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How to Clean Junk Files on Mac: 9 Quick and Easy Ways

Remove junk files and clutter to efficiently free up Mac storage.

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Last updated: December 11, 2023

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To clean junk files on Mac manually, click Go in the menu bar and select Go to Folder. Then, type the following paths to clear cache, user log files, system log files, and app leftovers:

  1. ~/Library/Caches
  2. ~/Library/Logs
  3. /var/log
  4. ~/Library/Application Support
  5. ~/Library/Internet Plug-Ins/

Alternatively, use MacKeeper to quickly clean different types of junk files in one go.

Do you hate seeing that spinning beach ball whenever you open an app on your Mac? Often, too many junk files are the main reason for excessive lag and crashes. They slow down your Mac’s performance, making it take forever to load apps. In this guide, I’m going to share some easy methods I personally use to clean up junk files on my Mac. These tricks will help you regain your Mac’s lost speed and storage space.

Before We Begin

Junk, cache, and leftover files can slow down your Mac. To avoid this and optimize your Mac, download MacKeeper and use its Safe Cleanup feature. It helps identify and clean junk files on Mac, making it run faster and load quicker.

What Are Junk Files on Mac?

Junk files on a Mac are files that are no longer needed or useful and are just taking up space on your computer’s hard drive. They can include temporary files, cache files, log files, and other files that accumulate over time.

Some examples of junk files on a Mac include:

File TypeDescription
🗂️ Cache FilesSpeed up app operations, include images, scripts, and necessary data.
📜 Log FilesTrack system events and errors, can use excess space with many apps.
⏳ Temporary FilesUsed for tasks like downloads or updates, unnecessary after completion.
🌐 Unused Language FilesAccompany apps, but extraneous if only one language is used.
📑 Duplicate FilesCopies of existing files, occupy significant space, especially with large media collections.

How to Clean Junk Files on Mac

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Now that you know what junk files are and how to identify them, let’s explore some cleaning methods. Below, I’ve shared the automatic and manual methods for deleting junk files on your Mac. All these steps are tested on my MacBook Air M2, 2022.

Method 1: Get Rid of Junk Files on Mac With MacKeeper

If your Mac’s hard drive is cluttered with junk files, I suggest you go for the quickest and most effective way to clean junk files – MacKeeper’s Safe Cleanup. This feature removes unwanted and unnecessary junk files in no more than three clicks and frees up as much space as possible.

Here’s how to use Safe Cleanup to delete junk files and declutter your Mac:

  1. Download and install MacKeeper on your Mac.
  2. Now launch MacKeeper and select Safe Cleanup in the left sidebar.
click safe cleanup under the cleaning section
  1. Click Start Scan.
click start scan in safe cleanup
  1. From the list of detected items, choose which ones you want to remove from your Mac or click Check All.
select junk files to remove or click check all
  1. Click Clean Junk Files.
tap clean junk files
  1. Wait for MacKeeper to finish cleaning. When it’s done, you’ll get a Cleaning Completed notification. Click Rescan to scan your Mac again.
click rescan to scan the system again

Method 2: Remove Junk Files Manually

While I usually recommend the ease and security of MacKeeper for cleaning Mac junk files, you can also do it manually. The manual approach offers a bit more control over what gets deleted but you have to be very careful while choosing which files to remove.

Follow these methods to manually clean junk files on Mac and improve its performance.

1. Clear Cache Files

This step involves removing cache files created by apps to enhance their performance. These files can quickly accumulate and take up significant space on your Mac. Clearing them frees up space on your Mac and improves system speed and efficiency.

So, follow these steps to clear cache files on your Mac manually:

  1. Open Finder, click Go in the menu bar, and select Go to Folder.
click go in the menu bar and select go to folder
  1. Type in the following path and press Enter:
~/Library/Caches
type library caches in the window
  1. Select the cache files you want to delete, or select all cache files. Right-click the selected files and select Move to Bin.
right click system folders and select move to bin
  1. Right-click the Bin icon in Dock and select Empty Bin to remove junk files from your Mac permanently.
right click the bin and select empty bin

2. Remove User Log Files

User logs keep track of what you do on your Mac, like the apps you use and files you open. Over time, these logs can pile up and take up a lot of space. Deleting them helps clear out old, unnecessary data and makes more room on your Mac.

