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Last updated: January 8, 2024
Get More Storage on Mac

How to Get More Storage on Mac

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Struggling with limited storage on your Mac? You’re not alone. Whether you’re using a MacBook Air or Pro, macOS Sonoma or Ventura, running out of space can be a frustrating experience that can make your otherwise capable computer unusable. But don’t worry—in this guide, we’ll teach you how to get more storage on Mac in several different but equally practical ways.

How to Check Storage Space on Mac?

To choose the best approach for increasing the amount of available storage space on your Mac, you should start by understanding your current usage:

  1. Open the System Settings app.
  2. Navigate to the General tab.
  3. Select the Storage category.macos settings general section highlighted

Here, you’ll see a visual representation of your storage, with different colors representing various types of files. This quick view lets you see at a glance how much space is occupied by apps, documents, system data, and more.

At this point, it’s essential to compare the amount of free storage space you currently have with how much you realistically need. This comparison will guide you in choosing the most suitable method to increase your storage. If you notice that the difference between your current free space and your storage needs is relatively small, then any of the methods we discuss below might suffice to resolve your issue.

For instance, simple steps like cleaning up old files or managing your applications might just do the trick. However, if you find that there’s a significant gap between your current storage availability and your requirements, then you’ll likely need to consider more impactful solutions.

In such cases, you might need to look into more substantial methods like upgrading your MacBook’s internal storage, if your model allows it (more about it soon), or investing in high-capacity external storage options. Cloud storage solutions can also offer significant additional space, though they depend on a reliable internet connection for access.

How to Get More Disk Space on Mac

Now that you’ve assessed your storage needs on your Mac, it’s time to explore various methods to get more disk space on your Mac. We’ll evaluate each method based on three key aspects: its ease of implementation, the impact it has on increasing your storage space, and the technical skills required to successfully carry it out.

Method 1: Upgrade Internal Storage

Ease of ImplementationImpact on the StorageRequired Skills
Very difficultMaximumSignificant

Upgrading the internal storage of your Mac, particularly with a Solid-State Drive (SSD), is the most effective way to get more disk space on Mac. And if you choose a very fast SSD, then you can also improve your system’s performance and responsiveness.

However, this method is especially relevant for older MacBook models, where such upgrades are still possible. To learn if your Mac’s internal storage can be upgraded, you need to find out which model you have:

  1. Open the System Settings app.
  2. Navigate to the General tab.
  3. Select the About category.
  4. Click the Details button next to “Coverage Expired.”macos settings about details button highlighted
  5. Look at the model information right under your Mac’s name.macbook model information highlighted

Not all Macs are created equal when it comes to how upgradable they are. Older models, like some MacBook Pros pre-2015, are generally more accommodating for upgrades. For newer models, especially those post-2016, the SSDs are often soldered to the motherboard, which makes upgrading them a no-go.

To find out if your specific model is upgradable, we recommend you enter a phrase like “does [your Mac’s model information] have a soldered SSD?” into Google. Alternatively, you can simply call Apple, tell them which model you have, and ask if the internal storage can be updated.

The actual upgrade process involves the following:

  1. Purchase an SSD that’s compatible with your Mac model. Researching online or consulting with a professional can help you make the right choice.
  2. Always backup your data before you begin any hardware modifications. This ensures that you won’t lose any important information.
  3. Use a detailed guide on how to open your specific Mac model and install the new SSD. Websites like iFixit offer step-by-step instructions with pictures to help you through the process. Depending on your Mac model, you’ll need specific tools to open it up, like Pentalobe or Torx screwdrivers.

Because of how difficult the internal storage upgrade process is, we recommend you go through it only if you know what you’re doing. If not, then there are other, safer methods that can help you.

Method 2: Utilize External Storage

Ease of ImplementationImpact on the StorageRequired Skills
Very easyMaximumMinimal

When upgrading your Mac’s internal storage isn’t an option, utilizing external storage is a fantastic and straightforward way to get more MacBook storage.

These days, you can get a 1 TB external SSD with fantastic read/write speeds for as little as $50. If you currently have, for example, 256 GB of internal storage, then you can increase your total storage capacity to 1.2 TB for the cost of a cinema date.

external hard drive connected to macbook

Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash

When utilizing an external storage device to get more space on Mac, you should always pick a modern drive with a USB 3.0 or Thunderbolt connection. If you have a newer Mac, especially models that only have USB-C ports, you might need an adapter, but those are very inexpensive.

Once you have everything ready, you can simply plug the external storage device to your Mac and format it for use. The APFS file system is a good choice if the storage device won’t ever be connected to any non-Apple computer. If it will, then you should use the exFAT file system.

Tip: Besides external hard drives (both spinning and, preferably, solid-state ones), you can also use USB sticks and SD cards as excellent portable alternatives for extra storage. While these options may not offer the same capacity as external hard drives, they’re incredibly convenient for on-the-go use and quick file transfers.

Method 3: Consider Cloud Storage Solutions

Ease of ImplementationImpact on the StorageRequired Skills
EasySignificantMinimal

In the modern digital age, cloud storage solutions like iCloud have become a staple for efficiently managing data. Utilizing iCloud or other cloud services is an incredibly easy and effective way to get more space on your Mac. It’s especially useful for those who are looking to increase their MacBook storage without the need for physical hardware.

To enable iCloud storage on your Mac:

  1. Open the System Settings app.
  2. Click your profile at the top of the left pane.
  3. Select the iCloud category.
  4. Enable the Optimize Mac Storage feature.optimize mac storage feature highlighted
  5. Further customize your iCloud settings if you want to.

