Why is my Startup Disk full? Tips to Free up Space on Your Mac

December 22, 2021

If you’ve ever seen the “Your Startup Disk is Almost Full” message you know what an unwanted vision this can be. Mac’s with an almost full hard disk slow down considerably and once you’ve used all the space you can’t put any more files on your Mac.

With this in mind, let’s take a dive into how you can free up space should your Mac say it’s full and you don’t have any space left!

Remove Language Packs

Your Mac comes with hundreds of language packs allowing you to change the language of your machine whenever you like. At most, the chances are you only need one or two languages unless you interpret for a living.

Presuming you’re not an interpreter do the following to delete unneeded language packs:

  • Open Applications
  • Right-click on an app and select Show Package Contents
  • Click Contents and then Resources
  • Delete languages you don’t need. These files end .lproj.
  • Repeat for all apps.

Reclaim Purgeable Space

Purgeable space is hard drive space that is taken up by unnecessary data that your Mac accumulates over time. This unneeded data is sometimes the reason your Mac can’t update due to lack of storage space even though your Mac storage space seems plentiful.

One way to free up purgeable space is to switch off iCloud.


  • System Preferences
  • Choose iCloud
  • Tick iCloud Drive and click Options
  • Untick ‘Optimize Mac storage’

You may want to remove iOS backups to free up more space too.

Remove iOS Backups

iOS backups are a good thing. You have peace of mind knowing you can restore your system should it go down. Older backup versions, however, eat into the hard drive space of your Mac and serve no purpose.

To delete them go to:

  • Finder and Go to Folder
  • Type in ‘~/Library/Application Support/MobileSync/Backup/’

In the window that appears delete all the backups except the most recent one.

Uninstalled Unused Apps

It is always wise to review your apps and delete ones you don’t or will never use. It is a bit of a mystery as to why you installed them in the first place, and you may feel they are not harming, but they could actually be one of the reasons your Mac hard drive space is running out.

Some apps work in the background using resources, so deleting the redundant apps will not only free up space but free up resources making your Mac run faster.

Delete Duplicate Photo Libraries

If you’ve switched to the new Photos app the chances are you have an old library full of duplicate pictures. These pictures can be large file sizes and as you have them in the new app unneeded. It is a good idea to delete the library and free up much-needed space.

To do this go to:

  • Finder and click Pictures in the left-hand menu
  • If you have two Photo Libraries backup one that you are going to delete and then delete it.

A little maintenance can go a long way on a Mac. For more support information visit Apple Support.


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