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How to Check Storage Space on Your Mac: 8 Best Ways

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Last updated: August 28, 2023

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Are you tired of that dreaded “Your disk is almost full” message on your Mac when you’re in the middle of something important? A cluttered hard drive isn’t just an annoyance—it’s a performance killer. Whether you’re a creative pro juggling massive files or a casual user who loves binge-watching, knowing your storage situation is crucial for a smoother, stress-free experience.

In this guide, I’m going to reveal 8 game-changing ways to check storage space on your Mac, from quick built-in shortcuts to powerhouse Terminal commands that dig deep.

Before We Begin

Besides unnecessary data and unused applications, duplicate files can also eat up valuable storage on your Mac. Using MacKeeper, you can effortlessly locate and remove these redundant files. MacKeeper even identifies photos that may look similar but aren’t exact duplicates, allowing you to free up more space with ease.

How to Check Storage Space on Your Mac

Checking storage space on your Mac helps you find out what’s taking up space on your hard drive. It gives you valuable insights into optimizing performance, ensuring smoother system updates, and figure out your next move if your startup disk is full on MacBook.

So, let’s explore the different methods you can use to check storage space on your Mac.

Method 1: Via About This Mac

If you’re looking for a quick way to check the storage situation on your Mac, look no further than the built-in About This Mac feature. This method is incredibly user-friendly and gives you a snapshot of your storage use without third-party software or technical know-how.

Here’s how to check storage space on your Mac from the About This Mac menu:

  1. Click the Apple icon in the top-left corner of your screen.
  2. Select About This Mac from the dropdown menu.
click apple icon and select about this mac
  1. Click the More Info button on the new window.
click more info
  1. Scroll down the About window and at the end of the page, you’ll see Storage section.
  2. Your hard drive will (usually named Macintosh HD) will be listed in this section with total and available storage on your Mac.
macintosh hd listed in this section with total and available storage on mac
  1. If you want to get a detailed breakdown, click the Storage Settings… button.
tap storage settings button
  1. Navigate to the Storage section on the new window.
mac storage consumption

Here, you’ll see a graphical representation of your storage use, breaking it down into various categories like Apps, Bin, Other Users, macOS, and System Data.

Method 2: From System Settings

Another convenient, built-in method to review your Mac’s storage allocation involves diving a bit deeper into System Settings. It is particularly useful if you’re troubleshooting performance issues or trying to get a better grasp on how your storage is being used.

Here’s how to check storage space on your Mac via System Settings:

  1. Click the Apple icon in the top-left corner of your screen.
  2. Choose System Settings from the dropdown menu.
click the apple icon and select system settings
  1. Click General and select Storage.
click general and select storage
  1. Here, you’ll see a graphical representation of your storage use.
mac storage consumption
  1. Click the All Volumes button next to your hard drive.
click the all volumes button next to your hard drive
  1. It will give you a detailed breakdown of various categories like Apps, Bin, Other Users, macOS, and System Data. You’ll also see the space occupied by Other Volumes on your MacBook.
breakdown of various categories like apps bin other users macos and system data

Method 3: From the System Information

If you like to dive into the details, the System Information tool is your best bet. This utility provides an exhaustive breakdown of your hardware and software configurations, including your storage information.

Here’s how to access System Information to check storage spac eon your Mac:

  1. Launch Finder on your Mac.
click finder in your dock
  1. Click Applications in the left sidebar and open the Utilities folder.
open utilities in applications
  1. Double-click the System Information app.
double click the system information app
  1. Alternatively, you can click the Apple icon in the top-left corner, choose About This Mac, click More Info, and tap the System Report button at the bottom.
click the system report button
  1. In the System Information window, look for the Storage option in the sidebar under the Hardware section.
  2. Click on it to reveal in-depth details about your storage devices. You’ll see the available capacity and how much space each partition is using, among other details.
Click on it to reveal in depth details about your storage devices

Method 4: Via Storage Status Bar

For those who prefer a quick glance without diving into menus, the Storage Status Bar offers a streamlined way to monitor storage space. Visible right at the bottom of any Finder window, this handy feature provides a real-time snapshot of your available storage.

