Is the hard drive on your Mac constantly telling you that it is getting full? Are you running out of space to save your photos, music, videos, and other important files? Having to constantly manage your drive to make room for new items can be a time consuming and frustrating affair. But if you’re like many of us, chances are there are a lot of unnecessary files cluttering up your drive that can be removed. Here are five tips for reclaiming hard drive space on your Mac that may help you avoid running low on storage.
Clear the Downloads Folder
Whenever you download a file from the Internet it is automatically saved to the Downloads folder. Over time, that folder can accumulate a lot unnecessary stuff that can take up a great deal of storage space, including photos, videos, and application installers. From time to time, it is a good idea to clear out this folder, as it not only helps you save hard drive space, but it makes it easier to find new things that you’ve recently downloaded. By default, you’ll find a shortcut to the Downloads folder on the dock, but if you removed it from that location, the actual folder itself can also be found in your Home folder. Open it up and drag everything inside to the trash, then empty the trash to remove it forever.
Remove Unnecessary Photos and Video Files
Most text documents don’t take up much space on our hard drives, so deleting them doesn’t accomplish much. But photos and video files are a completely different story, as they can be quite large, and accumulate quickly. If you’re looking to reclaim hard drive space, it is often a good idea to review the photos and videos that you are storing on your computer to see what can be removed. Often times we have dozens – if not hundreds – of photos that are virtually duplicates of one another, or simply hold little or no value. Removing those items from our photo libraries is a good way to quickly free up storage space for use elsewhere. It is also a good idea to review the video files that are being stored in iMovie or other editing software, as removing those files will generally create more room too.
Uninstall Unused Applications
In addition to photos and video taking up a great deal of space, application software can quickly fill your drive as well. From time to time it is a good idea to review the contents of your Applications folder and see if there are any items that you can remove. For instance, Apple now ships every Mac with a copy of iWork preinstalled, but if you don’t want – or need – the software, you can remove it to help save space. You may also discover a few other programs that you had forgotten that you installed, and don’t ever use. These are also prime candidates for removal too.
Delete iPhone and iPad Apps
If you frequently plug your iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch into your computer, it will sync any new applications that are found on those devices, and store a copy of it locally in iTunes. This can be useful if you quickly need to restore an app when you don’t have access to the Internet, but for the most part, those files are just taking up space. Since all of your apps are stored in the Cloud anyway, you can free up extra room on your drive by removing them. To do so, simply launch iTunes and click on the “My Apps” tab at the top of the screen. It will show you a list of all the iOS apps on your computer and allow you to select them all so that they can be easily deleted. It should be noted that iTunes only moves the files to the trash on your Mac, and to permanently remove them you’ll also need to empty the trash as well. Similarly, you can also free up hard drive space by automatically backing up your iOS devices to iCloud.
Use External Storage
One great way to free up space on your Mac’s hard drive is to use an external drive to save files that you want to keep, but don’t necessarily need access to on a regular basis. External drives are now very inexpensive, provide lots of extra storage, and are a safe and secure place to keep important documents. A network drive is also a great way to share files with other computers on your home network, and makes a great back-up solution for use with Time Machine.