General Question

swimmindude2496's avatar

Why is my Mac's HD so full?

Asked by swimmindude2496 (322points) September 13th, 2008

Look, this is my Mac HD’s info sheet. So I don’t understand how I used so many Gigabytes when it is fairly new…

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30 Answers

robmandu's avatar

Hmm… dunno. You really haven’t provided us with the necessary info to judge. How much music have you loaded? How many photos are you keeping? How many videos have you produced? Et cetera.

My OS X System Folder is 4.05GB with 77,000+ items (Leopard 10.5.4).

My Applications Folder is 3.62GB with 7,508 items.

My Library Folder is 8.11GB with 18,611 items

There’s an additional 24GB or so being used elsewhere on my main bootup volume.

Plus another 400GB in use on various external drives, too.

swimmindude2496's avatar

Well in iPhoto I have about.. 3,578 photos. Which is really not a lot. Only like 30 or 40 songs. Videos: about 20 to 30. I have about 4.05GB Movies on there. 7.15GB of Photos. 4.35GB in Applications. 3.45GB of Documents. Which adds up to a total of 19Gb. How could I really have 48GB on it?

Evert's avatar

Have a play with GrandPerspective. At first it may look a a bit confusing, but play around with it to get an idea of where things are clogging up on your disk.
And don’t underestimate what goes in eg /System, /usr or /Library. Depends what you have installed (eg, the Developer Tools can eat quite a bit of disk space, and possibly various languages as well).

Hobbes's avatar

Actually installing the OS takes up a fair bit of memory. If you want to reduce it, you can reinstall and do a custom installation, disabling some of the superfluous features.

swimmindude2496's avatar

@Hobbes I don’t really feel like installing the whole OS again.

@evert Too confusing.

Bri_L's avatar

How about this, Open up your main hard drive in list view at the highest level.
Go to view>Show View Options and turn on “Size” and “Calculate All Sizes” and “make default”

that will tell you the size of each folder as you go down and you should be able to trace where the bulk of it is.

another option is this program. Whatsize. It used to be free but is $12.something now.

Good luck

Hobbes's avatar

I just mean that the unexplained 40G almost certainly comes from the space that OSX takes up.

swimmindude2496's avatar

Anyone know of any free applications. Like Bri L’s but free. And can measure large hard drives.

swimmindude2496's avatar

@Hobbes No. Because it was ordered for 250. And it came with 232 or whatever. That 18 was Leopard installed and User Guides etc. So I know half of the 40 is Me but wt is the other 20?

Evert's avatar

As long as you don’t have eg Photoshop installed, or some other application that came from a a DVD, it’s likely somewhere in your home folder. Perhaps you installed and removed something, and that ended up in the Trash? The Trash can accumulate quite a bit of data over time.
I don’t have another suggestion for a free app, but there’s something that comes with OSX that you can use; if you’re not afraid to use the Terminal:
– Fire up Terminal
– type or copy the following:

du -k | sort -n

Takes a short while to run. It should go through all subfolders in your user folders, outputting the result in Kilobytes, and sorting them them in increasing order.
If you want to do that for your whole system, try the following command in the Terminal:

sudo du -k / | sort -n

providing your password when asked. Will take a while to go through all the different folders.

Always works for me.

iwamoto's avatar

i think it’s porn….

Bri_L's avatar

“How about this, Open up your main hard drive in list view at the highest level.
Go to view>Show View Options and turn on “Size” and “Calculate All Sizes” and “make default”
that will tell you the size of each folder as you go down and you should be able to trace where the bulk of it is.

This is essentially what that program does but not as fast.

DiskCatalogMaker – Would be another.

sndfreQ's avatar

Remember that a disk that ships with a capacity of 250GB isn’t actually 250,000,000,000 bytes; in actuality it’s a rounded off number, and the higher the capacity, the greater that disparity is.

For example, what we call “1 Megabyte” is actually 1024 Kilobytes. When hard drive manufacturers label a hard drive 250GB, there are actually fewer blocks than that…usually somewhere around 238GB or so. That was the case with my brand new external 250GB media storage drive. I also recently bough a 1TB backup drive for time machine, and out of the box it only had 964GB available. No OS, no media, just actual bytes.

Also, after installing an OS, there are other things happening “under the hood” related to Virtual Memory that the system uses as a buffer on connection with the RAM. Sometimes that can be as high as 10 percent of the capacity of your hard disk. That is why Apple always recommends that hard drives never reach 80–85 percent capacity for storage, due to the VM requirements.

