Macs are praised for their user-friendliness, thorough user experience design and optimization. However even Apple computers have their moments when you can’t help but feel the need for explanation.
Somewhere at the top of the burning questions list is Storage. At times, you can’t even tell what takes up the space on your Mac and what do you need to delete to claim it back. System, Other, Purgeable types of storage — what are they, and more importantly, how do you clear them? Let’s get this figured out.
There have been incidents when System Storage started taking obnoxious chunks of space. Unfortunately, you can’t tell what really takes the space judging from the info provided by OS X storage tool.
It could be anything from local Time Machine backups going bananas to Spotlight indexing misbehaving and everything in between. There is no exhaustive list of what is considered System storage too. At least it is not provided by the folks at Apple. Typically, it’s all the OS X-generated files, like system logs, caches, backups (both macOS and iOS) etc.
If you are looking to get a detailed peek into your system files, you should look into third-party tools like OmniDiskSweeper or Disk Inventory X. Both are free.
Another thing worth mentioning is the fact that you might not even need to delete anything to make free space on your disk. Technically, you are not getting any more storage, as it may simply be the problem with Spotlight indexing that fails to provide accurate information regarding the free space on your drive.
To start reindexing, go to System Preferences > Spotlight and switch to Privacy tab. Next, hit ’+’ and add your drive to the list of folders you want to prevent from indexing. Reboot your Mac. Lastly, head back over to Spotlight settings and this time remove your drive from the Privacy list. This will launch Spotlight indexing which may temporary slow down your Mac until it the process is completed. Upon completion you should see a more accurate up-to-date information about your storage.
For those of you whose storage problems won’t get solved by reindexing — download MacFly Pro to sweep your system from unwanted files. Head to Cleanup section after launching the app, select System and hit ’Scan’. Once that’s done, click Review files to choose what you want to remove, and then ’Clean’.
Other storage is by far the most confusing of the bunch. The only explanation provided by Apple regarding Other files is that these are the files “that your Mac doesn't recognize as belonging to any other category”. This explanation obviously leaves a lot of room for additional interpretation. Plug-ins, extensions, files within disk images, archives, virtual machine hard drive, Windows Boot Camp partitions, etc. are all up there with the files that OS X, supposedly, considers as Other.
Fortunately, macOS Sierra and above do a better job of classifying such files through Storage Management tool. On the contrary, the tool doesn’t do well at cleanup of those files.
Manually locating and cleaning files that OS X considers to be “Other” is painstakingly time-consuming. Using third-party tools, however, makes the process a lot less frustrating. With MacFly Pro you can free up major space on your drive without breaking a sweat. From the Smart Assistant tab, run an exhaustive system-wise scan to get an overview of files that can be safely purged from your system.
Another thing you should do is check your Downloads folder or any other directory that your downloads default to. Such folders are a hub for ‘Other’ files that you tend to forget about. Revisit and remove unneeded dmgs, archives, etc.
Purgeable Storage is something you will start seeing after you have enabled Optimize Storage option. What it means is that when your MacBook runs low on free disk space it will start automatically deleting watched iTunes movies and TV series episodes.
And while we're on the topic of native Mac optimization — don't enable the Store in iCloud feature unless you want to pay for the storage plan of at least 200 gigs. If free 5GBs of space is all you've got, then you'll run into the iCloud storage is full message in no time.
In other words, it’s the storage that can be made available automatically. Note, that all purgeable files can be downloaded again on your demand. There is no real need for tips on how to erase purgeable storage on Mac, as it is done automatically. Yet, if you are the type of person who prefers doing it manually, you can open iTunes and go to Movies Library to remove films you have already watched or no longer plan on watching.
These are just a few tips that will set you on the right path to a better understanding of what’s going on with your Mac’s storage. Whether you’re looking to cleanup your startup disk or maintain it that way — MacFly Pro is your go-to assistant.