How to free up some Hard disk space.


Is your old laptop or computer running a bit slowly? It could be that the hard drive is too small and all your hard disk space is all used up. Here are a few different ways to recover some extra Hard Drive space.

You should never fill your hard drive to more than approx 80% capacity or it will slow down performance?

There are lots of files you can probably get rid of, but how do you find them?
1. Use Disk Inventory to see where your space is being taken.
You probably have lots of old files lying round you don’t use much, some of them might be very big.

This program shows you what is taking the most space.

But Disk Inventory X is very good for beginners and it does a nice graph like the one you see here of what is using your disk space.
1. Download Disk Inventory X from here.
2. Run it, go have a cup of coffee – it can take a while.
3. Look at the results, they will be a picture like this:

You can mouse over the colors to see which files they are on the hard drive, and then manually delete the folders to create free space.

I found lots of thinks I did not need with this program, like old movies that I no longer needed and had forgotten about, folders full of microsoft junk, etc.

Don’t delete anything if you don’t know what it is.

A more advanced piece of software with some extra options (but also extra complexity) is described here.

2. Remove all the extra language files to gain a few hundred MB.
OS X comes with almost 50 languages. Chances are you only speak one or two. Multilingual will allow you to delete some of the language files that you do not need.
1. Download Monolingual from here
2. Run it and it will remove all the language files you don’t need. It defaults to keeping English. (It gets rid of Afrikaans, Albanian, Amharic etc.

This will be more useful on an older smaller hard drive where the space taken by the language files is a significant proportion of the drive. But if you have a big drive (say 100G or more) you probably won’t even notice an extra few hundred Megabytes taken by the language files.

3. Clear out your Library/Application Support folder
Have a look in your Macintosh HD/Library/Application Support folder.  There may be some folders from applications you have deleted but no longer use. You can delete them.

4. Clear out your Printers
This is like the languages, but for printer drivers. OSX comes ready to work with hundreds of printers, chances are you only have one or two. Have a look in Macintosh HD/Library/Printers and delete any folders for printers you don’t need. For example the Epson library contains 1.4Gig of files and I don’t even have an Epson printer!

5. Manually delete files
This is the hard way to make more space! But there is a trick to speed it up.

To see how much space a folder takes, go to Menu ‘View/Show View options’ then select the box that says ‘calculate all sizes’.

Then sort these folders by folder size by clicking on the size heading in the window.

You can now see which folders take the most space.
calculate folder size

When you are finished deleting files empty the trash.

This deletes them totally from your hard drive and frees up space. While they are in the trash they still take up space. Be careful, there’s no way to get them back after you have deleted the trash!

Movies take up the most space, if you delete them they will free up lots of space.

Move iOS backups to an external drive.

Here’s a great article on how to move your iPhone and iPad backups:


23 responses to “How to free up some Hard disk space.”

  1. One may also use our DaisyDisk product for finding out disk wasters. It’s about twice as fast as Disk Inventory X and gives more useful information.

    P.S.: cache files and torrents are likely to be the first candidates to deletion.

    1. Yes, except it costs $20 and Disk Inventory is free.

  2. Derek McNeill

    This is a great article to stumbleupon! I didn’t realise it was here. I have been using your sliding door wordpress template for a long time and i just found the link through to here from the sliding door template. I was wondering how to clean up my imac because I edit lots of video footage on it, but there are other users for the computer and I wondered why the space was getting taken up so fast. I delete all video files once they are saved to my external hard drive memory, so I had to find out why there was so much space still getting used. It turns out the cache was massive and there was alot of files in the library feature, I would never have known this. Just going to download disk inventory as you recommend. Thanks again and thanks for brilliant sliding door template, brought us a lot of success.

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  4. I had to find out why there was so much space still getting used.

