How to free up storage space in macOS Sierra and above?

How to free space in Mac
  • Store your data in the cloud
  • Optimize your Storage
  • Empty Trash
  • Reduce Clutter
  • Manually delete files

If you want to free some of the space on your Mac device with macOS Sierra and later OS then here is how to do it. You can feel the need to free space to upgrade your Mac or to have more important data or for any other of your personal reasons.

Get started by choosing About This Mac from the Apple menu, then click Storage. You’ll see an overview of your free space and the space used by different categories of files, including apps, documents, and photos.

How to free space in Mac

Click the Manage button to see recommendations for optimizing your storage. You’ll see fewer options if some of them are already turned on.

Free space in mac

You will find the following options:

Store in iCloud

To free space you can use iCloud. To begin with click the Store in iCloud button, then choose from the following options:

Desktop and Documents: Where you store all files in these two locations in iCloud Drive. When storage space is needed, only the files you recently opened are kept on your Mac, so that you can easily work offline. Files that are stored only in the cloud show a download icon , which you can double-click to download the original file. 

Photos: Here you can store all original, full-resolution photos and videos in iCloud Photo Library. When storage space is needed, only space-saving (optimized) versions of photos are kept on your Mac. To download the original photo or video, just open it.

Storing files in iCloud uses the storage space in your iCloud storage plan. If you need more iCloud storage, you can buy more starting at 50GB for $1.49 (AUD) a month directly from your Apple device. 

Optimize Storage

optimize storage in Mac to free space

When using this option simply click the Optimize button, then choose following options to free your space on Mac.

Automatically remove watched iTunes movies and TV shows. When storage space is needed, iTunes movies or TV shows that you already watched are removed from your Mac. Click the download icon  next to a movie or TV show to download it again.

Download only recent attachments. Mail automatically downloads only the attachments that you recently received. You can manually download any attachments at any time by opening the email or attachment, or saving the attachment to your Mac. 

Don’t automatically download attachments. Mail downloads an attachment only when you open the email or attachment, or save the attachment to your Mac.

Optimizing storage for movies, TV shows, and email attachments doesn’t require iCloud storage space.

Empty Trash Automatically

Free space in Mac

When using empty trash automatically it will permanently deletes files that have been in the Trash for more than 30 days.

Reduce Clutter

Reduce clutter from Mac

Using Reduce Clutter helps identify large files and files you might no longer need. Click the Review Files button, then choose any of the file categories in the sidebar, such as Applications, Documents, GarageBand, iOS Files, iTunes, or Trash.

Some categories allow you delete files directly. Move your pointer over the file name, then click  to immediately and permanently delete the file. If you purchased the file from the Mac App Store, iBooks Store, or iTunes Store, you might be able to download it again.

Other categories show the total storage space used by the files in each app. You can then open the app and decide whether to delete files from within it.

Now find the settings for each of the above features

  • Store in iCloud: Choose Apple menu > System Preferences, click iCloud, then click the Options button next to iCloud Drive. Store in iCloud turns on the Desktop & Documents Folders and Optimize Mac Storage settings. To turn off iCloud Drive entirely, deselect iCloud Drive.
  • In Photos:Choose Photos > Preferences, then click iCloud. Store in iCloud selects iCloud Photo Library and Optimize Mac Storage. 
  • For Optimize Storage in iTunes: Choose iTunes > Preferences, then click Advanced. Optimize Storage selects “Automatically delete watched movies and TV shows.”
  • In Mail: Choose Mail > Preferences, then click Accounts. In the Account Information section of your email account, Optimize Storage sets the Download Attachments pop-up menu to either Recent or None.
  • Now Empty Trash Automatically from the Finder, choose Finder > Preferences, then click Advanced. Empty Trash Automatically selects “Remove items from the Trash after 30 days.

How to free up storage space manually?

How to free space in Mac Manually

Even without using the Optimized Storage features of Sierra or later, you can take other steps to make more storage space available like you can Delete files that you no longer need by moving them to the Trash, then emptying the Trash. The Downloads folder is good place to look for files that you might no longer need.

Or Move files to an external drive or compress files or  Delete unneeded email. To delete unwanted email go to the Mail app, choose Mailbox > Erase Junk Mail. If you no longer need the email in your Trash mailbox, choose Mailbox > Erase Deleted Items.

Thus with these methods you can save space by storing your data from Mac in the cloud and with new tools make it easy to find and remove large or unneeded files. Optimized Storage in macOS Sierra and later can save space by storing your content in the cloud and making it available on demand. Remember that when storage space is needed, files, photos, movies, email attachments, and other files that you seldom use are stored in the cloud automatically. Each file stays right where you last saved it, and downloads when you open it. Files that you’ve used recently remain on your Mac, along with optimized versions of your photos.

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