Running out of space on your Mac isn’t fun. Even worse, you often find out that you’re running out of space at the worst times. Sure, you can randomly start uninstalling apps, but it’s better to check your disk space and figure out which is taking up space in the first place.
Actually figuring out what is taking up the most space isn’t as easy as you might think. Depending on what you’re trying to search, there are a fair number of tools that may solve your problem.
Built-in macOS Tools
There are a few tools to help you manage disk space built into macOS. To see how much space is being used by apps, photos, and other categories, you can use the Disk Storage Summary.
Click the Apple icon in the upper left part of the screen, then “About This Mac.” Here, click the Storage tab, then click on Manage. In the menu on the left, you’ll see various categories. Click on a category like Applications, and you’ll see how much space certain apps are using.
This isn’t as smart as some other apps. For example, Documents doesn’t determine how much space is used by certain file types. Instead, it just shows you the size of your Documents directory.
DaisyDisk is one of the most widely used storage management apps for macOS. Part of the reason behind this is the app’s ease of use, but a large part is also due to just how pretty it looks.
Once it has finished scanning your drive, DaisyDisk shows your files and folders as a visual interactive map. This is a handy visualization that also happens to be nice to look at. It’s not all about looks, however.
From the map you can spot a large file, preview its content, then delete it if you don’t need it. You can do all of this without leaving DaisyDisk.
DaisyDisk costs $9.99 in the Mac App Store, but a free trial is also available.
The rest of the apps on this list are fairly limited in scope. They help you analyze and manage disk space, but they don’t do much beyond that. CleanMyMac X does a whole lot more than just manage your disk space.
In addition to tools for cleaning disk space, CleanMyMac X includes tools for freeing up RAM, managing Login Items, and performing routine system maintenance. That’s not to say it isn’t equally good at analyzing disk space.
Run the app, and like the others on this list it will start off by analyzing your drive. Then it can do a lot more than showing you files you can delete. The app can automatically remove outdated caches, broken downloads, logs, and other files you don’t use.
CleanMyMac X also has a built-in Uninstaller that can help you remove apps along with the various files they usually leave on your system after you delete them. You can try CleanMyMac X with a free trial, but a license for the app will cost you $34.95.
OmniGroup is known for its software like OmniFocus, OmniOutliner, and OmniPlan. All of these apps are big, complicated, and fairly pricey. OmniDiskSweeper, on the other hand, isn’t just simple, but free as well.
Open OmniDiskSweeper, and it will scan your drive. Then you’ll see a simple, easily scannable list that shows files from largest to smallest. This lets you quickly get an idea of what is taking up the most space on your Mac.
As with DaisyDisk, you can easily open or move files to the Trash right from OmniDiskSweeper.
If you’re not sure which of these is best for you, there’s an easy solution: Start with free options and work your way up from there. Try using the tools built into macOS first, then if that doesn’t work, try OmniDiskSweeper. If these options don’t do the job, consider DaisyDisk or CleanMyMac X.
One of the easiest ways to avoid running out of space is to have more space available in the first place. This isn’t something you can do on an aging MacBook, but it’s worth considering if you’re buying a new computer. Not sure how much storage to opt for? We have a guide that can help you figure out how much space you need.