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MacBook Pros are generally fast computers and when they start to run slow, it can be frustrating. Waiting for files to load and waiting for things to open in the middle of an important project is a hassle.
Thankfully, you can use software to clean up your MacBook Pro’s hard drive yourself to help speed up its performance and make it run like new again.
I’m Eric, a MacBook Pro expert and software engineer. I’ve cleaned up the hard drives on many Macs and put together this guide to help you do it yourself.
If you want to learn how to clean up your MacBook Pro hard drive, keep reading!
How to Clean up MacBook Pro Hard Drive with Software
There are a few different ways to go about cleaning up your MacBook Pro hard drive and the easiest way is to purchase and download software that cleans up the hard drive for you.
Note: by saying “hard drive”, we mean a hard disk drive and solid-state drive (SSD) that’s equipped inside your MacBook Pro.
We will look at some steps to cleaning up your hard drive manually but for convenience and if you are not too computer savvy, purchasing a program that takes care of everything is a quick and easy option.
One of the most well-known and common software programs that help to clean up a MacBook Pro hard drive is CleanMyMac X.
This app is really easy to use and after it is installed, you simply open the app, run the system check and it goes through an in-depth process of cleaning out old files and other junk, along with a few other important scans to clean up everything and get your computer running like new again.
CleanMyMac X allows you to remove old system garbage, system backups, and other things that you no longer require. It even has a feature that will show you what files are taking up space on your Mac and make it easy to delete. As a long-time Mac user, I realize how important it is to clean up a MacBook hard drive and CleanMyMac X is an excellent tool for this.
CleanMyMac X will clean the cache and free up gigabytes of valuable space with just one click. Go to the CleanMyMac-X website and click Buy Now or Download Free Version to download the app. Once the download is complete, run the app and follow the instructions on-screen.
1. Run a Smart Scan Search
- Smart Scan for Mac locates junk files, allowing you to preview the results before clearing them in one click. Once the app is open, click on the Smart Scan tab.
- You can click Scan to run the scan.
- Once the scan is complete, you can view the information of the completed scan.
2. Delete App Cache (System Junk) on MacBook Pro Device
- System junk includes app caches, log files, and other files that are taking up space on your hard drive. Launch the CleanMyMac app and click on the System Junk tab.
- You can click the Scan button to begin the scan.
- Once the scan is complete, click the Clean button to remove the system junk from your MacBook Pro.
3. Remove the Trash
- Your computer’s trash folder can fill up with useless files, making it difficult for your computer to run programs. You can click Scan at the bottom to scan the folder.
- You need to click the Empty button at the bottom of the window to empty the Trash folder.
4. Remove Old Time Machine Backups From Your Mac
- Backups created by the Time Machine allow users to restore their data if deleted or corrupted. (snapshots) You can turn off the Time Machine on your MacBook. Navigate to System Preferences.
2. Select the Time Machine icon
3. Select Time Machine. If checked, uncheck the box next to “Back Up Automatically.” Give it a few minutes to take effect. It will delete your local Time Machine snapshots.
5. Delete Your Browser Cache for a Faster Internet Experience
- A browser cache is a temporary folder that stores web page elements, such as images and HTML files. In the CleanMyMac-X tool, go to the System Junk folder and press Scan.
- You can select Review Details, User Cache Files, and press Clean.
6. Remove Language Packs Known as Localization Files
- Language packs allow you to change the language in an app. After you run the System Junk scan, click Review Details and find Language Files. Review the language packs that you want to remove.
- If you’re satisfied with your choices, click the Clear button to clear the startup disk.
7. Free up System Data Storage
- This data includes plug-ins or app extensions, cache files (browser cache, etc.), old backups, macOS system and temporary files, and others. Only delete system files that you don’t need for the proper functioning of your Mac. You can go to the System Junk feature.
- Press the Scan button to start the analyzing process.
- Click Review Details report.
- Press Clean to remove all the files that you’ve checked.
