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Quick Tip: Free Up Gigabytes of Space by Deleting Language Files

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Macs are sold in more than 100 countries around the world, many of them with different languages. If a software developer wants to target more than the English speaking world, they need to provide a localised version of their applications. Rather than having a different app for each country, they normally do this by having one app with a choice of languages. When you install an app, you install all these extra languages too. These extra languages can take up a surprising amount of disk space

Most people only use one or, at most, two languages on their computer. This means that there is often a large number of unused language files stored on your Mac. Depending on the apps you use, these files can get quite big. Professional applications are often the main offenders; not only are they large applications to begin with, but they are also localised to the most different languages. 

I routinely clear a few gigabytes of unused languages when I run Monolingual. For example, running it for this tutorial I freed up almost one and a half gigabytes. On a 128GB MacBook Air that is a significant amount of wasted space. If you are running it for the first time you will likely free up even more.

Clearing Language Files With Monolingual

Monolingual is not the only application capable of deleting unused localisations; you can even do it by hand! It is, however, free and works perfectly so I will focus on it in this tutorial. 

Before starting it is important to backup your Mac. You can use Time Machine, or better yet, something like SuperDuper that clones your hard drive. To begin:

  • Download Monolingual, mount the .dmg file and drag the application file to the Applications folder.
  • Navigate to the Applications folder and open Monolingual.
  • Select the languages from the list you want to delete. Languages that are unticked will be kept. I recommend keeping, at a minimum, English and localised language; in my case, despite being in Ireland, that is English (United Kingdom). Even if you are in a non-English speaking country, it is important to keep English as some applications do not offer any other languages.
Selecting languages for removal.
  • Once you have selected the languages you want to delete, click on Remove. Confirm your decision and then enter your password when prompted.
  • Allow Monolingual to run for a few minutes. When it is done you will get an alert informing you how much space has been freed up.
My results.

Excluding Adobe Applications

Fellow Tuts+ author Marius Masalar has previously had issues with removing the language files from Adobe CS5. I have had no issues with CS6 or CC. If you want to be safe and not remove the language files from Adobe's applications, open Monolingual's Preferences using the keyboard shortcut Command-CommaClick on Add and navigate to the containing folder of the application. 

For example, the Adobe Photoshop CC folder if you want to exclude Photoshop. Click Open and uncheck the Languages checkbox. Photoshop is now excluded when you run Monolingual. Repeat this for any other applications you have installed.

Photoshop being ignored by Monolingual.

Conclusion

In this quick tip I've shown you a simple way to free up a few gigabytes of space on your Mac by deleting unused language files with Monolingual. While a few gigabytes may not seem like much, on Mac's with smaller SSDs every little helps. 

Did you follow this tutorial? Let me know how much space you got back in the comments below.

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