What to Do When You Get the “You Need to Free Up Space” Warning on Your Mac

While using your Mac, you may be used to regularly downloading, installing and creating large files in programs such as Adobe Photoshop, Final Cut Pro X, iMovie etc. While doing so, you might also frequently run into a warning that you need to free up space on the Mac. With this warning, you might also feel your system running a tad bit slower, which is altogether another frustrating issue.

If such an issue occurs, your first natural instinct should be to check how much space on your hard drive is free. To do this, simply follow the steps given below:

1. Open the “Go” tab in Finder, and click on Computer.


2. Here you should see your primary hard drive. Right-click (secondary-click) on this, and select “Get Info.”


3. In the General tab, check the “Capacity,” “Available,” and “Used” statistics, to see how much space is used.


You now know exactly how much hard disk space you have free. The next step is to have an overall idea of how much space everything is taking up. To do this, follow the steps outlined below:

1. In the Apple menu, choose “About This Mac.”


2. In the window that opens, click on “More Info.”


3. A new window will open up. Here, click on the “Storage” tab in the toolbar, and you’ll see a graphical representation of the space used on your drive. This should help in identifying exactly how much disk space everything is taking up.


In this window, if the total space taken is different from what you observed earlier in the hard drive info window, your Spotlight Index might be damaged and will need to be rebuilt. To do this:

1. Open up the Spotlight tab in System Preferences.


2. In the Privacy tab, add your hard drive by clicking on the “Plus” sign in the bottom left corner.



3. Once you’ve added your hard disk, remove it by clicking on the “Minus” sign.


The last tip we have for you is that if you’ve recently migrated data from another drive, restored from a backup recently or transferred data between application libraries (such as iTunes and iPhoto), you might have unknowingly created duplicates of many files on your system. Applications like iTunes won’t really show you the duplicates, so, you’ll have to open the file libraries to discover and delete duplicates. To do this, simply select the item in the library, right-click it and select the option to “Reveal it in Finder.”

Some third-party apps like GrandPerspective and DaisyDisk can also help you analyze your disk usage and give a visual aid to what files and folders are the largest on your system.

Once you’ve located the largest files on your system, it is up to you on how to proceed. You can either choose to move them to an external hard drive, or you can choose to delete them. You should have at least 10% of your hard drive’s capacity free for your system to run freely. If you choose to delete your files, do remember to empty your Recycle Bin, as not doing so will not free up any space on your hard drive.


Hopefully, with the tips listed above, you’ll be able to free up space on your Mac and tackle the low disk space warning. You can either choose to move your extra files to an external hard drive or you can delete them. Whatever you do, just ensure you have at least 10 to 12GB free on your hard drive for better system performance.

Shujaa Imran
Shujaa Imran

Shujaa Imran is MakeTechEasier's resident Mac tutorial writer. He's currently training to follow his other passion become a commercial pilot. You can check his content out on Youtube

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