Here’s how to enable the Storage Status bar and use it:

  1. Open any Finder window.
  2. Navigate to the View menu in the menu bar.
  3. Choose Show Status Bar.
click view and select show status bar
  1. The bottom of your Finder window will now display a status bar, which includes the available storage on the device you’re currently viewing—usually your Mac’s primary drive.
status bar at the bottom of a finder window

Method 5: Using Get Info in Finder

Sometimes you may want to examine the storage details of a specific folder, file, or even an external drive connected to your Mac. The Get Info feature in Finder allows you to do just that, offering a straightforward way to scrutinize individual items for their size, location, and more.

Here’s how to use the Get Info feature to check storage space on your Mac:

  1. Launch Finder on your Mac.
click finder in your dock
  1. Righ-click your Mac’s primary drive, usually named Macintosh HD, in the left sidebar.
  2. Select Get Info from the context menu.
select get info from the context menu
  1. A new window will open. Click the General dropdown menu.
click the general dropdown menu
  1. Here, you’ll see total capacity, available, and used storage on your Mac.
see total capacity available and used storage on your mac

This method is particularly useful when you’re trying to understand the storage impact of specific files and folders.

Method 6: Using Quick Look on the Desktop

Quick Look is another handy built-in feature on your Mac that enables you to preview files without actually opening them. This feature can also provide quick information about file size, which can be especially helpful if you’re scanning through files on your desktop and want to assess their impact on your storage.

Here’s how to use Quick Look for checking file sizes:

  1. Make sure you’re in the Finder window to start.
  2. From the menu bar at the top, click Finder and select Settings from the dropdown menu.
select settings from the dropdown menu
  1. Navigate to the General tab.
navigate to the general tab
  1. In the section labeled Show these items on the desktop, check the box next to Hard disks to enable it.
check the box next to hard disks to enable it
  1. Once you’ve done that, your Mac’s internal drive icon should now appear on your desktop.
mac internal drive icons
  1. Click to select the internal drive icon on your desktop, and press the Spacebar on your keyboard.
macbook pro spacebar
  1. A Quick Look popup will appear, showing you the total storage size of your internal drive as well as the amount of space still available.
quick look pop up showing total and available storage

Method 7: Using Disk Utility

Disk Utility is an often-underutilized tool that comes pre-installed on every Mac. While it’s commonly used for partition management and repairing disk permissions on Mac, it’s also a robust resource for monitoring your storage space.

Disk Utility shows technical data, including disk usage, free space, and storage format—valuable information for those who wish to go beyond the basics. Here’s how to use Disk Utility to check storage space on your Mac:

  1. Launch Finder on your Mac.
click finder in your dock
  1. Click Applications in the left sidebar and open the Utilities folder.
open utilities in applications
  1. Double-click the Disk Utility app to open it.
launch disk utility from utilities
  1. In the Disk Utility window, you’ll see a list of drives and their associated partitions on the left sidebar.
  2. Select your primary drive, usually named Macintosh HD. The main panel will display various details about the selected drive, including its total capacity, available, and used space.
hard drive capacity available and used storage in disk utility

Method 8: Running a Terminal Comman

For those who aren’t afraid to venture into the command-line interface, Terminal offers a powerful way to check your Mac’s storage status. With just a simple command, you can get a comprehensive output that details your disk usage, right down to the last byte.

Here’s how to use Terminal to check storage space on your Mac:

  1. Open Terminal by typing Terminal in Spotlight search (Command ⌘ + Spacebar).
type terminal in spotlight search
  1. Once the Terminal window is open, type the following command and press Enter:
df -h
type df h in terminal
  1. The command will display a detailed list of mounted volumes along with their storage details, such as total size, used space, and available space. The columns are generally self-explanatory, but what you’ll most likely focus on is the line that refers to your main disk, usually identified as /dev/disk1s1 or similar.
list of mounted volumes and their storage details in terminal

This method is ideal for power users, system administrators, or anyone comfortable with command-line operations. It’s a quick and potent way to keep tabs on your storage without additional software.

How to Manage Storage in macOS

Knowing how much storage space you have left on your Mac is only half the battle. The real trick is efficiently managing that space to ensure optimal system performance and ease of use.

