Software

How to reclaim storage space on macOS High Sierra

If your macOS machine is suffering from low drive space, Jack Wallen shows you how to manually reclaim that space with the built-in storage manager.

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Image: CNET

Recently I was working on my MacBook Pro when I received an error that my SSD was running out of space. "This can't be!" I said to myself (Upon further reflection, I'm certain I said it very much out loud). The laptop in question was just a few months old and I hadn't saved or generated enough data to fill up a 500 GB HD. So what gives? I opened up Finder to dig around, but oddly enough I found nothing suspect.

And yet, my drive was full, which was a bit disconcerting, considering that I was rendering a video with Final Cut Pro. Would the video rendering complete? Or would it error out?

And then it dawned on me. Final Cut Pro still had every project I had completed over the past few months, still available to me. That had to be the issue. With that in mind, I set out to regain that much-needed hard drive space back.

How? With the help of the macOS Storage Manager. This is an amazing, built-in, tool that allows you to take control and reclaim storage space on your Mac. To make this tool even more attractive, it's incredibly easy to use.

Let me show you how.

Opening the tool

First off, there are two ways you can use the Storage Manager. You can allow it to offer up suggests on how to clear up space, or you can use it manually. As a Linux user, I much prefer the manual method, which is what I'm going to show you. For information on how to use the automatic method, click here.

To get to the Storage Manager, click the Apple button (top left corner of your desktop) and then click About This Mac. In the resulting window, click the Storage tab. In a few seconds, the storage space will be calculated and you're ready to work (Figure A).

Figure A

Figure A

The Storage overview.

Click on the Manage button to reveal the heart of the tool. Here you can scroll through the recommendations, or you can start manually deleting files. We're going to work with the latter. In the left pane (Figure B), you will see a list of file types and how much space each category is eating up. The first thing you should check is in the Large Files tab.

Figure B

Figure B

The file categories, displaying the total space they consume.

Clearly, I have a Documents issue, 70 GB of documents on a hard drive? If I click on that category, the truth is revealed (Figure C).

Figure C

Figure C

The documents gobbling up space on my drive.

Once again, video files are the culprit—the biggest being a Final Cut Pro backup file. If I want to clear up that space assuming I am either done with those files or have backup copies, I can select a file and then permanently delete it (Figure D).

Figure D

Figure D

Permanently deleting files that are no longer needed.

To select all of the files, if necessary, click the top entry, hold down the Shift key, and click the bottom entry. To delete all of those files, select them, right click (or two finger tap) the selected files, and click Delete. When prompted, click Remove, and all of those files will be permanently deleted from your drive.

Once you've cleaned up the Large Files tab, you can then go through the Downloads and File Browser tab to finish the clean up job. Chances are, however, going through that Large File tab will have the desired results and you will have reclaimed some much-needed hard drive space.

It doesn't get much easier

And that's all there is to recovering space on macOS. Hopefully you won't find yourself receiving the warning I did, but if you make use of a tool like Final Cut Pro, your hard drive will fill up very quickly. In that case, having the means to easily reclaim storage space is a must.

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About Jack Wallen

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website jackwallen.com.

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