How I saved 30 GB of disk space in El Capitan


My MacBook Air is running a 120GB SSD drive so I don’t want my hard drive full of excess things I don’t need. I just noticed after El Capitan that I lost a lot of space. I only had 10GB free. To run well a mac hard disk needs at least 20% free.  Here’s how I freed up some more space.

I ran Disc Inventory X to see where the excess space was taken.

1. Remove old iPhoto library.

Look at this screenshot from Disk Inventory X: The pink section surrounded by the yellow line is my old ‘iphoto’ library. The large turquoise section to the left is the new ‘Photos’ library.  El Capitan came with a new app called ‘Photos.’  The new Photos app imported my old iPhoto library, but it didn’t delete it! They are the same photos, the entire library has been duplicated. Deleting my old iPhoto library released almost 7 G of space!


To find the file just right click on the box and select ‘reveal in finder’:


This took me to the following folder:

iphoto library

I just dragged this to the trash and saved 6.6GB.

While I was at it I went to my ‘Applications’ folder and deleted the old ‘iphoto’ app which took up 1.7GB.

I could do this pretty confidently because my macbook air is my second machine, all my photo’s are only home computer if anything goes wrong.

2. Gmail ‘All Mail’

This huge multicoloured box turns out to be the Gmail ‘All Mail’


I discovered 15GB of gmail data in Apple Mail. Yes Apple mail now by default seems to download the gmail ‘All Mail’ folder which included every email you’ve ever deleted on gmail. The ‘All mail’ folder had over 17,000 emails in it. No wonder my internet usage was high last month – my laptop must have downloaded the entire 15GB of emails from gmail.

Thankfully it was a simple fix.

Here’s how to disable the ‘All mail’ folder from being downloaded to your Macintosh.

Go into, then go to Settings on the top right menu, then under the ‘Labels’ tab I changed ‘All Mail’ to ‘Hide’

I still needed to delete the files from the hard disk manually.

I am using OSX El Capitan, and Mail version 9.1. I am not sure what other versions of mail have this problem.

Other items…

The were some other files I found with Disk Inventory X, (Old installers, old apps, some movies) and when I deleted them all in total I recovered 30GB!


7 responses to “How I saved 30 GB of disk space in El Capitan”

  1. Nice post thanks for sharing it.

  2. E.J. Chichilnisky

    Thanks, this was very helpful and saved me the constant annoyance of running out of disk space for no good reason!

  3. adrian

    cool but these are very specific user hacks – what if a user isn’t a iPhoto / photo or gmail user ?

    looking for OS reducible items tho really

    1. Yes, they are very specific, that’s why I entitled the article ‘How I…’

      If you want a more generic article on saving disk space in OS X this article may be better:

      How to free up some hard disk space in OS X

  4. I had an issue where my laptop was running out of space and I narrowed it down to the fact I had linked a gmail account to it recently and it was probably downloading all the mail as you suggest. But is there not a way to tell mail not to download all mail? It just seems like there should be. And if I change ‘All Mail’ to an alternate name BEFORE I link the account I shouldn’t have to delete it manually right? Just a thought. Thanks for the article!

  5. Gail in Annapolis

    This was REALLY helpful. Thanks a lot!

  6. Sneha

    According to me Diskanalyzerpro is the best tool to free up disk space on mac and windows.

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