The hard drive on your Mac is where all of the files and data required to power the computer is stored. When you started your machine for the first time, you might have been confident that you would never fill up all of those gigabytes. Your Mac is screaming fast and you have storage to spare. Life is good!what is mac other storage

Now fast forward a few months or years. You are still satisfied with the performance of your Mac but you may have noticed a slight slowdown. Maybe you were playing around with Disk Utility and found that your disk is more full than you would have expected. Whatever the reason, you have decided to embark on a disk cleanup to give yourself more storage room.

What is Other Storage on Mac?

A great way to get a sense of what is on your hard drive is to look at the ‘About This Mac’ tab.

Here’s how to view the storage currently on your Mac:

  1. Click on the Apple Icon in the upper left of your screen.
  2. Select ‘About This Mac’.
  3. Click on the Storage tab. Allow your system to complete calculating the breakdown of your disk’s storage.
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You are now presented with a horizontal bar graph that displays the amount of storage currently in use on your hard drive. The graph is broken into segments that represent various types of storage such as Apps, Documents, Photos, and Other.what is other on mac

Most of the storage designations are fairly self-explanatory. The code for applications and the data, documents, and photos all tell you exactly what types of files are occupying your storage.

But what about that Other category. What exactly is in there?

There is no easy answer to that question. Essentially, files grouped into the Other category are those which do not fit nicely into another classification. It can include system files and caches, browser extensions, media files stored inside other applications, and files that are created by third-party apps. Files that cannot be fully identified and classified by Spotlight are grouped as Other storage.

Ways to Clean Other Storage on Your Mac

There are basically two ways to remove Other storage from your Mac or MacBook. You can go about the task manually, which might give you a sense of more control but will take a considerable amount of your time. The other option is to use a third-party software tool to assist you. This is by far the fastest and easiest method to employ. Let’s look at this option first.

1 Delete Other Storage on Mac with Disk Drill

Disk Drill software for the Mac is a versatile application that can do much more than restore files which have been inadvertently deleted from your computer. It can be used to view your storage in a variety of ways that allow you to make informed decisions regarding which files you should delete to clear Other space on your Mac.

Here are step-by-step instructions to free up disk space on your Mac’s hard disk:

  1. Download Disk Drill for Mac. The free download will allow you to clean up your storage without any financial investment.
    Disk Drill
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  2. Install Disk Drill and launch the application.
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  3. Select ‘Clean up’ from the main window.
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  4. Choose the disk that you wish to analyze and click ‘Scan’.
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  5. Allow Disk Drill to fully analyze your disk. This may take several minutes depending on the size of the disk in question.
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  6. Review your disk analysis and delete unwanted or duplicate files.
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That’s the overview of the process. Let’s dig a little deeper into the disk analysis that Disk Drill performs. There are filters which will enable a thorough review of the files resident on the disk. You can select the file type to investigate, minimum file size, and how the data is displayed. You can view files and categories by the actual physical space used, the percentage of disk usage, or the number of files.
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In the far left column, you can expand the categories of files that Disk Drill has found. Running Disk Drill on my machine showed these groups of files:

  • Other
  • Pictures
  • Video
  • Archives
  • Audio
  • Documents

Now all you have to do is navigate through the groups and select the files that you would like to remove. After checking the box to the left of the filename, simply click the ‘Remove’ button to delete the selected files. Disk Drill removes them from your disk, bypassing Mac’s Trash bin.

Important! If you are unsure about deleting the file fully from your disk, you can select the ‘View in Finder’ option and then move it to the Trash. Disk Drill knows which files cannot be deleted without potentially harming your operating system and will not let you select these files.
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Using Disk Drill you can address the issue of your Mac’s Other Storage in a simple and intuitive manner. The app protects you from inadvertently deleting files that could have a negative impact on your computer.

2 Delete Your Mac’s Other Storage Manually

There are a number of methods that you can employ to manually delete files which comprise Other storage on your Mac. They are more time-consuming than using a third-party app like Disk Drill, and there is always the potential that you could delete something that your operating system may need. With those caveats in mind, here are some ways to manually clean Other storage on your Mac.

3 Identify Files Using Finder

Many temporary files that are grouped into the Other category are stored in some specific locations on your Mac. Here’s how to find them

  1. Open a Finder Window and press ⌘Cmd + ⇧Shift + G to open the ‘Go to Folder’ dropdown.
  2. Visit these locations:
    • ~/Downloads
    • ~/Library/Caches
    • ~/Documents/Logs
  3. Delete any unnecessary files that you find in these folders.

4 Identify Files With a Smart Folder Finder

Here’s an alternate way to find Other files that may be candidates for deletion.

  1. Сlick ⌘Cmd + F on the desktop.
  2. Click This Mac to use your Mac for the search.
  3. Click the ‘+’ sign to the far right to identify search parameters.
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  4. Select ‘Other’ from the first dropdown menu.
  5. Select File Size and File Extension.
  6. Use the Search field to review different types of files such as .txt or .pdf. Identify unwanted files and delete them.

5 Delete Old Device Backups in iTunes

Old backups of iOS devices using iTunes can take up considerable space on your disk. Manually deleting these files can return some valuable storage capacity to your computer.

  1. Launch the iTunes app in your Mac.
  2. Select iTunes Preferences. (⌘Cmd + , )
  3. Select Devices
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  4. Choose the backup you want to delete. You probably want to avoid the latest backup unless you have another copy in iCloud or an external device.
  5. Click on Delete Backup, verify your choice, and the backup will be deleted.

Using the methods we have described will help you control the Other storage that is clogging up your Mac, leading to slower performance or reduced disk capacity. While all of these methods will assist you in eliminating unwanted files, using Disk Drill is the easiest and safest way to go about this procedure. We suggest you give this free tool a try to address the problem of excess Other storage on your Mac.