How to Automatically Free Up Storage Space with macOS Sierra

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If you have a Mac that’s always running low on space, macOS Sierra is a breath of fresh air. It includes a new tool that provides recommendations and helps free up space on your Mac.

To find these features, click the Apple menu at the top-left corner of your screen and select “About This Mac”. Click the “Storage” tab in the window that appears and click the “Manage” button.

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Your Mac will scan your hard drive for files to remove and offer several recommendations to you.

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Here’s what these options do.

Store Files and Photos in iCloud

iCloud can now automatically upload and store files in your Desktop and Documents folders, as well as photos. Enable this option and your local copies can be automatically deleted from local storage to free up space. Only recently opened files and optimized photos–smaller versions of the original larger photos that remain stored online–will be stored on this Mac.

To configure this, click the “Store in iCloud” button. You can also find these options at System Preferences > iCloud. Use the Options buttons next to iCloud Drive and Photos.

You’ll need space available in iCloud to do this, so you may either need to free up space in your iCloud account or purchase more storage for a monthly fee. If you plan on storing a lot of files in iCloud, you’ll definitely need to pay a monthly fee. iCloud only gives you 5GB of storage space for free, and that’s shared with your iOS backups.

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Optimize iTunes Video Storage

iTunes can “optimize” local storage of movies and TV shows. This option only helps if you’ve actually purchased and downloaded movies and TV shows from iTunes. If you have, your Mac can automatically remove movies and TV shows you’ve watched from your local storage. You can always redownload them from within iTunes later if you’ve purchased them.

Click the “Optimize” button here and agree to have iTunes automatically remove local copies of movies and TV shows you’ve watched.

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Empty Your Trash Automatically

In macOS Sierra, the Finder has a new option to automatically delete files from your trash 30 days after you put them there. If you don’t grab a file out of your trash within 30 days, you probably don’t care about it, anyway. This saves you from having to empty the trash manually.

To enable this feature, click the “Turn On” button next to Empty Trash Automatically and agree to turn the setting on. You can change this setting later from within Finder. Open a Finder window, click Finder > Preferences > Advanced, and uncheck the “Remove items from the Trash after 30 days” checkbox.

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Reduce Clutter and Delete Files

The “Reduce Clutter” button here invites you to dig through your files to delete the ones you no longer use. Click the “Documents” category in the sidebar–clicking the “Reduce Clutter” button also takes you here–and you’ll see categories for “Large Files”, “Downloads”, and “File Browser.”

The Large Files category shows you particularly large files on your Mac that you might want to remove for some noticeable storage space savings, while the Downloads category displays your Downloads folder and sorts the list of files in it by size. The File Browser will show you the size of each folder and its contents, helping you find big, space-wasting files to delete.

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Other options in the sidebar show you what’s using space. For example, the “Applications” category shows you the applications on your Mac and sorts them by your size. Free up space by removing apps you no longer use. Apps you downloaded from the Mac App Store can be re-downloaded from there in the future, and apps you downloaded from elsewhere can usually be re-downloaded later too.

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The iOS Files category shows how much space iPhone and iPad related files are using on your PC. For example, device backups created with iTunes and iOS installers are displayed here so you can easily find and delete them if you no longer need them.

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The Mail and Trash categories show how much space your Mac’s built-in Mail app and Trash are using. If Mail is using a lot of space, you may want to stop using the Mail app and delete its storage.  If your Trash is using a lot of space, you can delete individual files from it or empty it entirely.

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While there are other tools that will show you what’s using space on your Mac and help you remove the data, macOS Sierra now has a lot of useful features included. It’s now much easier to free up space on your Mac, and a lot of these options will do it automatically, without you having to lift a finger (after turning them on, of course).

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