How to Clear up Storage on a Mac

Mac Storage Clearing Steps

If the storage on your Mac is full or getting out of control, you may be facing the extremely daunting task of clearing out some of the old and unnecessary data that is taking up space on your Mac. Mac users often dread this task, not because the process is incredibly difficult, but because it takes time and patience.

In fact, clearing out the old or unwanted data on your Mac to create more storage is incredibly simple, and there are tricks for making it even easier. While it may take you a bit of time, and you may find you are resistant to deleting some of the data on your Mac, anyone can easily create some extra space on their Mac by following the steps below.

In this guide, I show you how to clear out the storage on your Mac, creating space for all the many new bits of data you will accumulate.

MacBook Pro ×1

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Click the Apple Logo

First, click the Apple logo in the upper left-hand corner.

Select "About This Mac"

Select "About This Mac."

Click "Storage"

Click "Storage" to view your Mac's in-depth storage details.

Click "Manage"

Select "Manage."

Determine Storage Needs

Now, take a peek at how much storage you've used versus your storage capacity. Once you know the difference, determine how much space you need moving forward.

How to determine your storage needs:

  1. Storage used- Check how much storage you have used versus what the storage capacity of your Mac is. In my case, I have used 167.11 GB out of 245.11 GB. This leaves me with 78.01 GB left. So, in my case, I don't really need more storage. If you have less than 10 GB of storage, you should really be doing some work to make sure you create more room. At all times, you should have at least 5 GB of free space that you will not use. This is simply so that your Mac can function fully, and you don't experience slow performance.
  2. Future needs- Do you need to download a large program or app? If you have a good amount of free capacity on your Mac, but you know you need to download a large program, check the size of that program and determine how much you will be left with.
  3. Mac uses- What do you use your Mac for? Many first-time Mac buyers make the mistake of buying a Mac that doesn't meet their storage needs. It is important that your Mac can meet your storage needs before buying it. If you are quickly realizing it doesn't meet your needs, consider returning it if you are within warranty or getting an external storage device like a flash drive to keep non-essential data.
Consider the Recommendations

In the current window, you will see about four general recommendations to help with storage. Most of these recommendations come with both instant reductions in storage and are preventative of storage issues in the future.

  1. Store in iCloud- Storing in iCloud keeps iCloud data like files, photos, and messages in iCloud, meaning it doesn't take up space on the Mac, but will still be accessible.
  2. Optimize Storage- Optimizing allows you to save space by removing movies and TV from the device after watching them. This means that the data doesn't take up space once you watch it.
  3. Empty Trash Automatically- This recommendation simply clears your trash every 30 days. I highly recommend enabling this if you often forget to empty your trash.
  4. Reduce Clutter- This recommendation will give you the option to review files and delete them based on size and relevancy. If you'd like to reduce clutter, move on to the next step with me!
Reduce Clutter

To reduce potential clutter, click "Review Files." This option creates fairly large results quickly depending on how you use your device.

Delete Files

By default, you will automatically see the largest files that take up the most space, so I recommend starting here and deleting anything you no longer need. To the right of each file, you will see the size of each file. This allows you to know exactly how much space you are creating as you go.

How to delete files:

  1. Click the file in question
  2. Click "Delete" in the lower right-hand corner
  3. Once you are done with "Large Files," click "Downloads," :Unsupported Apps," "Containers," and "File Browser." Downloads and Unsupported Apps take up a lot of space and often serve every little purpose, so don't overlook those files.
Use the Side Bar

On the left-hand side of the window, you can cycle through each category. I recommend starting from the top and working your way down.

How to delete data using the sidebar

  1. Click the section in question. In my case, "Applications."
  2. On the right, you will see all the data for that section. You can then click on any of that data that you no longer need or want.
  3. Once you click on something, click "Delete" in the lower right-hand corner.
  4. Some deletions may require an Administrator password.
  5. Continue doing this by clicking each section in the sidebar, deleting the data from that section you don't want or need, and moving forward.

Please note that you cannot delete the macOS or system data. Unless there is a wild number showing next to one of those two categories, like 100GB, you shouldn't worry about these sections. If you do see outrageous numbers here, look into troubleshooting this and/or reindexing your spotlight.


Now, review the storage and access if you need to do more work and part with more data.

How to review:

  1. Click the Apple logo
  2. Select "About this Mac"
  3. Click "Storage"
  4. See if the amount you needed to delete is gone. If it's not, go through the steps again.
Add a new account to the mail app on your Mac.
2 minutes

If you are new to Mac, or simply don't consider yourself tech-savvy, you may be struggling to do some of the everyday tasks necessary to use your Mac.