8. Uninstall Unused Apps From Your MacBook and Free Up Storage
- Unused apps can take up space on your MacBook Pro, even if they aren’t running. Dragging the app to the Trash will uninstall it, but it also leaves behind lots of hidden files that can be a pain to clean up. In the Applications section, you can click on Uninstaller and select Unused in the middle column of the screen. There’s a column with unused files on the right.
- Click on the Uninstall button at the bottom of the screen.
9. Delete Duplicate Libraries from the Photos App
Deleting duplicate libraries from the Photos App on your Mac is an easy way to free up storage space and keep your MacBook hard drive clean.
- Please back up the Photo Libraries folder first, open Finder, and click on Pictures in the sidebar.
- Select all the duplicate photos you want to delete.
- You can click on the Trash button at the bottom to delete duplicate photos.
These Mac cleaning apps do cost money, but the time they can save you and the ability to keep everything on your computer running quick and clean is easily worth the price.
A quick scan and clean by one of these programs can have your MacBook Pro running fast again in a matter of minutes while doing it yourself can take several hours.
How to Clean up MacBook Pro Hard Drive the Free Way
If you don’t want to spend the money on a clean-up software program, it is possible to clean up the hard drive yourself.
It takes some time and know-how to do the job right so some research and further instruction outside of this quick guide might be needed.
If you are comfortable with your MacBook and know how to access back-end aspects of its operating system, you will be able to clean up your own hard drive.
Here are some easy steps to cleaning up your hard drive:
1. Use Apple’s Storage Manager
Apple has a built-in feature that will help you clear up space on your MacBook Pro. The “feature” doesn’t really have a name and is actually a list of tools and recommendations of files to delete.
To get there, click the Apple logo in the top left of your screen, then select “About this Mac.” Next, click “Storage,” then select the “Manage…” button.
A new window will open and will provide four options to free up space on your MacBook Pro’s hard drive:
- Store in iCloud
- Optimize Storage
- Empty Trash Automatically
- Reduce Clutter
You can select each option one by one to reduce the data on your hard drive.
Additionally, you can select between various storage locations on the left-hand pane to delete files. You can choose from:
- iCloud Drive
- System Data
Only delete files you are sure you no longer need.
2. Delete old and unused files
Go through all of your system files and delete any that you no longer use or don’t know what they are. Duplicate files can also be deleted if you find any during your search.
To start, open “Finder,” then browse through your files located in your “Downloads,” “Documents,” “Desktop,” and other file locations you have on your MacBook Pro.
Then, right click any file you want to delete and select “Move to Trash.” You can select multiple files at a time by holding the Command key and single clicking each file to highlight it.
3. Clean up your app cache
Clearing up web caches can be an easy and effective way to improve performance. To open your cache folder, use the SpotLight search by hitting “Command + Spacebar.” Then type ~/Library/Caches into the search and click on the first result.
The cache folder on your Macintosh HD will now open:
Each app on your Mac has its own subfolder within the cache folder you just opened. You can delete the contents of each folder to clear up space on your HD.
However, use caution. Some app caches for certain apps cannot be safely cleared. We suggest making a backup of the cache before deleting files. Then, if everything works fine, you can delete the backup too.
4. Uninstall Any Unused Apps
Apps can take up a ton of space and memory so getting rid of any that are installed on your computer that you don’t use can speed things along in the long run.
To uninstall an app, open “Finder.” Next, click “Applications” in the left side of the window.
Then, right click on the application you want to delete and select “Move to Trash.”
5. Remove Old Mail Attachments
We all get thousands of emails a year and a lot of these come with images and attachments. If you double click on these, they are saved to your computer. Go through and get rid of these old attachments to help your hard drive.
These are usually saved to your “Desktop” or “Downloads” folders by default. Navitage to either of these locations in Finder, then right click the files and select “Move to Trash.”
6. Empty Mac Trash
Once a file is placed in the trash can, it still needs to be permanently deleted. If you have put lots of files in the trash but have not yet deleted, they can take up a bunch of space.
