If you have used Mac for a long time, you’d have encountered a common problem – a lack of free disk space.
You try to figure out what’s taking up your disk space by clicking the Apple logo on the top-left of the screen, selecting About This Mac, and hitting the Storage tab. You will get the example screenshot above.
Why does my Mac system require so much space?
What does it contain? Is it safe to clean some of those system files?
And how do I regain more space to store all my projects, movies or something even bigger?
There are special Mac cleaner utilities designed to help to easily clear disk space. But before cleaning, it is important to use a disk analyzer tool to manage your disk space usage and find out what is taking up the most HD space.
Why disk analyzer matters
Mysteriously Disappearing Storage Space. Sometimes, you cannot know what is actually consuming the storage space. Regardless that you will get the ‘Storage Full’ message while copying files. This has been a serious problem for macOS users ever since.
The APFS Snapshot Feature is Buggy. When you make TimeMachine backups or snapshots, it gets stored in your storage drive. Neither Finder nor ‘About This Mac’ can identify this and just label the snapshot with the System category, making it massive and prone to issues.
The In-built Storage Management is Ineffective. In case you didn’t know, macOS has an in-built storage management module. This should show you the files and folders taking up more storage space. However, it’s ineffective if you want to know the potential of free space in the device. You cannot deal with deep system files either.
macOS System Requires More Space. Compared to Windows or Linux, the macOS system needs more space for the core files. When you install a number of apps, this becomes insane. So, at the end of the day, you would want to know where free space is possible and clear things up.
These are just some of the most common reasons you should use a disk analyzer for Mac. Just like other apps, there are many macOS disk analyzers as well. So, choosing one would be tough. But, don’t worry, we’ve got it covered for you.
How to choose the right disk analyzer
We had prioritized our criteria while choosing a good space analyzer tool from the big lot.
Performance is, undoubtedly, the first concern. We needed a tool that can go deep into your Mac and find out what can be deleted. This requires some serious algorithms and power from the developing part. We’re not looking for any kind of gimmicks.
Freeing up disk space is no rocket science. So, a disk analyzer tool should be easy to use as well. So, as power-packed and efficient as it may be, we needed a simple interface as well. This means that the disk analyzers you find here will be quite easy to use.
Diversity is also assured. We have covered different types of disk usage analyzers for Mac. Some let you clear the disk space based on while others represent the condition quite beautifully. At the same time, there some hybrid choices too.
Thanks to all these, we have compiled the one of the best collections of disk usage analyzers to clear disk space on Mac.
The built-in tool you already have: Finder
The simplest and easiest way to check your storage space on your Mac is through using Finder or Disk Storage. It provides decent info about the total storage and what files are stored. However, it isn’t perfect and would only be perfect for basic tasks.
Click on the “Apple” menu and then on the “About This Mac” option.
Next, click on the “Storage” tab, and you should see the storage drive and how much space you have available.
You can also use Disk Utility. It is the perfect in-built tool as you can access it quickly enough, and you don’t have to wait for the scan process like other apps. You can also see the storage capacity on a graph, but the information on the spread is pretty limited.
You can access Disk Utility by going into Finder and scrolling down to the bottom section, where you will find a tab named “Utility” click on it and then look for Disk Utility and run it. You should see a pop-up similar to the screenshot above.
The best for effective analysis: DaisyDisk
DaisyDisk is a dedicated disk usage analyzer, made for Mac. A visual of disk usage helps you understand how the files and folders behave in relation to the available space. It also promises to bring back storage space to your Mac. Compared to the other methods of storage upgrades and device upgrades, DaisyDisk is pretty economical as well.
DaisyDisk has a simple, intuitive yet productive user-interface. As we said earlier, DaisyDisk will be showing you a perfect representation of storage space consumption. You will know what is taking up the space and what is not. Once you have scanned, you will see a window like shown below. It provides a diagram-based representation of storage space distribution.
Cloud storage scanning support – This is a new feature with the latest iteration of DaisyDisk, and it allows you to scan files on your cloud storage. It works with iCloud, Google Drive, and others to scan through all your files and recommend what you should delete or remove. While it won’t directly impact your physical drive, it would make your data storage much neater overall.
Real-time representation of storage data – All your storage space would be visible in a circular graph structure or a pie chart that makes browsing through all your files easy and quick.
Compatibility with Apple Silicon – It is also compatible with Apple’s latest M1 Silicon chips, so you don’t have to worry about bugs or random errors, and you’ll be able to enjoy the full performance of the newer devices.
Easy to use and supports many devices – Finally, DaisyDisk is super easy to use with a one-click tool that can scan across all your files, and it also supports the latest and the oldest Macs without issues.
As we said earlier, DaisyDisk is available for Mac only. You can download the program from the official website of DaisyDisk or the Mac App Store. If you have a Mac running OS X 10.10 or later, you can use DaisyDisk without worries. It should be noted that the program has an incredibly lower footprint.
DaisyDisk is priced at a simple tag of $9.99. Compared to the amount of money you would otherwise spend — purchasing a USB drive or HDD, for instance —, it’s an awesome thing. However, DaisyDisk offers a limited free trial, in which you can scan your disks but cannot delete them.
In the right world, you don’t have to think twice before spending $9.99 for DaisyDisk. It’s a worthwhile purchase that will help you in the time to come. So that you know, DaisyDisk is being used by the commons and IT professionals across the globe. Read our full review of DaisyDisk here.
Of course, we believe in fair competition and unbiased comparison. Out of the 15+ disk analyzer tools we’ve considered for the guide, the following ones should be mentioned as worthy competitors. Among those, WhatSize is a definite alternative to DaisyDisk that lets you visualize the file system usage and clean up the Mac.
The good things first, WhatSize seems quite advanced in the first look. You have an option to customize the view and choose options like Pie Chart or Table.
