How to Free Up Storage Space on Your Mac

Most people find that their iMac or MacBook tends to slow down after 2-3 years of use. Instead of buying a brand-new computer when this happens, invest more into knowing how to free up storage space on your Mac.

The primary reason why Macs start getting slow is that they have too many files and not enough memory. Both problems are solvable, although this guide looks at the former option only.

If you follow the steps in this guide, you can likely clear up enough space on your Mac to have it running better by tomorrow.

15 Best Ways to Clean Up Your Mac and Free Up Space

Once you’ve evaluated how much space is available on your Mac system, you’ll want to review the options you have for reducing your storage percentage.

Several of these options come from the Storage Management window. You can choose many of them on the same screen.

Open the Storage Management Window when needed with these steps:

  1. Open the Apple menu.
  2. Select About This button about this mac
  3. Click on Storage and then Manage.Open the Storage Management Window

1. Store in iCloud

You can store all of your photos, messages, and files in iCloud to reduce how much space gets used locally. This option lets you retain recent files and optimizes images when you need the extra room.

Store files in iCloud

Pros: Cons:
  • Maximizes your internal drive space.
  • Maintains file access.
  • Free storage options are available.
  • Apple charges sliding scale fees for increased storage use.


  1. Open the Storage Management Window.
  2. Click on Store in iCloud.Click on Store in iCloud
  3. Select the types of files you want to store in the cloud rather than on your Mac.choose what you would like to store in iCloud

2. Optimize Your Storage

This option allows you to automatically remove shows and movies if you’re using Apple TV on your MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, or iMac. It can also remove any email attachments that aren’t recent to free up more space.

optimize your storage

Pros: Cons:
  • It takes one click to accomplish.
  • Doesn’t cost anything but time.
  • You lose access to downloaded entertainment.


  1. Open the Storage Management Window.
  2. Click the Optimize button.Click the Optimize storage button
  3. Click Optimize again to verify the activity.

3. Remove Duplicate Files

You can search through Finder for specific file names that are potential duplicates. If you’re not sure what files might have multiple copies, you can use the search box to look for the duplicated extension designation to see what appears.

The first duplicated file is (1). You’ll want to type into the Finder search box “(1)” to populate a list of copies.

find duplicates with finder

Once you get everything listed, you can pick and choose the files you want to keep.

If you don’t want to try the manual process, Disk Drill and other file location apps can let you discover and remove duplicates. After scanning your folders or an entire drive, you can quickly remove the items you don’t need to keep.

disk drill discover and remove duplicates

Pros: Cons:
  • It could free up lots of space.
  • Most files are easy to find.
  • Numerous solutions are available to help with this process.
  • Some solutions aren’t free.
  • You might not find all of the files.


  1. Download, install, and launch Disk Drill for Mac.install disk drill 4 for mac
  2. Select Find Duplicates in the left panel.
  3. Drag folders to be searched for duplicate folders for find duplicates
  4. Review the results and delete extra file copies to save space on your Mac.delete extra file copies to save space on your Mac

4. Empty Trash Automatically

You can tell your Mac to automatically erase whatever items go to the Trash folder every 30 days. It doesn’t take long for those files to add up, and this management option because a real space saver when you don’t have much room left.

Empty Trash Automatically

Pros: Cons:
  • Keeps the Trash folder clear to reduce spatial issues.
  • You don’t have to keep emptying the bin.
  • You might lose access to files you want to keep.


  1. Open the Storage Management Window.
  2. Click the Empty Trash Automatically turn on empty trash automatically function

5. Reduce Clutter

Your MacBook or iMac can get cluttered with a bunch of useless files quickly. If you haven’t taken the time to get organized, try going through your documents and downloads to see what files you need to keep.

Even if they aren’t duplicated, anything that is over 12 months old deserves a review. If you don’t need it, get rid of it. Send the items to the Trash folder.

reduce clutter

Pros: Cons:
  • It can be a manual process that doesn’t cost anything.
  • You stay organized in whatever way makes you comfortable.
  • It is a time-intensive process if you’re not using third-party support software.