Lastly, there may be other unnecessary files in your OS that were pre-installed; for example BSD subsystem, extraneous printer drivers, international language supports, etc. There are utilities online that can help you “thin out” your OS, an a good source to look could be Ars Technica or Mac Update. There are free and paid software utilities to help with this.

All else fails check out the Apple Support Knowledge Base.

Hobbes's avatar

@swimmindude – I may be wrong, but I’m pretty sure mac approximates their values. My “13 inch” macbook is slightly less than that, and it actually comes with 78 point something gigs instead of 80. I’m almost certain that the space already taken on your HD is from the operating system. However, everyone else’s advice for freeing up space is also very good.

yannick's avatar

@swimmingdude: Check out Disk Inventory X. It isn’t very visually appealing but it does a great job at giving you a graphical map of your hard drive, which makes it a lot easier to see where they big files are and what is taking up all the storage space.

wilhel1812's avatar

Check how much your iPhoto library takes. if you have edited your photos a lot, they can take alot of space

iwamoto's avatar

i just have 1.2 TB of extra space…and next week that will be 2.2 TB worth of external drives, gotta loves those little fellowes

swimmindude2496's avatar

Thanks yannick. That really helped. And now I guess I’ll try compressing a few of the big things and see what happens.

El_Cadejo's avatar

Jesus iwamoto mind sending one my way? How much do TB HDs cost over there btw?

iwamoto's avatar

well, next months WD mybook home 1tb is only 260 bucks or something, maybe i’ll just fork over some more for a studio edtion, FW800 is pretty preferable

El_Cadejo's avatar

you should just get one of these instead. ^_^ then you can send me your old TB HD =P

iwamoto's avatar

hmmm, maybe if i buy a dual drive 2 tb studio, i can save my current data on there, then use the old drives as new ones sort to say, 600 bucks, hmm, could buy a nice lens or a PS3 for that kind of money…

El_Cadejo's avatar

Ew dont blow your money on a PS3 atleast get something with some value =P

iwamoto's avatar

well, right now the desk is populated with an x360, a ps2, a dreamcast, 2x n64, a snes and a nes, so yeah, i want to get a ps3 in there to, just for the equality…

btw, about the storage, maybe i should just get something like this..

jasonjackson's avatar

I like JDiskReport for tracking down which directories are using the most disk space.

It shows you a pie chart of disk usage in the directory you choose (scanning recursively), so it’s very visual; you can start at / and drill down into large directories by clicking on the biggest slices of the pie chart.

yannick's avatar

@swimmingdude: Oh good, glad I could help :) hopefully you manage to reclaim so valuable storage space!

maccmann's avatar

Hobbes: “Actually installing the OS takes up a fair bit of memory. If you want to reduce it, you can reinstall and do a custom installation, disabling some of the superfluous features.”

This is fundamental error with people who use computers.

“Memory” does not equal Hard Drive Space. What you should have described was “Hard Drive Space” and not “Memory.”

“Memory” is what the computer uses to “think” and it’s what give it more “room” and “speed” to “think” things.

Hard Drive Space gives the computer capacity to store and “remember” things. It is usually this “remember” concept that makes people use the “Memory” label when talking about what should actually be referred to as “Hard Drive Space.” It’s a common mistake! :)

When I teach people about computers and how they operate, I use this analogy:

Think of your computer’s memory as a post-it note pad that has a self destruct mechanism built into it. Every time you write a post-it note and stick it somewhere, it has a built-in meter and off-switch detector, and when the system switches off or the meter reaches a certain point, the post-its that were written up to that point go “POOF” and no longer exist.

Think of your Hard Drive as a large-capacity, self-replicating notepad that you write on with a pencil and remove things with an eraser, which also has a huge file cabinet to keep your written stuff in. This notepad and cabinet have no expiration time, but have a space limit. You can throw away old stuff that you put in the cabinet, but you have to decide when to do that, or the computer will decide to when it needs to run certain programs, but when you shut the computer off, the cabinet’s contents are still there.

I hope that this makes thing more clear for the poster!

maccmann's avatar

OK, and no to answer the poster’s question:

Try this:

Disk Inventory X. It’s FREE and it’s intuative (i.e., it ROCKS!)

Now you can get a visual on what is where and how much what is where.

maccmann's avatar

OH! One more thing that just occurred to me: iTunes libraries can get HUGE!

If you have your entire CD collection ripped to your Mac, that will take up a large amount of space on your HD (Hard Drive).

I actually don’t keep my music on my Mac and manage my iPod manually. I then back up my iPod to an external drive other than my Mac’s internal HD using iPod Disk. This saves me a TON of space on my Mac that could be used for other things.

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