Storage issues on your Mac® — like aging — don’t hit you all at once.  They sneak up on you as the weeks and months creep by.  Then suddenly, much like yourself, your MacBook® or iMac® takes longer to start up, and even longer to get moving.

There are a myriad of reasons why your Mac is running slow and performance is compromised.  They stem from your computing habits to hardware or software issues to an outdated or corrupted OS.  Or … from a mystery cocktail made from several sources and elements.

Is there a fix?  For you, lay off the pizza and hit the gym.  For your Mac, it’s even easier.

A solid-state drive (or SSD) is the best solution for adding data storage, as it is fast, durable and reliable.  But SSDs are expensive, often costing hundreds of dollars.  Instead, you can annually spring for about $35 and purchase CleanMyMac X from MacPaw.  It’s a utility app that keeps your Mac uncluttered and fit, frees up gigabytes of space and refreshes your Mac with like-new performance.

CleanMyMac X can help you identify and remove unnecessary data to free up space.  It can ferret out forgotten downloads, old videos, mammoth folders, bloated caches, outdated iOS updates and backups, copies of iOS apps and more. It also boasts other features that can keep your apps updated and protect your Mac from malware.

Before you invest in drives and apps, CranstonIT recommends an even less expensive option — free — with Apple’s built-in tool for clearing data and gaining space.

Storage Management is a utility embedded inside the System Information app. It can be accessed by choosing Apple® > About This Mac, then click the Storage button and then click Manage.  But before you click Manage, look at the About This Mac window’s Storage view.  Hover over each colored bar to see how much space is taken up by a particular type of data.  The white space at the end of the bar shows space that’s still available, providing a quick overview of your usage.

When you click Manage, System Information launches and the Storage Management window appears. (You can also open System Information manually and choose Window > Storage Management.). In the sidebar at the left, ignore Recommendations and look at the rest of the categories, particularly Applications, Documents and iOS Files.  The specific categories will vary a bit among Mac models and OS, depending on what apps you use, but they correspond to the colored bars you saw in the About This Mac window’s Storage view.

Here’s a closer look at some of the most common space hogs.

Applications

The Applications category lists your apps and is sorted by size by default. But try clicking the column header for Kind and scrolling down.  You can then probably trash most apps tagged as Duplicates or Older Versions.  Similarly, click the Last Accessed column header to see which apps you haven’t launched in years. Delete!  Plus, you can re-download anything tagged as coming from the App Store®, so you can toss those apps to save space.

Documents

In Documents, you’ll see three buttons — Large Files, Downloads and File Browser. Large Files focuses on files more than 50 MB in size, Downloads displays the contents of your Downloads folder (much of which you likely don’t need) and File Browser offers a column view sorted by item and file size.  It’s great for trawling through your drive to see what’s consuming all that space.

In any of these views other than File Browser, hover over an item to see an X button for deleting the file and a magnifying glass button that reveals the file in the Finder.  To delete multiple files at once, Command-click or Shift-click to select them and then press the Delete key to remove them all at once.  Storage Management gives you the combined size of all the selected files and warns you before deleting the files, so you can use this technique to preview how much space a multi-file deletion will save.  In File Browser, simply select one or more files and either drag them to the Trash or press Command-Delete.

iOS Files

If you’ve used iTunes® to manage iOS devices in the past, pay special attention to the iOS Files category.  It shows any device backups and software updates that are stored on your Mac’s drive.  If you still use iTunes to back up your device, it’s worth keeping the latest backup of devices you still use, but many people have obsolete backups and unnecessary updates floating around.

As noted before, the rest of the categories here may vary depending on what apps you use. With iBooks® and iTunes, for example, you can remove content that you’ve purchased, since you can download it again.  With Mail and Photos, Storage Management merely tells you how much space each app's data occupies and lets you enable space optimization (downloading only recent attachments for Mail, and keeping only optimized photos on the Mac).  To save more space, you must delete unnecessary data from within the app itself.

So now you have several space-saving options that range from pricey to free — an SSD, the CleanMyMac X utility and Apple Storage Management. In any event, if your Mac is operating with less than 10 percent free space, start hunting down those apps, folders, files, widgets and viruses and begin your deletion party.  As always, best to backup first!  And, as always, best to consult Cranston IT with any questions you might have along the way.  Reach us at 888-813-5558 or support@cranstonit.com