Computer hard drives are getting much larger—you’d think you can hold on to files indefinitely and never worry about running out of space. But then one day you see a nasty message telling you there is not enough free disk space to save, copy, paste, or download something. How can you clear some space without parting with precious files? Here, you can learn how to use built-in tools in Windows and macOS to get rid of unnecessary files on your computer.
- Empty your Recycle Bin. This is an easy first step for freeing up disk space. When you delete files in Windows, they are sent to the Recycle Bin rather than immediately being removed from your PC. This means that a bunch of files you think you’ve deleted may still exist and be taking up space. To empty your recycle bin, just right-click the Recycle Bin icon on your desktop (it looks like a trash can) and select Empty Recycle Bin.
- If you ever want to delete a file and bypass the Recycle Bin completely, select the file you want to delete, and hold down the Shift and Delete keys at the same time to delete it.
- Remove apps you no longer use. Got a lot of apps installed on your PC? You can delete the apps you aren’t using to free up some space. Here’s how:
- Click the Start menu and select Settings.
- Click Apps to display installed apps.
- You can sort the list of apps by name, install date, or size using the “Sort by” drop-down menu.
- Click an app and select Uninstall.
- See how your storage is used. Windows 10 comes with a great new storage tool (similar to, but more modern than Disk Cleanup) that illustrates which files are using the most space on your hard drive. To get there, click the Start menu, select Settings, click System, and then click Storage in the left panel.
- In the right panel, you’ll find the name of your hard drive (such as “C:”), followed by its total size.
- Beneath that is a bar that displays how much of your total space is occupied by files.
- Below that, you’ll find a list of categories—these categories reflect types of files on your computer, and how much space they are using.
- Click Show more categories below the different file types to see all possible categories.
- Turn on Storage Sense. Storage Sense automatically monitors the amount of hard drive space you use and cleans up unnecessary files. You can enable this feature in your Storage settings—here’s how:
- To allow Storage Sense to run on a schedule, click the switch at the top of your Storage settings. This is optional, as you can actually just use Storage Sense manually if you skip this step.
- Click Configure Storage Sense or run it now just below the switch (even if you didn’t enable the feature).
- Choose when to run Storage Sense (during low free disk space, or on a schedule).
- Select which files to delete on the selected scheduled time.
- You can delete temporary app files that are unnecessary, clear your Recycle Bin on a certain schedule, and/or delete files from your Downloads folder that you haven’t opened in a specified time frame.
- Click Clean now at the bottom to run Storage Sense now.
- Click the back button to return to your Storage settings.
- Delete other unneeded temporary files. This is another option in your Storage settings. Click the Temporary files category to see files that are meant to be temporary. To mark a type of file for deletion, click the box next to its name and description, and then click the Remove files button at the top to confirm. Just make sure you don’t accidentally delete something you’ll need later.
- The “Downloads” folder is your default download location. Only check this box if you do not regularly use the files in your Downloads folder.
- “Windows Update Cleanup,” “Microsoft Defender Antivirus,” “Delivery Optimization Files,” and “Temporary Windows installation files” files are non-critical files from older updates. You can safely remove those unless a local admin has suggested otherwise.
- Delete unused or unneeded personal files. The files you store in your Documents, Pictures, Videos, Music, and Downloads folder can consume a lot of space. If you don’t want to permanently delete files, you can copy them to an external drive.
- A handy way to view your files is to open your Storage settings—click the Start menu, select Settings, click System, and then click Storage.
- Click Show more categories below the listed categories.
- Click Documents, Music, Videos, or any type of file you want to manage.
- Click the View button to open the folder containing those files.
- Click the View menu and select Details to make sure you can see each file’s size.
- Before deleting a file, open it to see what it is. Then, close it so you can delete it if you want.
- To delete a file, click it once to select it, press the delete button on your keyboard, and confirm when prompted.
- Deleted files are moved to the Recycle Bin, so technically you haven’t yet freed up space. To empty your Recycle Bin, right-click it on your desktop and select Empty Recycle Bin.
- Open your Mac’s Storage Management tool. This handy tool can help you figure out which files are taking up the most space, and how to reclaim that space. Once you open the tool, you’ll see a list of all types of files on your Mac, and how much space they are using. To open the tool:
- Click the Apple menu at the top-left corner.
- Click About This Mac.
- Click Storage.
- Click Manage.
