Start up disk getting full without reason


macrumors newbie
Original poster
Jul 25, 2010

I am currently using Macbook Pro Mid 2014 with El Capitan 10.11.6.

Lately I've been getting the start up disk almost full messages often. I don't keep account of all the disk space I am using but I feel like I should have a lot more space. I feel like I shouldn't be close to using the 500gb of space. It certainly feels strange.

I keep clearing space but it fills up too fast, space that I really can't account for.

Just today, about 5 hours ago, I reaceived another message that it was getting full. So I cleared up about 5gb of space. I saved about 60mb worth of files and nothing else but I received another message that my disk was getting full and using at the disk utility I have about 500mb of space left.

I am using dropbox and google drive, but looking at the activities, there has not been activities or files downloaded to my computer.

Does anyone have any guess as to what is going on? or have any advice for me?

I am thinking about reformatting the drive and reinstalling everything.

Thank you for your help in advance.


macrumors P6
Feb 20, 2009
Before you clean the drive, you need to know just which files are clogging it up.
Not only the visible ones, but the INVISIBLE files as well.

I don't care for the numerous "graphical" utilities out there that are supposed to illustrate drive/storage conditions. They tell me little by glancing at them.

Instead, I recommend DiskWave:

It's a small, free utility.
Download and open it -- you'll see what's going on.
TIP: Go to preferences and set normally-invisible files to be VISIBLE.
Now you can see everything.


macrumors 68000
Apr 23, 2010
If you keep clearing out lots of space, and then it fills back up again, it could be a log file. I've had this happen, but not in several years. I've used OmniDisk Sweeper and it may quickly and easily show you the problem. Also consider Disk Inventory X - hover over the biggest rectangles and see what they are. Also, they are color coded (system/application/document/etc). But if there's nothing obvious, tools like DiskWave can provide more insight.