to go right to search mode and then I change what I'm searching for. I actually go and change the kind to "other" and I choose from a long list of different things that you can select and I look for size. And I hit "Ok." So I am going to do size and I change it to "is greater than" and something in terms of megabytes. Maybe I check for 100 megabytes. And it will search this mac for files that are that big.
Now you can also click on here to search for the current folder you're looking on. So maybe it would be useful to actually go and click on your user folder before doing this and then we will find only these large files that are in the user folder. After all that's probably where these are going to be. Any large files that are outside of that are probably in the applications folder and you probably do not want to get rid of them and you're just going to waste a lot of time searching for them in the finder. Once you find some of these files, you can actually click on them, do command "I" to bring up a window and it will tell you how large that file is. And then you can go ahead right from there select them and do command delete to put them in the trash. Or of course you could archive them first and then delete them.
Now you can also do this with terminal. So in the terminal window the command you want to use is "find." And you want to use "find" and then the path you want to start looking in. So "/users/MacMost/" to look in my user directory. Then "-size" to tell it you want to find files of a certain size. A "+" symbol to say greater than this size and then I put in "2000000" for anything bigger than 2 megabytes approximately. And I come up with a quick list of files. See how fast that was compared to searching the other way. And then you get the full path names. If you are good in terminal you can actually go and find these files right here and remove them or you can go to the finder and find them that way.
Now there are also some shareware applications that will help you find large files or determine what folders on your drive take up a lot of space. For instance you can go ahead and download Disk Inventory X at derlien.com. You can also download What Size at id-design.com. Another one is Grand Perspectiv which is an open source project (grandperspectiv.sourceforge.net). And then finally we've got Omni Disksweeper from the omnigroup.com.
Here's what you get when you run Grand Perspectiv for instance. You get these big blocks that tell you which folders take up a lot of space. This is that very large file that I've got, I can instantly see that it's there. I can also look ahead and see some of the other large ones, some smaller ones that take up some space. It's a really quick way to get a visual picture of what is on your hard drive. That's a quick look on how to find large files on your hard drive so you can clear them off and make some space. Until next time this is Gary Rosenzweig with MacMost Now.

Comments: One Response to “MacMost Now 116: Finding Large Files on Your Hard Drive”

    Rebecca Carter
    2/16/12 @ 4:28 am

    That was really useful. Thank you.

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