Spring Cleaning: Use Spotlight To Find Huge Files [OS X Tips]

File Size Photo

I’m kind of a stickler for a clean hard drive, especially since I started using Macbook Airs a few years back, what with their tiny little SSD units. I’ve moved most of my music to the Cloud and my iPhoto library to an external hard drive, but there’s still a ton of cruft that ends up on my system.

So, once a month or so, I sort my Movies, Applications, and Downloads folders by size, and delete the biggest things I don’t need anymore. Or I move them to an external hard drive for access later.

What I’ve never done before is use Spotlight to find these files easily across all my folders.

It’s kind of ingenious, really, so hats off to Matt Elliot over at CNET, who pointed this out.

drop down

Open a Finder window and hit Command-F on your keyboard to bring up the window-based Spotlight function. Now, click on the drop-down menu, where it says Kind and choose Other.

other

A big pane will slide down, giving you a metric ton of options. Type “Size” into the search box at the top of this window, and then choose File Size for your filter type. Click on the checkbox to the right if you want to be able to select it from the original Kind drop down menu in the future.

file size

Now, click on the drop down menu that says “is equal to” and change that to “is greater than,” because we’re looking for big files at this point. Type a number into the field to the right of that, changing the unit drop down menu to GB. I wanted to find any files greater than 2 GB to see if I needed to dump any of them. You can choose any number you like, and then delete the ones that you no longer need.

This is just a faster way to do what we’ve been doing all along–finding big files that we’re not using and moving them along to the Trash or other storage.

  • lucascott

    large files isn’t really always the best search to use when cleaning up drives. Age of the files (looking for things you could off load to a hard drive or DVD or even just trash) and type of file is often better. I just recovered about a quarter or my dad’s hard drive on old DMGs (some of them even dupes) that he’d downloaded over the years to install Flash, Reader etc. he didn’t know that the installer doesn’t automatically trash those files when it finishes. some of them were tiny compared to his home movies so a search for the biggest files wouldn’t have brought them to his attention

    • LikeARabbit

      Perhaps using a combination of the two methods? Use Rob’s method above but add a second variable for “older than x number of days”. Seems like it would be a quick way to find old packages and disk images that are more than a few MB in size.

  • dcj001

    “click on the drop down menu that says ‘is equal to'”

    Does it say “is equal to” or “equals?”

    Searches like this can be saved using the Save option at the top right corner of the finder window. This makes it easy to have easy access to a specific search in the future.

  • Yuval

    Or, use DaisyDisk…

  • syed haris

    Games or
    Movies anything would be massage able and usefull.

  • mrtn

    oooooor you could just use SHIFT+CMD+F(all my files) on mavericks.

About the author

Rob LeFebvreAnchorage, Alaska-based freelance writer and editor Rob LeFebvre is Cult of Mac's Culture Editor. He has contributed to various tech, gaming and iOS sites, including 148Apps, VentureBeat, and Paste Magazine. Feel free to find Rob on Twitter @roblef

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