Five Tricky, Advanced Ways To Save Space On Your Mac Hard Drive [Feature]

By

Photo: Apple
So thin, so light, so...easy to fill with cruft.

Saving space on your Mac’s hard drive is more important than ever, especially if you use one with a faster but smaller solid state drive in it, like my Macbook Air. Being able to manage your space wisely is the key here, and once you’ve done the obvious things, like pare down your Applications folder and delete all those iMovie source files, it’s time to get trick, and a bit advanced.

Here’s five things that you can do to get rid of hard drive bloat, if you dare.

Delete User Cache Files

Delete User Cache Files

Saving space on your Mac hard drive is a key strategy, especially when you’re using a Macbook Air, with it’s strictly solid state drive (SSD). Even if you’re using a desktop Mac with a hard drive that seemed like “plenty of space” when you bought it, there will come a time when you’ll be looking to save some of it for more data. Why not get rid of the non-essential stuff on your Mac’s hard drive?

When you delete apps to help recover disk space, they can leave user cache files behind. These are the files that help improve the performance of OS X and various apps that are installed on your Mac. If you’re no longer using an app, you can delete these files to free up some space. Here’s how.

In the Finder, press Command-Shift-G or click on the Go menu, selecting Go To Folder. In the resulting field, type or paste ~/Library/Caches/. This will bring up the folder that contains the user caches. Once there, you’ll want to sort the list by size, which means you’ll want to set up that window to calculate all the sizes of files and folders.

Go to the View menu and choose Show View Options, or hit Command-J on your keyboard. Click the checkbox next to Calculate All Sizes and then close the View window. Your Mac will now show a number for everything in that Finder window, including folders. Now, if you don’t already, set the window to List view, either in the View menu or with a Command-2 on the keyboard.

You’ll now see all the biggest cache files near the top of the list (if you only see the smaller files at the top, click on Size again at the top of the column), and you can delete stuff that you no longer need. Spotify can have a bigger user cache file, as can some gaming apps.

Be careful not to remove anything you think you might need, of course. If you delete something that an app you still use needs, you might see some weird stuff go on with it.

Via: OS X Daily

Delete Unwanted Speech Voices From Your Mac

Speech Voices

Hard drive space is at a premium these days, with files getting larger and solid state drives (SSD) becoming more affordable and ubiquitous. I’m typing on a Macbook Air right now, and making sure I don’t clutter up the drive with unnecessary files is important to me.

One way to do this is to get rid of the voices that Mac OS X uses for text-to-speech. These files can take up a decent amount of space, which may well be why iOS only allows the one onboard, now that I think about it.

Anyway, if you’re not using those text-to-speech voices, you might as well clear them off your drive and save some space. Here’s how.

If you want to get rid of the whole kit and caboodle at once, launch Terminal from the Applications folder, the dock, or with an app launching system, like Alfred. Type or paste the following command:

cd /System/Library/Speech/

This will change the directory (cd) you’re focusing on to the one in which the speech files are contained. To delete them all, simply type or paste the following:

sudo rm -rf Voices/*

This will dump every single text-to-speech voice on your system, so don’t do it if you want to keep one or more voices. In that case, navigate to the /System/Library/Speech/Voices/ folder on your hard drive and delete the voices you aren’t going to use, like Cello, or Bahh. Because, really, how often do you have your Mac read to you in the sound of string instruments or sheep?

Via: OS X Daily

Check The Application Support Folder For Steam Game Files

Application Support Steam

I suppose since I’m a gamer, I assume everyone else is. If you’re not, or you don’t use the fantastic cross-platform digital gaming portal, Steam, this tip won’t apply to you. Check out the last couple of tips for great space saving ideas, instead. Or, heck, read a review or two on Cult of Mac. I hear they’re pretty good.

For you Steam gamers looking to save some space on your hard drive, there’s one place you should really look.

Go into the Finder, and open the ~/Library/Application Support/ folder. INside that folder will be a Steam folder, which may have a ton of files sitting around from games you don’t play anymore. Be sure to Calculate All Sizes in the View menu when viewing the Steam folder here, and sort by Size. You’ll see which games are weighing your hard drive down, and you’ll know which ones you can dump (these are the ones you don’t play any more).

When I checked my Steam Application Support folder, I found about 30 Gb of data in there, much of which is from games I don’t actually play anymore, like Civilization, or Sanctum. Deleting these files gave me a ton more space than I thought possible.

