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How to Check the Storage Space on Mac

How to Check the Storage Space on Mac

Trying to download a file but don’t have enough room? Curious as to what is taking up the storage space on your Mac? 

Knowing how to check the storage space on your Mac will make it so that you’re never asking the questions, “What is taking up all of the space on my Mac?” or “How much space do I have left?”. In this article, I will go into multiple topics regarding your Mac storage. 

They will include:

  • How do I check the size of my hard drive and see what is taking up so much space?
  • How can I delete things on my Mac to create more disk space?
  • How can I get more storage space on my Mac after it has already been purchased?
  • How to use iCloud to free up storage space?
  • Tips for keeping used space on your Mac low
  • What apps make managing my Macs disk space easier and more productive?

How do I check the size of my hard drive and see what is taking up so much space?

Almost all Mac’s from 2012 and newer have an SSD (Solid State Hard Drive) that is both extremely fast, reliable, and offer us better battery life.

These hard drives are non-upgradeable so when you purchase your Mac it's important to make sure that you anticipate how much storage that you think you’re going to use. If you need more storage you would have to purchase a new Mac.

These hard drives are much more efficient than the old spinning drives that we used to use. To find out how much disk space is being used and to see the size of our hard drive, we want to follow the steps below:

1. Click the Apple logo in the upper left-hand corner of the screen and click ”About this Mac” from the drop-down list.

About this Mac Settings

2. Then, click the “Storage” button from within the window that just appeared.

Pro tip: there is a ton of other important information under the “Overview” tab that can let you know the year of your Mac and provide you with the serial number.

This is also a great way to get support or service if your Mac needs it as you can click the option here and follow the steps that Apple provides for you.

Storage space on Mac

3. Once in the storage page, there will be a color-coded bar that will display what is taking up your Mac’s disk space.

Note: it can take a few minutes for this bar to load and display your information correctly.

4. You can hover over the color-coded sections to see what is taking up space.

5. You will also see in this view that it will tell you the size of your hard drive along with how much space is remaining.

How much space is remaining

How can I delete things on my Mac to create more disk space?

1. Following the steps above, we can click on the “Manage” button to have an even further break down of what is taking up storage space on our Mac and delete files to make more room.

How to free up disk space on Mac

2. You can see here that there is a breakdown showing what is taking up space on my Mac.

I am going to take a look at “Apps” and see if there are any apps that I don’t use anymore.

Pro tip: check back every couple of months and clean out apps that you don’t use.

3. I used to play a lot of Counter-Strike but haven’t as much lately so I can highlight “Counter-Strike: Global Offensive” and click the “Delete” button in the lower right-hand corner of the screen to remove the app and free up some disk space.

4. I used to use “Microsoft OneNote” but don’t anymore so that one can be deleted the same way.

Pro tip: any item that has “GB” stands for gigabyte and will free more space than an item listed with “MB” which stands for megabyte.

Installed apps on Mac

How can I get more storage space on my Mac after it has already been purchased?

When you purchase a MacBook, the space inside can not be upgraded in the future since it is soldered to the motherboard. If you purchase an iMac or Mac Pro then you’re able to upgrade the storage at a later date.

If you have a MacBook and are running low on storage then I would recommend purchasing an external hard drive.

You can go to Apple’s Mac accessories page on their website and take a look at their storage options listed. If you see something that you like you can purchase it right from there.

The only downside to these is that they will require you to plug them into your Mac meaning if you use your laptop on the go, it is going to add an external accessory to your machine.

In the future, a tip that I always recommend is when buying a new Mac, get one storage size higher than you think you’re going to need because it’s always better to have extra that you didn’t use than to not have enough.

Especially since Macs last a long time and are reliable machines.

How to use iCloud to free up storage space

iCloud is a great way to offload some of the files from your Mac onto the cloud and free up some space. Let’s take a look at how to take advantage of iCloud and the features that it offers.

1. Launch “System Preferences”.

Mac System Preferences

2. Select “Apple ID” from within “System Preferences”.

Select Apple ID

3. Click “iCloud” from the left-hand column and you will then see a list of “Apps on this Mac using iCloud”.

4. Check the box at the bottom of the screen that says “Optimize Mac Storage”. You can also choose to add more or fewer apps to your iCloud account. This will allow your data to be synced to other devices that you own under the same Apple ID.

Click on Optimize Mac Storage

We can also use iCloud to store our photos and help reduce the amount of space they take up locally on our Mac.

1. Launch the “Photos” app from either the “Dock” or from within “Finder”.

Launch the Photos app

2. Go to “Preferences” from within “Photos”.

Go to Photos - Preferences

3. Click on the “iCloud” icon and then your photo preferences with iCloud will show up.

Click on iCloud

4. You can then see that there will be some options for us to select here.

5. I have it so that all of my photos are stored on my Mac and the original version of the photo is being stored there as well which takes up more storage space.

If you have extra space on your Mac I would recommend this setting as the full version of your photos will be stored on your Mac locally.

6. If you don’t have the space for this, you can choose “Optimize Mac Storage” and it will free up space by replacing your photos with a smaller, device-sized version. Keep in mind that you will need the internet to see the full-resolution version of the photo.

Tips for keeping used space on your Mac low

1. Empty your “Trash” often on your Mac.

2. Delete conversations from within the “Messages” app from time-to-time to free up space as there can be pictures and videos in there that you may no longer need.

3. Go through your “Downloads” folder and delete anything from within there that you no longer need to have access to.

4. Clean up your “Desktop” by deleting files that you no longer use.

5. Normally, things that take up space will be videos and pictures. Documents and music files normally do not take up large amount of space on your Mac.

The exception to this would be if you’re working with large documents or you’re listening to lossless music files.

What apps make managing my Macs disk space easier and more productive?

You now know a ton more than you knew before about your Mac’s storage but now you want to take it to the next level. This is the spot to be!

These apps will turn you into a Pro when it comes to managing and getting the most out of your Mac’s storage space:

  • DaisyDisk allows you to free up disk space by quickly finding and deleting big, useless files. I would recommend this app to anyone that owns a Mac. It’s colorful and easy-to-use interface is perfect for all users as it is approachable and efficient. You can download it from MacUpdate and enjoy a free trial before making a purchase decision.

DaisyDisk - how to manage the disk space on Mac

  • Gemini allows you to locate and eliminate duplicate files. This is perfect if you have multiple copies of the same picture and want to find and remove the duplicates. Gemini comes with a free trial that you can use and then if you love it you can purchase the app.
  • WhatSize gives you the ability to find out what files are taking up all your hard drive space and offers a more file system-like interface rather than focusing more on a graphical one. It’s more straight to the point and looks like the Finder file system.
  • AppCleaner is a free utility that allows you to uninstall apps and any remaining files that could be associated with them.


Written by Joel Lockard

Joel Lockard has had a love for technology his whole life. He works as a flight instructor and when not flying spends his time tinkering with technology especially Apple-related tech and Mac apps. His love for technology leads him to join the MacUpdate team where he gets to discover and write about Mac apps, its the best of both worlds.

Joel Lockard

Joel Lockard

Software Expert