How to Clean up Mac Hard Drive: Wake up from User’s Worst Nightmare!

Are you a lucky owner of MacBook Pro / Air, iMac, or Mac mini? Unfortunately, even Apple products get fed up sooner or later. Most probably, you have already asked yourself something like “How to wipe my hard drive?” at least several times. It is important to understand why you should take out the garbage from your Mac regularly.

Clean Mac HD

Most of the users do not pay any attention to how much disk space is occupied until the “black day” comes. Just imagine: you are relaxing in your chair after a long, hard-working week, wishing to watch a new movie with your favorite actors. Perhaps, you have attended a gorgeous place and want to start editing the great pics taken by your camera. And all of a sudden… Puff! “Your Macintosh HD is full!” the lack of free space on your Mac leads to even harsher problems than the inability to download and open new files or apps.

The worst nightmare is having you Apple device “running” like a snail. When a computer turns sluggish, it simply drives people mad. It seems like it takes an eternity to launch something or watch a video online. Everything slows down! The most common reason is the lack of memory.

This detailed guide aims to provide the answers to the most common questions associated with the process of cleaning Mac.

How to Find Hard Drive on Mac: Start Seeing the Invisible!

First of all, a Mac owner should know where the hard drive is. Otherwise, it would be impossible to scan it for details.

A hard drive is a part of hardware inside your Mac that saves all user’s information. It includes:

Personal documents



Audio tracks


Operating system

It is impossible to imagine a computer without this critical piece. Two types of hard drives are most widely spread nowadays - Hard Disk Drives (HDD) and Solid State Drives (SSD). Their principal intended purpose might be the same, but the way these disks function is different.

Probably, you have already noticed that Mac OS X never shows any icons on the desktop by default. It is up to the user to decide which icons to display and in what order. From one side, it is a convenient system. From the other side, not all Mac owners manage to find whatever they need from the first attempt. In case you want to review the internal hard disk parameters, this mini instruction will help.

  1. Launch the Finder app with the help of Dock.
  2. In the menu bar, open Finder drop-down menu to get to Preferences.
  3. The General tab contains External disks as well as iPods, DVDs, and CDs (if anybody still uses those). How about having the internal HD displayed by default as well? Pick the checkbox next to Hard Disks.
  4. After making your choice, the system applies the modifications automatically. Now, you can view the Macintosh HD – that is its full name. The icon will appear on the desktop.

To hide the icon back again, remove the tick from the checkbox against Hard Disks in the same location.

How to Check Hard Drive Space on Mac: What's Eating Up Your Resources?

Being paranoiac all the time is not the way out. It is better to check an amount of free space at least once per month to be sure that you won’t face a sudden Mac OSX / macOS slow down or other difficulties. Today, the average share of space on the Apple computer’s boot volume is smaller than it was before due to the fact newer Macs possess flash-based storage. This, it is better to stay informed about the amount of space on your disk(s).

If you wonder how much space is enough, ask the experts to hear the answer - at least 10%. Some experts believe that is better to have minimum 15% of free space to let the device operate quickly and download/install all necessary updates. If you have no desire to scan the hard drive for free space, you are doomed to see one of the warnings associated with the lack of space. It’s just a question of time. It is a bad idea to rely on that message and postpone the cleaning process. Read how to check the amount of available space below.

Pick a menu

Choose About This Mac

Pick the Storage tab

Scan the hard drive for the amount of the available space

The next thing you might be interested in is what exactly steals so much space from your Apple computer.

Macintosh HD Is Full: What’s the Root of All Evil?

Perhaps, the best and shortest way to find out which items occupy most of the disk space is to download and set up a third-party software that can examine and break down what is ‘eating’ most of the memory.

If you prefer doing such things manually, begin with the Downloads folder. Usually, this location contains most of the junk files. Mac owners often forget to delete the installation file once installed. Download files are not as huge as the media items, but they are not meaningful at all, so why should you keep them? Download files may include dozens of disk images, big graphics items, and other crap. Make a habit of wiping this location on a regular basis.

