How to Clean “Other” Storage on Mac

Mac users often check their Storage space using built-in About This Mac tool. Most immediately notice that a fairly large chunk of their disk space is occupied by “Other” items. iOS users may find this familiar, as Apple’s mobile operating system often displays Other storage space too. Fortunately for all OS X users, finding out finding what is ‘other’ in Mac storage is much easier. This is made possible due to accessible directories and file system on Mac, which is not the case with iOS.

It’s time to check the storage space and finally figure out the mystery behind Other space in OS X.

How to Check Other Storage in OS X

Before diving into how to clean out Other on Mac, you first need to check how much space it occupies on your system. The “Other” storage on OS Can be checked through About This Mac panel:

  • Go to Apple menu and click on About This Mac.
  • Select Storage tab and locate Other section on your main drive.

Other data will be highlighted in either blue or yellow depending on the version of OS X you have. Regardless of the OS X version installed on your Mac, Other data usually takes quite a bit of space even though the numbers vary.

What Exactly OS X Counts as “Other” Storage

Supposedly, you now know that “Other” demands a significant amount of disk space, but what exactly is taking that space? In substance, OS X labels anything as “Other” unless it can allocate the item to a specified type of media, backup or application. In other words, what we are looking at is a very broad list of items that are being considered Other by the system:

  • PDF, PSD, doc, other documents and file types.
  • Zip, dmg, iso, other disk images, and
  • Application plugins, extensions, fonts, etc.
  • Application support, iCloud data, screensavers and all other user library items.
  • Personal and user data of various types.
  • Swap files, voices, temporary data, other items within the system folders of OS X.
  • File types not recognized by Spotlight such as Boot Camp partitions.

Contrary to common belief, “Other” storage is not just disk clutter. Basically, it is everything that does not fall under the main categories determined by OS X. It is quite different from the same label in iOS storage, which is likely to make more sense on a Mac.

How to Manage Other Storage on Mac

Files considered to be “Other” by OS X should not get you concerned unless you’re are running low on precious disk space. If this is the case and you want to try and clean up Other storage, then you will need to check the following locations and look for files that are no longer needed:

  • ~/Downloads — User download folder.
  • ~/Library/Caches — User caches.
  • ~/Documents — User documents.
  • iMessage attachments — media files cache.

You will be surprised by how much redundant data can be found in these folders. Besides the folders listed above, you still have your system folder that comes with its own set of caches and temporary data. However, it is not recommended you do any of the removings manually as you can potentially do more harm than good. Manual tinkering with system level items makes even more sense, considering that OS X runs a cleanup script on reboot. In other words, a simple reboot will suffice to do the needed cleaning.

Finally, you need to remember that Windows or Linux partitions will also be shown as “Other”. These are only erased from Other storage when the partition or drive are removed.

In conclusion, the “other” storage on Mac may indeed seem like a mystery at first glance, yet a little digging around reveals the space-hogging items. By following the tricks listed above, you will be able to significantly reduce space taken up by “Other” items. And if that is not going to be enough, then you can always take advantage of the third party cleaning software to make even more room on your startup disk.