Whether you’re dealing with a nearly full hard drive or simply wanting to declutter, effective storage management is key. Below, I’ve shared effective tips to manage your storage space on Mac.

1. Optimize Storage Feature

The Optimize Storage feature in macOS is a built-in tool designed to help you manage and free up disk space efficiently. Leveraging this feature can be a game-changer in keeping your Mac decluttered and running smoothly.

Here’s how to use this feature to optimize storage on your Mac:

  1. Navigate to About This Mac by clicking the Apple icon.
click apple icon and select about this mac
  1. Click the More Info button on the new window.
click more info
  1. Scroll down the About window and at the end of the page, you’ll see Storage section. Click the Storage Settings… button in this section.
tap storage settings button
  1. In the Recomendations section, you’ll see the following options for optimizing storage:
  • Store in iCloud: This moves files, photos, and messages to iCloud, freeing up local storage.
  • Empty Bin Automatically: Deletes files in the Bin that have been there for more than 30 days.
storage optimization recommendtaions in system settings

2. Uninstall Unnecessary Applications

Uninstalling unnecessary applications is an effective way to free up valuable storage space on your Mac. Over time, you may accumulate apps you no longer use or need. Removing these can not only declutter your system but also improve its overall performance.

Here’s how to uninstall apps on your Mac:

  1. Open Finder and navigate to the Applications folder.
  2. Drag and drop applications you no longer use into the Bin or right-click and select Move to Bin.
right click an application and select move to bin

Alternatively, you can use MacKeeper to uninstall unwanted apps on your Mac. Here’s how:

  1. Download and install MacKeeper on your Mac.
  2. After installation, launch MacKeeper and click the Smart Uninstaller in the left-hand menu.
click smart uninstaller in the left sidebar
  1. Click Start Scan.
click start scan in smart uninstaller
  1. Select the applications you want to delete from the list and click Remove Selected.
select the applications you want to remove and click remove selected
  1. Tap the Remove button on the pop-up to confirm the deletion.
click remove on the pop up window in smart uninstaller
  1. MacKeeper will uninstall the apps and remove associated files and folders. You will get a Removal Completed notification. If you want to scan your Mac again, click Rescan.
click rescan in smart uninstaller

3. Clear Cache and Temporary Files

Cache and temporary files are often generated by apps and browsers to speed up tasks but can accumulate over time, unnecessarily hogging disk space. Regularly removing them can maintain your system’s health and efficiency.

Here’s how to clear temp files on your Mac:

  1. Click the Finder icon in the Dock to open a Finder window.
click finder in your dock
  1. In the menu bar, click Go and then Go to Folder.
open finder click go menu and select go to folder
  1. In the Go to Folder window, type the following path and press Enter:
~/Library/Caches
type library caches in the window
  1. Locate the folder for the application you want to clear the cache for. If you’re not sure which folder belongs to the app, you can look for folders with the same name as the app.
  2. Right-click the folder and select Move to Bin from the menu.
right click the folder and select move to bin from the menu
  1. Right-click the Bin icon in the Dock and select Empty Bin to delete the folder permanently.
right click the bin and select empty bin

MacKeeper offers an easier way to remove cache and junk files from your Mac. You don’t have to find the files manually, preventing accidental deletion of important files. Here’s how to use MacKeeper to clear cache on your Mac:

  1. Download and install MacKeeper on your Mac.
  2. Launch MacKeeper and go to the Safe Cleanup tab.
click safe cleanup under the cleaning section
  1. Click Start Scan and wait for the results.
click start scan in safe cleanup
  1. Review the items you want to remove. Select them individually or click Check All.
select junk files to remove or click check all
  1. Next, click Clean Junk Files.
tap clean junk files
  1. This will clear temp files on Mac, and you’ll get a Cleaning Completed notification on your screen. Click Rescan to repeat the process.
click rescan in safe cleanup

4. Move Files to External Storage

External storage solutions, such as USB drives, external hard drives, or even network-attached storage systems, offer an excellent way to declutter your Mac’s internal storage. This is particularly useful for large files like video projects, high-resolution images, or extensive databases that you don’t frequently access but still need to retain for future use.

