It doesn’t take long before our computers are filling up fast. For many, it’s a bit of a shock because they really only use their computer for light computer activities, they aren’t compiling videos or running complex programs. We have a few suggestions that can help save space and lighten your load a bit.

First, check to see how much storage you’ve used:

Click on the  menu (upper left), and then select “About This Mac”. Lastly, click on the “Storage” tab and you’ll get something like this:

check apple storage

As you can see, I have about 58 GB of storage of the almost 500 GB on the machine. I’m almost full. This shot also shows you which sections are taking the most of your space (movies, photos, apps, etc.) The “Other” is usually email and documents.

Take note of where you’re starting at with your storage and then let’s get into the 5 tips to get that number down:

  1. Make sure to Empty Trash. I know it seems obvious, but sometimes just because you put stuff in the trash doesn’t mean it’s gone. It could just be sitting in there waiting to be emptied taking up space. To do so is easy: 2-finger click the Trash icon in your dock and select “Empty Trash”.
  2. Delete the items in your Downloads folder. For many, the default way that email or downloads from the Internet are handled is that they’re dropped into your “Downloads” folder. You can either click on “Finder” in your dock (looks like a face), then click on the Downloads folder or usually just to the left of your trash can in your dock is the Downloads list and you can see all your downloads or view them in the Finder. I like to view it in Finder. Once in there, you can usually select all the items and just drag them to the trash (or click Edit > Select All > then hold down Command (⌘) button and hit delete). This will automatically give you back some storage as it’s just stuff that you can always re-download or find again if you need it. Make sure to empty your trash.
  3. Delete any Applications you no longer need. Sometimes we download an App because we think it’s cool or we needed it at one point in time. Now it just sits in your Applications list and takes up space. Get rid of it!
    Click on Finder > Applications and then start scrolling through the list. Any of the Applications you don’t need (or you can see when you last used) just drag into the trash. Do be careful to not delete something you actually might need (and even run a backup before you do all this). I’m mainly referring to deleting Applications that are obvious as you downloaded them ages ago and don’t ever use them now. Make sure to then empty your trash.
  4. Clean up your Photos & Videos. This is a big one actually. We have a lot of both pictures and videos and sometimes we have the ones we meant to delete – there’s a thumb in the way or the kid got ahold of your phone and shot an hour of video, etc. Start going through and deleting those items. Just remember, in the Photos app, they are actually still in your “Recently Deleted” folder for 30 days. Within the Photos app, go to File > Show Recently Deleted and click “Delete All. You can spend a lot of time on this and really should. Once you get a handle on your photos and videos it really helps upgrades, speed, etc. For many, you don’t have all your photos and videos in your Photos app. You have to navigate around your folders to see if there are rogue files that you either 1) import into Photos or 2) delete. If you put items in the trash, make sure to empty the trash when you’re done, as they are usually big offenders.
  5. Archive old content. You can 2-finger click on any file/folder in your Finder and click “Show Info” to see how much space it’s taking. You could have a folder on your machine that is taking up a ton of space and you don’t need it any longer. Trash it! I have old folders from previous machines where there are sub-folders and folders of music, pictures, and videos – all that stuff that is now in my iTunes and Photos apps. I don’t need 2 copies! Get rid of the old files lying around and you’ll free up a massive amount of space.I’m actually a huge fan of Dropbox for managing files and folders. The primary reason is my content is backed up to the cloud, but the secondary reason is that I can do a “Selective sync” to uncheck items I don’t need on my computer and only store them in the cloud. I specifically do this with video files. I have YEARS of family videos (huge storage suck) that I keep in the cloud and then just keep this year’s folder on my machine. When the next year comes around I create a new folder and uncheck the other one. I know there is iCloud Drive, but the selective sync is more important to me as a feature.However you do it, just go through and clean up your folders. Figure out if there is stuff you don’t need and trash it. You’ll feel good, I promise! Then just make sure to empty your trash.

Now that you’ve run through the steps, go back to  > About This Mac > Storage and see how you did!

Take a little time over the holidays to “clean up” your machine and you will find a smoother running experience all around. And you’ll have that space you need for all the family photos you’re about to take…


With over a decade of experience, I have managed online marketing for a wide range of industries including biotech, high-tech, financial, higher education, non-profit, manufacturing, hardware providers, and startups. My specialty is helping business make the right turn with their online efforts focusing on lead generation and analytics.

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