To empty your MacBook Pro’s trash, find the “Trash” icon in your dock. Right click it, then select “Empty Trash.”
7. Remove old iOS Backups
Backing up your iOS is great practice, but these backups from your iPhone or iPad can be cumbersome. They take up gigabytes worth of storage.
To delete old iOS backups, click on the Apple logo on the top left of your screen, click “Storage” in the top middle of the window, then select “Manage…”
From the selections on the pan of the window, select “iOS Files.” (Note, the screenshot below doesn’t show iOS Files because I have never backed up my iPad or iPhone to my Mac.)
8. Remove Language Files
Language files on Macs take up nearly 1 GB of hard drive space. This is because Macs support many languages. This is a needed feature for a computer designed for use worldwide. But, if you only use your Mac in one language, deleting these files can free up a ton of space.
To delete the Language files, go to Finder. Then click on Applications on the left side pane.
Next, right click an application and select “Show Package Contents.”
Then expand the “Resources” folder by clicking on the arrow the left of the word.
Once the folder expands, you can right click the individual language files (they end in “.lproj”) and select “Move to Trash” to delete them.
Note that the language is represented by the first two letters of the file. For example “en.lproj” is for English and “fr.lproj” is for French. Don’t delete the language you use in the particular program.
Also, this is a meticulous task to do manually since you have to do it for every application. This is where a clean software can come in handy.
9. Delete DMG Files
DMGs are disk images that your Macbook Pro stores periodically. However, they are often large files that can take up a lot of space. To remove these files, open Finder. Then type “.dmg” into the search on the top right and hit enter.
Then, right click files at the end with “.dmg” and select “Move to Trash” to delete them.
Doing all of these steps can be overwhelming. But you don’t have to do them all at once. You can just focus on one step today, another tomorrow, and so forth.
Symptoms of a Cluttered Hard Drive
You use your Macbook Pro every day and are used to breezing through tasks and apps. You’ll know when it starts acting slow. But here are some symptoms to look for.
A cluttered hard drive is pretty normal, especially if you’ve had your computer for a while. So don’t worry if any of this is happening to your machine.
If your MacBook Pro is running slower than usual, you may notice:
- Programs and apps take a long to load
- Web pages crash or don’t load
- Screen freezes often
- Your Mac crashes
These are all good signs that your hard drive might need to be cleaned.
High quantities of large and old files such as photos and music can take up a lot of room on your hard drive. Over time this could lead to slow performance. Items left in the trash bin but not fully deleted can also take up a lot of space.
Then you have system junk and other leftovers from commonly used apps that might take up a lot of space behind the curtain. Old email attachments and old system files also add to poor performance.
We’ve compiled a list of answers to common questions about cleaning up your Mac’s hard drive, along with any extra information we’ve come across.
Why Does My Mac Keep Saying There Is Not Enough Disk Space When There Is?
A logical explanation for this error would be the so-called “space.” It’s the space taken by all the unnecessary stuff that you can purge and convert into free space. One way to free up your purgeable space is to disable iCloud drive optimization.
How Do I Completely Wipe an External Hard Drive Mac?
Back up your files and connect the drive to your Mac. In Disk Utility, you can click View and select Show All Devices. On the top menu, choose a name, format, and scheme for the drive, then click Erase. This method will wipe everything on the external hard drive.
Does Erasing Mac Hard Drives Erase Everything?
Yes, when you erase a hard drive, you’re not just deleting the files sitting on it. You’re deleting all information on it. Before you start, back up your Mac with Time Machine.
Why Is My Mac So Slow All of a Sudden? Is It My Hard Drive?
Consider updating its operating system if you have an older model Mac and its performance suffers. If your MacBook is new, it may be slow because you have too many background programs and apps running, or it may have a malware infection. The hard drive may not have enough free disk space.
Cleaning up the hard drive on your MacBook Pro can be an involved process. It takes time, especially if you’ve owned your Macbook Pro for a while. But, you can do a few minutes of cleaning here and there to make it less overwhelming.
