Maintaining one’s hard drive space is admittedly a less pressing task in the age of cheap and available storage, but it’s never a bad idea to keep an eye on your disk usage. Here are three visualizer programs and a handy Finder trick related to file size and available space.
Disk Inventory X was one of the first drive-visualization programs for OS X, released initially in 2004. It’s getting a bit long in the tooth in terms of code optimization for the current generation of Macs (it’s not UB, and the current release is dated October 2005. There is a beta UB version, but I stuck with full releases for this overview) but it still does it’s job perfectly well.
In addition to a “global” view of your entire system, you can also highlight directories in the navigation pane on the left. The directory’s graphical representation is highlight on the right, and you can “Zoom In” to get a better picture of the relative file sizes. This is obviously a very handy feature, but I find it poorly implemented simply because indexing your entire hard drive before viewing it can take a while (For my 123 GB HD, indexing took about 4 minutes on my 2 GHz MBP). DIX also gives you a nice little info pane that is basically a compacted version of Finder’s built-in “Get Info” window. Moving a file to the Trash can be done from the “File” menu.
GrandPerspective is a similar program that is much more up-to-date than DIX. Unlike DIX, it gives you the option to view a specific folder before indexing. For a comparison I inventoried by entire hard drive, which was finished in under 2 minutes.
As you can see, the visualization is very similar to DIX. GP has a nice live highlighting feature that is actually very helpful with navigation. You can reveal a file in the Finder or move it to the Trash with clicks of a button, and there’s also a zoom in/out feature. An expanding drawer shows various file metadata including type, path, and size. You can also change the default color scheme, something I couldn’t figure out how to do in DIX.
A newer player in the market, DaisyDisk is not free ($20), but offers a cleaner interface, faster indexing (around 1 minute on my machine), and a unique representation of file size. While DIX and GP both opted for a rectangular graphical representation, DaisyDisk uses a radial representation. Directories all get their own “slice” of the circle, with higher level directories towards the center. Clicking on a piece of the pie zooms in. Right clicking beings up a menu with the option to reveal the file in the Finder.
DaisyDisk is certainly visually appealing (the interface takes a little getting used to, but it’s actually pretty neat), but there are a few things that make me scratch my head. Why is there no way to delete a file from the program itself? Why make users go through the extra step of revealing it in the Finder? The information presented is limited to the name of the file and its size. More metadata could certainly be presented.
Update: The DaisyDisk Team has informed us that file deletion from within the application is coming soon and will be available in a free update. They also inform us that more file metadata is available by highlighting the file in DD and pressing Space.
Lastly, if you just want to get the size of a group of items in the Finder (instead of just a single file), highlight the files you want and press “
Command + Option + I.” A small window pops up with the aggregate file size of the items you selected.
This is not a well-documented keyboard shortcut, but one of the most useful in my opinion.
Do you have any other hard disk visualization programs you like to use? Leave them in the comments.
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