Tips and tricks to free up disk space and hidden storage on your Mac

As our devices become increasingly more capable and powerful, our Macs often fill up faster than we expect. Follow along for five tips and tricks to free up Mac storage and hidden space.

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If you want to quickly free up Mac storage, there’s always the option to offload your data to external drives or iCloud Drive/other cloud services, but it’s often convenient to have your information stored locally right on your Mac.

There can also be issues with macOS where there seems to be some amount of storage space being eaten up by hidden files and folders and it can be tricky to discover what’s going on. We’ll cover several options below to free up Mac storage and also some ways to see what large files and more are hiding on your machine.

Tips and tricks to free up Mac storage and hidden space

Built-in macOS options


  • In older versions of macOS there was an “All My Files” location in Finder. However, with Big Sur that’s not around anymore but there is a “Recents” option.
  • After selecting Recents you can sort your files and folders by size (six-square icon) and start removing unnecessary data
  • Of course, you can manually look at other locations like Documents, Downloads, etc.
How to free up Mac storage space and hidden files Finder walkthrough 1

About This Mac

About this Mac includes a storage feature to see a snapshot of your storage usage, but it also offers up recommendations to free up space and more.

  • Head to  → About this Mac → Storage (tab in the top middle)
  • Click Manage to the right of your Mac’s HD
  • The first thing you’ll see is a list of recommendations to free up storage
    • Use iCloud, Empty Trash automatically, Reduce Clutter etc.
  • After working through any recs, you can click on more locations/apps in the left-hand sidebar to see and in some cases remove files and data right there (you may have to open specific apps for apps like Photos)
  • Notably, Apple does not give access to remove data from the System and Other categories here
    • You also only get access to your Mac’s internal drive here
How to free up Mac storage walkthrough 2

Digging deeper to free up Mac storage

Daisy Disk

While using Finder and About This Mac are helpful, my favorite approach to tidying things up is with the visual drive analyzer Daisy Disk ($9.99). It provides an interactive UI that’s as functional as it is beautiful and you can preview and delete files directly within the app. You can also analyze external drives.

Daisy Disk offers a deeper look at your storage and can reveal temporary and hidden files so you know what’s really taking up your disk space. And the colorful UI makes it fast and easy to spot really large files and folders.

The software even gives a free space and free + purgeable calculation. I use Daisy Disk three to four times a year, so the $9.99 price tag feels like a bargain for the benefits and time savings.

In my example above, I have 30.2GB used in hidden space. It turns out it’s the cache for Time Machine backups (which should take care of itself before long).

Clean My Mac and Sensei

A couple more handy options that can help save time by finding junk/purgeable files, uninstall apps, optimize performance and more are Clean My Mac X and Sensei. They don’t give you a detailed disk analyzer quite like Daisy Disk’s UI but they do offer many useful utilities including storage management.

Both Sensei and Clean My Mac X are free downloads to check out with Sensei going for $29/year or $59 for a lifetime license. Clean My Mac X runs $35/year or $89 for a lifetime license.

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