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9 Methods to Find and Delete Large Files on a Mac

Author: Vladimir Brown

Finding and deleting large files on a MacBook can be a handy tool for freeing up storage space. It's beneficial if you're running out of room on your hard drive and need to quickly clear up the computer's drive.

There are several different methods you can use to locate and get rid of large files, each with its own set of advantages and drawbacks.

Table of Contents

Using Finder

This is perhaps the simplest method for locating large files on a Mac. The feature is great for Mac OS view hidden files, in general. Open the Finder window, then click "All My Files" in the sidebar.

The Finder will show all of your locally-stored files, sorted by size. From here, you can get an idea of which files are taking up the most space, then delete them as needed.

Using Storage Management Tools

macOS includes several built-in tools for managing storage space. You can access them by opening Spotlight Search (Command + Spacebar) and searching for "Storage Management" or "Manage Storage" to bring up the various utilities available in macOS Catalina or Big Sur.

These utilities allow you to quickly identify what kind of data is consuming a lot of storage on the laptop's hard drive — including photos, music or movies — so that you can remove it as needed.

Deleting Unneeded Data Manually

If you don't want to rely solely on automated tools like Finder or Storage Management tools, you can always manually go through your Mac's folders looking for large files that may not be necessary anymore.

You should pay particular attention to those folders where larger media such as music and video are stored — they tend to accumulate more data over time than other folders like Documents do.

Using Third-Party Applications

There are dozens of third-party applications designed specifically for finding large files and then removing them from a Mac computer. Some popular examples include CleanMyMac X, DaisyDisk and GrandPerspective — all of which offer powerful capabilities when it comes to helping you deal with the problem at hand.

Spotlight is one of Apple's flagship search tools for macOS users, allowing you to quickly find items located anywhere on your computer — including big ones.

To use this method, simply open Spotlight (press Command + Spacebar) then type in "Largest Files" as your search query; this will bring up a list of all your largest items sorted by size from smallest to biggest so that you know exactly what's eating up your storage space and how much room they're taking up.

Cleaning Out Your Downloads Folder Regularly

Your downloads folder can become cluttered pretty quickly with all sorts of downloaded data that begins clogging up valuable storage space after a while if left unchecked — making it one of the top areas where big files go unnoticed until they've already taken up too much room.

To prevent this from happening regularly check through any new downloads and delete any unneeded ones immediately; also, remember to periodically give your downloads folder a thorough cleaning once in a while just in case there are any forgotten items still lurking inside.

Emptying Your Trash Bin Regularly

The trash bin on your Mac works similarly to its physical counterpart; when something is deleted from the operating system, it goes into limbo until explicitly removed from the said location after a certain period of time or whenever manually emptied by the users themselves.

Therefore, make sure to always remember to check out what lurks within every now and again so that none of those "accidental" deletions hang around longer than necessary, taking valuable disk real estate with them.

Compressing Large Files Into Zip Archives

Zipping is another great way to reduce file sizes while still maintaining their contents intact – which means less disk usage overall, even if shrinking individual items isn't really feasible due to their content nature alone.

To accomplish this task simply select any file(s) desired right-click context menu choosing "Compress" – after which said item(s) become archive files ready for further storage or transfer as necessary.

Relying on Time Machine Backups and Cloud Storage

Lastly, if you're running low on disk space, one of the most reliable methods of getting rid of unneeded items is by either backing them up via Time Machine and then deleting them (after which they can later be restored), OR moving them into cloud storage services like iCloud Drive Dropbox which effectively free local hard drive real estate while still keeping said data safe just case something happens.


Good luck with removing large files from your MacBook. With these nine methods, you should have no problem freeing up the disk space which will let you enjoy all of the amazing things the Mac has to offer.

I'm Vladimir, your guide in the expansive world of technology journalism, with a special focus on GPS technologies and mapping. My journey in this field extends over twenty fruitful years, fueled by a profound passion for technology and an insatiable curiosity to explore its frontiers.