- Click to store certain files in the cloud. This optional feature lets you move your Photos, Messages, Documents, and Desktop files to iCloud to conserve space on your hard drive. You can still open and use the files you move to iCloud—just double-click to download the file you want to view or edit, and it will open right up. Keep in mind that while you have some free storage space on iCloud (5 GB), you’ll need to pay for additional space. Fortunately, the cheapest plan gets you 50 GB of iCloud space for as low as $0.99/month. To store files in iCloud:
- Click Desktop and Documents to move the files in these two locations to your iCloud Drive.
- Click Photos to add the photos to iCloud Photos.
- Click Messages to store all iMessages and attachments in iCloud rather than on your Mac.
- Click to remove older TV shows, movies, and email attachments. This option does not permanently delete this information—it just backs them up to the cloud. However, unlike using the Store in iCloud feature, the data you optimize will not count against your iCloud space quota.
- If you choose this option, any optimized files will display cloud icons beside them. To re-download an optimized file, just double-click that icon.
- Set up your Mac’s Trash to empty automatically. When you delete files on your Mac, they are moved to the Trash, which makes it easy to restore deleted files in the future. However, it also means that deleting files doesn’t actually free up hard drive space until you empty the Trash. If you click Turn On next to “Empty Trash Automatically,” your Mac will permanently purge all files in the Trash every 30 days.
- You can also manually empty the Trash at any time in Finder by clicking the Finder menu and selecting Empty Trash.
- If you want to delete a file and skip sending it to the Trash first, hold down the Control key when you click the file, and then select Delete immediately.
- Click the button to sort through clutter. The last button at the bottom of the Storage window will display a sortable list of your documents, which can help you identity files you don’t need and can delete from your Mac.
- Click a file type/folder in the left panel to view the files of that type.
- Use the tabs at the top of the right panel (Large Files, Downloads, etc.) to browse for files you may not want.
- Before deleting a file, open it to make sure it’s something you don’t want to keep! Then, close its corresponding app so you can delete it if you want.
- To delete a file, just drag it to the Trash icon on your desktop.
- Remember to empty your Trash to actually free up the hard drive space.
- Delete music and music videos. If you download music through Apple Music, you can periodically delete these files to free up space. As long as you delete something you’ve purchased through Apple Music, it’ll remain in the cloud and you can re-download it at any time.
- Open the Music app on your Mac.
- Hover the mouse over a song or video you want to delete. If you see a cloud icon next to the item, that means it’s not actually saved on your Mac, so it’s not using hard drive space. Don’t try to delete these items.
- Click the three dots that appear and select Remove.
- Once removed from your Mac, a cloud icon will appear next to the item to indicate that it’s not on your Mac, but that you can download it from the cloud again by double-clicking it.
- Delete your unnecessary junk mail. If you use the Mail app on your Mac to send and receive email, you may have a lot of messages in your Junk folder. These messages can take up a lot of space. Here’s how to delete your Junk folder:
- Open the Mail app.
- Click the Mailbox menu and select Erase Junk Mail. This moves the junk mail to your Trash mail box.
- To empty your Trash mail box and reclaim hard drive space, click the Mailbox menu and select Erase Deleted Items.
- Invest in an external hard drive or USB flash drive if you find yourself constantly running out of space. You can then store your largest files on that drive to retain space on your internal drive(s).
- When you download install programs, delete the installer after you finished installing it.
- Frequently empty the Recycle Bin or Trash.
- Once you’ve cleared your recycle bin, all those files are gone forever!
- Don’t delete files that don’t belong to you!
- If you aren’t sure what file it is and it’s an unfamiliar filetype, don’t delete it. If you think it’s a virus, scan it with your virus scan.
- Hide and Lock Hard Disk Drives in “My Computer”
- Copy Contents of One Hard Drive to a New Hard Drive
- Format a Hard Drive
- Free up Disk Space (Windows 7)
- ↑ https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/empty-the-recycle-bin-in-windows-10-d4c8f8ef-a12e-8250-b0cf-2311960a31f9
- ↑ https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/topic/how-to-bypass-the-recycle-bin-when-deleting-files-36aa9c63-c12a-988f-43c4-e4347e2b2825
- ↑ https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/manage-drive-space-with-storage-sense-654f6ada-7bfc-45e5-966b-e24aded96ad5
- ↑ https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT201238
- ↑ https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT206996
- ↑ https://support.apple.com/guide/mac-help/delete-files-and-folders-on-mac-mchlp1093/mac
- ↑ https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT204343
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