When Apple started switching its Macs over primarily to solid state storage, one downside is that often comes with less storage due to the higher cost. As such, our Macs have been filling up with larger and larger files with no remedy to free up space. But macOS Sierra is around the corner and a huge focus of the new operating system is its storage optimization.
Apple included a number of terrific features that can finally help free up space on your Mac in a drastic way, whether that means keeping more stuff in iCloud or just quickly getting rid of your junk files. Here’s how to activate five different storage savers in Sierra.
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Store Desktop and Documents in iCloud
macOS Sierra now lets you store your Desktop folder and Documents folder in iCloud Drive. All your files will still be available to access on your Mac, but when your Mac starts running low on storage, these folders will automatically start removing old and unused files from local storage so that you can just download them again on demand as needed.
Basically the perk of this is if you need more computer storage, you’ll be able to get some by tapping into iCloud Drive, but if you have enough to hold all of your Desktop and Documents files nothing changes.
If you’re someone that deletes files on your Mac frequently but then forgets to empty the Trash, you’re in big luck with this feature. macOS Sierra can automatically empty anything in Trash that’s been in there for more than 30 days. It won’t empty it all at once, but just files old enough to qualify for deletion. 30 days should be plenty of time to figure out whether you needed that file or not anyway.
You can turn this feature on by clicking the Apple logo in your menu bar and choosing About This Mac. Click the Storage tab and click Details to open up a System Information window.
The third one down in your recommendations, click Turn On… next to the “Erase Trash Automatically” option. Click once more to verify and you’re done.
Tip: You can always turn this feature off later by going to Finder’s preferences, clicking Advanced and unchecking Remove items from the Trash after 30 days.
Automatically Delete Old Media and Email Attachments
Yet another automatic deletion feature lets you opt to get rid of any old movies or TV shows you’ve already watched as well as old email attachments that have been gathering dust in Mail.
This requires once again that you’re in the System Information window (About This Mac > Storage > Details) and this time, click Optimize…
Here are your two options. First, you can opt to get rid of TV shows or movies you’ve watched already, which you could download again at any time from your iTunes purchases. You can also choose to only download recent email attachments rather than all email attachments. Apple doesn’t specify what “recent” means but it’s not a huge deal because you can always download older attachments as needed.
Click Optimize once you’ve chosen your options.
Quickly Get Rid of Old Junk Files
If you want to manually get rid of large, old files on your computer that you don’t need anymore, macOS Sierra has a great tool built in for that too. Now you don’t need to pay for a third-party solution. From the System Information window, just locate Reduce Clutter at the bottom and click Review Files. You’ll be taken to your documents where you can browse files with the largest ones at the top to quickly delete. Just click those files and press Command + Delete.
You can also see your various other categories of content like movies, music, photos and see how you can optimize storage for those too. Click around using the sidebar.
Optimize Photos Storage
This feature is actually available on OS X El Capitan, but if you haven’t utilized it already, now is a great time while you’re already doing your spring cleaning. As with Desktop and Documents optimization, you can store full-size photos in iCloud and keep smaller versions on your Mac. The full sizes will stay on your Mac just until you need the extra room, then iCloud will take over and start storing them there to free up space.
Open Photos and click Preferences in the Photos menu. Click the iCloud tab and then choose Optimize Mac Storage to let macOS work its magic.