  1. Open the Storage Management Window.
  2. Click the Reduce Clutter files with reduce clutter
  3. Review the files and move those you no longer need to the Trash.

6. Remove the iTunes Backups

Unless you have slow Internet services and no access to 4G data, it doesn’t make sense to store all of your iTunes files locally. These resources can take up 100 GB or more, depending on your purchasing history.

You can delete the backup file from your Mac’s application folder through the following pathway.

~/Library/Application Support/MobileSync/Backup

The file names might look strange, but you won’t need to worry about them if they’re deleted. You can pick and choose or remove everything to save space.

go to mobile backups folder

Pros: Cons:
  • It could free up 10% or more of your internal drive.
  • Don’t lose access to your favorite songs or playlists.
  • Requires an Internet or data connection for streaming after deletion.
  • It can take time for the system to process the commands.

7. Delete Temporary Files

Mac computers create temporary files to make your browsing life better. When you need to save some space, they should disappear. You can use file management services to clear these files easily.

If you want to do it manually, go to Finder. You can highlight the files that don’t need to be there and send them to the Trash folder.

When you need to empty caches, you can activate the Develop menu option to select that command.

empty caches

Pros: Cons:
  • Improves lag due to browser-related issues.
  • Creates instant improvement in many cases.
  • It is something you can do at any time.
  • Makes it harder to log into websites.
  • Removes your history if you need references.

8. Clear Logs, Caches, and Unnecessary Data

You can remove your caches and logs without touching all of your temporary files if you prefer to have some cookies around.

It helps to back up these files before taking this step to reduce the risk of functionality loss.

move caches to trash

Pros: Cons:
  • Often solves speed problems if file overloading isn’t the issue.
  • It offers a simple navigational process to the correct folder.
  • Can disrupt the macOS environment if not handled correctly.
  • Requires a backup to be safe.


  1. Open Finder and select Go and then Go to Folder.
    Go to Folder in Finder
  2. Type ~/library/caches and then Go.go to caches folder
  3. Select the caches you want to delete. Right-click on them and send them to the Trash.

9. Remove Unused App Installers

You can uninstall applications in macOS to save a lot of space and CPU resources. This process is as easy as dragging an unwanted application to the Trash folder.

If you go to Launchpad, you can use the long-click method to pull up the wiggling icons. Click on the “X” symbol that appears by the app you want to remove. Choose “delete” to get rid of the application.

delete applications

Pros: Cons:
  • Eliminates unused files from your MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, or iMac.
  • It is something any Mac user can accomplish right now.
  • You can download the installer again if you need the app.
  • Might lose program access in rare situations.


  1. Open Finder and navigate to the Applications folder.
  2. Right-click on your selection and choose Move to Trash.move app to trash from application folder

10. Detect Duplicate Safari Downloads

This option lets you authorize Safari to create numbered duplicates when you download the same thing through the browser. When you take this step, it’s much easier to find the files because you can search for the extension.

delete duplicates from downloads

Pros: Cons:
  • Your browser makes it easier to detect duplicate files.
  • It doesn’t disrupt your browsing process.
  • It won’t prevent duplicate files from getting saved.


  1. Open a Finder window and navigate to Downloads.
  2. Sort by filename and remove the duplicate files.

11. Delete Old Fonts, Dictionaries, and Languages

If you use Microsoft Word, you can delete the fonts, languages, and dictionaries you don’t use to free up more space. The exact process for this technique is found here.

Depending on what Word version you use, some fonts shouldn’t be disabled.

Delete Old Fonts

Pros: Cons:
  • You’re deleting things you don’t need.
  • It doesn’t disrupt the functionality of the software.
  • You might disrupt Word enough that it must be re-installed.

12. Remove the Dictation Libraries

If you downloaded a dictation library to help with content composition, blog writing, or general Mac management, you could remove around 1 GB of data for each one you eliminate. Although you’ll lose offline support, the online version works with minimal lag.

