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Help trying to free up space


macrumors regular
Original poster
Apr 15, 2011
Hi. Have a 11,4 MBP with 256SSD. TM to an external, and also have Dropbox. My internal is 90% full. I need to erase as much as I can. I have gone into "About this Mac" > Storage > Manage storage. 46 gb pictures, drop bix (I thought that was supposed to be cloud) 5GB, music 11gb, mail 37.75 gb

any ideas on how I can move this *rap off my internal? Performance hit is huge and I am too dumb to upgrade my SSD, but am working on that....


Moderator emeritus
Mar 20, 2004
"Between the Hedges"
You can use Selective Sync or Smart Sync on your DropBox folder and free up that space
Folders and files will be in the Cloud (DropBox) and not on your local drive, but will still be accessible when needed

I would also recommend using DaisyDisk to determine exactly what you have on your drive and what might be able to be purged.


macrumors regular
Original poster
Apr 15, 2011
The two glaring problems are pictures and mail.

You can move your photo library to an external drive. There are plenty of online tutorials on how to do this safely, so use your favorite search engine and seek out these articles.

I don't know what sort of mail messages you are storing but for sure, I do not have 37 GB of messages. Heck, I'd be surprised if I had 500 megabytes of messages between the IMAP server and my local mail folders.

The easiest way to deal with this is to go into your mail folders, sort by message size and see if there are candidate messages to delete. My guess is that 20% of your messages are using up 80% of those 37 GB, maybe someone mailed you a massive presentation document, video files, whatever. Start with your Sent Items folder and see if any of those can be removed, then empty mail trash.

Note that IMAP mail is stored locally on your Mac as well as your mail provider's servers.

This is the same with Dropbox; local copies of files are synced with Dropbox's cloud servers. At some point, you will probably want to look at your Dropbox contents and see if any of them are candidates to be moved to your local external disk drive.

But focus on mail and pictures, those two total 78 GB.

Best of luck.



macrumors newbie
May 26, 2019
As my cloud storage was full, my idea was to move all my videos (from the Photo App of the Mac) to an external drive but for some format reason, it did not work. Have you ever had that problem ? How can I solve that ?


Staff member
Aug 9, 2009
If the external drive is formatted as FAT32, then the max file size is 4GB. It wouldn't surprise me at all to see video files bigger than that.

Reformat to MacOS Extended Journaled, or ExFAT, to remove that limitation.

You should be able to see what format a disk is by right-clicking its icon on the Desktop, then choosing "Get Info". Look for a "Format" line in the resulting window.


Jan 11, 2018
I recommend moving your documents to iCloud Drive and your photos within the Photos for Mac app, opting to save it all on iCloud Drive out of your storage space. I pay £2.49 a month and get 200GB. My large data is kept off the SSD, but it 'feels and looks' like it's there. The Mac does a great job of handling all of this in the background, after the initial 'big upload' etc.

The drawbacks are paying for storage, using Apple's services (if you don't like them), not having everything always available due to times without an internet connection..

The benefits are all of your content, fluidly available across all your devices and anywhere else via iCloud Drive, perfect sync between Apple devices such as being on your iPhone / iPad without manually needing to back up / sync changes. It's also off of any spinning prone to failure drives and your built in SSD on your laptop which can break or be stolen. The data is safe even if you computer is destroyed.
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