What To Do When Your Mac’s Drive Is Full

If your internal drive is almost full then it is time to clear out some applications and files. Here's how to do that in 7 steps without the help of any third-party apps.

Comments: 24 Responses to “What To Do When Your Mac’s Drive Is Full”

    Sheldon
    6 months ago

    Thanks bunches

    Justine
    6 months ago

    Does it make sense that system data should still be calculating hours after clicking on storage? Should I be taking the computer offline?

    6 months ago

    Justine: Probably not. Maybe with a very old Mac with a HDD? Not sure what you mean by your second sentence. Maybe do a restart and then try to see your storage again.

    Ed
    6 months ago

    Gary, thank you for all the excellent information. I recently retired and now can archive all my email messages. I have more than 20 years of email to archive. Most are in specific files according to a project or specific colleague. How do I archive all the messages?

    6 months ago

    Ed: Hard to suggest something because there are many things you can do. Why archive them at all? Just leave them as you have them now. Or, you can use Mail's Export Mailbox feature. But it really depends on your email service, which you don't mention. Many services have a way to download archives and such.

    Pam Trump
    6 months ago

    I have a secondary drive. I’m think of moving all of my photos off my Mac air to this drive. Is there any easy way to do that in order to free up space?

    6 months ago

    Pam: Do you mean a MacBook Air? You could do that, but then you'll lose access to all your photos unless you have that drive attached. So your MacBook may not be as portable as it once was. Instead, maybe consider using iCloud Photos instead with the "Optimize" feature.

    Justine
    6 months ago

    Hi Gary. Just watched again and thanks as always for your clear explanation of things. I wanted to let you know that I have a 2020 MBAir and last night upgraded to Sonoma 14.0. The Systems data was spinning for a while even with the upgrade so I again restarted and this time it finalized its tallying. I followed everything else you recommended. Thanks!!

    nick
    6 months ago

    Gary, Storage shows that Podcast is taking up 14 Gb storage. I deleted all the podcasts listed and the Storage setting still shows Podcast taking up 14 Gb. Do I need to restart to refresh the storage settings? Thx

    6 months ago

    nick: Do what did you do, exactly? Like did you choose View, Remove All Downloads? There's nothing to do after that. Perhaps it just hasn't updated the amount yet.

    nick
    6 months ago

    Went to System Settings > General > Storage and clicked the "i" in Podcasts. It listed a whole bunch of old ones. I selected them all and deleted them. Next time I restart I will check again to see if it changed, but so far it still shows the same storage amount.

    Kathy
    6 months ago

    Hi Gary, Using Sonoma, with iCloud Drive on. Is it expected to not see the documents folder in System Settings: About: Storage? I have optimized mac storage toggled off as I have lots of room on my Mac drive. Thanks

    6 months ago

    Kathy: System Settings, About, Storage shows you CATEGORIES, not locations. The Documents folder is a location.

    Kathy
    6 months ago

    Hi Gary, sorry, I am confused. Should the 'category' for documents still be viewable there, my document category is not. Thanks

    6 months ago

    Kathy: Perhaps you don't have enough for it to make up a "slice?"

    TN Args
    6 months ago

    Excellent information thank you. I thought a little more space could have been made to discuss how to use a fast external SSD on a fast port to act like an expansion of the internal SSD (not just like an offsite storage-only drive). Or maybe this is on one of your other videos?

    6 months ago

    TN: You can't really use an external drive as a true "expansion" of the internal one. iCloud Drive, for one, won't expand over onto it, neither will swap memory. And it will never be as fast as your internal one. Most external SSD drives aren't nearly as fast as the ones Apple puts inside. But you can certainly store items on an external drive if you like.

    Kathy
    6 months ago

    Hi Gary, Re: my storage category area not showing a 'document' category. I found an apple article that says (in part) "The Documents category contains files in your home folder that aren’t included in other categories, such as Pages documents and PDFs." Could it be that by using iCloud Drive & having 'Desktop & Documents Folders' toggled on, that could explain my not seeing 'documents' in the storage categories? I appreciate your help Gary. Thanks. Kathy

    Kathy
    6 months ago

    Hi Gary, sorry I should have also mentioned I have 'optimize' toggled off so that all my stuff is also local on my Mac since I have enough space. K

    6 months ago

    Kathy: No, it will still show up if you have enough to show. Don't worry about this though. It doesn't matter. It is just handy, but you don't need to do anything with this information.

    Mit
    5 months ago

    Seems this is not applicable to Catalina. I watched the video then skimmed it a few times but don't find the aforementioned advice regarding older systems. Thank you for all of your helpful videos. Best Regards.

    5 months ago

    Mit: Perhaps watch an older video if you are still on Catalina. Maybe this will help? https://macmost.com/how-to-figure-out-what-is-taking-up-space-on-your-mac.html

    Ken Cameron
    5 months ago

    Is there an external hard drive for MacBook Pro that you would recommend? HDD is fine with me, but with so many choices, I'd like a professional opinion.

    Thanks...keep up the excellent work. Best and most informative site on all things Apple!

    5 months ago

    Ken: Depends on what you want. I don't review hardware so I only can recommend (or not) the drives I have used in the past. Are you looking for an external SSD or HDD? For archiving older files?

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