If you want to save some of your time, purchasing a software cleanup program can be an easy option. But if you want to do it yourself, start with the information above.
What is your favorite Mac drive cleanup strategy? Have you ever cleaned up your hard drive manually? Let us know any other tips and tricks, if so!
Eric currently uses a 15-inch MacBook Pro for both work and personal errands. He did all the research and testing to make sure all the fixes and optimization tips shared on the blog are relevant to Apple’s latest macOS updates as well as fact-checking.
How do I clean up my Mac to run faster for free? ›
- Clean up system files and documents. ...
- Detect & kill demanding processes. ...
- Speed up startup time: Manage startup programs. ...
- Remove unused apps. ...
- Run a macOS system update. ...
- Upgrade your RAM. ...
- Swap your HDD for an SSD. ...
- Reduce visual effects.
Delete Old and Unused Files, Empty Trash
A quick and simple way to free up some storage space to help increase the speed of your Mac is by deleting old and unused files and emptying your Trash. It's a good idea to audit your Mac every now and then for old and unused files and documents.
CleanMyMac promises malware protection and detection, but it also encompasses a wide range of features to clean up and speed up your Mac. The cleanup features are useful, but the core antivirus lacks some standard features, and we found verifying its efficacy almost impossible.
This is the actual location of the iCloud folder. Documents, application preference files, iOS app data, and more live in this folder. You should not move, rename, or delete it.
You'll find the "Optimize Storage" option right below the "Store in iCloud" option - just click that "Optimize" button on the right.What files are OK to delete on a Disk Cleanup? ›
Disk Cleanup searches your disk and then shows you temporary files, Internet cache files, and unnecessary program files that you can safely delete. You can direct Disk Cleanup to delete some or all of those files.How many GB should I have free on my Mac? ›
For your Mac to run properly, you'll need to have at least 10GB of free space. But we recommend that you keep at least 15% of your storage space free, so that you can have more freedom to install a new macOS, upgrade software, or download movies.How do I free up disk space? ›
- Uninstall unnecessary apps and programs. ...
- Clean your desktop. ...
- Get rid of monster files. ...
- Use the Disk Cleanup Tool. ...
- Discard temporary files. ...
- Deal with downloads. ...
- Save to the cloud.
- Open the Finder window and press shift + command + G.
- Type ~/Library/Caches into the search box and click Go.
- Press command + A to select all folders, or manually select individual items.
- Press and hold command + delete to clear the selected files from your Mac cache.
- CleanMyMac X. CleanMyMac X takes the first place with good reason — this MacBook cleaner combines features of both cleaning software and an anti-malware tool. ...
- Avast Cleanup Premium. ...
- Disk Doctor. ...
- Gemini 2. ...
- AppCleaner & Uninstaller. ...
- DaisyDisk. ...
- Cleaner One Pro. ...
How do I clean up data on my MacBook Pro? ›
From the Apple menu in the corner of your screen, choose System Settings. Click General in the sidebar. Click Transfer or Reset on the right. Click Erase All Content and Settings.What is taking up space on my Mac? ›
- Click on the Apple logo in the top left.
- Choose About This Mac.
- Click on the Storage tab and wait while it calculates. ...
- Hover over the different bars to see what each represents and how much space they are taking up.
How to delete multiple files at once. On Mac, you're not limited to deleting one file at a time — that would be unnecessarily tedious. In general, throughout the system you can select multiple files by holding ⌘ or Shift and then delete everything at once.Does erasing Mac delete everything? ›
You can erase your Mac and use macOS Recovery, the built-in recovery system on your Mac, to reinstall macOS. WARNING: Erasing your Mac removes all the information from it. Before you start, back up your Mac with Time Machine.Does clearing history speed up Mac? ›
You can go to the History menu to find a list of browsed sites and pages. Safari history is quite helpful to track your past browsing activity, but it also reduces the browser's performance. So, clearing history will help speed up Safari and improve your browsing experience.What is the best free cleaning app for Mac? ›
- Macube Cleaner.
