macOS Sierra taking up far too much storage

LOLZpersonok

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Aug 10, 2012
711
14
Calgary, Canada
EDIT: Thanks to Fishrrman for their suggestion to use DiskWave. I was able to clear up my problem pretty quickly.

I've got a 2015 MacBook Pro that I've had for a few months now. Because it was a huge investment for us as it was, we didn't spare the money for the 256GB SSD, only settled for the 128GB model. By the time I had the laptop for just three days, I already had 30GB left of my storage. I have since purchased a 1TB external USB hard drive specifically for use with this machine, but I don't bring it with me to school because I walk a lot and the MacBook can handle the shock in its protective case, laptop bag and my backpack - the hard drive can't (and I'm glad I don't bring that hard drive with me because one week I slipped twice, each fall having the capacity to destroy a hard drive).

I noticed that the storage macOS takes up fluctuates quite dramatically (I don't recall El Capitan being quite this extreme), which I don't like because of the unnecessary write cycles on the SSD, but as time progressed I've noticed that the storage macOS is taking up has increased quite dramatically. One month ago, I had 40GB on my MacBook's SSD. I now only have 13GB free. In that one month period, I did not install any new, large applications and kept the SSD clean of large documents which I'm no longer using. macOS now uses a whopping 60GB of storage and I definitely don't think that it should be.

This is quite an issue for me due to the limited storage I have available. Does anyone have any suggestions for me?
 

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mjohansen

macrumors regular
Feb 19, 2010
186
26
Denmark
I've got a 2015 MacBook Pro that I've had for a few months now. Because it was a huge investment for us as it was, we didn't spare the money for the 256GB SSD, only settled for the 128GB model. By the time I had the laptop for just three days, I already had 30GB left of my storage. I have since purchased a 1TB external USB hard drive specifically for use with this machine, but I don't bring it with me to school because I walk a lot and the MacBook can handle the shock in its protective case, laptop bag and my backpack - the hard drive can't (and I'm glad I don't bring that hard drive with me because one week I slipped twice, each fall having the capacity to destroy a hard drive).

I noticed that the storage macOS takes up fluctuates quite dramatically (I don't recall El Capitan being quite this extreme), which I don't like because of the unnecessary write cycles on the SSD, but as time progressed I've noticed that the storage macOS is taking up has increased quite dramatically. One month ago, I had 40GB on my MacBook's SSD. I now only have 13GB free. In that one month period, I did not install any new, large applications and kept the SSD clean of large documents which I'm no longer using. macOS now uses a whopping 60GB of storage and I definitely don't think that it should be.

This is quite an issue for me due to the limited storage I have available. Does anyone have any suggestions for me?
I've had my problems trying to figure out what's taking up storage on my iMac as well. One thing I noticed is that "System" doesn't actually have to be anything in regards to the OS. It can be applications, games etc.
 

mossy

macrumors regular
Sep 11, 2013
157
47
Ireland
I suspect it is the applications you are using. For example - if I use Adobe After Effects and preview a 10 second clip - the 'cache' that After Effects creates (so it can render back the clip in the preview realtime for me) gets huge. If I close AE that cache is still there.

Have a look at Library -> Caches

If you right click in the empty space in the library to show the 'view options' - turn on 'calculate all sizes'.
Check the size of the Caches folder.

There is an app (Disk Doctor) in the App Store that I use just for the above problem.
 

MacGizmo

macrumors 68000
Apr 27, 2003
1,661
982
Arizona
Couple things (sorry this is lengthy):

If you don't use GarageBand to create your own music, click that Music Creation item in the list, then click the "Remove GarageBand Sound Library" button in the area to the right. That'll save you a minimum of 2 GB, but probably a lot more—if not all of that 13+ GB. In fact, if you don't use GarageBand, then just delete the entire app (you can always re-download it for free).

I run some fairly large apps. I have almost the entire Adobe Creative Cloud suite of apps installed (that's over 13 GB alone), plus numerous other graphics-related apps and utilities—my Applications folder is about 37.4 GB. Your Apps folder is nearly 28 GB. I have no idea what you use your computer for so it's hard to say for sure, but go through the apps folder and un-install/trash any 3rd-party apps you don't need or no longer use.

Your "System" is taking up 60 GB of space. My System takes up about 40 GB. That's a pretty big difference, but it doesn't mean something is wrong. A LOT of stuff gets included in "System." Notes, reminders, map caches, browser caches and history, SMS, MMS and iMessages, fonts (fonts can add up real quick), and more all get included in "System."

Knowing absolutely nothing about you, what you have installed or what you use your Mac for, it's difficult to say why you're out of space. But I can tell you this: you're running dangerously low on storage space, and your Mac's performance is going to start suffering soon if it hasn't already.

