How To Make Space On Hard Drive Mac

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In this article, we are going to talk about purgeable space on your Mac computer. We will discuss what exactly is meant by purgeable space, how it can affect your system, and what you can do to manually administer this type of storage.

  1. Check Free Space On Mac
  2. How To Make Space On Hard Drive Mac Air

What is Purgeable Space on a Mac?

Purgeable space refers to a particular type of storage space on macOS systems. Beginning with macOS Sierra, Apple introduced a new category of storage space that is visible when you view your system’s storage. Purgeable storage can be seen when you have turned on Optimize Mac Storage.

Purgeable storage space is space that the system can automatically make available when it is needed. The files that occupy the purgeable space have been stored on your iCloud Drive. They have been selected for purgeable status due to the fact that they have not been used recently.

Deleting these files will not have any immediate impact on you or the system and they can easily be downloaded again when they are needed. Your operating system will handle the deletion of purgeable data in the background with no user intervention necessary. There may be times when you want to manually delete purgeable space on your Mac.

How to Manage Mac Storage

Storage space often comes at a premium on well-used Mac computers. If you use your machine to store digital photos, videos and other media files it can quickly become challenging to find more space on your Mac’s internal drive. It is the same with developers who might be trying to fit test partitions in among all of their software tools. Managing and optimizing the storage on your Mac can go a long way toward giving you some room to breathe.

There are 4 options that are available when you choose to manage your computer’s storage. The first three steps are all you need to do in order to view how storage is currently allocated on your attached storage devices.

Learn how to make sure deleted files cannot be recovered by securely wiping the free space on the drive. When you delete files on a regular hard drive on your Mac (not an SSD), the files remain on.

Follow these steps to access these options:

  1. Click on the Apple Menu in the upper left corner.
  2. Select and click About This Mac.
  3. Click on the Storage tab. You are now presented with a graphical view of how the storage on your disks is being used.
  4. Click on the Manage button to access the storage management options.
  5. Select Recommendations from the list in the left of the window.

You now have gained access to four different options that can help you manage your storage. We will look at each of them individually:

Store in iCloud

Selecting this option saves space on your drive by storing older and less recently used photos, files, and messages in iCloud and downloading them only when you need them. Only recent files and optimized photos are stored on your Mac, saving you substantial storage space.

Optimize Storage

After you select this option, the purgeable category will be added to your storage breakdown. After you click on the Optimize Storage button, you can select to save storage with these specific methods:

  • Automatically remove watched iTunes movies and TV shows.
  • Download only recent mail attachments.
  • Don’t automatically download attachments. Attachments are only downloaded when you open an email or attachment.

Empty Trash Automatically

You can set your Mac to automatically remove items from the Trash after 30 days. If you have this option set, it will show as Completed in the Storage Management window. To set this option:

  1. Open the Finder application.
  2. Select Preferences from the Finder Menu.
  3. Choose Advanced.
  4. Check the box to select Remove Items from the Trash after 30 days.

Reduce Clutter

Clicking on the Review Files button brings up a window in which you can review all of the files and applications that are currently on your Mac. Choose the type of file you are interested in by selecting it in the sidebar. You can then sort the files by size, kind or last access date and determine if you want to delete any of them to free up some space on your storage device.

How to Clear Purgeable Space on a Mac

Your macOS system will only remove purgeable space from your Mac when there is a need for additional storage. For instance, you might be attempting to download a large file that the system recognizes will not fit under current conditions. Your operating system will delete the purgeable data in order to make room for your download.

There may be situations where you know ahead of time that you will need as much storage space as you possibly can make available. You might know that you are going to create some large logs while monitoring some processes. Perhaps you are going to be editing many large video files and don’t want to run into any space constraints in the middle of the day.

Disk Drilldata recovery software for Mac can be the perfect solution for this situation. It is available as a free download and can be used to create a map of your storage devices. Using this map, you can make intelligent decisions regarding files that can be deleted to provide you with the storage space you need to complete your project.

Use Disk Drill to Clear Purgeable Space

Follow these steps to clear up the purgeable space on your Mac using Disk Drill:

  1. Download and install Disk Drill software for Mac. Provide your administrator’s password when prompted to allow the program to function properly.
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  2. Launch the application and select the volume that you want to investigate.
  3. Select the Clean Up option from the top menu.
  4. Click Scan and let Disk Drill scan your storage device to create a map of the files that are resident on it. This process can take several minutes depending on the size and occupancy of your device.
  5. When the scan completes you will be presented with a list of all your files with the largest ones listed first. You can use Disk Drill’s advanced filters to view your data in a variety of ways and to limit the types of files that the tool includes in its scan.
  6. Check the box next to files or folders that you want to delete from your storage device.
  7. Click the Remove button in the upper right. You will be asked to verify your decision to delete these files. Once you accept, your files will be deleted from your device and you will receive a message indicating the amount of storage that was reclaimed.

In this way, you can use Disk Drill to manually remove files that are not needed anymore and free up space on your storage devices.

There are advantages to manually deleting extraneous files from your Mac rather than waiting for the system to purge them when space becomes too tight. You have complete control over which files are deleted from your machine. This ensures that a file that you haven’t accessed in a while but still want around won’t suddenly go missing.

For years, early adopters and beta testers would partition their Mac's hard drive in order to test macOS, either a new or beta version. Partitioning your hard drive actually creates a separate container on your hard drive that is limited in its abilities.

