Clean up junk space on macos

A Foolproof Guide On Cleaning Junk Space in macOS

In comparison to Windows, cleaning junk space in macOS can be troublesome. It’s because Mac can generate some files over time, comes with a lot of unnecessary features (language packs) and apps, and may not auto-delete some temporary files once not needed. That is why cleaning junk space on macOS is needed. However, one must know what exactly the user is trying to delete and how much the space will be released and why did he/she need that space. I have created a guide just to help you go through these steps or checks to clear up some storage on your drive.

What do we call a junk space?

Any space which the macOS created for temporary use is called junk space. It may include some files which serve no purpose to the current user. For example:

  • Language packs pre-installed
  • Cached files
  • Preinstalled games and softwares

How junk space is collected on macOS?

Most of the junk space comes preinstalled in macOS which includes language packs and apps. The rest is collected over time including cache, temporary files, and macOS log files.

The Perfect Guide To Declutter All That Junk Space on macOS

The Freebie Approach

Step 1: Start With Deleting Additional Language Packs

macOS comes preinstalled with over 25 languages. Though having additional languages isn’t a bad thing, however, if you are short on space, deleting these language packs might be your first option.

The method could get a bit longer depending on the applications you have. Just go to the ‘resource folder’ of each app and look for folders with the extension .lproj. These are the language files and you can delete them or send them to trash. A much detailed approach would be:

  1. Go to applications
  2. Select the app of which you want to delete the language pack
  3. Right click and select ‘Show Package Contents’
  4. Now, under the Resource folder, delete the .lproj files which you don’t want
delete resources language packs from macos

Step 2: Clean Your macOS cache

To speed up things, macOS stores some of the files as cached so that these files won’t need to load every time they are open. For the users with many apps and a macOS older than 6 months, these cached files may take a huge amount of space, in some cases up to many gigabits. That is why deleting these files is considered to be a second priority.

  1. Open Finder
  2. Select ‘Go To Folder’ in the Go menu
  3. Type in ‘~/Library/Caches’ without ” and press enter
  4. Now go to every folder visible on the screen and inside them delete all the files.
  5. Repeat for the other folders

Warning: Don’t delete the complete folder but only the files inside it.

(Saved me 700Mb of space)

Step 3: Uninstall Apps Which You Don’t Use

macOS similar to Windows comes with tons of applications preinstalled. Most of the users don’t need every app on the OS, so it is better to uninstall such apps. If you aren’t sure which app to remove, try looking for the app and check if that app serves your purpose. To delete or uninstall an app from the macOS, follow these steps:

  1. Look for Finder
  2. Clicking Applications in the sidebar of any Finder window
  3. Most apps are in the application folder
  4. Either drag te app to the trash bin or choose File > Move to Trash
  5. If you are asked for credentials enter the username and password of the account you are using. It’s the same credentials for loggin in the OS
  6. Do delete the items from trash bin later on.
Empty trash

You can use Launchpad as well which is a more convenient way to uninstall apps.

  1. Open launchpad either by clicking it from the dock or openning it from the Application folder
  2. Installed Apps will be on the lauchpad. If not visible try using the search bar on the top of the launchpad screen
  3. Press and hold the option key ‘⌥’ or long press any app which you want to delete until a pop up appears
  4. Press the cross button the X button next to the app that you want to delete, then click Delete to confirm. The app is deleted quickly
launchpad screen showing apps

Note: Apps that don’t show Cross X, mean that either the apps didn’t come from the App Store or are required by your Mac. To delete an app that didn’t come from the App Store, use the Finder method mentioned above instead.

In short, there are three ways to delete an app from macOS which is via Finder, via Launchpad and Spotlight.

(Saved 2.6 GB by uninstalling 4 apps)

Finder vs Launchpad – Which one is the best way to uninstall an app

ProsCan delete almost every app even the ones which are system defaults and not from the App storeThe easiest and quickest way to remove an app on macOS.
ConsTakes slightly more time than the Launchpad methodCan’t uninstall the system apps and apps which are not from the App store

Step 4: Either Automatically Clean Up Your Trash Bin Or Manually Clean It

Most people think that if you have moved an app or a file to the trash bin, it’s removed from the computer and will not be taking any space at all. Guess what? You are wrong. Even if the application is in the trash bin it’s still present on the disk and can be restored.