Here’s how to move files to external storage on Mac:

  1. Choose an external storage solution that suits your needs, whether it’s a portable USB drive or a more extensive external hard drive.
  2. Format the device to be compatible with macOS. (Check out my detailed guide on how to format a drive on Mac.)
  3. Plug your external storage device into an available port on your Mac, like a USB or Thunderbolt port.
  4. Open Finder and locate the files you wish to move.
  5. Drag the selected files to the external storage device, which should appear in the Finder sidebar.
  6. After the transfer is complete, open the external storage device folder to confirm the files have been successfully moved.
  7. Before unplugging the external storage, right-click its icon in the Finder sidebar and choose Eject to safely disconnect it.

5. Empty the Trash

An often-overlooked step, but simply emptying your Trash on Mac can free up a significant amount of storage. Here’s how to empty the Bin on your Mac:

  1. Right-click the Bin icon in your Dock.
  2. Select Empty Bin.
right click the bin and select empty bin

6. Delete Old or Unnecessary Files

Over time, your Mac accumulates a variety of files—documents, downloads, media, and more—that you may no longer need. These files can take up valuable storage space and contribute to system clutter. Regularly deleting old or unnecessary files is an essential Mac maintenance task to keep your system running smoothly.

Here’s how to delete old or unnecessary files on your Mac:

  1. Start by identifying the types of files you want to delete. These could range from old school assignments and outdated resumes to duplicate photos and unused software installers.
  2. Use Finder to navigate through your folders, like Downloads, Recents, and Desktop.
  3. Before permanently deleting anything, review the files to ensure they are not needed for current projects or have sentimental value.
  4. Select the files you wish to delete and right-click to choose the Move to Bin option.
right click the files and select move to bin
  1. Alternatively, you can drag the files into the Bin icon on your Dock.
  2. Right-click the Bin icon and select Empty Bin.
right click the bin and select empty bin

7. Declutter Your Desktop

A cluttered desktop not only makes it difficult to locate files but can also affect your Mac’s performance. While the impact is minimal for a few items, a cluttered desktop can noticeably slow down your machine, especially during startup. Keeping your desktop clean helps optimize your computer’s performance and make your workspace more efficient.

Here’s how to declutter your Mac:

  1. Before starting the decluttering process, sort your desktop files into categories such as work, personal, media, and others. This will give you a clearer idea of what you have.
  2. Right-click (or control-click) on the desktop and choose New Folder to create folders for each category you’ve identified.
right click the desktop and select new folder
  1. Drag and drop the sorted files into the corresponding folders.
  2. Review files and folders and delete outdated or unnecessary items by moving them to the Bin.
  3. Once you’re sure about what to delete, right-click the Bin and choose Empty Bin to permanently remove those files.
  4. If you’re using macOS Mojave or later, you can use the Stacks feature to automatically organize your desktop. To use it, right-click the desktop and choose Use Stacks to enable this feature.
right click the desktop and select use stacks

8. Manage Startup Items

Startup items are applications, services, or tasks that automatically launch when you boot up your Mac. While some of these are essential for system performance, others can drain your system resources, leading to a slower startup time.

Removing unnecessary startup items can free up RAM on your Mac and improve its overall performance. Follow these steps to manage startup items on your Mac:

  1. Click the Apple icon in the top left corner of your screen and tap System Settings.
click the apple icon and select system settings
  1. Select General and click Login Items in the right menu.
click general and select the login items tab
  1. Here, you’ll see the items that launch when you start up your Mac.
  2. Select the login item you want to remove and click the button at the bottom of the list to remove the login item.
select an item and click the minus icon to delete it

An easier way to remove login items on your Mac is using MacKeeper. Follow these steps to get rid of unnecessary login items on your Mac:

  1. Download MacKeeper and install it on your Mac.
  2. Open Login Items under Performance in MacKeeper.
tap login items under performance
  1. Click Start Scan.
tap start scan
  1. Select unnecessary items from the list and click Remove Selected Items.
select the files you want to delete and tap remove selected items
  1. Tap the Remove button on the pop-up.
tap remove on the pop up
  1. It will remove your selected items from the system startup list. You can click Rescan to repeat the process.
tap rescan

9. Find and Delete Duplicate Files

Duplicate files are sneaky storage hogs that can accumulate over time. These could be multiple copies of the same photo, document, or even applications. Not only do they consume valuable disk space, but they can also make your file system messy and confusing.

