When the hard disk or SSD is occupied by too many files, it becomes impossible for the operating system to handle various operations. Here’s how to recover space when the message “Your disk is almost full” appears

If you have a Mac with a hard drive or a very large SSD, sooner or later you will see the message: “Your boot disk is almost full. You must free space on the startup disk by deleting files”: the system is simply warning that the available storage space has become limited; as you can imagine, to solve the problem just free space (compressing, moving on a different disk or deleting files no longer needed) and then empty the trash. Yes, but how to understand which elements are occupying more space than others?

Identifying which files take up space 

A simple first method with recent versions of OS X is to select “About this Mac” from the Apple menu and click on “Archive”: you will see a graph that shows the space occupied by applications, movies, audio files and understand from where to start. If the space is mainly occupied by movies or photos, you will have to try to move to a different disk or delete the files of this type in the documents folder or where they are stored.

Finding large files from the Finder 

To find files that take up a lot of space on our disk or SSD drive, a simple trick is this:

  1. In the Finder, choose “Start” from the “Go” menu or, alternatively, press Shift-Command (⌘) -H.
  2. Select “Search” from the “File” menu or alternatively press Command (⌘) -F.
  3. Click on the “Type” pop-up menu, then choose “More …”
  4. From the “Select a search attribute” list, select “File size”. Make sure no other options are selected and click OK.
  5. Change the “equal” option in the pop-up menu and choose “greater than”, then change the “KB” unit to the pop-up menu with “MB” or “GB” (depending on what you want to search for).
  6. Enter the minimum file size. Indicating, for example, 1 GB will find files larger than 1 GB. It is initially advisable to set 100 MB, changing this value to increase or decrease the number of results. The search starts as soon as we enter file sizes.

Deleting iTunes backups iTunes 

Backups of iOS devices are very convenient because they allow you to have a copy of the data to be used in case of replacement, loss or damage of the device. In addition, backups allow you to transfer data from the last device to the new one. Every time we make a copy, it takes up precious space on disk (especially if the backup we make is of devices larger than 16 GB).

iTunes backups are stored in the ~/Library/Application Support/MobileSync/Backup/ folder. There is no need to move from the Finder to this folder but older backups can be managed by iTunes:

  1. Open iTunes and choose “Preferences” from the “iTunes” menu
  2. Click on “Devices”.
  3. From here you can select and delete the backup that you no longer need (“Delete backup”). By holding down the Ctrl key on the name of one of the backups, you can also show the original folder with the file in the Finder and from there, copy it to an external drive or to a network storage location.

Deleting files from the download folder 

Items downloaded from the Internet can be found in the Downloads folder. If there are many downloaded items in this folder that are no longer needed, it is obviously possible to delete them and free up disk space. Click “Download” in the Finder sidebar or press and hold the Download stack in the Dock and choose “Open in Finder”. At this point, just drag the unwanted items to the Trash and choose “Empty Trash” from the “Finder” menu.

Specific utility 

In addition to the options that allow “manually” to understand which documents occupy space, there are obviously no specific applications born for this purpose. Disk Inventory X, for example, allows you to graphically display the contents of a drive and understand which elements take up more space. Similar features are offered by OmniDiskSweeeper and GrandPerspectiveIf your problem is too many applications installed, before you drag them to the trash, we suggest you to uninstall.

Using the mac OS X High Sierra and later tools 

The information above is useful if you have an operating system prior to macOS X High Sierra but if you can install an updated version you can take advantage of Apple’s direct help which allows you to locate many of the options that we have shown above in an “embedded” application which you can access by clicking on “About this Mac” from the Apple menu.

If you access the “Archiving” tab you will have detailed information and also the possibility to access the location of the largest files to be deleted or deleted directly.

If your system file is very large, it will take a few minutes to get a full report on the size of the archives. Proceed maybe directly identifying with the lens on the location of the archives and bring them to the trash.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here