Once set up, your documents and desktop files will be automatically stored in iCloud, freeing up physical space on your Mac. You can choose to store photos, emails, and other types of data as well.

iCloud offers a free tier with just 5 GB of storage, which might be sufficient for light users. However, for those needing more space, Apple offers several paid tiers with increased storage capacity. In the United States, it costs $0.99 a month to get extra 50 GB of cloud storage, but you can also get extra 200 GB for $2.99 a month, extra 2 TB for $9.99, and so on.

Method 4: Clean Up Your Mac

Ease of ImplementationImpact on the StorageRequired Skills
ModerateSignificantLimited

A cluttered Mac can quickly run out of space, affecting its performance and your productivity. Regularly cleaning up your Mac is a simple yet effective way to get more space on Mac. Here are some of the most effective Mac cleanup strategies that you should always put to good use when desperate to get more GB on Mac.

Remove Old Files

Over time, your Mac accumulates a lot of data, some of which you may no longer need. Here’s how to identify and remove these old files:

  1. Launch Finder.
  2. Navigate to your Downloads folder and delete everything you no longer need.cleanup downloads folder mac
  3. Go through your documents, pictures, videos, and music. If you find files that you no longer need, don’t hesitate to delete them.
Tip: You can also create a new Smart Folder and configure it to list all files that are larger than a certain size.

Empty Your Trash

Remember, deleting files sends them to the Trash, but it doesn’t free up space until the Trash is emptied. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Right-click on the Trash can in the dock.
  2. Select Empty Trash.empty trash icon dock
  3. Confirm the action if prompted.

Make it a habit to empty your Trash regularly. This simple action can free up significant space on your Mac.

Get Rid of Unnecessary System and App Data

Your Mac also accumulates system junk over time, which can eat up disk space. Here’s how to tackle it:

  • Clear Cache Files: Open Finder, press Shift + Command + G, enter ~/Library/Caches, and delete the contents of the folders. Do the same with /Library/Caches.
  • Delete unused installers: Installers, especially for large applications, can take up a lot of space. Once an application is installed, you can safely delete its installer.
  • Remove desktop clutter: Desktop screenshots and files not only consume space but also affect your Mac’s performance.

Each of these decluttering steps might not add too many GB of available storage space on its own, but together they can make a huge difference.

Method 5: Utilize MacOS Features

Ease of ImplementationImpact on the StorageRequired Skills
Very EasySignificantMinimal

macOS is equipped with several built-in features designed to help manage and optimize storage. By utilizing these tools, you can efficiently manage your system’s storage and get more GB on Mac without the need for additional software or hardware.

To enable these features:

  1. Open the System Settings app.
  2. Navigate to the General tab.
  3. Click on the Storage category.
  4. Here, you’ll find options like Optimize Storage, Store in iCloud, and Empty Trash Automatically.storage recommendations macos

If you’ve been following our instructions method by method, then you’re already taking advantage of iCloud for storage optimization, so you can ignore the Optimize Storage and Store in iCloud options.

That leaves you with the Empty Trash Automatically feature, which automatically deletes items in the Trash that have been there for more than 30 days, ensuring your Mac doesn’t accumulate unnecessary files that can eat up storage space over time. We highly recommend you enable it because the Trash folder should never be a graveyard of forgotten files.

Method 6: Use Third-party Software

Ease of ImplementationImpact on the StorageRequired Skills
EasySignificantMinimal

There are various third-party software applications designed to make it easier for you to remove unnecessary clutter from your Mac.

For example, CleverFiles Duplicates Finder simplifies the process of finding and deleting duplicate files, and you can download it directly from the Mac App Store.

cleverfiles duplicate file finder

If you’re interested in a more comprehensive solution, CleanMyMac X is a robust application that goes beyond just removing duplicates. It’s designed to clean, optimize, and maintain your Mac so that it runs smoothly and efficiently.

FAQ

To make more space on your Mac, start by deleting unnecessary files and cleaning up your system. Use built-in macOS features like Optimize Storage and Empty Trash Automatically. Consider upgrading your internal storage, using external storage solutions, or leveraging cloud services. Third-party tools like CleanMyMac X can also help in cleaning and optimizing your Mac.
Yes, you can buy more storage for some MacBook models by upgrading the internal SSD. However, for newer models with soldered SSDs, your best options are to use external storage devices or cloud storage services to expand your storage capacity.
To free up space on your Mac’s startup disk, clean up large and old files, empty the trash, and remove unnecessary system and app data. Using macOS’s built-in storage management tools can also help.
Most modern Macs, except for the Mac Pro, don’t come with expandable internal storage. However, you can still add more space by utilizing external storage devices, cloud storage solutions, and optimizing your existing storage through various macOS features and cleanup strategies.

Conclusion

Expanding the storage capacity of your Mac can breathe new life into your device. Whether it’s through internal upgrades, external devices, cloud services, or simply optimizing what you already have, the options are plentiful. Just remember to choose the method that best suits your needs and technical comfort level.

David Morelo is a tech-focused content writer with the ability to turn complex topics into easily digestible pieces of information. When he’s not writing for onMac, he spends his time creating content for SMBs and enterprises across the IT sector, focusing primarily on data backup and disaster recovery, cybersecurity, cloud computing, and the Internet of Things.
avatar approver Andrey Vasilyev Approver
Andrey Vasilyev is an Editorial Advisor at onMac. Andrey is a software expert with extensive experience in data recovery, computer forensics, and litigation. Andrey has over 12 years of experience in software development, database administration, and hardware repair.
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