You can either clear up the trash bin by deleting the items inside it. Or just to be on the safe side and save up some time, set auto clean after 30 days.

I don’t leave any files in the trash bin and permanently delete files every time.

How to Turn on Automatic Clean Up of Trash Bin on macOS

  1. Go to Apple Menu
  2. Click on About this Mac
  3. Click Storage
  4. Click Manage
  5. Turn On the Empty Trash Automatically
  6. A pop up message will appear when you click Turn On. Proceed.

Step 5: Remove Unneccesaary Files From Your Computer

  • Download folder: Look up for the images, videos, disk images, pdfs, apps, and files you no longer need. Application setups are not needed once you have installed them. Try clearing all of those unneccessary files. (Helped me save 10GB of space, mostly had videos and app setups),
  • Photo Library: You might need to give some time to the photos present on your macOS. Pictures taken from today’s devices occupy upto 60MB of storage for a single file. Try removing some blur, shaky, or ugly shots. (Helped me save 304 MB of space).

Step 6: Let macOS Optimize Space For You

If you don’t want to manually check and delete old files, then this built-in feature might be just for you. Letting macOS optimize space for you allows the OS to remove old media content and emails attachments. These include TV shows which you have watched.

It’s not risky because you can redownload the media content from Apple TV and as for the emails, they are already stored on the cloud.

How To Access macOS Optimize Storage Space?

  1. Apple menu
  2. About This Mac
  3. click Storage
  4. click Manage
  5. macOS will start calculating how much space is being used by different categories. Please allow the process to complete.
  6. Click on Optimize Storage
Storage Management System in macOS

(Helped me save almost 10GB of space)

Step 7: Go on Cloud (iCloud, Gdrive, Onedrive)

This is 2021 and almost everyone saves their files on cloud storage. For Windows, it’s Onedrive. For macOS and iOS, it’s iCloud. For Android it’s Gdrive. The good aspect is that most of these cloud storage providers are generously providing many gigabits of space for free. So why not upload your important files on the cloud so they never get lost.

I transferred almost every picture and video to my iCloud. I didn’t delete i

The Paid Approach

Step 8 (Optional): Move Your Data To An External Drive

Whether it be a Flash drive, External SSD/HDD, or a memory card, sending your data to an external drive is the most secure way of backing up your data. You can also encrypt that drive as well to be extra secured. The problem is that if you lost the drive or the drive gets corrupted, you might not be able to recover the data.


Cloud Storage vs External Drive Storage | Which One To Choose And Why?

Cloud DriveExternal Drive
Data is Accessible on All DevicesData is Accessible only when the drive is connected
Secure if the password set is strongSecure if the drive is encrypted
Cheap to Expensive OptionsCheaper
Data remains safe and is not lossData can be lost if the drive is lost or corrupted
May require a monthly subscription (on paid packages)Do not require any subscription
Requires internet connectionDo not require internet connection
Transfer and loading time depends on internet speedTransfer and loading time depends on the drive and computer performance

Step 9 (Optional): Install A Professional Cleaning App (Free or Paid)

If you don’t want to spend a couple of minutes cleaning your space every month, you can try a professional cleaning app available on the internet.

These apps have advance features in comparison to the built-in cleaner of macOS. These include:

  1. Listing of unwanted apps
  2. Listing of old apps, files, folders (sort by last used)
  3. Detection of more than 20+ files (cache, log files, language packs, old system and application updates, iTunes cache, and so on)
  4. Duplicate files dectection
  5. Files and apps arranged according to size

The best macOS space cleaner apps on the market

  1. CleanMyMacX (free and paid, athestically pleasing and easy to use)
  2. Disk Drill (free, no limitations)
  3. DaisyDisk (free version has limitations and paid)
  4. CCleaner (one of the oldest, free and paid)
  5. Clean Me (no limitations, free)
  6. Onyx

You can try using a combination AppCleaner + Daisy Disk + Onyx if you want to stick to the freebie plan. That’s all you will need. If you want the best combination while paying, CleanMyMacX + Gemini 2 is the best combination to date.

If you are interested in managing volumes in containers/drives instead of saving some space, try to find more information about it.

I hope this guide has helped you clean up unnecessary junk space on your macOS. Did I miss anything important? Let me know in the comments.