Making space on a Mac drive
October 20, 2007 2:04 PM   Subscribe

Will I screw up my Mac if I empty out the /Library/Printers folder?

I'm trying to free up some space on my laptop's hard drive, since it seems constantly to be full these days. Rooting around with Disk Inventory X, it looks like I have a block of plugin files in the /Library/Printers directory that's taking up 1.4 gig of space. Do these plugins actually do anything? They're categorized in subfolders by printer manufacturer, but none of them are for printers that I actually use.

If I dump this folder, will I screw up other programs like Word or Acrobat? I have a 12" PowerBook G4 with OS X 10.4.10.

Bonus points if you know of other inessential pre-loaded crap that's lurking on my drive and taking up space.
posted by felix betachat to Computers & Internet (12 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
I have removed the ones that didn't match any printers I was using. I haven't had any problems.
posted by procrastination at 2:25 PM on October 20, 2007

Bonus points if you know of other inessential pre-loaded crap that's lurking on my drive and taking up space.

Monolingual gets you a bunch of space back by deleting the language files for languages you don't speak. Works perfectly and easily. Just make sure you read the docs and leave English. I've also used it to delete all the input menu stuff except unicode. also no probs (well, the keyboard can get screwy right after you run it, but a reboot fixes that right up forever more.) Don't touch Architectures, though. More trouble than it's worth.

As for your actual question, pretty sure all that'll do is clear your drivers. You may or may not want to do that. At the least you can clear out most of the more obscure ones. Or trash em all and realize you may (or may not) need to download them in the future if you plug into a new printer.

But let someone else verify that part before you trash em.
posted by John Kenneth Fisher at 2:27 PM on October 20, 2007

Disc Inventory X This program is great for analyzing what files are taking up space on your hard drive and it's free.
I second the Monolingual suggestion, it's amazing how much space languages take up.
AppDelete is a great little application for deleting applications you don't use or installed for demoing.
posted by ISeemToBeAVerb at 2:39 PM on October 20, 2007

For what it's worth, I used monolingual on my MacBook and it trashed Rosetta.

Just make sure you have backups.
posted by TheNewWazoo at 2:49 PM on October 20, 2007

iDVD and garageband have support files (themes, loops, samples) that take up an awful lot of space, I deleted those long ago. They were pretty apparent in disk inventory x, so maybe you've already gotten rid of them. The first time I did a cleanup I carefully looked through the samples and kept ones I thought I might use; a year later I realized I hadn't used any of them and deleted them all.

If you don't reboot often, keep an eye on /var/vm. Over time the amount of swap space os x uses inevitably grows, and the file sizes it uses grow exponentially (64M, 64M, 128M, 256M, 512M, 1G etc. is the sequence if I remember correctly). On almost full hard drives in my experience this is the thing that usually triggers a sudden complete lack of disk space. The only thing that really completely resets these is rebooting, though quitting programs reduces them somewhat.
posted by advil at 4:00 PM on October 20, 2007

To clarify, "this" = suddenly creating a 1G swap file when you least expect it (and probably are also trying to do 20 critical things at once).
posted by advil at 4:02 PM on October 20, 2007

Hmmmm... My plan is Leopard + time machine and then bye-bye anything I don't need right at the moment. But if you're using a G4 a plan that requires 2 or 3 hundred bucks (drive + Leopard) is probably not what you're looking for.

Videos and extra copies of music & pictures are big space consumers. iTunes and iPhoto have disturbing tendencies to copy files from wherever they once lived to a new home inside the "appropriate" folder. Spotlight all those .mov, mp3, mp4, aac, and similar files. You might have a big directory consisting of a complete duplicate of your CD library or a bunch of old episodes of "24" that you forgot about.

You can completely dump the Library/printer folder if you always do what I do which is "save as pdf" and then who needs paper copies? If I really need a paper copy of something I'll go to Kinkos. It's really that rare that I actually NEED a paper copy. Mostly I just need a pdf to look at for things like registration receipts and the like.
posted by TeatimeGrommit at 5:21 PM on October 20, 2007

Oh, one other thing. Apple doesn't skimp on drive tech, so you can burn DVDs of just about anything that you don't use daily. I was pleasantly surprised by how far back Apple was shipping DVD burners with all macs. DVD plates are relatively cheap and hold at least 4 gig per (8 for newer burners / plates).
posted by TeatimeGrommit at 5:23 PM on October 20, 2007

yeah, be careful of monolingual

after i used it, my acrobat pro application broke, which took a $40 call (since it was cs2) to adobe tech support to uninstall and reinstall (the installer disk thought it was still installed and working)
posted by jouster at 6:25 PM on October 20, 2007

For what it's worth, I used monolingual on my MacBook and it trashed Rosetta.

yeah, which is why I reiterate what I said up top:

Don't touch Architectures, though. More trouble than it's worth.
posted by John Kenneth Fisher at 6:26 PM on October 20, 2007

Thanks everyone for the reassurance. I'd long ago dumped the garageband crap and I'm pretty good about managing my iTunes. The latter is a necessity, since its my 65+ gb of music that puts me in these dire straits in the first place.

advil thanks very much for the explanation. I do, in fact, keep my computer running without rebooting for weeks on end. The sudden disappearance of big chunks of drive space has always been a vexing mystery to me.
posted by felix betachat at 7:03 PM on October 20, 2007

Whatsize is also a really good free utility to keep an eye on your hard disk. You can just click remeasure every time you delete things and empty your trash. It is just like a Finder window except it colour codes your folders with their size, and lists their sizes.
posted by stackhaus23 at 8:29 AM on October 21, 2007

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