- CleanMyMac X.
- CCleaner for Mac.
- App Cleaner & Uninstaller.
Nothing special here: just open the App Store app and find CleanMyMac X. Then, click Get and Open. That's it, the application is on your Mac. For more details, see Download apps from the App Store by Apple Support.Does clean my Mac get rid of viruses? ›
CleanMyMac X will scan your Mac for malware, adware, ransomware, and the rest of “wares” that are specific to macOS. One click and these wicked programs are gone for good. With CleanMyMac X you can do regular malware checks to prevent any suspicious behaviour of your computer.What are files that I shouldn't delete? ›
- Program files folder. ...
- WinSxS folder. ...
- System32 folder. ...
- Windows folder. ...
- System volume information folder. ...
- Swapfile. ...
But there are aspects you can delete including: old Time Machine snapshots, iOS backups, cache files, any downloaded disc images for upgrading apps or macOS, and, if you've enabled the FileVault encryption feature, files associated with that. We also have an article that explains How to delete cache on a Mac.
How do I find and delete hidden files on Mac? ›
- In Finder, open up your Macintosh HD folder.
- Press Command+Shift+Dot.
- Your hidden files will become visible. Repeat step 2 to hide them again!
They both do basically the same, except selecting Clean The Drive will write zeros to the entire drive before reinstalling... Just Remove Files deletes the Files without writing zeros...How do you clean up your computer so it runs faster? ›
- Prevent programs from automatically running when you start up your computer. ...
- Delete/uninstall programs you don't use. ...
- Clean up hard disk space. ...
- Save old pictures or videos to the cloud or external drive. ...
- Run a disk cleanup or repair.
Clean Up Temporary Files to Remove Junk
Temp files are stored in the Windows Temp folder, and you can manually clean up temporary files to free up disk space in Windows.
If you're buying a MacBook today, we'd recommend that you get at least 512GB of storage. If you have lots of large videos or similar, 1TB is better. It's not cheap, but you owe it to yourself to make your main computer as usable as possible.How do I get a free 20gb Mac? ›
- Clean up system files. Delete system junk. ...
- Clean up unneeded media files. Transfer photos to external or cloud storage. ...
- Remove unused apps and all their leftovers. Potential space reclaimed: up to 30 GB. ...
- Clean up other files. Clean up the Downloads folder. ...
- Compress your files.
My Mac says there's not enough disk space, but there is
It's basically the space taken by all the unnecessary stuff that can be purged and converted into free storage. One way to free up your purgeable space is to disable iCloud drive optimization. Open your System Settings > Apple ID > iCloud.
Running lots of applications at once may cause 100% disk usage in Windows 10. Uninstalling these programs often isn't possible, because you may need them. Manually pausing the background apps is only a short-term solution, as many will restart upon bootup or run quietly in the background.What to do if drive storage is full? ›
- In the Search box, type has:attachment larger:10M.
- Click Search . Note: Replace " 10 " with a higher number to delete larger files.
- Select the emails you don't need, then click Delete .
- On the left side of the page, click Menu. Trash.
- At the top, click Empty trash now.
The warning message indicating that your startup disk is almost full appears when there is no longer enough free space on your disk. This is often due to having too many files occupying your Mac's hard drive, bringing free space to a dangerously low level. To resolve this issue, you need to free up some disk space.
What does clearing cache do? ›
When you use a browser, like Chrome, it saves some information from websites in its cache and cookies. Clearing them fixes certain problems, like loading or formatting issues on sites.Does clean my Mac clear cache? ›
MacPaw's CleanMyMac X will clear your Safari cache (as well as a bunch of other browser-related information). It's free to download, and includes a Privacy module that gives you the power to wipe all unwanted stored information like browsing history, cookies, and more.How do I clear and reload cache on Mac? ›
Mac: Hold ⇧ Shift and click the Reload button. Or, hold down ⌘ Cmd and ⇧ Shift key and then press R.Is there a Mac cleaner? ›
MacCleaner Pro from Nektony is actually a suite of six applications developed to clean up and speed up your Mac. It offers tools to find and remove duplicate files and folders and also offers the ability to merge similar folders. It will also safely and completely uninstall apps.