Here’s how to remove user log files on Mac:

  1. Open Finder and press Command ⌘ + Shift ⇧ + G.
macbook air command shift g keys
  1. Type the following path in the field and press Enter:
~/Library/Logs
type library logs
  1. You will see all the user log files. You can move the files manually to the Bin. If you want to declutter your Mac completely, select all the user log files and delete them by right-clicking and selecting Move to Bin.
right click the user log files and select move to bin
  1. Next, right-click the Bin icon in Dock and select Empty Bin.
right click the bin and select empty bin

3. Delete System Log Files

System logs are files your Mac creates to record system events and operations. Like user logs, they can build up over time, taking up space. Now, I know what you’re thinking – “Aren’t these logs important for developers to diagnose errors and issues?” You’re right, but deleting these files won’t harm your device.

So, let’s see how to delete system data on Mac:

  1. Open Finder, click Go in the menu bar, and select Go to Folder.
click go in the menu bar and select go to folder
  1. Type in the following path and press Enter:
/var/log
type in var log and press enter
  1. Select the system log files you want to delete or delete all system log files by dragging them to the Bin.
  2. Alternatively, you can right-click the selected files and select Move to Bin.
right click the system log files and select move to bin
  1. Don’t forget to empty the Trash on your Mac by right-clicking the Bin icon in Dock and selecting Empty Bin.
right click the bin and select empty bin

4. Remove Localization Files

Many apps on Mac come with multiple language files. But realistically, I only speak and use one language. So, why keep the rest? If you’re like me and use only one language, the other language files are just taking up extra space. Removing these unnecessary language files frees up a good amount of storage on your Mac.

To remove these files, you can follow these steps:

  1. Open Finder and navigate to the Applications folder.
click applications in the left sidebar of finder
  1. Find the app you want to remove language files from. Right-click the app and select Show Package Contents.
right click the app and select show package contents
  1. Open the Contents folder and navigate to the Resources folder inside.
navigate to the resources folder in contents
  1. Subfolders that end with lproj are language files containing localization information for specific languages. Each folder is dedicated to a particular language. For instance, the folder en.lproj contains localization files for English.
subfolders ending with lproj in resources
  1. Select and delete the language folders you don’t need.
select and delete the language folders in resources
  1. Then, empty the Bin to completely remove localization files from your Mac.
right click the bin and select empty bin

5. Delete App Leftovers

When you uninstall apps from your Mac, they usually leave leftover files or data. These leftovers take up space and clutter your system. By finding and deleting these remnants, you free up valuable storage and keep your Mac clean and organized.

To remove leftover files from your Mac, follow these steps:

  1. Open Finder, click Go in the menu bar, and select Go to Folder.
click go in the menu bar and select go to folder
  1. Paste the following in the empty field one by one:
~/Library/
~/Library/Application Support
~/Library/Application Support/CrashReporter/
~/Library/Caches
~/Library/Internet Plug-Ins/
~/Library/Preferences/
~/Library/Saved Application State/
  1. Delete the folders and files associated with apps you have uninstalled by sending them to the Bin.

Although the manual method works, it’s time-consuming and runs the risk of deleting essential files. So, I always use MacKeeper to remove leftover files while uninstalling apps. It saves me from accidentally deleting something important.

