How to delete purgeable space on Mac

4 min read

Wondering how to clear purgeable space on your Mac? These days storage space is a premium, and as we say, every little bit helps. Knowing how to manage your storage is essential.

In this article, we'll look at what purgeable space on a Mac actually is and a few different ways you can remove it. Let's get started. 

What is purgeable space?

Purgeable space on a Mac is a particular type of storage that first appeared on macOS systems with the Sierra update. 

When you activate the Optimized Storage feature in macOS, you'll notice this new category appears within your storage bar management. 

Apple likes to keep us guessing; unlike iOS files or Applications, we can't see what files are hiding there, but we do know, it's essentially all the items that your Mac can clear without causing any operational issues like:

  • Caches

  • Ancient user files

  • Temporary files

  • iCloud synced files

Purgeable space is automatically cleared when your macOS needs the storage capacity. 

To check how much purgeable space is on your Mac, open Disk Utility. Here, choose your disk in the sidebar. You’ll see the amount of space available and purgeable. 

Mac disk utility

How to remove purgeable files on Mac manually

Not having control over what items you can delete is annoying for some people, especially if you're running low on space. Thankfully, that's what we're here for. 

We'll take a look at a few easy but different ways to clear purgeable space on a Mac. 

1. Delete purgeable space with Terminal 

If you're not a big fan of Terminal, you can skip straight to the next step. 

Because purgeable space automatically clears when your operating system needs space, you can force your Mac to delete purgeable storage by installing or downloading a large file that surpasses the amount of actual free space left on your disk.

So, if you create a large file, your Mac will reallocate all purgeable space to support the installation. Afterward, you can delete the file, and your space will return to a truly free state instead of purgeable space.

That's precisely what we'll do using the Terminal, so let's get started.

Mac Terminal

  • Launch Terminal with a spotlight search, Command-space, type Terminal to open the application.

  • Type the below command and press enter.

mkdir ~/largefiles

  • Now, type the following command, pressing enter.

dd if=/dev/random of=~/largefiles/largefile bs=15m 

  • After five minutes, press Control-C in the Terminal window to stop the command.

  • Type the following command and press Enter.

cp ~/largefiles/largefile ~/largefiles/largefile2

  • Once complete, enter the same command, this time changing the last number to "3", then when complete, change the last number again to "4," and so on until you see the message "disk is critically low."

  • Now type in the below command and press Enter:

rm -rf ~/largefiles/

  • Go to your Trash and empty the contents. 

That's it! Check your storage to see the changes to purgeable space. 

I know Terminal isn't for everyone; lots of people don't feel comfortable running commands, that's why we've put together another two tips. Keep reading.

2. Clear purgeable space the easy way

In my view, the simplest and easiest way to clear purgeable space on a Mac is with CleanMyMac X. 

Its Maintenance module quickly identifies all of your purgeable files hogging valuable space, and allows you to remove them with a few clicks of your mouse. I also like to work with this app because Apple notarized it, so you know it's safe to install and use. 

Here's how to get started. 

Free up purgeable space on Mac with CMMX

  1. Launch the application — download the free version.

  2. Select Maintenance from the sidebar and press View All Tasks.

  3. Select Free Up Purgeable Space and press Run.

That's it! How simple is that? While you've got the app open, you might as well take advantage of its System Junk module, which will help you free up even more space; here's how:

CleanMyMac X - System junk scan complete

  1. Launch the app and select System Junk from the sidebar.

  2. Press Scan; once complete, press Clean.

Congratulations! You've just optimized your Mac and claimed back valuable space. 

Don't forget regular Mac maintenance is one of the best ways to keep your Mac running smoothly and, in turn, optimized. 

I always keep on top of my browser extensions and plugins, unused apps, downloaded files, and old Wi-Fi connections. These items can quickly build up over time and take up space. 

3. Remove purgeable files with Optimize Storage function

We've got one last tip for you, just in case you're not a fan of using third-party apps like CleanMyMac X, you can also clear purgeable space on a Mac with the Optimize Storage feature, here's how:

Optimize storage function

  1. Launch Apple’s Storage Optimization function by pressing Apple Menu > About This Mac > Storage > Manage.

  2. Select Recommendations from the left sidebar. 

  3. Here you'll see multiple options that can help manage your Mac's storage space.

  4. Enable the items you'd like to test.

Check back on the storage overview to see if these have helped reduce your purgeable storage. 

So that's it, we've reached the end of the article. As well as looking at three different ways of removing purgeable space on a Mac, hopefully, now you have a good understanding of what purgeable space means. 

Don't forget to keep up that regular Mac maintenance to keep your Mac optimized at all times. Check back soon for more great Mac tips and tricks. 

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