  5. […] your big files, like movies, onto it, or you can delete some things that you don’t need, or here is an article on how to tweak a little extra space from your existing Hard Disk. […]

  6. Thanks so much, this site is great! I recently switched over from a PC to a Mac and have already bookmarked several of your entries :)

  7. Scott

    just clearing out a few of the printer drivers gave me back 2 gigs. amazing…

  8. digital screen

    oh i cleaned up my laptop disc space that computer running faster then first .thanks owner

  9. Klavistata

    Hey man, I believe i’ve filled up my disk space with music, on Itunes It says i’ve stored 79.18 gigs of music, and I really don’t want to get rid of any of it. Is there anyway for me to create more space, or “add” disk space? Sorry but i’m pretty inept when any comes to anything involving computers that isn’t the simple of tasks, so my question might be illogical. But either way, thanks for the input.

    1. Sean

      You get a larger external usb or firewire 800 hard drive drag all of the music over to that drive a 500 gb or larger would be best and change the settings in iTunes you mite have seen it in iTunes with the settings it’s looking for it on the internal drive and if you know how to change the internal drive i would go for a 750 gb metric 9 mm thick some 750 gb hard drives are metric 12 mm thick and if you are using a mac metric 9 mm are the thickest that can be installed and with 5400 rpm they are more reliable and i find 7200 rpm drives can crash more easily and from my experience i don’t notice much difference in speed. the 3 1/2″ hard drives are 7200 rpm and that is up to 4 TB witch seagate has brought out

  10. Klavistata

    oh and activity monitor says i’ve utilized 249.1 gb with 614.9 mb left :/

  11. 249.1 gb with 614.9 mb left – Yep you are way overfull!!!!
    – Upgrade hard drive to a bigger one.
    – Move all your large files like vidoes or music to an external USB drive.
    – Follow the instructions in my post above.

  12. Janis

    Ugh — I’ve done all of this and yet it seems to have had no effect. I cleared tons of movie files, music. I deleted at least a gig on iTunes, according to Disk Inventory. Did all the language deletes and printers stuff etc…Deleted the trash. Rebooted. I’m trying to update from Leopard to Lion, which requires 2 GB. Under About this Mac, nothing has changed. Still shows that I have only 1 GB. What’s a girl to do? I appreciate any ideas. I have to do this in order to update from MobileMe to iCloud.


    1. Under ‘About this Mac’ is how much RAM (memory) your computer has. The only way to increase it is to add more RAM. Deleting programs form your Hard Disk doesn’t affect this. This is where your programs run and do their calculations. RAM is usually 1G, 2G, 8G, 12G etc.

      To look at your disk usage go into ‘Activity Monitor’ and click on ‘Disk Usage’. This is where everything is stored. Hard Disks are usually 160G, 500G, 1000G etc.

      1. Janis

        Thank you for taking the time to give me more explanation! =)

      2. Janis

        So basically, I just need to add more RAM in order to upgrade on this computer.

  13. Michayla

    Hi, I used your first tip and it said it saved me 532MB of space but then I checked again and it didn’t make any difference. I still only have 7MB left…

  14. Shannon

    Disk Inventory X is awesome! For some reason I had a mail message that had a long video in it replicated time and time again. I had wondered why I had no space. With Disk Inventory X I freed up almost 400GB of storage.

    Thank you sooooo much for this article and for advising Disk Inventory X!!

  15. Gerry Brennan

    This helped me find the hogs of space killers. Very helpful, i have been looking for a helpful article like this for months.

    I have a 128 ssd, so space is critical. I freed up 25gb +.

    So a big deal for me.


  16. A Man That Needs Help

    Thanks! This is the most useful site I’ve ever bumped into! I saved up to 72GB, quite a enormous amount of memory to clean! Anyway, this tip is very easy to use and helpful. But one question (that is not important much) is, how much memory does Disk Inventory X uses? I was worried that it might create extra dump and chunks, because it’s a single-use program that I’m using. Keep up the good word and tips!

    -And Old Man Walking On The Street

  17. My problem is that my mac storage space keeps disappearing, and I have to restart my computer to get that storage space back. Maybe something like chrome just eats up 6 GB of space? Anyone else have this issue?

    1. Your system software will easily use up that much disk space to temporarily store RAM. You need to have a lot more than 6G free.

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