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Ivan's picture

Free up Hard Disk space

Hard Disk cleaningIf your system is running low on hard disk space and don't feel like upgrading it yet, here are some things you can do to free up quite a bit of space.

Remove all the system and application localization resources
This single operation can easily free up more than 1GB disk space. Even if you installed your system without localization files, you will still have hundreds of megabytes of such files that you will never use. By removing these files you do not remove the ability to read and type languages other than English, only the ability to run your entire system on those languages. Use the ingenious DeLocalizer.

Remove all unneeded originals from iPhoto
Did you know that when in iPhoto you modify any image, for example rotate it, the application will save the original file as well as the modified one. This is great because you can go back to the original at any time, but if you feel you will not need to go back and your library of images is fine as it is, you may want to remove all those unnecessary originals. This might save you hundreds of megabytes of disk space as well. To do this use another OS X jewel iPhoto Diet.

Convert your music to compressed format
I've seen many iTunes users changing the import feature to the lossless AIFF format to burn CDs and than leaving the files in that format. You can check what format your music files are by CTRL-clicking the title bar with the song names, time and artists and selecting Kind from the contextual menu. If they are indeed in AIFF format change the import format in the Preferences to AAC, than select the AIFF songs and CTRL-click them to bring up a contextual menu and select Convert Selection to AAC. Once the converstion is complete, remember to trash the AIFF files, beacuse iTunes will not do it for you.

Remove all the album graphics in iTunes
If you know what album graphics are, you probably played with adding them to your tracks in iTunes. The album graphics are saved into each file adding to it's file size. If you add it all up depending on the size of the images and the size of your music library it might be again up to a hundreds of megabytes. It might be important to remove these album graphics especially if you feel you don't have enough space on your mini iPod. To delete all artwork covers at once, select all the music in your library and press Apple-I (Cmd-I). In the Multiple Song Information window find the empty artwork field on the right. Click the checkmark next to it. This way you are applying an empty artwork to all your music files at once. In other words, you're deleting them.

Empty every Trash bin on your system
The Trash icon in your Dock is not the only trash you need to empty. Empty iPhoto's, iMovie's and Mail's built in Trash too. Also, you may have deleted an unneeded user from your system, but unless you clicked Delete Immediately you will have compressed deleted user accounts in your Users folder. If you did an Archive and Install, than you will have a Previous Systems folder. Trash them too.

Delete OS X temp files
The system periodically creates temp files that are documenting the system operation. These temp files are cleaned up automatically if you leave your Mac on overnight between 3AM and 5AM, but if you usually shut down at night or just want to make sure all is cleaned up you can run these maintenance scripts manually by downloading one of those OS X maintenance apps like Cocktail. However I much prefer to simply do it in Terminal, which will run all the scripts one by one. Open Terminal and type the following. You will need to enter your admin password:
sudo periodic daily weekly monthly

Now that you have done the big winter cleaning read a previous post about how to be warned before your hard disk fails.

Let me know how much you saved! Make sure to select your hard disk in Finder and press Apple-I (Cmd-I) before and after to find out how much free space you have. Any other ideas how to save hard disk space?

Commenting on this Blog entry is closed.

Will Macdonald's picture

I would recommend using Onyx rather than cocktail, since it is free. If you use the Cleaning option it really gets rid of all the crud. I have seens system regain over 1GB.
Also, using iPhoto Diet you can remove the embedded thumbnails in images which saves a LOT of space.
Recently I discovered that if you use stuffit to expand a lot of files, it leaves a temp file somewhere which can be the same size as the data you just extracted. This seem to only be removed by rebooting.
Another tip is to look in your /Volumes directory. I once found 100's of megabytes there. It seemed to be a mirror of what had been on a firewire drive that had been unplugged before ejecting. Some program had tried to write to '/Volumes/FireWire/data/'. However since the firewire drive had been removed suddenly, it just created a directory called FireWire/data and wrote it there.


Cbgirl's picture
1 pencil

Ibought an acer computer almost a year ago.......there is a partition on it and the c partition has 290 G of space and there is a D paritition that has hte same amount of space on it.

the D drive is saying that there is only 72 KB of available space left on the drive....but.....when I show all the hidden files and folders and select them all and show the properties it states that all these files only use 8 KB of space........