Here’s how to remove duplicate files on your Mac:

  1. Open Finder on your Mac, click the File menu and select New Smart Folder.
click file in the menu bar and select new smart folder
  1. Click the + icon in the upper-right corner of the New Smart Folderwindow.
click the icon in the upper right corner of the new smart folder window
  1. Set the search parameters for finding duplicate files. For instance, select Kind as the first condition, Image as the second, and PNG as the third if you want to access duplicate image files on your Mac.
  2. Click the + sign again, select Name, choose is, and type in copy.
  3. Click Save to save the search results as a Smart Folder.
set search parameters and click save
  1. Specify a name and location for your Smart Folder and tap the Save button.
specify a name and location for your smart folder and tap save
  1. Review the search results and delete the duplicate files.

Alternatively, you can use MacKeeper’s Duplicates Finder to find and delete duplicates on your Mac. Follow these steps to delete duplicates on your Mac using MacKeeper:

  1. Download and install MacKeeper on your Mac.
  2. Open MacKeeper on your Mac and click Duplicates Finder in the left sidebar.
click duplicates finder in the left sidebar
  1. Click Start Scan.
click start scan in duplicates finder
  1. Select a folder in the left menu to review duplicate files before deletion.
click an item in the left sidebar
  1. Alternatively, you can click Check All and tap the Remove Selected button to remove all duplicate files at once.
click check all and tap remove selected
  1. Tap the Remove button on the pop-up to confirm the deletion.
click remove on the pop up window in duplicates finder
  1. This will remove the selected files, and you’ll get a Removal Completed message. Click Finish to end the process.
click finish to complete the process

What Else Can MacKeeper Do?

Besides uninstalling apps, deleting duplicates, managing login items, and removing junk files on your Mac, MacKeeper has many valuable optimization tools to optimize your Mac’s storage, run a virus scan, and block annoying ads on your Mac. Learn more about its features in my detailed Mackeeper review.

10. Perform Regular Audits

Consistency is key when it comes to managing your Mac’s storage space efficiently. Regular audits of your system can help you maintain optimal performance, catch potential issues before they become serious problems, and ensure you’re making the most of your available storage.

It’s a proactive approach that keeps you ahead of clutter and storage woes, contributing to a smoother and more reliable computing experience. Over time, this consistent attention to detail can prolong your machine’s life and provide you with a more enjoyable user experience.

Check Your Mac’s Used and Available Space Quickly

Now that you know how to check and manage storage space on your Mac, you may want to learn more about making the most of your system resources. Here are a few tips to get you started:

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is taking up so much space on my Mac?

    Various files and applications can take up space on your Mac. Common culprits include system files, apps, documents, media files like photos and videos, and temporary files such as cache and logs. You can check what’s taking up space by going to About This Mac and then the Storage tab.

  2. How much space should the system take up on Mac?

    The system storage on a Mac can vary depending on the macOS version and installed updates, but it generally occupies around 8-15GB. If you notice system storage taking up significantly more space, it might include temporary files, caches, or system backups that could be safely cleaned to free up space.

  3. What should I delete from my Mac?

    To free up space on your Mac, consider deleting unused apps, old documents, duplicate files, and temporary files like cache and logs. Emptying the Bin can also reclaim storage. Always be cautious when removing system files; consult expert advice or use trusted software to assist with the cleanup.

  4. How much free space should I have on my Mac hard drive?

    It’s generally recommended to keep at least 10-15% of your Mac’s hard drive free for optimal performance. Lack of free space can slow down system processes and hinder software updates. You can check your available storage by going to About This Mac > More Info > Storage tab.

  5. What do I do when my Mac storage is full?

    When your Mac storage is full, start by emptying the Bin and deleting unnecessary files like old documents and unused apps. You can also clear cache and temporary files. Consider using built-in macOS tools to optimize space, or move files to external drives or cloud storage.

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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