Here’s how you can use MacKeeper to delete leftovers from your Mac:

  1. Download and install MacKeeper on your Mac.
  2. Launch MacKeeper and click Smart Uninstaller in the left sidebar.
click smart uninstaller in the left sidebar
  1. Click Start Scan.
click start scan in smart uninstaller
  1. Click Leftovers in the left menu.
click leftovers in the left sidebar
  1. Select the leftover files you want to delete and click Remove Selected.
select the leftover files you want to delete and click remove selected
  1. Click Remove on the pop-up to confirm the deletion.
click remove on the pop up
  1. You’ll get a Removal Completed notification. Click Rescan if you want to run the scan again.
click rescan in smart uninstaller

What Else Can MacKeeper Do?

Besides deleting junk files and leftover files, MacKeeper is your one-stop solution for all your Mac optimization needs. You can use it to scan your Mac for viruses, block unwanted ads on your Mac, and free up RAM. If you want to learn more about its amazing features, read my detailed MacKeeper review.

6. Delete Unused .DMGs

I always forget to delete them after installing apps or extracting files from downloaded disk images (.DMGs). If you’re like me, you must have a few .DMG files in your Downloads folder. They can take up unnecessary space and slow down your system.

Here’s how to delete disk images on Mac:

  1. Open Finder from your Dock.
click finder in your dock
  1. Click the small magnifying glass icon in the top right corner of the Finder window.
click the small magnifying icon in the top right of finder
  1. Type dmg in the search bar, and it will show all files with the same extension in their name.
type dmg in the search bar
  1. Delete the .dmg files you no longer need by right-clicking and selecting Move to Bin.
right click the dmg files and select move to bin

7. Remove Large and Old Files

Your Mac can accumulate large files and old documents, like videos or high-resolution photos, that you may no longer need. Finding and removing these can significantly free up space. It ensures your Mac’s storage is used efficiently, keeping only the files that are important and currently useful.

If you have large-sized videos and photos that you want to keep, I suggest moving them to an external drive.

Here’s how to remove large and old files on your Mac:

  1. Open Finder, click File in the menu bar, 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 Folder window.
click the icon in the upper right corner of the new smart folder window
  1. Set the search parameters for files larger than a specific size.
set the search parameters for files larger than a specific size
  1. Select the files you want to delete and move them to the Bin by right-clicking and selecting Move to Bin.
right click the files you want to delete and select move to bin
  1. Empty the Bin to remove large files from your Mac permanently.

8. Remove Xcode Junk

I frequently use Xcode on my Mac for app development and I’ve noticed it creates a lot of temporary files and data. At first, I didn’t realize the impact, but eventually, my Mac started slowing down. So, I began regularly clearing out these temp files from Xcode, which made a significant difference.

For any developer, this practice is key to keeping the Mac in top shape and ensuring optimal performance. Here’s how to remove Xcode junk on your Mac

  1. Open Finder, click Go in the menu bar, and select Go to Folder.
click go in the menu bar and select go to folder
  1. Paste the following in the empty field one by one:
~/Library/Application Support/MobileSync/Backup
~/Library/Caches/com.apple.dt.Xcode
~/Library/Developer/CoreSimulator
~/Library/Developer/Xcode/Archives
~/Library/Developer/Xcode/DerivedData
~/Library/Developer/Xcode/iOS DeviceSupport
  1. Delete any Xcode junk files you no longer need.

Get Rid of All Junk Files on Your Mac

Regularly removing junk files can free up valuable space and help your Mac run faster. Here are some more tips to improve your Mac’s performance:

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Can junk files harm my Mac?

    No, junk files themselves don’t harm your Mac. However, they can accumulate over time, taking up valuable storage space and potentially slowing down your system’s performance. Regularly cleaning these files helps maintain efficient operation and storage optimization on your Mac.

  2. How often should I clean junk files on my Mac?

    You should clean junk files on your Mac at least once a month to prevent them from accumulating. However, the frequency with which you should clean junk files can vary depending on your usage patterns and the amount of storage space on your hard drive.

  3. Can I manually clean junk files on my Mac without using a third-party app?

    Yes, you can manually clean junk files on your Mac without using a third-party app. You can do this by deleting unnecessary files, clearing browser caches and cookies, and removing old software updates. However, using third-party software makes the process quick and safe.

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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