Your "System" size should not fluctuate that much over time unless you're installing/uninstalling a ton of apps and utilities. And when you think about it, you only have 5 GB of documents but you have 28 GB of apps used to create them... that ratio is just way off, in my opinion. To compare, I have 37.4 GB of apps and 160+ GB of documents. That makes more sense, right?

Go through your apps folder, delete any installers or .dmg files, and any apps you don't use. Go through your Messages app and delete any images, videos or sound files in the message that you don't want or need anymore. SOMETHING in your system is taking up space, and unfortunately you'll just have to play around to find out what it is.
 
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mossy

macrumors regular
Sep 11, 2013
157
47
Ireland
Your "System" size should not fluctuate that much over time unless you're installing/uninstalling a ton of apps and utilities. And when you think about it, you only have 5 GB of documents but you have 28 GB of apps used to create them... that ratio is just way off, in my opinion. To compare, I have 37.4 GB of apps and 160+ GB of documents. That makes more sense, right?.

C'mon in all fairness!! 'Ratio'? That is a meaningless claim and makes not sense at-all.

Not that it matters - but the person said that they have an external hard drive also. The system will fluctuate overtime due to the cache size and other bits. Clearing the cache and other bits that you mentioned is almost guaranteed to claim back the space.
 

Weaselboy

Moderator
Staff member
Jan 23, 2005
30,419
10,228
California
One month ago, I had 40GB on my MacBook's SSD. I now only have 13GB free.
Do you have Time Machine backups turned on? If you do, that creates local snapshots that are stored in a hidden folder and that can chew up space.

Run the command below in Terminal and tell us what it says. This will show how much space is being used for those snapshots.

Code:
sudo du -hs /.MobileBackups
 
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LOLZpersonok

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Aug 10, 2012
711
14
Calgary, Canada
Do you have Time Machine backups turned on? If you do, that creates local snapshots that are stored in a hidden folder and that can chew up space.

Run the command below in Terminal and tell us what it says. This will show how much space is being used for those snapshots.

Code:
sudo du -hs /.MobileBackups
The Terminal tells me that there's no such file or directory.
[doublepost=1485990291][/doublepost]
Couple things (sorry this is lengthy):

If you don't use GarageBand to create your own music, click that Music Creation item in the list, then click the "Remove GarageBand Sound Library" button in the area to the right. That'll save you a minimum of 2 GB, but probably a lot more—if not all of that 13+ GB. In fact, if you don't use GarageBand, then just delete the entire app (you can always re-download it for free).

I run some fairly large apps. I have almost the entire Adobe Creative Cloud suite of apps installed (that's over 13 GB alone), plus numerous other graphics-related apps and utilities—my Applications folder is about 37.4 GB. Your Apps folder is nearly 28 GB. I have no idea what you use your computer for so it's hard to say for sure, but go through the apps folder and un-install/trash any 3rd-party apps you don't need or no longer use.

Your "System" is taking up 60 GB of space. My System takes up about 40 GB. That's a pretty big difference, but it doesn't mean something is wrong. A LOT of stuff gets included in "System." Notes, reminders, map caches, browser caches and history, SMS, MMS and iMessages, fonts (fonts can add up real quick), and more all get included in "System."

Knowing absolutely nothing about you, what you have installed or what you use your Mac for, it's difficult to say why you're out of space. But I can tell you this: you're running dangerously low on storage space, and your Mac's performance is going to start suffering soon if it hasn't already.

Your "System" size should not fluctuate that much over time unless you're installing/uninstalling a ton of apps and utilities. And when you think about it, you only have 5 GB of documents but you have 28 GB of apps used to create them... that ratio is just way off, in my opinion. To compare, I have 37.4 GB of apps and 160+ GB of documents. That makes more sense, right?

Go through your apps folder, delete any installers or .dmg files, and any apps you don't use. Go through your Messages app and delete any images, videos or sound files in the message that you don't want or need anymore. SOMETHING in your system is taking up space, and unfortunately you'll just have to play around to find out what it is.
Well, I do also have almost the entire Adobe Creative Cloud installed on my computer, and I do like to use GarageBand for stuff, so I'm not deleting any of that. I used to have The Sims 4 installed on my MacBook too, because I liked to play it at school when I wasn't busy but I had to move that onto my external hard drive which I don't bring with me to school.

I checked the storage information again today, and the space consumed by the System has gone down 4GB. A lot of what you suggested for me yields little to no results. There's nothing that I can see that I need or want to delete. I'm not sure, but I guess I'm going to have to fool around with it for a little while. I'm not sure how to clear most of my caches (including fonts caches) so you might have to explain that one to me.
 

dictoresno

macrumors 601
Apr 30, 2012
4,213
473
NJ
Do you have Time Machine backups turned on? If you do, that creates local snapshots that are stored in a hidden folder and that can chew up space.

Run the command below in Terminal and tell us what it says. This will show how much space is being used for those snapshots.

