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Friday, April 8, 2016

Spring Cleaning Your Mac-Article 2-What's on My Hard Drive that takes up so much freaking space?!

You need to know what obstacles you face in clearing away the digital underbrush. Do you face a lot of small files that just built up over time? Do you face big files that you need, but can’t afford to keep on your hard drive. 

I say “hard drive” as though everyone has a cheap 1 TB hard drive in their Mac. I know a lot of Mac users have started moving to Solid State Drives, which right now costs considerably more than the equivalent hard drive. The prices will continue to come down, but right now, you need to manage your SSD space carefully.

So I offer choices of apps to measure what files you have on your storage device. I like OmniDiskSweeper in particular, but that doesn’t have to serve as your app. The app that works best for you is the best app for you to choose. 


Here are the choices:


1. OmniDiskSweeper by the Omnigroup. This is a freeware offering from the Omnigroup. They make great software for the Mac and iOS devices. As developers, they need and use tools like OmniDiskSweeper. 

OmniDiskSweeper is currently at version 1.9. It’s a 64-bit app, which means it runs on OS X 10.8+

It doesn’t have a lot of options. You choose a drive or partition to sweep and it does so.

Drive list to sweeep for  DiskSweeper


You see it compile a sorted list of folders and files from smallest to largest. It shows hidden folders where fat files may hide. 


DiskSweeper showing hierarchy in columns

To check on a folder, click on it. The left-most column is your root with the “/“ emblem displayed at the top. As you click on subfolders, their name goes up at the top of the next column to the right. 

You finally get to the innermost folder where the fat files hide. In one folder, I had music files averaging 90 Mb in size. Yikes! What accounted for that? I looked at the extension. Oops, I ripped the CD into the lossless and uncompressed .aif format. 

Disksweeper showing 91 Meg AIF file


I either need to delete the fat files and rip the CD to a lossy compressed format such as .m4a or .mp3, or I need to move these files to another hard drive. 

But that’s how you find fat files, by methodically opening hierarchies of folders. 

2. GrandPerspective. Jeremy Horowitz of 9to5Mac recommended this free app along with Onyx for cleaning up your Mac’s hard drive. If you want a prettier interface, he recommend Daisy Disk, which you will find in the Mac App Store for $10. 

Grandwide 2


This heat map depiction of a hard drive isn’t for me. If you prefer it, though, good. Use It. Make it Easy on yourself, which is what my mother used to say. 

3. JDiskReport by JGoodies. This is a free Java-based app with versions for OS X, Linux, and  Windows. It offers a plethora of choices of how to examine your drive’s contents. Graphs and text at the click of a mouse. As it depends on Java, you may find it runs slower than a native OS X app.

JDiskReport opening screen


JDidks showing piechart of file disstribution

I especially like its Top 50 biggest files/oldest/newest, which is a good place to start when purging files. At least you know what you’re up against. 

JDiskReport showing 50 largest files in my User folder


If you haven’t installed Java, which Apple doesn’t install by default, Take Care.

Java Installer app for OS X

Oracle, the present owner, packages crapware with the installer. You have the opportunity to decline the crapware. Remove the tick mark in the box to add a Yahoo homepage and new tab page on Safari and Chrome.

Java can installl crapware if not careful


To download Java for your Mac, go to 

4. Whatsize by If you like OmniDiskSweeper’s display, but want more features, look into Whatsize. They offer a free trial and it’s $29.99 afterwards. I do like its Duplicates Finder.

WhatSize display


Whatsize Duplicate display


5. MacClean. This is a free utility suite from a Chinese software company which primarily makes iOS software. It has a duplicates finder, a large & old file finder, and an app uninstaller as part of the suite. Right now version 3 is in public beta. 


MacClean cleanup tgools screen



So that gives you 5 choices of apps to assess where your largest or oldest files lie on your hard drive or SSD.  



Tom Briant

Editor, MacValley Blog





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