If your Mac uses APFS, you can actually create a volume right on your current hard drive instead. This allows your hard drive to manipulate your available storage temporarily as you need it. It makes testing new or beta operating systems much easier to do and it's easier to remove when you're done testing them out.

Before you start

The most important thing to do before making any changes to your hard drive is to back it up. Seriously. Back it up. Please. Time Machine is the easiest way to back up your data if you don't already have another system in place.

Second, make sure you have enough free disk space to properly run a secondary operating system. Shoot for at least 30GB free, though I recommend closer to 50GB if you have it available.

What's the difference between a disk partition and a volume?

A partition and a volume act in very similar ways, but creating a volume allows for flexibility of storage needs while creating a partition separates storage with a specific amount and does not adjust for each drive's needs.

What is a partition?

Partitioning your Mac is basically splitting your hard drive into separate, usable systems. It makes it possible to run two separate operating systems on one device, like Windows and macOS, or two versions of macOS (like Catalina and Big Sur).

Note: If you want to run Windows on your Mac, Apple's Boot Camp assistant will automatically make a partition for you. Here's how to install Windows.

How To Make Space On Hard Drive Mac

It is important to note that partitioning your hard drive also splits up your available hard drive space. Each partition will take up a portion of your usable storage. So, if you are running low on storage capacity on your hard drive, we don't recommend partitioning.

If you are running a Mac using HFS+ file system (prior to macOS Catalina) you must partition your hard drive. If your Mac uses APFS, Apple recommends creating a volume instead.

What is an APFS volume?

An APFS volume creates a similar container to be used the same way as a partition, but it mounts it within your main hard drive. This allows the volume the flexibility to grow or shrink in storage size as needed. You don't have to worry about running out of temporary space while installing macOS, for example, because it will grab the necessary space from your main drive and then put it back when it's done. You can manually select size limiters for a volume if you're worried about one drive overtaking another's space.

If your Mac uses APFS, Apple recommends creating a volume instead of a partition.

How to add an APFS volume on Mac

You can test Big Sur on your Mac without having to change anything on your daily driver by creating a volume that acts as a separate drive so you can install a completely different operating system. This allows you to switch between OSes using the Startup Disk option.

  1. Open Finder from your Mac's dock.
  2. Select Applications.

    Source: iMore

  3. Scroll down and open the Utilities folder.
  4. Double-click on Disk Utilities to open it.

    Source: iMore

  5. Select your APFS drive (Should be called Macintosh HD) from the sidebar.
  6. Enter a name for the volume.

    Source: iMore

  7. Select the type of APFS format you want. I recommend just APFS.
  8. Click Add.

    Source: iMore

You have the option of selecting a specific size that you want the volume to be, which will guarantee this volume will always have the reserve size you want. However, APFS volumes are designed to allocate disk space as needed. If you're worried about running out of disk space on either your main drive or the new volume, you can select a minimum/maximum volume size. After completing Step 7 above:

  1. Click Size Options.
  2. Enter a Reserve size to ensure that the new volume will always have a minimum amount of space.
  3. Enter a Quota size to ensure your main drive never runs out of space.

    Source: iMore

  4. Click OK.
  5. Click Add.

    Source: iMore

How to create a partition on your Mac

  1. Open Finder from your dock.
  2. Select Applications.

    Source: iMore

  3. Scroll down and open the Utilities folder.
  4. Double-click to open Disk Utility.

    Source: iMore

  5. Select your hard drive in the Disk Utility window. It will be the first drive on the list. It might be named 'Fusion,' or 'Macintosh HD.'
  6. Click on the Partition tab. You will be prompted to either add an APFS volume or a Partition.
  7. Click Partition.
  8. Click the Add partition button it looks like a plus (+) symbol.

  9. Change the size of the partition you wish to use by dragging the resize controls. The used space is represented in blue.
  10. Name the new partition.
  11. Specify which file system format you want to use. If you're running macOS 10.13 or higher, you'll want APFS. If you are running macOS 10.12 or older, you'll want Mac OS Extended.
  12. Click apply.

Disk Utility will check the disk and make changes. This will take several minutes.

How to switch partitions or volumes

You can switch to the new partition, install the current macOS, and then download and install macOS Catalina from there.

  1. Click the Apple icon in the upper-left corner of your screen.
  2. Select System Preferences from the drop-down menu.

  3. Select Startup Disk.
  4. Click the Lock in the lower left corner of the window to unlock and make changes.

  5. Enter your system admin password.
  6. Click OK.
  7. Select your partition drive.
  8. Click Restart.

You can also restart your Mac and press the Option Key when you hear the startup chime. This will take you to the Startup Manager and you can select your drive from there.

You will then be asked to install macOS. This will install the latest available macOS onto the partitioned hard drive. You may have to install an older version of macOS before updating it to the more recent version you want to run.

If you are testing a beta version of macOS, you'll first install whatever the current version is. Then, you can then install the macOS beta.

How to download macOS Big Sur

If macOS Big Sur doesn't automatically install on your partitioned hard drive (if it installs macOS Catalina instead, for example), you can install it from your System Preferences in About this Mac.

After you have macOS Catalina installed, you can follow the instructions to download and install macOS Big Sur.

In the market?

If you're looking for a new Mac, check out our list of our favorite MacBook models of the year.

Any questions?

Do you have any questions about installing a partition or downloading a new operating system onto a partitioned drive to test macOS? Let us know in the comments. If you're having trouble partitioning your hard drive, be sure to check out our forums for help!

Updated November 2020: Updated for the public version macOS Big Sur.

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