Save More Space for Your Mac Hard Drive

I love my MacBook Air. It is a workhorse in an insanely portable package. I do, however, have one complaint: The hard drive. It is small. Think smaller than an iPod classic. So I’ve been forced to come up with some tricks to both maximize my existing space as well as keep the space I have tidy.

In this tutorial, I will share a few of these tricks. Let’s check them out.

A Megabyte Saved Is a Megabyte Earned

manage-mac-file-1Finding and removing large files or duplicates is a great way to create and maintain free space on your hard drive.

Click the Finder icon on your dock. Finder will launch in All Files mode. You will be presented with a list of files already sorted by size. In fact, Finder will even group these files. Example groups are 1-100 MB or 100 MB-10 GB.

Start going through the files in the largest file group. Trash any file that is either a duplicate or no longer needed. If you must keep the file, that is ok. I will show you how to offload it to the cloud later on in this tutorial.

Deleting the file won’t free up the space on your hard drive. You must permanently remove it by emptying your trash. To empty your trash, move your cursor down to the trash can icon on your dock and secondary click on it. Choose Empty Trash. You will be prompted for a confirmation that you wish to permanently erase all the items in Trash. Confirm by clicking Empty Trash.

If You Can’t Delete It, Zip It

Archiving, or zipping, if you will, is a technique in which you can take one or many files and convert them into a single compressed file called an archive. For this example, I will demonstrate on a single file, but keep in mind that this will work on a folder containing multiple files as well.

I’ve downloaded a video tutorial file and placed it on my desktop. By secondary clicking on the file, then choosing Get Info, you see this file is 72.6 MB in size.

Now, secondary click that same file, but this time I will choose Compress “TogglingV2.mp4”. You will note a second file has appeared. This is a .zip, or compressed, version of that file. By checking the size of this compressed file, you will see a small, but noticeable size reduction. The more files you compress, the more space you will free up!

There are several better third party compression tools out there. I would encourage you to learn more about compression to help minimize the size of all the large files you keep on your hard drive.

Use Cloud Storage

manage-mac-file-2Cloud storage is using a 3rd party server space to securely store files. Much like with the aforementioned Time Capsule, using a service like Dropbox,, Google Drive, or iCloud can significantly help toward maximizing your storage space. Sign up for one or all of these free services and start offloading files to their computers, thereby freeing up space on yours. As long as you have internet access, you’ll have access to your files.

If you use or store a lot of Pages, Numbers, or Keynote files, I would recommend using iCloud as their default save location. It is built right in to OSX.

The best part is that you can access any of those documents without your computer! You can access, edit, and save them from your iPhone, iPad, or even a borrowed PC via the web browser.

To access the docs bring up a web browser and go to Log in with your AppleID credentials, then choose the type of file you would like to access. Any files you have saved to the cloud will be listed there.

Double click on the document and you will be brought to a fresh browser screen with a user interface remarkably similar to the native application.


Nowadays files seem to be getting larger and larger, leaving us, as end users, scrambling to find ways to better manage our storage. Using just one or two of the techniques above will help you keep a clean hard drive with more available space.

You can read more articles on our site about Mac file manage or Mac file rescue . Enjoy!

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