Hard drives are big and cheap these days. Instead of throwing away files, I save everything. Mostly.
Sometimes I look in the Mac’s Finder and realize that something is gobbling up my Mac’s hard drive. How can you figure out what?
I’ll admit I don’t go looking for trouble on my Mac. If it ain’t broken, don’t go fixin’ it, right? I’m now up to a 500 gigabyte hard drive. Do I need more?
Well, the other day I looked and had only 150 gigabytes left. That’s not exactly cause for worry, but it seemed to me that 50 or 60 gigabytes of space was missing. That’s cause enough to take a look-see.
The question is—how? How can you find those files that are gobbling up hard disk space on your Mac?
There’s a sweet little application called OmniDiskSweeper that lets you find out where all the hard drive space is and where it went.
It’s simple, easy to use, lists all files on your Mac, lets you delete those you don’t want, even lists them in order of size. That’s what you need, right? It’s only $15.
How can I fill in for Mac360’s Value Vixen, Alexis Kayhill, if I can’t find an appropriate Mac utility at a price that would make her proud? What’s a lady to do?
How about free? Alex, honey, this one’s for you. WhatSize does the job. Did I mention that it’s free?
WhatSize is one of those simple utilities that does what you’d expect—it tells you where you files are, what their size is (in megabytes or gigabytes or whatever).
What’s really great about this cool Mac utility, besides the price, is the list of features. Not too many to be confusing, just enough to do the job. WhatSize finds all files on your Mac—applications, system files, invisible files, cache files, whatever.
Double click on WhatSize and it begins to sort through all the files on your Mac. Once done, the interface is the familiar Column or List view of the Mac’s Finder. That means finding out where all the space is going is done visually and easily.
Invisible system files are in red, regular system files are in purple, temporary cache files are in green, and other files and directories (folders) are in black. The file or folder’s size is listed to the right, the name to the left.
Frankly, it’s hard to imagine that it could be easier but it could be. The average Mac user won’t always know which files and folders are OK to throw away—as in, delete forever. Delete the wrong files and your Mac could be dead in the water.
Back to Kate’s Rule of Thumb. If it ain’t broken, don’t go fixin’ it. If I’m not sure a file or folder can be deleted, I don’t. Fortunately, most Mac OS X system files, invisible or otherwise, don’t take up much space.
Hard disk drive hogging files are usually found elsewhere but are easily spotted using WhatSize.
For example, it took me one click to learn that I had 43 gigabytes of music, TV shows, and movies in iTunes—not even half of that in music. I see a trend developing.
My iPhoto library is over 34 gigabytes, but only 22 gigabytes of that are original photos—the rest are in modified photos, and the iPod Photo Cache.
WhatSize is simple and works well. It’s fast and small but could use an extra warning or two regarding deletion of valuable Mac files. Other than that, free is just hard to beat.
What Mac utility do you use to track down files, check on disk space, or find out what’s gobbling up space on your hard disk? Share your experience in the Comments section below.