Apple has provided a new tool for freeing up storage space on your laptop's hard drive. Here are some instructions for using this new tool, as well as a few other techniques for reducing the amount of space taken up on your laptop.


Using the built-in Storage Management tool

This section will only cover the basics of using your Mac's Storage Management tool, but Apple has an official guide with more information here: Free up storage space on your Mac

To open the tool, click the  menu in the top-left corner of your screen and choose About This Mac. At the top of the window, click Storage, then click Manage....

A new window will open, with recommendations in the main area and a sidebar on the left. I recommend you begin by choosing Documents in the sidebar on the left. This will show you a list of all your largest files, sorted by size:

"MB" stands for Megabytes, and "GB" stands for Gigabytes. GB are much larger than MB; there are roughly 1000 MB in 1 GB.

You can click a file from this list, and then click the Delete button at the bottom of the window to delete that file, or click the Show in Finder button if you'd like to see what folder that file is in before deleting it.

Even more useful are the tabs across the top of the file list:

These will give you some other categories of files, such as showing your

  • Downloads shows your Downloads folder, with each file sorted by size and date downloaded.
  • Unsupported Apps will show you any apps which are too old to run on your new laptop. Any of these can be safely deleted.
  • File Browser will let you browse through all your folders, with each folder labelled to show how much space it takes up:

    This can be very useful for tracking down folders with lots of large files.

The other sections in this Storage Management tool are also worth exploring, and can help you discover how your laptop's storage space is being used.

Delete Photos from the Photos App

Pictures often use up a lot of space on our laptops, and it is not always easy to safely remove them. These instructions are focused on the Photos app, formerly called iPhoto.

First, if your personal photos, taken with an iPhone, are being automatically downloaded to your laptop, you may have "iCloud Photos" enabled. This can quickly take up a lot of space on your laptop, and should be turned off. Here are Apple's instructions: How do I turn off iCloud Photos on only one device?

Once you have turned off iCloud Photos, you should be able to delete pictures from the Photos app on your laptop without affecting the pictures as they are stored on your phone or in iCloud. When you delete a picture from the Photos app, it won't be deleted immediately; it will be moved to the Recently Deleted section of your Photos library. Once you are confident that the picture has not also been deleted on your personal devices, be sure to open Recently Deleted and permanently delete the picture.

Delete old clips and projects in iMovie

If you have used iMovie to create movie projects, the clips and events from these projects may still be taking up space within iMovie itself. Here are two ways to free up space from iMovie: