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How to Add Storage to Your Mac: 5 Practical Options

Maximize Mac storage with easy ways and save more files.

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Last updated: December 22, 2023

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TL;DR

To add storage to your Mac, follow one of these methods:

  1. Connect an external hard drive to increase storage cost-effectively.
  2. Buy more iCloud storage to optimize local storage.
  3. Use home network storage for additional capacity.
  4. Use high-capacity SD cards for extra storage if your Mac has an SD card slot.
  5. Upgrade with Solid State Drive (SSD) to boost performance and capacity.

Ever get that annoying “Storage Almost Full” message on your Mac? I sure did, and it slowed down my Mac and made apps crash. That’s when I realized I needed more storage. So, I figured out some simple ways to add more space to my Mac and thought I’d share them with you. These tips to add storage to your Mac are easy to follow and really work. So, let’s get started!

Before We Begin

Running out of storage space can slow down your Mac’s performance and make storing important files difficult. Download MacKeeper and use its Safe Cleanup and Smart Uninstaller to free up space and optimize storage on Mac.

What to Consider Before Adding Storage to Your Mac

Adding storage is the best way to have enough room for new updates and files. But there are a few things to think about first. Here are some key points to consider before you add more storage to your Mac:

  • 💻 Compatibility: First things first, make sure the storage device you choose is a match for your Mac’s hardware and operating system.
  • 💾 Type of Storage: You’ve got options like Solid State Drives (SSDs) and Hard Disk Drives (HDDs). Think about what you need – is it speed, massive capacity, or something budget-friendly?
  • 💽 Capacity: How much extra space do you really need? This depends on your work – are you a video editor needing tons of space or just looking to store more documents and photos? Plan according to your usage.
  • 💰 Cost: Let’s be real, upgrading storage can hit your wallet, especially for larger SSDs. Set a budget and see what fits. Sometimes, a modest increase is all you need.
  • 🔧 Installation Process: Some upgrades are DIY-friendly, others… not so much. Ask yourself if you’re up for the challenge or prefer to take it to a professional.

Free Up Space on Your Mac With MacKeeper

Before you add storage to your Mac, freeing up the existing space. Decluttering your Mac and clearing junk files can free up significant storage space. While you can do it manually, I recommend using MacKeeper – it’s safer and quicker.

Here are the steps to free up space on your Mac using MacKeeper’s Safe Cleanup:

  1. Download and install MacKeeper. 
  2. Launch MacKeeper and select Safe Cleanup from the left-hand menu.
click safe cleanup under the cleaning section
  1. Click Start Scan to scan your Mac for unnecessary files.
click start scan in safe cleanup
  1. Once the scan is complete, review the files that can be safely removed. Check the boxes next to the files you want to delete, or click the Check All option to select all the unnecessary files.
select junk files to remove or click check all
  1. Click Clean Junk Files to delete the selected files.
tap clean junk files
  1. This will remove your selected files and show a Cleaning Completed message. Click Continue to close the program.
click rescan to scan the system again

What Else Can MacKeeper Do?

Besides cleaning your system, MacKeeper can also delete duplicates on your Mac, free up your Mac RAM, and uninstall unnecessary apps on Mac. Check out my in-depth MacKeeper review and its features to learn more about it.

How to Add Storage to Your Mac

Why You Can Trust MacBook Journal verify badge We always conduct first-hand research and verify every method or solution we present, ensuring you receive reliable and effective advice. Learn more about our process.

Below, I’ve put together some easy ways to add storage to your Mac. Check them out and add extra space to your Mac with minimal fuss.

1. Use External Storage

An external drive is a convenient way to add storage to your Mac. It’s affordable and lets you move files between computers or back up your Mac data. Make sure to choose a high-quality external drive and regularly back up your files to avoid data loss.

If you own a newer MacBook, connecting to an external hard drive may require a USB-C adapter.

To install an external hard drive to add storage to your Mac, follow these steps:

  1. Verify your Mac’s USB port type via Apple’s official website.
2012 macbook pro 13 inch retina side left closed
Source: Apple
  1. Choose an external hard drive with compatible specifications. I recommend using one with a minimum of one TB of memory and 120 Mbps read/128 Mbps write speed. This should be enough for average Mac systems.
  2. Install any necessary software drivers for the external hard drive.
  3. Connect the external hard drive to your Mac, and use the additional space.

2. Buy More Storage via iCloud

iCloud is a great choice for adding more space to your Mac. It keeps less-used files in the cloud and brings them back when you need them. You can check if this feature is active on your Mac in your Apple ID settings.

If you want to purchase more iCloud storage, follow these steps:

  1. Click the Apple logo > System Settings > Apple ID.
  1. Select iCloud in your Apple ID.
click your apple id and select icloud
  1. Click the Manage button next to Account Storage.
click the manage button next to account storage
  1. Select Change Storage Plan… in the new window.
click change storage plan in account storage
  1. Choose the amount of additional storage you think would be good enough for your use, and click Upgrade to iCloud+.
choose a storage plan you need and click upgrade to icloud plus
  1. Enter your Apple ID username and password, and click Sign in.
enter your apple id and password and click sign in
  1. Click Buy to complete your purchase.

