How to get more storage on Mac: 8 easy tips

Today in 2023, MacBooks are more spacious than ever. The new MacBook Air comes with a 256-GB drive. But no amount of storage seems to be enough as the ever-inflating digital media is taking over our hard drives. Cloud servers are only a partial answer to that. They aren’t getting cheaper and consume insane amounts of the world’s electricity. So if you want to take a load off your drive and help the planet, you should teach yourself a couple of storage-keeping tricks. Let’s go.

What’s causing low disk space on your Mac?

Before you begin to free up disk space, let’s identify what’s taking it up. From the Apple Menu in the upper left corner of your screen, select About This Mac and then click More Info > Storage Settings in the window that opens. You’ll get a handy, color-coded graph that looks like this:

System Preferences - Storage

In the above example, you can see that several types of files are taking up the most significant amount of space. Here are the most notable space consumers:

AppsAll applications installed on your Mac, including those that came preinstalled with macOS and any third-party software you downloaded
Documents All files, documents, and downloads found on your drive
System DataTemporary files, caches, disk images, and app localizations (read more about System Data here)
macOSFiles and data necessary for the proper functioning of the operating system 

It’s nice to see what’s stored on your Mac and even nicer to be able to browse the folders that contain the files themselves. Now that you’ve identified what’s on your drive, let’s free up some space.

How to get more space on Mac

There are several options here, so let’s go through a few.

1. Remove large and old files 

Often the files that end up taking the most space are tucked away in “cold storage” on your computer. These are big movies, photos, or the like that you rarely look at but can’t part with, either. In this case, archiving the files and moving them to an external drive is a good way to free up storage space on your Mac. 

Locating huge neglected files can be a pain, but it gets super easy with the CleanMyMac X app. It has a dedicated Large & Old Files finder. It will help you find massive files and sort them by size to define the largest ones quickly.

You can download the free version of CleanMyMac X here.

As the name suggests, it finds files that occupy a lot of space on your disk but haven’t been opened for a long time. You can quickly review these files right in the app and decide which ones you want to remove. It’s a really handy feature if you have a lot of heavy stuff piled up.

2. Empty Trash

Review your Trash bin’s contents one last time before you empty it. Click Trash icon in Dock. Then, click Empty Trash to remove everything.


Use Command-Option-Delete to delete any folder immediately, bypassing Trash.

3. Clean up the Downloads folder

Files love to hide in your Mac’s Downloads folder. Old disk images, random photos, unused extensions, ZIP files… they’re all in there, not making a sound. Hiding? Go to the Finder and browse what’s sitting in your Downloads, wasting space on your disk. Anything unnecessary can be dragged to the Trash.

4. Move files to an external hard drive

We all love our media files, although they consume too much space on Mac’s drive. Even if we never open them, we rarely want to delete these files forever. Usually, these are photos or videos and music associated with some significant moments in life, so sending them to Trash is never an option. It is why if you run out of disk space, consider buying an external hard drive and copying these files to it. Once done, they can be safely deleted without you having to worry about losing precious memories. 

If you do not have an external hard drive, check out this handy guide on how to choose one. 

5. Learn to use Optimized Storage

Optimized Storage is the built-in feature of the macOS. It’s a sorting algorithm that shows different categories of files on your Mac for review and removal.

  1. Click the Apple Menu > System Settings > General.
  2. Click Storage and check Recommendations under the colored graph. 

By far, the most-space demanding of your files will be Applications. However, other categories of files may also take up significant space. Using the quick tabs, you will decide what is there you can toss away. Just click i next to each category and see what can be removed safely.

At the same time, make sure that you follow other Recommendations found under the colored graph, such as Optimize Storage, Empty Trash automatically, and store in iCloud if any of these work for you. 

6. Uninstall unused applications

If you’re like us, you often try an app “...just to see what it does”. While that’s fun, it frequently results in a slew of forgotten apps. It’s a good practice to set a reminder to review your Applications folder and clean out the ones you no longer use. However, note that simply dragging an app into your Mac’s trash doesn’t eliminate all of its related files.

CleanMyMac X’s Uninstaller feature, on the other hand, leaves no leftover pieces behind, which means more available space on your Mac. CleanMyMac X finds every app-related file, no matter where it has been tucked away, and deletes it from your Mac.

And speaking of setting up a reminder, CleanMyMac’s scheduler will handle that task for you, too. Just tell it how often you’d like to be prompted to give your Mac a good cleaning and leave the rest to the app.

7. Delete your Desktop screenshots

Mac’s Desktop is where you keep screenshots by default. With a feature called “Stacks,” you can organize your Desktop into clearly labeled folders. One such folder will be Screenshots, which you can later remove in one sweep. 

  1. Go to your Desktop.
  2. Right-click somewhere in the middle of your Desktop.
  3. Select “Use Stacks.”

Now you should see the Screenshots folder with all your screengrabs neatly stuffed inside. Drag this folder to the Trash and empty it.

8. Get rid of system junk

It’s not just your files that are hogging disk space — it’s also useless system files like logs, cache, unused binaries, old iOS backups and installers, and whatnot. Fortunately, CleanMyMac X can find and eliminate them all to make low disk space a thing of the past. At last.

System junk is comprised of:

  • User cache files
  • Application cache
  • Broken downloads 
  • Unused .DMG installers

As you can see, the “User cache” category alone can recover about 14 GB of space. So the best way to free up space on Mac is to start with this type of files.

With just a few clicks, you’ll discover what’s where and what’s ripe for deletion. The best way to free up hard drive space is to run CleanMyMac X and wave goodbye to space-hogging files. Don’t worry. You won’t miss them. Hopefully, you managed to clear a lot of disk space — drop by for more Mac housekeeping tips. 😉

Laptop with CleanMyMac
CleanMyMac X

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