How to Remove Junk and Free up Disk Space on a Mac

Junk files can get out of hand pretty quickly on a Macbook. If you are not careful, you will find that available free space on the computer is shrinking little by little. And the worst part is that you are uncertain how it gets to that point.

You will see recommendations of installing any of the available free disk analyzers as those will reveal what kind of files take the most disk space on your Macbook. It is a good piece of advice as you will know which areas need the most attention. 

After analyzing the disk, you have two options. The first one is to get a cleanup utility tool and let it do the work. The second is to manually delete all the files from your computer.

Manual work can get a bit tricky as you will need to tinker with the system files, and there is a risk of removing something crucial to the OS, so backup folders for files will be necessary. Meanwhile, software makes things easier, though you will need to spend money to buy one that is reliable.

As for the file types that you need to remove, it is usually the same story with most computers. Here are some types of files that will take the most disk space.

Type #1 – System Junk

System junk files like caches, language databases, broken app data, binaries, old updates and old backups accumulate over time and should be deleted regularly. If you are not using a cleanup utility tool and want to remove the files manually, do not delete the folders themselves. Instead, get rid of the files.

Keep in mind, though, that if you have not had an opportunity to remove system junk files before, you will have a lot of stuff to deal with, and it will take time. At the same time, if you are looking to free up disk space and improve the overall performance of the Mac, there is no other way out of it.

Type #2 – Old Applications


Applications that you have not used for a while can also be removed from the Mac. After all, you can always reinstall any app again in case you need to use it. And if an app is taking disk space or running in the background and consuming resources without offering anything of value in return, you are better off deleting it. Also, do not forget to clear the cache afterward.

Type #3 – Unused Language Files

Some applications come with multiple language files. These files are large and take up disk space for no real reason. In most cases, you only need an English version, or the second language you are native of at most. Look through the list of installed apps and see which of them have language files. Anything that you do not need can be deleted.

Type #4 – Mail Attachments and Downloads

Those who use email for work or communication are bound to open a lot of attachments. By default, each attachment you double-click on ends up in the mail folder. And if you neglect to clean the folder, it will continue to grow and take drive space.

The same thing applies to the download folder. If you are not clearing it every time you download a new file from somewhere, do not be surprised to see that the folder is a few gigabytes in size.

Type #5 – Browser Caches and Extensions

Clearing browser caches and removing unnecessary extensions do more than just create extra free disk space. The browsing experience becomes much better as well. When browsers end up with too many extensions and add-ons, they become sluggish. Some people even go as far as believing that the ones to blame are the ISP providers.

Type #6 – Malware and Viruses

There are all kinds of cybersecurity threats out there. And it is possible that the biggest offender behind a sudden shrinking of available disk space is either a virus or malware.

A reliable anti-malware tool is necessary to have even if you are avoiding shady websites or never open files that are sent from unknown people and look suspicious. 


As you can see, there are quite a few types of junk files that are taking up free disk space and are slowing down your Macbook. Removing them from the computer regularly should be a habit. 

And when you delete the junk, remember to empty the trash bin because moving files there only transfers them to another location.

Finally, if you are looking for other methods to free up drive space, there are cloud-based services like Dropbox and iCloud. Transferring some data to external storage devices is also an option, as is subscribing to streaming services and eliminating the need to keep large media files on the computer.