Another place to check is the main Application Support folder. Not all games, even Steam games, put their big files in the Steam folder. There may even be app support items in here from apps you deleted a long time ago. Take a look through this folder and dump what you can. Remember, though, that if you delete files a current app actually needs, you’ll probably break it and need to reinstall.

I found some great stuff in this folder, like support files for EVE Online, a game I haven’t played in way too long. Deleted!

Via: OS X Daily

Delete System Logs And QuickLook Cache Files

QuickLook and System Logs

There are many files that help make your system usable, but they can build up over time. System logs, for example, keep track of usage, errors, and services running on your Mac, but unless you look at these often via an app like Console, you’ll probably not need a ton of log files taking up space on your Mac, especially if you have one with a low-volume SSD.

QuickLook cache files make your Mac feel zippy when you hit the spacebar to preview files in the Finder or Open/Save dialogs. If you can stand a bit of a wait to do this, deleting these files can save you some space as well.

Put together, you might save a decent amount of space on your hard drive, so give it a shot. Here’s how.

First up, launch Terminal from the Applications folder or your Dock, whichever is easier for you. Then, type or paste the following command into the resulting window:

sudo rm -rf /private/var/log/*

This should clean out the system logs up to and including when you run the command, so you might want to do this on a regular basis if you find it frees up a ton of space.

Now, close that Terminal window and open another. Type or paste the following command into Terminal:

sudo rm -rf /private/var/folders/

This will get rid of the QuickLook cache files, which will then start to accumulate again. This might be another regular task if space is at a premium on your Mac, and if the speed hit to QuickLook doesn’t bother you.

Each of the commands above will require you to enter your administrator password.

Via: OS X Daily

Disable SafeSleep Mode On Your Mac

SafeSleep Mode Disable

Warning – this tip is fairly advanced. Use it at your own risk.

There’s a feature that debuted back in 2005, called SafeSleep. Basically, it’s a hibernation mode designed to save the current state of your running Mac, so that it can start up exactly the same way you left it when you put the Mac to sleep, even if the battery runs out and it shuts down completely.

In OS Lion, Apple introduced two new features, called Autosave and Resume which mirrors this functionality. Turning off SafeSleep, then, is really just disabling a duplicate feature. It shouldn’t affect Autosave or Resume if you’re running OS Lion or later, and it could potentially save you gigabytes of hard drive space.

Here’s how to do it, though we caution you not to do this if you’re even slightly uncomfortable with the idea.

To disable the SafeSleep mode altogether, launch Terminal and type or paste the following command:

sudo pmset hibernatemode 0

This turns off hibernation mode, disabling SafeSleep. Now you need to delete the space-eating SafeSleep image file. Type or paste the following command into Terminal:

sudo rm /var/vm/sleepimage

If your Mac is usually plugged in while sleeping, and you don’t tend to run the battery down below 20 percent, you’re never really using SafeSleep mode, anyway, so disabling it to save some space makes sense. Macs with a non-SSD in them take a little bit of time to save the SleepSave image to their hard drives, but the SSD Macs take no time at all. The potential benefit, then, on an SSD-equipped Mac is the storage space.

If you want to re-enable SafeSleep mode again, type or paste this command into Terminal to reset SafeSleep mode:

sudo pmset -a hibernatemode 3

And things should be back to the way they were.

Source: TUAW

  • Boo Radley

    These types of articles always confuse me. I have a 1TB disk that I can’t fill and 3TB of storage hooked up to that. With today’s storage options I don’t understand how the average user can fill their hard drive and I would think that the non-average user would have a system by now. Right?

  • SimonShep

    Thanks for the great info! I have also used a program called SystemSaver by WhiteCanyon Software that has been great for me. It erases the data on your hard drive while maintaining your operating system and previously installed programs. A lot of programs will erase everything even your programs. SystemSaver has been great. Just back up the data you want to keep and you won’t lose anything.

  • Bernhard Häussermann

    I’m afraid these “tips” would not help me at all!
    I have the following folder sizes:

    /Library/Caches: <1 MB
    /System/Library/Speech: 498 MB
    Steam Game Files: N/A. I don't use Steam
    /private/var/log: 42 MB
    /private/var/folders: 714 MB
    /var/vm/sleepimage: I don't even have this file

    I would've hoped to save up several GB's. The folders listed above total up to just over one GB, which doesn't help much. :/