I have a 500 gigabyte hard disk on my Mac and it’s not large enough. Where do all those files come from? Who put them there? What do they do?
Should I buy a bigger hard disk or clean house? I decided to clean house first. Here’s what I found. Plenty of files I didn’t know I had.
Wil, my significant, and reasonable, other (or, is it “reasonably significant?”) convinced me to put all our video clips on the Mac. I did. And promptly ran out of space.
Ran out? How is that possible on a 500 gigabyte hard disk? I mean, I have thousands of songs in iTunes, thousands of photos in iPhoto, and some video clips.
Is my Mac so packed with files that 500 gigabytes is not enough? Apparently so.
The choices are basic. Either get rid of some files, apparently a lot of files, or buy a bigger hard disk. I chose the former before the latter.
This whole problem of not enough space on my Mac began because Wil recommended that we take all the video we shot on our recent trip to Scotland, and stuff it into iMovie’s new Project and Library feature. That’s only about five hours of video.
Of course, there’s another 12 hours of videos that we shot over the past two years; family, friends, vacations, and so on. Those videos had to go in iMovie, too.
Without paying much attention (hey, it’s 500 gigabytes of hard disk—who needs to worry about space?), I started dumping video into iMovie ‘08. Man, it works great. Click import, wait about an hour. The clips are put into events and the new iMovie “skimming” feature makes it easy to check content.
After half a day of putting video into iMovie, I glanced down at the bottom of my Finder window. It said 86 GB available. What? There must be a mistake. I still had a dozen hours of video left to record into iMovie.
I did the momentary panic routine, checked the size of my Movies folder (it was about 150 gigabytes), and started to check online for the price of 750 gigabyte hard disk.
Granted, hard drives are cheap these days, but two 750 gigabyte SATA hard disks still push $600. I hadn’t paid the credit card bill back from the Scotland trip yet, so an extra $600 would have to come from empty bottles gathered in Central Park. Or, Wil.
The ever practical Mr. Gomez decided to check my Mac before looking for a part-time job. I assured him there was nothing on my hard disk that I could throw away, delete, ditch, or even consider getting rid of. He smiled.
Right behind the smile was a nifty little Mac utility called What-Size. It’s free.
What What Size does is simple. It checks the size of all your Mac’s files, then lists them in a nice hierarchical fashion using either List or Column view in a Finder-like window. That makes it easy to figure out where all the space went.
What Size takes a few minutes to catalog your Mac’s files, so be patient. When What Size finished, indeed, my 500 gigabyte hard drive was down to barely 85 gigabytes of free space.
Where did all the space go? What files were chewing it up? More importantly, were there files I could throw away?
What Size showed me that my User folder had nearly 300 gigabytes of files. Apparently, I was the problem. I don’t throw away files. The Library folder had over 50 gigabytes, Applications had about 10 gigabytes of files, and so on.
So, the culprit was me and my User files. Inside my home folder was 150 gigabytes of movies (duh), almost 50 gigabytes of music, 40 gigs of Documents, and about 40 gigs of Pictures.
Digging inside the largest folder, Movies, I found about 30 gigabytes of QuickTime movie trailers. Uh oh.
Remember what I said? I don’t throw anything away. A little house cleaning reduced the movie trailers folder to less than four gigabytes.
In my Documents folder I found a half dozen other movie projects that I’d started a couple of years ago and decided to save in Documents. Don’t ask why. Deleting those files (they were duplicates of what I’d just added to iMovie ‘08) gained me another 30 gigabytes.
At this point I had nearly doubled my free disk space from nearly 85-gigabytes to over 140 gigabytes. But I wasn’t done. Inside the Pictures folder was a second iPhoto Library with still more duplicates. I don’t even know how it got there, but it was 20 gigabytes in size.
Also in my Documents folder was a bunch of duplicate photos I’d exported from iPhoto to give to Wil. Those thousands of photos were duplicates, too, so I deleted them and picked up another 10 gigabytes of free disk space.
My 85 gigabytes became over 170 gigabytes when I was done house cleaning. It didn’t take long, either, as I was able to look at each folder, find the largest files or folders inside, and determine what was worth keeping and what wasn’t.
The end result? What Size helped me save about $600 because I didn’t have to fork over cash for larger hard disk. Your mileage may vary, of course.
What Size is a simple utility that just shows you what’s on your Mac. You get to choose whether to delete or keep. Considering that the price tag for What Size is free, and that it didn’t take half an hour to free up over 85 gigabytes of space on my once-huger-than-Texas hard disk, I’d say it was a bargain.
What about you? How do you keep track of files and file sizes on your Mac? Is your hard disk big enough for movies, music, and photos? Share your concerns, and tips in the Comments section below.