If you’re running low on storage space on your Mac, you may think you just have too many apps installed, or that your music collection is getting out of hand, but that actually may not be the case. Instead, there might be a slew of hidden files that are taking up precious space on your Mac. They’re not as easy to get rid of like apps are, but there are ways to free up this space, which is usually referred to as “Other.”
You can see how much space that the “Other” category is taking up on your Mac by clicking on the Apple icon in the menu bar up at the top-left corner of the screen and then clicking on About This Mac. From there, click on More Info and then select “Storage.”
“Other” is noted in yellow and more often than not for most users, it takes up several gigabytes of space. For me, it’s a whopping 38GB. In any case, though, it’d be nice to know what these files are.
Usually, if you have a large hard drive, the “Other” category isn’t a huge deal, but considering that newer MacBooks come with flash storage as low as 128GB, some users need all the free space they can get, and the “Other” category is simply something that cannot get out of control.
Luckily, we know what type of files are stored in the “Other” category. Here’s how to identify these files and delete them from your Mac to free up space.
Mainly, any file that doesn’t fit into the other categories goes into “Other.” Basically, it consists of data on your Mac that isn’t apps, photos, music, videos, or backups. With that said, operating system settings and data usually fit into this category, as does Safari cache, email, text messages and iMessages, calendar data, contacts, as well as cache data, plugins, and extensions for all of the other apps on your Mac.
A few gigabytes of files in the “Other” category is most likely normal, but if you’re like me and have 38GB of storage in this category, chances are there are some files I could probably get rid of to free up space.
How to Free Up “Other” Storage Space
First of all, let’s start with the easy stuff. Empty your trash can, uninstall applications that you no longer use, and delete old conversations in iMessage. In fact, unless you absolutely need to keep an iMessage conversation saved, I’d recommend just deleting all conversations on iMessage and start fresh. For me, simply just deleting a few old conversations cleared up almost 10GB of storage space.
This is because you probably either sent or received a few photos and videos here and there, and all that adds up over time. So by deleting iMessage conversations, you can free up a ton of storage space very easily.
After you finished the easy stuff, now it’s time to move onto harder-to-find files that you can delete in order to free up space. A tool like Disk Inventory X can scan your Mac and find out where all of the space-hogging files are located.
Sometimes, you’ll discover that the biggest culprits are system files that you can’t delete, but most likely, Disk Inventory X will point you to files that you forgot you even had on your Mac, like a few HD movies that you’ve already watched, for instance. From the app, you can delete the files you don’t want, or manually navigate to that folder and delete the files from there.
Disk Inventory X isn’t the whole package, though, which is why CCleaner is another great app to have on hand to delete even more space-hogging files. CCleaner has an easy-to-understand user interface that allows you to get rid of hidden temporary files that are no longer being used by applications on your Mac.
With CCleaner, all you have to do is checkmark the items that you want deleted, and then click Analyze to see how much space deleting these files would save. If you’re happy with that, click Run Cleaner and let the app do it’s thing.
Lastly, while you can’t delete crucial system files, there are some system files that you can delete without compromising your Mac’s file system. OS X comes with language files for hundreds of different languages, but if you’re like a lot of users, you probably only speak one language, maybe two if you took classes in high school and college. However, your Mac has language files for numerous languages that you’ll never use, and these files take up extra space.
CCleaner can delete unused language files, but we actually prefer an app called Monolingual to do a more thorough job. All you do is simply select the languages that you don’t use and the app will delete them off your Mac. Doing this alone freed up a whopping 2.2GB of storage space for me.
When All Else Fails…
If clearing out all of these old files doesn’t help that much (and that seems to be the case for many OS X users), you can try restoring from a recent backup. Sometimes the “Other” category is much larger than the data it holds thanks to data corruption. That usually is what might be happening if it shows a ton of storage being taken up by “Other.”
However, if restoring from a recent backup still doesn’t work, the best way to free up space is to simply start fresh and restore your Mac to factory settings. It’s not ideal, but it can be a good idea every now and then to audit your apps, music, photos, videos, etc., that way your Mac stays organized and you don’t have random files piling up and taking up space.