Noone seems to know what is taking up the rest of the space on that drive and if htey are files then they are not visible......

anyone have any ideas

thanks in advance

Anonymous's picture

Where can you get iPhoto Diet 2.2? Links to it from both MacUpdate and VersionTracker fail.

Ben's picture

For obsessive disk space conservationists, try Atomic Bird's shareware utility Macaroni. It's primary purpose is to run cron tasks at the next available opportunity (when computers are not left on in the wee hours of the morning). The application can also be scheduled to repair permissions and remove localizations.

Anonymous's picture

Or buy 1GB for 1 Dollar !


Anonymous's picture

use OmniDiskSweeper - with this tool you can see exactly how much a folder is using.

i usually find copies of things and unneeded files worth 5G or more using this tool. it's amazing what kind of stuff you end up collecting when you have a large hard drive.

Anonymous's picture
Ivan's picture

Thanks for the great comments!

Some readers complained that the links to the mentioned applications are not very reliable, so I decided to mirror the links to download on our own server, hope the developers don't mind:
Delocalizer (484KB)iPhotoDiet (357KB)Also, inspite that on the Delocalizer's page it says it hasn't been tested on 10.3 (Panther), I can confirm that it in fact does work on 10.3, so don't worry.

Anonymous's picture

I wouldn't worry too much about clearing temp files if you shut your Mac down every night. /etc/rc.cleanup should clear anything in /private/tmp, among other things, on startup.

Anonymous's picture

Of course, this left out one of the most obvious ways to finding the large files that *might* have to be removed...

Use the OS X Finder's Find function (under File menu) to find large visible and hidden files. Of course, you have to be aware of what those files do before you remove anything that might effect application or system performance...I don't advise monkeying around with any file if you aren't sure what it does. If big files are found, search for what they might be using your favorite internet search engines or OS X online forum.


Anonymous's picture

Yeah, but the Finder won't always find everything that you want to remove. You would need to login as root in order to do that.

And I really don't recommend that to anyone.

As someone else noted, Omni DiskSweeper is an awesome tool for ferreting out wasted space. I use ODS whenever I want to do a little housekeeping on my Mac.

Anonymous's picture

you can free disk space by removing:
unnecessary voices in system-library:
screen savers
printers: eg lexmark installer puts all possible stuff into this folder, but only a few files are needed
modem scripts
some fonts if you dont need them:
•“•È•Æ•ŒÕË•¥ Pro W4.otf
•“•È•Æ•Œ√˜≥Ø Pro W3.otf
•“•È•Æ•Œ√˜≥Ø Pro W6.otf
•“•È•Æ•ŒΩ«•¥ Pro W3.otf
•“•È•Æ•ŒΩ«•¥ Pro W6.otf
•“•È•Æ•ŒΩ«•¥ Std W8.otf
in core services you may remove:
Classic by a renamed smaller app if you dont need classic.
in Library:
desctop pictures
if you dont have bluuetooth anything that ist concerned with bluetooth.
this should free more than 130 megs of space

care and backup.

fiddler's picture

Excellent advice on this page, I freed 1.2 Go of space all the tricks posted here which is a lot of freedom for my Imac G3 with a 10 Go drive. Thanks!

Anonymous's picture

Just because you've trashed deleted files in Entourage or Entourage Express doesn't mean they're actually gone. You should occasionally rebuild the databases by launching with the option key down from the Finder (not the Dock). You'll receive several options including compacting and rebuilding the database. It will create a new file in the same folder as your old one so you can see exactly how much you saved. The difference can be huge.

yj's picture

I strongly recommend using using WhatSize to check where all your disk space is going. I found over 2GB of useless files by looking through its size-sorted index of my hard drive.

carlosroberto's picture
1 pencil

I have just switched from Win to Mac. I was wondering why I had so much HD space used if I haven't installed almost any App. Then I started to search the Web for some explanations and I found this site. I followed all of your advices and now I have 6.4 Gbs more! WhatSize is awesone, no need for ODS.
Thanks a lot. Greetings from Mexico.

sarahjb's picture
1 pencil

I've got an ibook G4 and iphoto 5.0.4. Does anyone know how to delete photos out of iphoto and simultaneously delete them off the hard drive? I find it annoying when I want to get rid of a photo that I can see in iphoto, but to actually get rid of it I have to go into my finder, find the photo I deleted from iphoto and trash both it *and* the original file *and* the thumbnail, (which has a totally different numbering system), all out of separate folders. If you don't do that, you end up with lots of (bad, eyes-half-closed) pictures that you can't see in iphoto, which are lurking around on the hard drive and taking up space. It sort of defeats the purpose of using iphoto to manage photos at all... I've accidentally gotten rid of the wrong photo in the finder too, and then I can see it fine iphoto until I zoom in and the frame goes white....

