Ever needed to track down all of the files that are clogging your hard drive? Using Finder for cleanup assumes that you already know where the big files are stored. The three tools we're taking a look at today will assist you in finding the files visually so that you can pinpoint what's hogging your hard drive.
A visual approach to scouring the hard drive is much more intuitive than finding large files one at a time.
Files easily get lost or orphaned. We store projects in temporary spots that we're sure that we will remember, but hundreds of gigabytes later, it's impossible to keep up. A visual approach to scouring the hard drive is much more intuitive than finding large files one at a time. Each of the three tools below feature different ways of visualizing and cleaning up your hard drive. Let's take a look.
Tip: Make sure that you tread lightly as you delete files! Many of these programs will remove files in a way that does not allow for them to be recovered. Also, be sure to make backups of your Mac regularly.
OmniDiskSweeper lets you browse your file folders and puts file sizes next to every directory.
A free app from OmniGroup, OmniDiskSweeper lets you view your file storage in a much more powerful way than Finder. After scanning a drive for several minutes, the program returns a file tree complete with content sizes for all of the folders.
When using this on my own Mac, it was helpful for a number of directories. I expect folders like my Dropbox to be packed with files. However, temp folders with gigabytes of project files are not something I need to keep, so finding them with OmniDiskSweeper can help quickly clear off some space on your drive.
Choosing delete on a file brings up the option to "destroy" it from within OmniDiskSweeper.
OmniDiskSweeper will scan a drive and then require you to browse the folders. Although it's a big improvement over Finder, the other tools below will offer a truly visual view of how your hard drive is divided up.
The free and open source tool GrandPerspective is another way of visualizing the usage of your drive.
Grand Perspective is another app that takes a visual approach to disk management. The free and open source software is a tool that will scan a folder or drive to build a rectangular representation of your file storage.
Hovering over a file displays the path and size of that file or directory.
After the program has built a chart of your chosen folder or drive, your storage is divided up into rectangles. The size of these rectangles are proportional to the size of the file represented, so it's easy to identify the largest files. Clicking a file displays information about it, and then you can delete it or open it up in Finder to manage it further.
The size of these rectangles are proportional to the size of the file represented, so it’s easy to identify the largest files.
GrandPerspective also helps to visualize your storage by keeping together the files that are in the same folder. As you can see in my above screenshot, the rectangles can become so small that its hard to select individual files, particularly for drives packed full of files.
GrandPerspective is an extremely powerful tool, but it may overwhelm some beginner users. Let's take a look at one more application that might be more user-friendly.
DaisyDisk builds a circular representation that makes cleaning up your hard drive almost beautiful.
DaisyDisk is the most polished and intuitive tool on this list. This program can really help you get your hard drive cleaned up and help you find the files that are hogging your disk space with its unique approach to visualizing the drive.
The DaisyDisk difference is defined by the visual experience of using the application.
The DaisyDisk difference is defined by the visual experience of using the application. The program can be set to scan either an entire hard drive, or any directory on your computer. I frequently will use the application to clean out my Dropbox or tidy up my video projects folder.
After the scan completes, DaisyDisk prepares a circular representation of how your disk space is being used. As you explore the directories more, new circles are rendered. The circle in its entirety represents the total files scanned, and then is split up by directory or file.
Browsing your Mac's folder structure causes DaisyDisk to continually build circular representations of the folder at hand.
The big advantage with DaisyDisk is that you can continually browse and whittle down your hard drive. The other tools require starting a new scan to explore folders, but DaisyDisk builds the whole tree while you work, without delay. Each click into a directory displays what the developer calls a "sunburst map" of how the files make up the folder.
Another perk for DaisyDisk is that the cleanup process is built directly into the application as well. In the lower part of the application is a circular cleanup area to drop files or folders into while browsing your drive or folder. After depositing all of your unwanted files, the program will permanently delete them following a short countdown.
A temporary area where files can be dropped while browsing your drive.
DaisyDisk is also the only tool on this list that isn't free. It normally retails for $19.95, but is currently on sale for $9.95. With DaisyDisk, it's really easy to both search out the files that are taking up your disk space and clean them up in one sweep. This is definitely my preferred application when I'm doing a system cleanup.
Keeping your hard drive clean is important in making sure that your Mac stays performing at its peak. However, it's not always easy to remember where you stored your files or understand where your storage space went. Visualizing your drive's usage is the best way to quickly recover space and delete unused files. Any of the three tools mentioned above are a huge improvement over blindly browsing the drive hunting for the disk hogs.