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How to find large files on Mac and remove them

4 min read

It always comes at the most inopportune time — the dreaded "Your disk is almost full" notification on Mac. You're in the middle of something, and now you have to find big files that eat up disk space and delete them to avoid stalling your work. 

No matter how much disk space you have on your Mac (which is also quite expensive), without a regular system for finding and removing old large files, you'll eventually run out. Apps tend to expand in size over time, media (e.g. photos, videos) accumulates, and even macOS keeps more and more cache files, user logs, etc. 

So how do you find large files macOS keeps hiding? Follow our guide and you'll never have to worry about running out of space again. 

How to quickly find large files on your Mac

The first thing everyone tries to do when they are running out of space is to open their Finder and click around until some files look heavy enough to make a difference when deleted. 

This is, of course, very inefficient. Below, we'll show you a few better ways to find large files Mac drives store and get rid of them. However, why not try to find a solution that would automate the whole process for you?

CleanMyMac X is the world's most intuitive Mac optimizer. With a few clicks you can get rid of junk, speed up all kinds of processes, fully uninstall and update apps, and even scan for malware. CleanMyMac X knows how to avoid essential system files and only deletes things you don't need. 

To quickly clean your Mac, use the app's Large & Old Files option: 

  1. Launch CleanMyMac X
  2. Navigate to Large & Old Files in the sidebar
  3. Click Scan
  4. Check any files you'd like to delete
  5. Remove

find large and old files with CleanMyMac X

How to find large files manually

There are three primary ways to search for the biggest space wasters on Mac manually: 

  • Using the Optimize Storage feature
  • Using Spotlight in Finder 
  • Using Terminal commands

Unlike the automatic file deletion with CleanMyMac X, when you're trying to find your biggest files and get rid of them manually, you have to be extra careful not to trash something critical to your system's operation.

Search for large files in Storage management

For the past few years, there's been a simple Mac find large files utility located within System Information. It breaks down various file types in a simple interface by size, including apps, documents, backups, mail, messages, music, and more. 

To delete files with this Storage manager: 

  1. Click the Apple logo in the menu bar ➙ About This Mac
  2. Go to Storage ➙ Manage… 
  3. Click Review Files
  4. Select any number of files 
  5. Click Delete… 

storage-management features of your Mac

If you want to browse through a more visual representation of your files and folders, you can use CleanMyMac X's Space Lens tool, which lets you clearly compare files and folders of different sizes. 

To use Space Lens: 

  1. Launch CleanMyMac X
  2. Go to Space Lens
  3. Click Scan
  4. Navigate through files either as text on the left or visually on the right
  5. Check any folder or file and click Remove

CleanMyMac X's Space Lens tool

Alternatively, you can use Disk Drill's Clean Up feature. 

Disk Drill is a powerful utility for recovering deleted files from any volumes, creating backups, shredding sensitive documents, and scanning your Mac's hard drive. Disk Drill features a convenient Clean Up tool, which makes it easy to see the largest files occupying your space. 

To use Disk Drill's Clean Up: 

  1. Launch Disk Drill
  2. Navigate to Clean Up in the sidebar
  3. Click Start Scan
  4. Check any file and click Remove

see the largest files with Disk Drill

Browse for large files with Finder

Another way to discover any file or folder on your Mac and rank them by size is by using Finder's Spotlight search. 

To explore old large files with Finder: 

  1. Open Finder
  2. Activate search with ⌘ + F
  3. Select This Mac
  4. In the dropdown menus, pick File Size, "is greater than", and 100 MB (or any other value)
  5. Go through the files and Move to Trash anything you don't need

find large files using Finder

Use find commands via Terminal

If you want maximum flexibility and access when it comes to managing your files, you can do so through Terminal and its command-line interface. 

Note: This option is only recommended for advanced users due to the high probability of something going wrong in case of not following exact directives.

To remove files with Terminal: 

  1. Launch Terminal from the Utilities folder in Applications
  2. Type sudo find / -type f -size +100000k -exec ls -lh {} \; | awk '{ print $9 ": " $5 }' to display the path to all files greater than 100 MB
  3. Press Enter
  4. To remove files, type rm and copy-paste any path from above

remove files and directories using Terminal commands

As you can see, there are more than a few ways to find large files macOS hides and delete them. While you can do so manually, it's really faster, safer, and easier to rely on apps such as CleanMyMac X and Disk Drill

Best of all, you can use CleanMyMac X and Disk Drill absolutely free for seven days through the trial of Setapp, a platform with more than 230 Mac and iOS apps for any task you can imagine, from tracking your personal finances with GreenBooks to creating GIFs with Gifox. Try every Setapp app at no cost today and be amazed about the diversity of apps out there! 

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