How to Clear Space on MacBook Pro: The Best Practices

In this day and age, users still wonder how to make space on their Mac devices. The era of SSD and USB drives with limited storage capacities has posed a problem of data optimization. With a solid-state drive of only 128GB, 256GB or even 512GB, the modern MacBook Pro will eventually require freeing some room to store user files. Facing the “Your startup disk is almost full” message, users start looking for the ways to fix their Mac device

message "statup disk almost full"

The first thing they come up with is purging the unneeded files and apps. However, such a vague approach to cleaning your Mac startup disk won’t help for long. To ensure more thorough cleaning, one has to delete file duplicates, attachments, temporary files, and unused language files. Manual data removal is a faulty method since not all data that needs to be eliminated is obvious. For instance, a Mac can have multiple user accounts with separate Trash cans.

What to Do if Your MacBook Pro Startup Disk Is Almost Full?

When a startup disk is nearly full, your Mac Pro won’t boot or may experience slow load. Also, the alert saying “Your startup disk is almost full” will appear on your Mac’s screen. Having no free space on the hard drive where a startup disk volume is contained may cause serious performance problems. Seeking ways how to fix it, some users may try to empty the Trash bin or purge old data. This leads to typical questions like “What is a startup disk on my MacBook Pro?” and “How to solve the “Your startup disk is almost full” issue?”

A Mac computer may use a hard disk drive (HDD) or a solid-state drive (SSD) for data storage. A startup disk is a volume on Mac’s hard drive containing an operating system. Mac’s hard drive may have several partitions: one of them serves as a startup disk, while others store user data. However, the majority of users don’t create separate partitions on their drive, so the storage space is shared between the startup disk and the other volumes.

Why Is Having Enough MacBook Pro Startup Disk Space Important?

Being short of startup disk space seriously affects the performance of your MacBook Pro. In case HDD is filled up over 85% of its nominal capacity, your device will experience slow work and system errors. Make sure you have at least 10% of your disk storage free to guarantee your Mac will run smoothly. Better yet make it 20%.

How to Clean Startup Disk on MacBook Pro?

“How do I sort out a ‘startup disk memory full’ issue?”, you may ask. Whether you empty the Trash bin, delete files, or remove unused and outdated apps, this will be only a temporary way out. To get your MacBook Pro up and running sharply once and for all, you need a more in-depth approach to freeing the space on your Mac.

It is possible to reclaim startup disk space on your MacBook Pro using the next methods:

  • Manual cleanup;
  • Onboard Mac utilities;
  • Free or paid third-party applications.

Remember that backing up your data is strongly recommended before starting to clean up Mac Pro hard drive. Built-in macOS backup utilities will help you restore specific files or perform an entire system recovery if something goes wrong.

clean macbook pro

MacBook Pro Startup Disk Manual Cleanup

If you choose to free up your Mac’s startup disk manually, you need to check what’s eating up the free space first. Using Reduce Clutter onboard utility is a good place to start.

Check Trash bin, Photo and iTunes libraries, Downloads and Applications folders and All My Files view for cumbersome media files, old applications, temporary files, etc. To free up MacBook Pro startup disk in manual mode, do the following:

  • Open Finder -> go into List view.
  • Select View -> As List. Click the “List View” button on top of the Finder window.
  • Sort files by “Size,” “Kind,” “Tags,”“Date Created” etc.
  • Remove the files eating up the most memory

macOS runs scheduled daily, weekly, and monthly maintenance routines for disk space optimization. Automatic maintenance scripts run on a scheduled time if your MacBook is on. Failure to run maintenance procedures leads to log files eating up vacant space on your Mac. It is possible to run three periodic maintenance scripts at once or a specific script separately. To execute daily, weekly, and monthly scripts at once, do the following:

  1. Launch Terminal, access Applications -> Utilities.
  2. Using Admin account, type in the following command and press Return:
  • sudo periodic daily weekly monthly
  1. Enter your Admin password and confirm by hitting Return.