3. Connect to Network Storage

You can also increase your MacBook’s storage capacity by using existing storage elsewhere in your home. I recommend using a wired network using a Cat 6 cable for the fastest speeds. If you want convenience, use Wi-Fi, but signal quality affects speed.

To add network storage to your MacBook, follow these steps:

  1. Determine if you have network storage available in your home.
  2. Connect your MacBook to the same network as the network storage.
  3. Click Go in the Finder menu and select Connect to Server to locate the network storage on your MacBook.
click go and select connect to server
  1. Enter the address of the network storage device, which is typically a URL, and click Connect.
enter the the network storage device address and click connect
  1. Authenticate with your username and password, and select the volume you want to access.
  2. Click OK, and the network storage should appear in the Finder.

4. Use SD Cards

Expanding your MacBook’s storage using its SD card slot, available on some models, is a budget-friendly option. SD cards are affordable and easily upgradable to higher capacities, making them a practical solution.

However, on recent MacBooks with an SD slot, the card may protrude, affecting the laptop’s appearance and posing a risk of damage to the port or card, especially when carried in tight spaces.

5. Upgrade Mac Storage With SSD

Upgrading your Mac’s storage with SSD voids its warranty and may not be possible on newer models where the SSD is soldered to the logic board. Always check your model’s upgrade compatibility first.

Upgrading your Mac’s storage with an SSD (Solid State Drive) is an effective way to boost its performance and storage capacity. SSDs are faster and more reliable than traditional hard drives, leading to quicker boot times, faster file transfers, and overall snappier performance.

However, check your Mac’s compatibility with SSD upgrades, as some models might have restrictions or require specific types of SSDs. An SSD is integrated into MacBooks and iMacs (after 2019), while older iMacs and MacBook Pro models use a hard disk drive (HDD) or a fusion drive.

What You Need to Upgrade Mac Storage With SSD

To upgrade your Mac storage with SSD, you can find upgrade kits with all the necessary components and instructions for upgrades. Some of these kits even include video resources to guide you through the process.

In most cases, you will need:

  • A new SSD
  • A screwdriver set that matches your Mac
  • An extra external drive or enclosure for your old drive to clone it

Next, follow these steps:

  1. Power off your Mac and unplug any external devices.
click the apple icon and select shut down
  1. Open your Mac and locate the existing hard drive.
  2. Remove the old hard drive and install the new SSD in its place.
  3. Close your Mac and power it on.
  4. Use your backup to restore your data to the new SSD.

Add Storage to Your Mac and Improve Its Performance

Now that you know how to add storage to your Mac, you may want to use the available storage to maximum capacity. Here are a few tips to consider:

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Can you upgrade the storage on a MacBook Pro?

    Yes, you can upgrade the storage on a MacBook Pro. However, the upgrade process and compatibility may vary depending on the model and year of your MacBook Pro. For example, the 1TB SSD Kit for Mac Pro replaces your system’s current SSD module(s), and installation requires a second Mac running Apple Configurator 2 and a USB-C cable.

  2. How much storage space should I add to my Mac?

    The storage space you should add to your Mac depends on your needs. If you store a lot of media files such as photos and videos, getting an external hard drive with at least 1TB of storage is recommended. But if you use your Mac mainly for work and don’t require large storage capacity, purchasing more iCloud storage may be sufficient.

  3. Is it worth getting a MacBook with 256GB of storage?

    Whether a MacBook with 256GB of storage is worth it depends on your storage needs. If you need a lot of locally stored files like photos, videos, music, or games, 256GB of internal storage should be enough. But if you anticipate needing more storage in the future or you work with large files, consider a MacBook with more storage.

  4. How much RAM do I need for my MacBook Air or MacBook Pro?

    For basic tasks such as web browsing and watching movies, the default 8GB RAM should be sufficient. However, for memory-intensive tasks like video editing, photo editing, audio production, and 3D rendering, getting at least 16GB RAM or more is recommended.

  5. Does RAM increase storage?

    No, RAM doesn’t increase RAM storage. Random Access Memory is a volatile memory used to temporarily store data your computer is currently using or processing. Upgrading the RAM can improve the performance of your computer, but it will not add storage to your Mac.

Hashir Ibrahim

Author

I'm Hashir, a tech journalist with a decade of experience. My work has been featured in some of the top tech publications like MakeUseOf and MakeTechEasier. I have a bachelor's degree in IT, a master's in cybersecurity, and extensive knowledge of Apple hardware, specifically MacBooks. As the senior writer at MacBook Journal, I write in depth guides that help you solve any issues you have with your mac and unbiased reviews that help you make the right buying decisions.

Ojash

Reviewer

Hi there! I'm Ojash, a tech journalist with over a decade of experience in the industry. I've had the privilege of contributing to some of the world's largest tech publications, making my mark as a respected Mac expert. My passion lies in exploring, using, and writing about MacBooks, and I enjoy sharing my expertise to help others make informed decisions and get the most out of their MacBook experience. Join me as we delve into the fascinating world of MacBooks together!

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