Remove the Dictation Libraries

Pros: Cons:
  • You don’t lose the dictation function.
  • macOS still responds to voice commands.
  • You lose offline dictation services.


  1. Open System Preferences > Keyboard > Dictation
  2. Disable Enhanced Dictation.Disable Enhanced Dictation
  3. From Finder, use the Go to Folder command and enter the following path:
    /System/Library/Speech/Recognizers/SpeechRecognitionCoreLanguagesgo to SpeechRecognition folder
  4. Press Go. In the folder, select the languages that you want to remove and drag them to the Trash.

13. Clean Up the Downloads

Your Downloads folder probably has 3-5 years old files that haven’t been touched in forever. Instead of keeping these items, get rid of them!

The fastest way to accomplish this cleanup process is to open Finder. Click on the Downloads option, and then sort by the date modified.

Once you see the oldest files, get rid of the biggest ones you don’t think you’ll need.

clear downloads

Pros: Cons:
  • Eliminates lengthy file lists that can cause slowing.
  • It makes your files more organized.
  • It is a time-intensive process.


  1. Open a Finder window and navigate to Downloads.
  2. Sort by Date Last Opened  and remove old files you no longer need.

14. Compress the Files You Want to Keep

If you need to keep lots of files, the best way to save space on your Mac is to compress them into manageable folders. You can store a lot more information this way without an extensive time commitment.

  1. Start by creating a new folder in Finder.
  2. Select all of the files you want to keep in it.
  3. Move those files into the folder.
  4. Go to File in the Finder and click on “Compress.”

Compress the Files You Want to Keep

Pros: Cons:
  • You don’t need to delete any files.
  • The compression lets you have cross-platform support.
  • You can transfer files to external drives.
  • You must decompress the files to access them.


  1. Open a Finder window and navigate to the file or folder you want to compress.
  2. Right-click on your selection and choose Compress.Right-click on your selection and choose Compress

15. Use an Expansion Drive

When you need more internal space for your HDD or SSD, an external drive is a reasonable investment to consider. You can transfer documents, audio files, pictures, and more to this resource.

Although the file transfer process might be time-intensive, you’ll notice speed improvements after moving the data and restarting your Mac.

Pros: Cons:
  • Straightforward solution.
  • Adds more local storage that you can use.
  • You must purchase a compatible drive.
  • It takes more time to load some items.


  1. Connect a removable drive to your Mac.
  2. Manually move the files from your internal drive to the external device.

How Important Is the Free Up Storage Space Process for Your Mac?

When your Mac reaches 10% storage availability, your system will slow considerably. You’ll see the spinning rainbow wheel appear on almost every click.

You’ll also see noticeable slowing when specific folders start containing multiple files to process. If you condense your documents and downloads into folders or delete items you no longer need, it will create more free storage space for your MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, or iMac to use.

These steps work for HDD and SSD systems, although the most profound results happen when taking these steps with a physical drive.

How to Check Your Mac’s Available Storage

The fastest way to see how much storage currently remains on your Mac’s drive(s) is to follow this sequence.

  1. Choose the Apple menu.
  2. Select About This Mac.
  3. Click on the Storage option from the available choices.

How to Check Your Mac’s Available Storage

You’ll see a pop-up window appear that shows you the current status of the drive. It states the original capacity, how much space is remaining, and breaks down the various file types that take up room.

If your Mac uses most of its storage resources, it might take 1-2 minutes for this information to appear.

When you are near the 90% threshold, click the Manage button to evaluate your file management options.

Final Verdict: Free Up Storage Space on Mac

If your Mac has become lethargic, it’s time to start freeing up some space. These techniques can help you accomplish that goal with a few clicks.

Don’t worry if your MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, or iMac is initially slow to respond. You’re creating a snowball effect for your computer’s speed! As you manage the files more effectively, you’ll begin to notice the outcomes developing.

FAQ: How to Clear Up Space on Mac

Meticulous writer with an ingrained fervour to address data recovery issues

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