Resorting to manual MacBook Pro startup disk cleanup has its benefits and flaws. On the positive side, a user can manually select specific files to delete, which allows a more targeted approach to data optimization. No data is removed without user’s awareness or permission. On the negative side, manual cleanup requires a lot of time compared to automatic cleanup apps capable of performing all tasks in mere moments. Another flaw of manual cleanup lies in hidden files that may be hard to find. Often, an in-depth scan is needed to get rid of all the disk space-consuming data.

MacBook Pro Startup Disk CleanUp With Onboard MacOS Utilities

Alternatively, it is possible to free up MacBook Pro Startup Disk using the onboard macOS Sierra utilities: Optimize Storage, Store in iCloud, Empty Trash Automatically, and Reduce Clutter.

As a rule, watched movies/TV shows and email attachments are the files to occupy the most disk space. Use Optimize Storage to purge the films/TV shows you watched and configure the email attachments download. To get this sorted out, click ‘Optimize’ button and tick the two offered options:

Optimize Storage

You can configure the settings for each section. For iTunes:

  1. Click ‘Optimize’ – >Select iTunes.
  2. In ‘Preferences’ hit ‘’
  3. Tick “Automatically delete watched movies and TV shows.”

To configure the email attachments download in Mail, do the following:

  1. Go to Mail -> select ‘Preferences,’ then click ‘Accounts.’
  2. Configure the Account Information section of a chosen email account.
  3. Select ‘Recent’ or ‘None’ in the Attachments pop-up menu settings.

Store in iCloud buttonAs the name suggests, Store in iCloud will help you transfer rarely used files, pictures, email attachments, etc. into the cloud storage, keeping them available when needed. Hit ‘Store in iCloud’ button to configure the settings. Tick the offered options and begin the file transfer.

Also, it’s possible to fine-tune the iCloud Drive settings or deactivate it completely. For this, in the Apple menu, access the ‘System Preferences” and choose iCloud.

Advaced Finder PreferencesSetting up ‘Empty Trash Automatically’ feature will help you delete the files stored in Trash for over 30 days. To configure the settings, select ‘Finder Preferences,’ then click Advanced. Tick the option “Remove items from the Trash after 30 days.”

Large Files‘Reduce Clutter’ feature helps you locate large and outdated files and instantly delete them from your MacBook Pro startup disk. Hit ‘Review Files’ to see ‘Large Files,’ ‘Downloads’ and a ‘File Browser.’ This option will show the largest files, which you can preview and delete afterward.

Using onboard Mac OS utilities has few advantages in comparison with manual cleanup. For instance, their ease of use and intuitive user interface. These built-in tools allow to fine-tune and automate MacBook Pro startup disk optimization. Using onboard Mac utilities is fast and allows a targeted approach to data cleanups. In case you need to boost your Mac’s Pro performance or resolve complex issues, try using third-party applications.

MacBook Pro Startup Disk CleanUp With Third-Party Applications

Third-party apps will be helpful for boosting performance and reclaiming the occupied disk space. Alongside a diverse cleaning functionality, these apps include solutions for macOS service and optimization. Also, these programs can help in running scans for missed problems. Third-party apps provide the following advantages:

  • System performance boost
  • Thorough apps uninstallation and file purge
  • Reduced boot time
  • Anti-malware protection
  • Duplicate files detection
  • Disk defragmentation functionality

If cleaning your startup disk in manual mode and using built-in apps have failed, there’s another option to resort to. Being out-of-the-box solutions, most third-party cleaning apps provide a sophisticated approach to Mac OS cleaning and optimization. As a rule, these applications are efficient, have a well-thought user interface and troubleshoot issues fast.

Final Thoughts

So, how to free up startup disk space on your MacBook Pro? Many users get confused getting the “Your Mac Startup Disk Is Almost Full” alert. Fortunately, there are three ways to fix this problem and clear space on MacBook Pro. You can try cleaning up your laptop manually, use built-in Mac utilities or take advantage of free or paid third-party applications. Each method does the job; however, using third-party apps gives the maximum effect. Owing to an array of functionality offered by these programs, the process of Mac disk space optimization becomes fast and productive.