Code:
sudo du -hs /.MobileBackups
did that on my MacBook, shows 1.1 GB.....not bad
 

alex.houston

macrumors member
Oct 14, 2016
81
42
Indiana
I've got a 2015 MacBook Pro that I've had for a few months now. Because it was a huge investment for us as it was, we didn't spare the money for the 256GB SSD, only settled for the 128GB model. By the time I had the laptop for just three days, I already had 30GB left of my storage. I have since purchased a 1TB external USB hard drive specifically for use with this machine, but I don't bring it with me to school because I walk a lot and the MacBook can handle the shock in its protective case, laptop bag and my backpack - the hard drive can't (and I'm glad I don't bring that hard drive with me because one week I slipped twice, each fall having the capacity to destroy a hard drive).

I noticed that the storage macOS takes up fluctuates quite dramatically (I don't recall El Capitan being quite this extreme), which I don't like because of the unnecessary write cycles on the SSD, but as time progressed I've noticed that the storage macOS is taking up has increased quite dramatically. One month ago, I had 40GB on my MacBook's SSD. I now only have 13GB free. In that one month period, I did not install any new, large applications and kept the SSD clean of large documents which I'm no longer using. macOS now uses a whopping 60GB of storage and I definitely don't think that it should be.

This is quite an issue for me due to the limited storage I have available. Does anyone have any suggestions for me?
I know this doesn't answer your question, but no matter what, 128GB seems too small. If you do not feel like upgrading your SSD (which should be possible for your model), you could use something like this:
https://www.transcend-info.com/apple/jetdrivelite/
which is not that expensive, e.g. for 15" MBP:
https://www.amazon.com/Transcend-JetDrive-Storage-Expansion-TS128GJDL360/dp/B00K73NWK0
and for 13" MBP:
https://www.amazon.com/Transcend-JetDrive-Storage-Expansion-TS64GJDL330/dp/B00MTHLURE?th=1
Even cheaper, if you already have a micro SD card you can use, you could just buy an empty tray like this:
https://www.amazon.com/8MOBILITY-Al...10&sr=1-4&keywords=HyperDrive+microSD+Adapter
There are other manufacturers for similar drives/trays, I'd check their reviews on amazon.
 

KALLT

macrumors 603
Sep 23, 2008
5,133
3,181
Don’t use CleanMyMac.

I have not seen anyone mention this yet:
Code:
sudo du -hxd 1 /
This will show you the total size of each directory in the root path.
 

LOLZpersonok

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Aug 10, 2012
711
14
Calgary, Canada
Don’t use CleanMyMac.

I have not seen anyone mention this yet:
Code:
sudo du -hxd 1 /
This will show you the total size of each directory in the root path.
[doublepost=1486139624][/doublepost]
Try to use CleanMyMac3
For me, its quite good to celan up and review junk files on your mac
Right now, everymonth I've clean about 3 or 4GB of junk files
I don't trust that software. I've seen a number of user complaints about it being potentially malicious. Also, its free version is extremely limited and I don't have time for software I deem worthless like this.

I have nothing against you personally, my problem is with the software and its developers.
[doublepost=1486139879][/doublepost]
I suspect it is the applications you are using. For example - if I use Adobe After Effects and preview a 10 second clip - the 'cache' that After Effects creates (so it can render back the clip in the preview realtime for me) gets huge. If I close AE that cache is still there.

Have a look at Library -> Caches

If you right click in the empty space in the library to show the 'view options' - turn on 'calculate all sizes'.
Check the size of the Caches folder.

There is an app (Disk Doctor) in the App Store that I use just for the above problem.
I'm not going to try software that's paid or is trialware. There are things I'd rather spend my money on than these utilities, especially since I'm not exactly swimming in cash.

I'll go sifting through my Caches folder and see what's going on there. I just checked the size of my Caches folder. It only seems to be 2.2MB in size.
 

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Fishrrman

macrumors Core
Feb 20, 2009
19,609
6,828
OP:

If you want to see what is using up your disk space, try this free utility called DiskWave:
https://diskwave.barthe.ph

Just download it and open it.
You'll see what to do next.

TIP:
In preferences, set it up so that normally-invisible files are made visible.
 

LOLZpersonok

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Aug 10, 2012
711
14
Calgary, Canada
OP:

If you want to see what is using up your disk space, try this free utility called DiskWave:
https://diskwave.barthe.ph

Just download it and open it.
You'll see what to do next.

TIP:
In preferences, set it up so that normally-invisible files are made visible.
Okay, so I'm trying that software and it turns out that Adobe After Effects is taking up 21GB in caches. It looks like the macOS Finder lied to me in how big my cache really was.

EDIT: I now have 40GB free on my MacBook's SSD. Thanks for that tip. I've still got to go through and delete unnecessary stuff, because my System is still taking up 40GB, but I think I'm good to go.
 