Any suggestions? Perhaps there is a way to periodically 'synch' iphoto and the hard drive's photos so that you can actually *see* what pictures you're storing?

Also, is there a way to not have a separate folder for every single day that you've taken a photo? This seems inefficent and ends up creating many (potentially empty) folders. Is there a way to have the harddrive sort photos into single folders for each month instead of each day?

Thanks! (Great article...I've freed up over 6 GB of space so far)

dcavalie's picture
2 pencils

I just freed-up >4gb of hd space running delocalizer! I'm following the other suggestions here, too. I have used WhatSize to help my find the culprits waisting so much precious hd space on my mbp (why did they only offer 90gb on this machine?). I know I'm going to free another 5gb by removing GarageBand and Keynotes and their associated files. Thanks for the help!


dcavalie's picture
2 pencils

I just finished using all the tips and freed another 5gb of space! After spending the past 30minutes, I now have 9 more gig than before. Yes!


gulfport's picture
1 pencil


do you know how l can free up space on this computer that has windows XP PRO? THANKS, Danie


leonardo's picture
1 pencil

Yes. This was super helpful. It enabled me to do some excellent cleaning and regain HD space, the last frontier.

One discovery. The iPhoto Diet 3.1 "hadn't been tested with my version 7.14.
Otherwise thanks again. Wise stuff here.

shankarsakpal1988's picture
1 pencil

how opret that

gj1881's picture
1 pencil

I've been to the link above, it takes me to the bombich page with the link to download the DeLocalizer, but the link download link doesn't work. I've tried dozens of other links via google, but they all lead me back to the bunk bombich page. Any ideas? Help?

Anonymous's picture

I followed these steps to the T and went from only 60GB available to 117.67 GB free.

Thanks a lot

Ivan's picture

Wow! That's pretty amazing...

Anonymous's picture

I've tried a lot, but my Macbook Pro's hard drive, with a capacity of about 150gb, has only 34gb of free space. I've got no images in iPhoto(trash is emptied, too), only one .mov file from iMovie(trash also emptied here), I got rid of huge applications, etc. I've got no idea where all the space went!

Ivan's picture

In Finder open the hard disk sort it by size and switch on calculate folder sizes. Then work yourself down and see which folders have the most files.

Anonymous's picture

Thanks! I found a folder that was holding over 80GB of stuff I never use!

Ivan's picture

Glad to help! Get rid of all that pron! ;)

Anonymous's picture

disk free forever !

meymeyabautista's picture
1 pencil


medea's picture

Try Duplicate Finder this is also very good tool to find and eliminate true duplicate files.Duplicate Finder search duplicates using byte by byte or crc32 to give you most accurate and faster results.

redhalls's picture
1 pencil

Cool so HD means hard disk - I typed in google to know the answer and this post came about - not even wiki knew the answer... someone in comments below had the answer.

alien612's picture
1 pencil

I recommend this utility to visualize disk usage. It will find large files and folders on your PC or laptop.

folo's picture
1 pencil

One really great way I have found to get rid of useless files is by using this program

mascarnhas's picture
2 pencils

its great idea but i have a greater one So, it would look like: Treesize Mac - Find Free Space

smartgrafix's picture
79 pencils

Here's an interesting way to regain HD space. I've been using Squeeze for a while now and it's remarkable how much disc space this little app can reclaim:

ajimenez's picture
1 pencil

i cant seem to keep any free space on c drive. ive deleted several programs and disk space keeps disappearing. even had free space up to 2gigs and by the next day it was down to 200mb. is this a virus or something? ive run a couple different scans and other than a few tracking issues it says my laptop is clean

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