MacBook for Dummies
November 13, 2010 10:24 AM   Subscribe

Possibly stupid question about an inherited MacBook. How do I free up space on the computer?

This MacBook I inherited runs OS X.4.11. I need to free up some space -- am trying to install a game (file size is ~4GB), but I get an error saying the disk space is full. Sure enough, there's only about 4.3 GB free on the hard drive. Is there anything I can do to free up space? (Doesn't it seem like there should be more?) I don't even know where to start looking.

There are some old folders from OS 9, which I'm assuming I can get rid of. Aside from that, I don't really know where to start.
posted by mudpuppie to Computers & Internet (12 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Try using OmniDiskSweeper, it's free and it'll show you what folders/files are taking up the most space.
posted by ripley_ at 10:29 AM on November 13, 2010

Best answer: GrandPerspective is another slick little OSX utility that will scan your hard drive and then show you a neat visualization of what's taking up all of the space.
posted by joshuaconner at 10:31 AM on November 13, 2010 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Try downloading Disk Inventory X. It looks like it should work on old versions of OS X.

It gives you a visualization of what's taking up room on your hard drive. Great for clearing out unwanted junk.
posted by auto-correct at 10:32 AM on November 13, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks y'all.
posted by mudpuppie at 10:39 AM on November 13, 2010

Best answer: You can get rid of maybe a GB by removing unneeded languages and printer drivers. using software like Monolingual
posted by bottlebrushtree at 10:40 AM on November 13, 2010 [1 favorite]

I would recommend Grand Perspective, but it is for Leopard and up I believe. The best place to start looking for huge space hogs is your iTunes and iPhoto libraries. There might be a partition on the disk to run windows. The OS9 folders were likely there to run in "classic" mode, when some programs didn't have newer versions released. If you don't care about it, you can get rid of them.

Eventually you'll probably want to go ahead and upgrade your system to Leopard, or maybe Snow Leopard. (You'd want to compare your system specs to the SL recommendations first.) And while you're at it, if you don't have files/programs on there that you care about, you might as well reformat it and start from scratch. You can buy a new upgrade dvd from the apple store, or ebay.

And if you really need space, you can always upgrade your hard drive. On those early MacBooks I believe drive replacement was really easy, just 3 screws or so under the battery cover.
posted by fontophilic at 10:47 AM on November 13, 2010

If it's been upgraded with "Archive and Install", there might be old OS X installations hanging around in the root folder under "Previous System": Grand Perspective will make that pretty obvious. You might also have the Developer Tools installed in /Developer -- if you're not bothered about having them around, you can be rid of them.

Definitely consider the Snow Leopard upgrade, as one of the things it promised (and delivered) was a somewhat more efficient allocation for the core OS install.
posted by holgate at 11:03 AM on November 13, 2010

Look in your Downloads folder if you have one... And Documents. Make sure there's nothing "extra" hiding out in there. Also, look at the top level of your account directory (the one with your account name on it)... sometimes programs drop things there instead of a folder.

Don't forget you can sort your finder windows according to file size by clicking on "Size" at the top of the columns. If you want it to automatically calculate folder sizes, right click on a folder and make sure the "calculate all sizes" checkbox is checked.

The utilities mentioned will help you find the files, but ultimately it's going to require a good amount of personal judgement about what to get rid of.

Oh, and start up Mail (if you use it) and be sure to delete all your old mail and try rebuilding your mailbox. Those steps can sometimes reclaim a lot of space you didn't know you'd lost.
posted by hippybear at 12:32 PM on November 13, 2010

I know this sounds obvious, but make sure you've emptied the trash, too!
posted by leahwrenn at 1:30 PM on November 13, 2010 [1 favorite]

I recently ran out of disk space on my Macbook (I think there was only 60 gig of space to start out with) so I decided to replace the hard disk myself. It was super-easy and might be worth trying out yourself.
posted by OLechat at 3:37 PM on November 13, 2010

Google "Delete Temporary Files on the Mac".
posted by xammerboy at 11:09 PM on November 13, 2010

2nding OLechat. It's really cheap to get a 500 or 640 GB hard drive and replace it, especially if you have a current time machine backup on an external drive.
posted by snofoam at 11:12 AM on November 14, 2010

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