MacGizmo

macrumors 68000
Apr 27, 2003
1,661
982
Arizona
The terminal command generally refers to System Caches, not Adobe's cache files. Even if you delete that AE cache, the next time you work in After Effects, your cache is going to jump up in size. That's the way it works, and there's nothing you can do to "fix" it because there's nothing wrong.

Unfortunately you purchased a machine that has the same storage as many folks have on their phone. Probably not the best decision when you work with Adobe CC apps and GarageBand. It's of no help to you now, I know, but in the future when you purchase a computer—always buy twice what you think you need right now, because you will grow into it later.
 
Last edited:

LOLZpersonok

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Aug 10, 2012
711
14
Calgary, Canada
The terminal command generally refers to System Caches, not Adobe's cache files. Even if you delete that AE cache, the next time you work in After Effects, your cache is going to jump up in size. That's the way it works, and there's nothing you can do to "fix" it because there's nothing wrong.

Unfortunately you purchased a machine that has the same storage as many folks have on their phone. Probably not the best decision when you work with Adobe CC apps and GarageBand. It's of no help to you now, I know, but in the future when you purchase a computer—always buy twice what you think you need right now, because you will grow into it later.
I knew that 128GB of storage would not be sufficient for my uses before I bought the machine, but like I said above, this $1,400 machine was a huge investment for us as it was (we got it refurbished). We literally could not afford the additional $200 or so it would have been to get the 256GB model, and this is one of the reasons I'm glad I didn't wait for the 2016 MacBook Pro to come out - because of the price hike. At least it does help that I got an external hard drive for it because I was able to move my games, project files and rendered files onto it, though moving my games onto the external hard drive is kind of pointless since I've got another Windows machine which I use almost exclusively for playing games and like I mentioned earlier, I don't bring this hard drive with me to class.
 

mossy

macrumors regular
Sep 11, 2013
157
47
Ireland
I'm not going to try software that's paid or is trialware. There are things I'd rather spend my money on than these utilities, especially since I'm not exactly swimming in cash.
Fair enough. It was only a suggestion.

In reference to the After Effects cache - you can clean that from inside AfterEffects by going to:
Preferences > Media & Disk Cache, then click the Clean Database & Cache button.
You can actually set the location to a folder on an external hard drive also - but you will figure all those techniques out as you go along.

In your home folder - right click to show view options and turn on the 'Show Library Folder'.
This is the place to see the Cache folder. You can use the same right click method as above to turn on 'Calculate all Sizes'
(when inside the Library folder). Don't go crazy deleting stuff inside this Library folder. The files inside the cache folder are fine to delete though (not the folder itself). Be careful of deleting anything else in the Library unless you know what it actually is.

Also - in reference to your aversion to carrying an external disk - I have a gut feeling you will be carrying one sooner rather than later. I almost never went to any of my college modules without one. It is actually crazy not to use one if you use AfterEffects or PremierPro in particular - even if you have 1TB of space!!

Your machine seems to be for educational purposes. I would advise you to take anything that is not for educational purposes off it - keep it lean with what apps you need - get two external disks (portable ones) - use one of them as your actual 'Documents folder' keeping all stuff you need from class in neat folders - use the other one as a TimeMachine backup. If using one as TimeMachine backup get a capacity (for example) of say 2TB. Your external one for the documents should be 500GB or 1TB. The point I am making is the capacity of the drive for TimeMachine must be sufficiently bigger that the other drives so it can actually make lots of back-ups before TimeMachine starts to delete (aka write over the oldest) back-ups due to low space.

Buy the external portable drives as you go along. No need to buy EVERYTHING together. These things are tools - just like a carpenter will buy more tools as they go along learning their trade. We all start at the beginning.

The important thing to keep in mind here is the real power of the machine is the processor, graphics card and memory. Don't be afraid of using an external disk for efficient file management. Files need a home - so give them a nice folder. Keep on top of it from the beginning as it will drive you insane later on down the road.
 

websage

macrumors newbie
Oct 15, 2017
2
0
Do you have Time Machine backups turned on? If you do, that creates local snapshots that are stored in a hidden folder and that can chew up space.

Run the command below in Terminal and tell us what it says. This will show how much space is being used for those snapshots.

Code:
sudo du -hs /.MobileBackups
Just run
sudo du -hs /.MobileBackups

The answer is 208G

That seems to be too much. Any suggestion would be most welcome.

I already used

tmutil deletelocalsnapshots

to delete all snapshots.
 

websage

macrumors newbie
Oct 15, 2017
2
0
FYI, I ended up moving the old backup files from .MobileBackups thusly:

sudo mv /.MobileBackups ~/Desktop/deleteme/

And then deleted the lot with Finder.

So far, no ill effects and my 208GB is back.
 
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