Sweep your Mac clean

Sweep your Mac clean
Mac Tip #364, 12 November 2008

When I did a sweep of my MacBook Pro recently I recovered 10 gigabytes of space lost to some unexpected hidden files.

Because the files were hidden — their names began with a dot — of course I had no idea they were there. I was just mystified that free space on my hard drive seemed to have disappeared.

How I found the wasteful files

I run OmniDiskSweeper over my hard drive.

I run OmniDiskSweeper over my hard drive.

I downloaded a small piece of software called OmniDiskSweeper and set it to run. OmniDiskSweeper is free, but US$15 activates a handy Delete button that can save you some time later. [Update: in 2009 the full version was released free.]

The list of files - left

The list of files - left

It took a while, but after several minutes OmniDiskSweeper produced a listing of all files and folders on my Mac, with sizes beside each.

I quickly saw that Users > Miraz claimed around 60 Gb of space. Then I clicked on Music > iTunes > Podcasts.

The list of files - middle

The list of files - middle

I saw that the Rocketboom podcast was using around 840Mb of space — odd since I’d deleted all the episodes I’d watched and there were none waiting for me.

Then I spotted it: the .indelible-info folder that contained a bunch of items inside a folder called deleted. I could see podcast episodes dating back many months, all of which I thought I’d removed from my computer.

When I first examined my hard drive a few weeks ago I found a lot of these .indelible-info folders. By removing most of them I reclaimed nearly 10% of the space.

The list of files - right

The list of files - right

Warning: don’t delete files unless you know for sure what they are. The Operating System hides some files for good reason — delete the wrong files and you can severely mess up your computer.

Try a sweep of your Mac and see what it turns up.

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  1. Dennis Benoit said:

    RE: OmniDiskSweeper

    Miraz, thank you for the tip on OmniDiskSweeper.

    I’ve been puzzling over my Incredible Shrinking Hard Drive for awhile now, and this utility very quickly highlighted the culprit: OSX Planet, a defunct desktop picture utility, had been saving a screen capture every 10 minutes — since 2008 — all day every day, into a folder in User/Library/Application Support.

    Each file was less than 1.5 MB, but there were over 46,000 files I couldn’t easily find otherwise, and I regained more than 57 GB of a 120 GB drive.


    • Miraz Jordan said:

      Wow. That’s an amazing find, Dennis! I’m so glad the Tip was helpful.

      It also goes to show how small savings (or files) can add up over time to something very significant.

  2. Miraz Jordan said:

    Thanks John. That’s good to know. I presume you mean it will allow you to find them so you can choose to delete them?

  3. John Ohrmundt said:

    This application will also delete a lot of pre-installed drivers that come with mac OS X.

  4. Miraz Jordan said:

    Thanks for that elucidation Andy.

    I have had problems with this machine crashing, so wouldn’t be surprised to find there are stray files.

    I plan to wipe this machine over the summer holiday and start fresh.



  5. Andy Piper said:

    Miraz, as far as I can tell that .indelible-info folder is a result of unclean shutdowns… can’t find any on my machine. Worth knowing about that app, but hopefully (!) that won’t be a common problem.

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