For with gradual use of my late 2011 Macbook Pro, the 500GB HDD is getting less and less space. So I decided to give it a look.

The first tool I need is Disk Inventory X, which can show you a very nice treemap of disk space usage. More importantly, the sort by size feature of different folders help to quickly determine the largest folders on your computer.

Below is a list of major reductions that I have discovered.

Big Space Reductions


I use the MacOSX Mail application infrequently, but have set it up for my main Gmail account. It turns out that the Mail folder has 24.5GB of data, virtually even more than the reported total usage by Gmail. The way to reduce this amount of usage is to delete the mail account from Mail settings (which leads you to system settings page). However, the disk space will not be freed if you only delete the mail account. You have to go to the folder and delete the files too.

Google Chrome

It turns out that Chrome has cached more than 3GB of data too. Since I now rarely use Chrome after I switched to Safari, it is definitely necessary to free up the space. Simply go to the settings page of Chrome and clear the cache.


Dash is was a good tool for development. I used to use it when it wasn’t that annoying. Later, it became notorious by aggressively disrupting your workflow for soliciting purchases. It shows modal dialogs, copys wrong contents (a piece of ad instead of the code snippet you thought you copied), etc. So, go away. It turns out I have downloaded more than 3GB of Docsets while using Dash. And they have been on my Mac for more than 2 years!

Other Space Takers

VirtualBox Disk Images

VirtualBox images are another space gobbler. I have quite a few VirtualBox disk images, and each of them is at the least 10GB large. These are things for my experiments and I cannot delete them for the moment.

iTunes Music and iPhoto Pictures

I have gathered a total of 113GB of iTunes music and movies. Once I have delegated file management tasks to the specific applications, I do not know how to handle them by myself. I’ve also got an iPhoto library that is more than 12GB. These files will sooner or later be a problem if I decide to switch to a better machine with limited SSD storage.


That is why I choose to use iPhoto to manage pictures that are from my iPhone and iPad only. For those that come from my camera, around 50GB, I simply copy them to a Pictures folder on my machine (and in most of the cases let them live there forever). I need to copy them out to an external hard drive.

The Other Folders

All the aforementioned reductions are under my personal folder. If you’d like, you can use Disk Inventory X to scan your other system folders too, but make sure to delete only the things that sure useless.


It is obvious that I am not quite ready for a SSD yet at the current moment. Disk space is easily gobbled up in my use style. Additionally, since I am reluctant in embracing streaming music/video services, the movies and music I purchased will very likely take quite an amount of space if I am lazy in switching them in and out of my machine. Therefore, cleaning up my Mac once in a while seems a better options (and maybe the only one) for the moment.