CleanMyMac X and CCleaner are both established and reliable solutions for Mac cleanup. CCleaner has a free version that allows you to effectively delete browser junk. On the other hand, CleanMyMac X has a wide range of cleaning tools, including malware removal and system speedup.Which folders are taking up space Mac? ›
On your Mac, choose Apple menu > System Settings, then click General in the sidebar. (You may need to scroll down.) Click Storage on the right, then click All Volumes. Move the pointer over a color to see the amount of space each category uses.How do I auto clean up my Mac? ›
- Open the Automator app. ...
- Choose Folder Actions. ...
- Choose the desktop folder at the top. ...
- Add the 'Move Finder Items' action. ...
- Select the folder you want the files to be transferred to. ...
- Save your work.
- Restart your Mac. ...
- Update your macOS. ...
- Examine the Activity Monitor. ...
- Clean your Desktop. ...
- Delete Cached files. ...
- Configure Chrome's Task Manager. ...
- Use a Mac memory cleaner.
- Close the Finder windows.As you know, every window in Finder utilizes memory.
- Update your Mac. Keeping your Mac up-to-date is the surest way to resolve multiple issues, including high CPU usage on Mac. ...
- Check your top CPU consumers. ...
- Reset your SMC. ...
- Remove unnecessary login items. ...
- Declutter your Desktop. ...
- Free up RAM.
Nothing special here: just open the App Store app and find CleanMyMac X. Then, click Get and Open. That's it, the application is on your Mac. For more details, see Download apps from the App Store by Apple Support.
Does Mac Have a system cleaner? ›
Your macOS also has a built-in Mac cleaner, which Apple called Optimize Storage. It is accessed from the Storage tab in your Mac computer's System Settings. Though its capabilities are limited, it gives you basic directions on where to start the cleanup.Is there a cleaning mode in Macbook Pro? ›
For cleaning the screen, you won't need to do anything, of course, as the screen isn't a touch screen. You can clean it with a mostly-dry cloth while using it. For desktop Macs with the current wireless keyboards, you just turn them off with the switch.How do I clean up my Mac without losing files? ›
- Backup Your Mac With Time Machine or Other Backup Solutions. A factory reset completely erases your hard disk. ...
- Reset Your Mac. Once you've backed up your data, you can safely proceed with the resetting process. ...
- Restore Data From the Backup.
Restart Your PC
Restarting your PC will also completely clear the contents of RAM and restart all running processes. While this obviously won't increase the maximum RAM you have available, it will clean up processes running in the background that could be eating up your memory.
macOS stores data used for active processes in RAM. If space in RAM runs low, macOS starts storing data on your main boot drive and swapping it between there and RAM as needed. This is known as virtual memory.How to free up memory? ›
- Close apps that don't respond. Android manages the memory that apps use. You don't usually need to close apps. ...
- Uninstall apps you don't use. If you uninstall an app and need it later, you can download it again. ...
- Clear the app's cache & data. You can usually clear an app's cache and data through your phone's Settings app.
- Reboot Your PC. Before trying anything else, try restarting your PC. ...
- End or Restart Processes. ...
- Update Drivers. ...
- Scan for malware. ...
- Power Options. ...
- Find Specific Guidance Online. ...
- Reinstalling Windows.
The easiest way to check system performance on a Mac is to use the Activity Monitor, a built-in application that gives you a live overview of your Mac's hard drive, RAM, processor, and network usage. To access the Activity Monitor go to Finder, Applications, Utilities. Click Activity Monitor.What does a clean boot do Mac? ›
A clean or safe boot on your PC or Mac can help fix problems installing, launching, or accessing game content. It disables background tasks that can cause interference with your games. These steps, especially for PC, can harm your computer if not done the right way.