How To Reclaim / Recover Storage on Mac & Fix Low Disk Space Issue

"Your startup disk is almost full." This simple sentence can trigger all the stages of grief: denial ("That can't be right!"), anger ("This is a 500 GB drive!"), bargaining ("If I delete the podcasts, will you let me download the new iOS update?"), depression ("Ugh, this is going to take all day. Am I going to have to replace my hard drive?") and acceptance ("I can fix this!"). Before you rush out to buy a new hard drive, we have a solution for you that you can try, and it will possibly help you reclaim that hard drive space. For users who suspect the vague category of "other" data is hogging space and resources on their OS X or iOS systems, here is how you can investigate what it is and delete it.

What is "Other" Data?

But let's first see what is this other data if you don't anything about it. In its simplest terms, your data. Not just specifically the data a user creates or regularly accesses, like documents or music, but all forms of data. It is from Spotlight index searches to databases to collections of settings for applications, as well as the subsets of data they access. The problem with the Other category, aside from the vagueness of it, is that any and all forms of data that are included in that category add to the total number of GBs being utilized - and sometimes - it would appear that there are 10's (or 100's) of gigabytes being taken by it. It may actually get worse by time due to the dynamic nature of data, things change, settings are updated and files overwritten, yet with some of the "other" data it becomes appended to instead of replaced. This adds a layer of garbage data which could be corrupt and essentially exists only to hog resources, and that's never good, would you say that? No, right.

How to Remove the Other data?

There is always an answer for everything, so is for this situation. While most of the time general maintenance such as running File and Disk Permissions takes care of a lot of the overhead. And for other times there is the freeware app, Omni Disk Sweeper, which is exactly what all Mac users should install in order to get rid of the garbage on their hard drive. With this app, you can easily find out what is occupying the space on your computer and snuff it out just as easily.
  1. Let's start with a safe practice to find out exactly what "other" is occupying on the hard drive. You can find this information by clicking on Apple Menu then to the About This Mac. Drive List after Sweeping Data
  2. You need to go to Storage tab by clicking on More Info option to expand the view.
  3. Once you get idea of how much storage is used, you can launch Omni Disk Sweeper, and select the hard disk you wish to scan, then click on the "sweep Macintosh HD Drive..." button. Drive List
  4. Preview window will appear with the entire folder hierarchy, as well as the related file and folder sizes for each item found.Mac HD Data Storage
  5. As you navigate the structure identifying files/folders that should be deleted, simply click the file/folder you wish to delete, and click the delete button. Mac HD Data Storage Detailed
  6. A prompt will pop up to confirm your selection since items selected are removed permanently from the system, which will be bypassing the Trash altogether. Destory Selected Files
  7. After all the desired items have been successfully removed, you can then repeat Steps 1-2 again to see how much space has been reclaimed from "other".
Mac HD after Deleting Data Note: Exercise extreme caution before proceeding and if you are unsure of anything, then do not delete it.