Easy Cleaning Process. WhatSize comes with an inbuilt cleaning tool that you can quickly use to get rid of trash files, caches, or other large files.
Quickly Find Duplicate Files. WhatSize scan also works with duplicate files. So, when you run a scan, delete all the duplicate files to bring some available space to work on.
As it happens, WhatSize offers a bunch of features, but most of them are hard to master. We also find that it is not at all intuitive. You would need a few days to master how to use WhatSize for Mac. Coming to the pricing aspect, WhatSize is priced at $14.99, which is high. As we said earlier, the cleaning features in the program aren’t that effective either.
So, you should go for WhatSize only if you can handle such a complex tool at the end of the day. We also believe that the app is overpriced compared to the features of DaisyDisk, which sells for $10.
The best for analyzing and cleaning: CleanMyMac X
Another great option on the list. CleanMyMac X has a lot of features that you can use to make your Mac better and smoother. However, today we’ll be looking at the ‘Space Lens’ function. Space Lens helps you scan through your storage and easily clean any unwanted files or trash.
CleanMyMac X comes with a beautiful UI with various tools and features that can help you optimize your Mac’s performance. The Space Lens tool can be found on the tab on the left, and you can simply click it to start the scanning process for your storage drive.
Space Lens works by clearing all trash, unused files and also cleans any large files left behind on your Mac. To learn more about how you can use it, take a look at our in-depth analysis of how Space Lens works and how you can use it to clean unwanted files.
Smart Scan with one-click Optimization. CleanMyMac X can help you optimize your Mac with a single click. Just use the Smart Scan tool, and it will help improve the protection and speed of your Mac while cleaning all unused files.
Remove Junk and Trash Files instantly. You can also clean and remove all Trash and Junk files off your Mac. You need to use the specific tool on the left panel and then clean any recommended files you want to.
Analyze and Uninstall apps to clean up some storage. Finally, the uninstall function is another useful tool that you can use with CleanMyMac X. As the name suggests, you can use it to uninstall all unwanted apps and, as a bonus, remove all the trash left behind after the uninstallation process.
You can download CleanMyMac X for $39.95 per year. It also comes with a trial version that you can download and try for free. It also has a one-time purchase which would cost you around $80-90 for a lifetime subscription. Read our full CleanMyMac X review here.
Disk Diet is compact version compared to CleanMyMac X or the competitors above. Just like the competitors, despite its lean and light form, it qualifies as a dedicated tool that will analyze your Mac and clean up storage space — automatically. You don’t have to go and find what is taking up the space. Instead, the program will analyze the device and find potential areas like Trash, Cache, Application Logs, etc.
Of course, some downsides should be mentioned. First of all, you don’t get a clear picture of storage space consumption. You only know that a certain amount of storage space can be cleared. And, it should be noted that Disk Diet does not let you customize anything. You can select from extra options like old iOS Updates and Downloads, but that’s it.
One-click Performance Optimization. We recommend Disk Diet for only those who have less time to save storage space. It should be noted that the program is quite straightforward. You don’t have to deal with diagrams or anything whatsoever. It just wants you to click the Diet button and put the HDD on a space-consumption diet. Is it effective? Yes, it is, but it’s your take.
Clean Junk and Trash Files with ease. You can also use it to clean junk and trash files. The initial scan took less than a minute to complete, and the clean-up tool took around 3-4 minutes to clean everything.
Instant scans for large and unused files. As soon as you run the app, it starts scanning through all your files to provide instant and seamless information about your storage drive.
Disk Diet is also a paid Mac app, coming with a price tag of $9. It should be noted that DaisyDisk, which has the same price tag, does more than what it does. It offers a limited free trial that lets you clear 500MB max.
GrandPerspective is the best option when you want a graphical representation of storage space distribution on your Mac. It’s a completely free and open-source program that you can download without worries. The best part is that, unlike many free tools out there, GrandPerspective is regularly updated.
However, the core idea behind GrandPerspective hasn’t changed for the past few years. When you open the tool and scan a specific folder, you will see a box-based representation of storage space. You can click on the boxes to open, quick look, or delete the files to save space. GrandPerspective doesn’t offer a dedicated cleaning option, unlike the tools above.
We wouldn’t say that GrandPerspective has the most intuitive UI, but it’s not hard either. When you click on a box, you can see the file’s path, which is great. You will have to navigate again to find and delete the file better. Of course, you should consider that GrandPerspective wants you to pay nothing for using these features.
GrandPerspective becomes the go-to choice when you don’t want to spend money on disk analyzer tools. Of course, you will miss some useful features and tools by doing so.
Another free disk space analyzer, Disk Inventory X, has a tab on the left that shows you all the folders that occupy the maximum storage. However, the UI and overall distribution graph can feel a little cluttered.
The panel on the right shows you a very technical graph of all the allocated storage space. So, it won’t be very clear for beginners. It will take time to learn, but everything will get easier once you know the basics.
You can look at the allocation structure on the right and figure out which apps or files are using the most amount of storage, and then finally delete or transfer them to clean up your storage drive for some extra space.
Stay on top of your Mac’s free space
Choose any of the tools we’ve covered, and you can save GBs of space in your hard drive. However, you must choose an effective, safe, and trustworthy program — just like the top pick.
In DaisyDisk, you would not have to worry about system errors or unexpected crashes. You also have an intuitive way to deal with storage data representation. So, make sure you have that disk analysis tool to enrich your Mac.
However, if you’re more of a technical guy and want to deep dive into the nitty-gritty for a truly unique experience, then I would recommend using GrandPerspective for the flexibility and power it provides.
With that said, we have reached the end of today’s guide and hope you have an easy time cleaning the junk off your storage drive. For more help, make sure to check our related guides.