When You See the ‘Apple Startup Disk Almost Full’ Message, That’s What You Must Do

Mac devices are known for limited onboard disk storage which eventually leads to “Your startup disk is almost full” message popping up annoyingly. Paying immediate attention to this problem will help to get it sorted fast and efficiently. Mac users may consider removing the files which take up a lot of disk space. However, this is only a temporary solution, and the problem will return soon enough. So, how can you eliminate the issue of startup disk space shortage permanently?

Modern MacBook Air and MacBook Pro laptops use PCIe-based SSDs for data storage. iMacs have more storage capacity owing to onboard hard drives configurable to Fusion drives or SSDs. The hard drive can have partitions/volumes, one of which is a startup disk containing the operating system. The storage space can be shared between the startup disk and the other partitions with user data (applications).

message "statup disk almost full"

Things to Know About Apple Mac Disk Cleanup

Is it possible to reclaim the disk space on your Apple Mac computer? Absolutely! There are three options to carry out a startup disk cleanup. You can resort to manual cleaning, use onboard Mac utilities, or third-party applications. Mac users are strongly recommended to make backups of important information to avoid data loss. Now, let’s review the pros and cons of every method.

Manual Startup Disk Cleanup on Apple Mac Computers

Before you start, check the System storage information to see the areas to pay attention to. For this, go to “About This Mac” and select the “Storage” tab. If you’re using one of the older OS X versions, the “Storage” tab will appear after you hit “More Info.” This will give you a clue on the data occupying the most of the disk space.

Storage tab
sort user files

Typically, photos, movies, and audio files are the ones to take up a lot of storage. Focus on the Trash bin, Downloads and Applications folders, Pictures, and Music libraries. Go to “All My Files” and click the “List View” button in the top menu. It is possible to sort all user files by “Size,” “Kind,” “Tags,” “Date Last Opened” etc. When finished, identify the items occupying the most space and remove them.

Reclaiming Apple Mac Disk Space Using Inbuilt Tools

Users of macOS Sierra and High Sierra can enjoy the benefit of Optimized Storage functionality. With its help, you can transfer the important data from your Apple Mac device and store it in the iCloud drive. To access Optimize Storage, do the following:

  • Enter ‘About this Mac’ from the Apple menu located in the upper left corner of the screen.
  • Hit ‘Storage’ tab in the System Information window.
  • Click ‘Manage’ (‘Details’) to open the ‘Optimized Storage’ utility.
mac hd available space

Store in iCloud feature allows synchronizing the iCloud Photo Library, Desktop, and Documents. With its help, users can move rarely used images, videos, email attachments, etc. into the iCloud Drive and get back to them whenever needed. To transfer the files, follow the next steps:

Store button

  1. In ‘Optimized Storage’ click ‘Store in iCloud’ button.
  2. Select ‘Store files from Desktop and Documents in iCloud Drive’ to transfer all files from Desktop and Documents folder into iCloud.
  3. Select ‘Store photos and videos in iCloud Photo Library’ to transfer the images/videos into iCloud.
  4. Click ‘Store in iCloud’ to confirm the settings.

Store button

TV shows/films viewed on iTunes and email attachments take up a lot of disk space. The ‘Optimize Storage’ feature will help you purge these files from your Mac and set up the email attachments download. Click on ‘Optimize’ next to Optimize Storage section. Tick ‘Automatically remove watched iTunes movies and TV shows’ and ‘Download only recent attachments’ and confirm the settings.

Empty Trash AutomaticallyClick ‘Turn on’ next to ‘Empty Trash Automatically’ feature to purge the files located in Trash for over 30 days. To fine-tune more trash removal options, go to ‘Finder Preferences,’ then click ‘Advanced.’

Applications‘Reduce Clutter’ option will help you find and manually remove large or outdated files from your Apple Mac’s startup disk. This feature allows going through the files individually and choose those you want to delete. Selecting ‘Applications’ in the left-side menu will provide the view of all apps on your Mac and sorts them by size. In the ‘Kind’ column, you can see the Older Versions of the applications and remove them. The ‘Documents’ section has ‘Large Files,’ ‘Downloads,’ and ‘File Browser’ tabs. All you have to do is locate the largest files, preview and delete them.

Using Third-Party Applications to Obtain Apple Mac Disk Space

What if manual cleaning and onboard utilities didn’t help? Some Mac users choose third-party applications to recover storage space and increase system performance. These apps offer various features for Mac OS cleaning, service and optimization. Other benefits usually include intuitive user interface and efficiency. Also, third-party apps may discover the issues manual cleaning can’t help with. The typical functionality roundup of these programs includes:

  • Boot-up time reduction
  • Overall system performance improvement
  • Thorough application and remnant files removal
  • Anti-malware protection
  • Duplicate file detection and elimination

The Verdict

Apple Mac users don’t need to be challenged by “Your Mac Startup Disk Is Almost Full” alert. It is possible to fix the problem using manual Mac hard drive cleaning, built-in utilities or specialized third-party applications.

Thorough manual cleaning requires a lot of time and effort, but no files are deleted without user’s knowledge. However, some large files can be hard to discover without running a special scan. There is a risk of leaving residual data after application removal. This means a user will have to use other methods to get rid of the unwanted files.

Built-in ‘Optimize Storage’ utility helps to optimize Mac’s disk space by storing the data in the iCloud drive. Compared to manual cleaning, this optimization tool is fast, efficient and secure. Still, inbuilt Mac utilities don’t have the extra functionality to meet specific user demands.

Third-party apps not only offer disk cleaning capabilities but come supplied with multiple features for system service and optimization. Third-party apps are often preferred by Mac users over the other methods due to their productivity and functionality range. Make sure to download unfamiliar software from trusted providers only to avoid malware and viruses.