HD Is Full

As for the media files, they include movies, songs, and software. While you may still be using some apps, it makes no sense to keep the movie you have already seen several times. Besides, video files are the largest. Remember that a single HD film can ‘eat’ 4-6GB depending on its length! iOS games may take something like 1-2GB, so it makes sense to get rid of the games you have passed. The good idea is to toss away the physical copies of various iTunes files. Apple’s iCloud service is a place where a Mac owner can keep the files he/she enjoyed the most.

Among other things that can steal a plenty of space on your Mac’s hard drive are duplicates of files, caches, cookies, browsing histories, temporary files, etc.

How to Free up Hard Drive Space on Mac: 10 Different Ways to Clear Your Device

The article has finally brought you to the solution. It is much easier to clear Mac than other computers, but still, the process has its nuances. Besides, there are several methods to wipe a hard drive.



Optimize Storage

macOS Sierra and High Sierra may optimize the storage automatically. This action will remove the TV shows and movies a user has viewed. The emails will remain in iCloud so that you can come back to those shows obtained from iTunes at any time. Just click on Optimize, and the computer will do the job for you.

Auto-Empty Trash

Instead of wasting time on cleaning Trash manually, it is better to set the settings that allow automatic Empty Trash. Choose 'Turn On…' to notice an alert wondering if you are confident about your decision. The option is rather secure as one month is enough to decide whether you have not moved anything necessary to the Trashcan by accident.


Reduce Clutter

One more great idea is to minimize clutter. It will analyze the existing content and remove the outdated files. Press on Review Files to go to the pane with Large Files, Downloads, and a File Browser. If you need some details, pick a magnifying glass icon to get a file preview. Then, you may push X button to eliminate it.

Move to iCloud

Storing things in iCloud is a popular way to free up space on Mac. 5GB is free, and for some users, it is enough. The prices for the rest of the packages are still loyal. Just press Store in iCloud to have the chosen elements moved over there.

Transfer Photo Library Elsewhere

Instead of deleting images, just move Photo Library to the external drive.

  1. Exit Photos
  2. Make a clone of Photos Library to an external drive.
  3. After the process of copying is over, keep on holding the Option/Alt key when launching Photos.
  4. There, choose Photos à Then, select Use as System Photo Library in General.
  5. Enable iCloud Photo Library to find out that the computer may get busy as it tries to figure out which images stay in iCloud, but it must finally complete without asking for a huge data transfer.
Get Rid of Mail Attachments

Mail attachments are the elements that can claim some space as well. The useless emails are stored in the main Mail folder (~/Library/Mail).

Check whether the removed emails are really gone by choosing 'Remove Unedited Downloads' in Mails’ preferences. Pick “After Message is Deleted.” In the recent version, clear this destination: ~/Library/Containers/ Downloads.

Erase Useless Language Files

It seems like a language file weighs nothing. In fact, having too many languages installed may lead to the slight loss of space as well. Say, why in the world would anyone need 25 languages? To remove those you do not need, move this way: System Preferences à Language & Region. Put the languages in the preferred order and eliminate those language files you don’t need at all.

Delete Mac Apps

Toss away the unwanted Mac applications by dragging-and-dropping the corresponding icons to the Trash and then emptying it. Take care of the possible leftovers. You may need to find the associated apps manually by typing the name of the app or vendor in the Terminal. A better way is to have a third-party cleaner installed on your computer. You can remove duplicates, downloads, and other junk files in the same way.

Archive Files & Folders

Archive the files that you do not use regularly. Control-click on the item and choose the compress feature. Be ready that some files like JPEGs do not compress too much. Choose the files to archive wisely!


Easy Way Out

While native utilities require a plenty of stages and some time, a third-party software will do everything for you in a couple of clicks. The interfaces of such apps are usually user-friendly, so no user will find it difficult to use.

Once again, an external drive or iCloud are two good options for people who do not wish to remain without the important files. You are the one to decide on the best methods to free up space on your Apple computer!