If you are looking to understand what might be eating up space on your startup disk, there is an easy way to find that out: just hit the Apple menu > About This Mac, and then the Storage tab. Here macOS will display a colored ‘storage bar’ with each segment representing an estimate of the storage used by a category of files: system, applications, photos, backups, and the like.
But then there is a category you might find confusing: ‘Other’.
This category contains files that the system doesn't recognize as belonging to any specific category. These include files such as disk images or archives, data stored by apps (such as Contacts and Calendars), and app plug-ins or extensions. This can also include PDF, PSD, and DOC files, as well as any temporary files and caches.
Then there is another category called ‘purgeable’, which appears in macOS Sierra and later. This label is not to be confused with ‘Other’, as it is disk space that the system can automatically make available when it is running out of storage.
The purgeable category only appears after the user has turned on “Optimize Mac Storage”. With this option active, macOS will automatically remove any watched iTunes movies and TV shows, download only recent attachments or opt to not automatically download attachments, and any unneeded cached content across systems and devices.
How to Clean Up ‘Other’ Storage?
It may sound odd, but the ‘Other’ category cannot be removed from your Mac, simply because of how macOS identifies files. What can be done, though, is the shrinking of this kind of storage space by using any of the following methods:
Remove Files Manually
- Press the Command + F keys to invoke the Find command.
- Click “This Mac”.
- Click on the “Other” dropdown menu and pick a search attribute, such as File Size or File extension.
- Now, depending on what you've selected in the latter step, input a file size or file type.
- Review the files and remove them if they are not needed.
Since the Other category includes temporary files and system files, it’s a good idea to go over each of them and remove these files manually if they are no longer needed. Especially look for outdated files, since the system might need the more recent ones…
To locate these files, press the Command + Shift + G keys in Finder, then copy and paste the following path: ~/Library/Application Support/.
Also occupying space on your startup drive are older iOS backup files, so remove them manually by accessing the ~/Library/Application Support/MobileSync/Backup path.
During your clean-up journey it is also worth keeping in mind that the ‘Other’ category includes cached files, junk files, disk images, app plugins and extensions, so be sure to check for this type of data and remove it manually.
This isn't a hard task, especially if you know where the files are located and have the time to play around. If not, the easiest thing to do is take advantage of any Mac optimization app that you have to hand. Some great options include CleanMyMac, OnyX, MacKeeper, but any other depending on your personal preference is good too. In our example we will use CleanMyMac, which we've found to be the most versatile paid Mac optimization app.
Clean up Other Storage Using Mac Optimization App
- Launch CleanMyMac.
- Click on the Smart Cleanup on the top left.
- Select “Scan”.
- When the software has finished the scanning process, hit “Clean”.
For certain categories of files, such as Large & Old Files, manual input will be required, but to get rid of the rest of the system’s junk data and cache files it's enough to simply press the “Clean” button and have it all done for you.
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