How to Clean Startup Disk on MacBook Air: Storage Space Recovery Guide

What moves should you take if your MacBook Air says its startup disc is almost full? Mac users are often challenged by the lack of startup disk space, wondering how to fix the problem. Do I delete large files from my Mac’s hard drive? Is it dangerous to leave it filled up? Let’s figure out the ‘startup disk full’ problem.

MacBook Air is known as the most affordable Apple Mac computer. Compared to MacBook Pro, it has a less proficient 5th generation 1.8 GHz processor and a low-res 1440×900 pixel screen. However, it meets basic user requirements in terms of internet browsing, social networking, and office work. The standard storage capacity of choice is either 128GB or 256GB PCIe-based SSD. It is possible to increase the maximum onboard storage to 512GB SSD. Still, this won’t satisfy most Mac users, so running out of space is inevitable.

Startup Disk MacBook Air

How to Make Space on Startup Disk of MacBook Air?

What is the most effective way to deal with ‘memory full’ issue? There are three methods to reclaim the occupied storage space. For starters, those who don’t know how to clear startup disk space, will find the manual approach too tedious and time-consuming. Other ways include using onboard Mac utilities and third-party applications. But where is the best place to start?

MacBook Air devices mostly use solid-state drives (SSD) to store data. An SSD can be divided into several volumes or partitions. The macOS is located on the startup disk, while other volumes contain user data. The overall storage space can be split among the startup disk and other volumes on the SSD if no separate volumes have been created.

Having a minimum of 10-15% of disk storage unoccupied will ensure smooth system performance. If SSD storage capacity goes beyond 85%, your MacBook Air will suffer from system errors and slow work.

Manual MacBook Air Startup Disk Cleanup

Storage tab

Before you begin any disk cleaning procedures, backup your files to prevent data loss or corruption. Check your Mac’s System storage information and define the areas of interest.

In Apple Menu, go to ‘About This Mac’ and click ‘Storage’ tab (in older Mac OS versions, the ‘Storage’ tab appears after you click ‘More Info’). This will show you which data takes up the most of the disk space.

Usually, these are images, movies, and audio files. It’s worth checking the Trash, Applications, and Downloads folders, too. Don’t forget about the ‘Pictures’ and ‘Music’ libraries. To view the items in these folders, go to ‘All My Files’ and click ‘List View’ in the top menu. You can arrange all available files by ‘Size’, ‘Date Last Opened’ etc. This will help to find the large files and manually delete them.

Using Built-In Tools To Reclaim MacBook Air Startup Disk Space

‘Optimized Storage’ is a set of onboard utilities supplied with macOS Sierra and High Sierra. The package includes ‘Optimize Storage,’ ‘Store in iCloud,’ ‘Empty Trash Automatically,’ and ‘Reduce Clutter’ features. With these tools, users can save the disk space by carrying over the important data from their Mac to the iCloud Drive.

To access ‘Optimized Storage,’ follow these steps:

  • Choose ‘About this Mac’ from the Apple menu
  • In the System Information window click ‘Storage.’
  • Proceed to ‘Manage’ (‘Details’) to open the ‘Optimized Storage’ utility
mac hd available space

Use ‘Store in iCloud’ to sync and store your Desktop and Documents files in iCloud Drive. Also, this feature allows saving photos, videos, email attachments into the iCloud Drive Photo Library. Thus, you can access them whenever necessary from any iCloud-connected device. To transfer the files, follow the next steps:

  1. Click ‘Store in iCloud.’
  2. Tick ‘Store files from Desktop and Documents in iCloud Drive’ to save all the Desktop and Documents files into iCloud.
  3. Tick ‘Store photos and videos in iCloud Photo Library’ to store the images/videos in iCloud.
  4. Confirm by clicking ‘Store in iCloud’ button.

Piled up email attachments, movie files, and TV show episodes watched on iTunes can occupy plenty of disk space. ‘Optimize Storage’ allows deleting these files from your MacBook Air and fine-tuning the download settings of email attachments.

  1. Click ‘Optimize’ to choose from available options.
  2. Tick ‘Automatically remove watched iTunes movies and TV shows.’
  3. Tick ‘Download only recent attachments.’
  4. Confirm by clicking ‘Optimize.’

The files kept in Trash for more than 30 days can be deleted automatically. For this, click ‘Turn on’ button next to ‘Empty Trash Automatically.’ To configure other trash removal settings, go to ‘Finder Preferences’ -> ‘Advanced.’

‘Reduce Clutter’ helps to locate and delete large files or items you no longer need from the startup disk. Click ‘Review Files,’ and browse the available categories: Applications, Documents, GarageBand, iOS Files, iTunes, or Trash. It is possible to go through the files and remove them directly.

  • The ‘Applications’ category will let you view all the applications and sort them by size.
  • The ‘Kind’ category shows the Older Versions of the apps.
  • The ‘Documents’ category has ‘Large Files,’ ‘Downloads,’ and ‘File Browser’ tabs.

How to Empty Startup Disk on MacBook Air Using Third-Party Apps?

Using the above methods for MacBook Air hard drive cleanup takes a while. Especially, if there are no obvious files to delete and reclaim the disk space. Choosing third-party applications can help you optimize the startup disk space and boost system performance. As a rule, these are complex solutions supplied with diverse features for fixing system errors, disk space optimization, and cleaning. Third-party apps can be used to uncover the issues manual cleaning can’t help with. The software provided by multiple developers may include the following benefits:

  • Reducing Mac’s boot-up time
  • Boosting the system performance
  • Removing applications thoroughly (including residual data)
  • Identifying and purging duplicate files
  • Protecting from malware and virus threats

In conclusion

MacBook Air is a great device for browsing, social networking, and paperwork. Limited storage capacity is one of its biggest drawbacks, leading to “Your Mac Startup Disk Is Almost Full” issue. Luckily, now you are acquainted with three options to free up the startup disk space on MacBook Air: manually, using onboard Mac utilities, or applications provided by third-party developers.

Manual cleaning is a time-consuming and cumbersome method. Also, it’s not 100% reliable: some of the sought-for files may be hard to find without running additional disk scans. The likelihood of leaving residual data after apps uninstallation is also high. Eventually, Mac users will resort to the other methods to clean up of the unnecessary files.

‘Optimize Storage’ is a set of onboard macOS optimization tools. With its help, users can reclaim the disk space by transferring the information into the iCloud Drive. Manual cleaning is nowhere near as good as ‘Optimize Storage’ tool in terms of speed, efficiency, and security. However, built-in Mac utilities may not meet user demands for extra functionality like anti-malware protection, etc.

The applications provided by third-party vendors offer a vast range of features for system cleaning and optimization. For this reason, third-party apps get chosen over the other methods by MacBook Air users. Download any apps only from trusted software providers and vendors to prevent malware and viruses from getting on your Mac.