Most Effective Tactics of iMac Disk Cleanup Every macOS User Should Know

iMac is a desktop computer that stays relevant in the age of handheld devices and laptops. iMac’s main advantage lies in 21.5-inch 4K and 27-inch 5K Retina displays praised by designers, photographers, and videographers worldwide. Make no mistake, iMac is not only about its high-resolution screens supporting up to 1 billion colors! Being the most powerful Apple device, it provides a storage capacity of 1TB hard drives to 2TB Fusion drives depending on the model.

Why do creative professionals prefer iMac for work? First of all, most design and video projects are memory intensive and require plenty of RAM. iMacs supply users with powerful Intel Core i5 processors and a standard 8GB RAM, configurable up to 64GB (27-inch iMacs, specifically). Also, high-resolution images and video files often require a lot of storage space and iMacs can provide that with their high capacity drives.

message "statup disk almost full"

In spite of all the above benefits, even the most capacious iMac disk can eventually overfill with data. This can cause “Your startup disk is almost full” alert to pop up on your desktop’s screen. Is there a way to fix this problem? Go on reading to learn about the most effective iMac disk cleanup tactics.

What Should You Do When Your iMac Startup Disk Almost Full?

Depending on the model, an iMac may have a hard drive (HDD) or a Fusion drive (SSD). There can be several volumes within a single drive. One of them is a startup disk containing the operating system; other volumes typically store user information and data. The general storage space can be allocated to the startup disk and other partitions.

To avoid the ‘startup disk full’ error, iMac users need to keep not less than 10-15% of disk space free. In the event the total storage capacity exceeds 85%, your Apple desktop will freeze up and sustain system errors. Users are offered three options to free up the disk space on iMac computers:

  • Manual disk cleaning
  • Built-in macOS utilities
  • Third-party cleaning software

Manual iMac Startup Disk Cleanup

Storage tab

It is recommended to perform the data backup before you start disk cleaning. Making regular system and data backups with macOS utilities will enable you to safeguard important information. To begin your iMac’s hard disk optimization, check System storage information to learn the areas needing the most attention.

Access ‘About This Mac’ from the Apple Menu, then click the ‘Storage’ tab (in previous Mac OS versions, click ‘More Info’ to access the ‘Storage’ tab). The ‘Storage’ will display the types of data occupying the most disk space.

The typical areas to pay attention to are Photos, Movies, and Audio. Checking the Trash bin, Downloads and Applications folders is also a good idea. Go to ‘All My Files’ view and hit ‘List View’ in the top menu to display the items in a list. It is possible to make different file arrangements – by ‘Size,’ ‘Application,’ ‘Kind,’ ‘Date Modified,’ ‘Date Last Opened,’ etc. The ‘List View’ allows finding old and large files to purge them manually.

Reclaim iMac Disk Space with Onboard Utilities

mac hd available space

macOS Sierra and High Sierra offer users a pack of built-in utilities called ‘Optimized Storage.’ The toolset includes ‘Optimize Storage,’ ‘Store in iCloud,’ ‘Empty Trash Automatically,’ and ‘Reduce Clutter’ functionality. With their help, users can free up the disk space by transferring the important information from their iMac to the iCloud Drive. To access ‘Optimized Storage,’ do the following:

  1. In the Apple menu , select ‘About this ‘
  2. Click the ‘Storage’ button in the System Information window.
  3. Click ‘Manage’ (‘Details’) to access the ‘Optimized Storage’ toolset.

‘Store in iCloud’ utility allows syncing and transferring the files from Desktop and Documents into the iCloud Drive. Users can store all rarely used photos, videos, email attachments, etc. in iCloud and access them when needed. To carry the files over, do the following:

  1. Click the ‘Store in iCloud’ button.
  2. Select ‘Store files from Desktop and Documents in iCloud Drive’ to store the files from your Desktop and Documents folder into iCloud.
  3. Select ‘Store photos and videos in iCloud Photo Library’ to transfer pictures, videos and email attachments into iCloud.
  4. Click the ‘Store in iCloud’ button to confirm.

Stockpiled email attachments, watched TV shows and movies can take up a lot of disk space. ‘Optimize Storage’ feature will help purge these files from your iMac’s hard drive and modify the email attachments download presets.

  1. Hit the ‘Optimize’ button to make settings.
  2. Select ‘Automatically remove watched iTunes movies and TV shows.’
  3. Select ‘Download only recent attachments.’
  4. Click the ‘Optimize’ button to confirm.

Make settings to remove trash automatically if it stays in Trash bin for over 30 days. Hit the ‘Turn on’ button next to ‘Empty Trash Automatically.’ To modify more trash removal preferences, check ‘Finder preferences’ -> ‘Advanced.’

How to locate and purge the large files or files you no longer use? Press the ‘Review Files’ in ‘Reduce Clutter’ section, and view the available categories: Documents, Applications, iOS Files, iTunes, GarageBand, or Trash. Look through the files to purge them selectively.

  • The ‘Applications’ category displays the installed apps and arranges them by size.
  • The ‘Kind’ category displays the Older Versions of the apps.
  • The ‘Documents’ category offers specific sorting options with ‘Large Files,’ ‘Downloads’ and ‘File Browser’ tabs.

Solving the iMac “Storage Full” Issue Using Third-Party Apps

Third-party apps are chosen by many iMac users as a fast and effective way of dealing with disk space cleanup. As a rule, the applications provided by third-party developers offer a vast range of system service and optimization features. Keeping users’ needs in mind, these programs have an intuitive user interface and high performance. Specific third-party cleaning software can help to uncover the problems standard utilities can’t help with. Choosing these programs over the other disk cleaning methods may give the following benefits:

  • Boot time speed boost
  • System performance enhancement
  • Thorough software and file removal
  • Anti-malware security
  • Duplicate items detection functionality

Final Thoughts

iMac is a high-performance Apple desktop used by creative professionals in photography, filmmaking, video blogging. Powerful hardware and abundant disk storage make it the number-one choice for memory-intensive projects. However, running out of disk space and facing the “Your Mac Startup Disk Is Almost Full” alert is still possible. Clean up the disk space on iMac manually, with built-in macOS utilities, or using special third-party apps.

Each method has its pros and cons. Manual cleaning seems to be the least effective and the most demanding one. It requires a lot of time and effort and doesn’t guarantee that all the unnecessary files will be purged without running extra disk scans. This is the reason why iMac users often turn to the other two disk cleaning methods.

macOS High Sierra and Sierra provide users with ‘Optimize Storage’ toolset. It allows reclaiming the hard drive space by storing the rarely used files in iCloud Drive. Also, it helps to automate specific disk cleaning processes (i.e., Trash bin cleaning). However, the onboard macOS tools may not answer the requirements for extra functionality like system performance enhancement, etc.

The third-party software offers an array of functionality for disk cleaning and system performance boost. Quality applications are preferred over the other methods by Mac users due to their speed and efficiency. Download any trusted applications from third-party software vendors to defend your iMac from cluttering.