How to delete purgeable space on Mac

5 min read

Lacking free space on your Mac? Clear the purgeable space to get extra storage instantly! In this article, you’ll learn about what purgeable space is and ways to remove it. Let's get started.

What is purgeable space?

Purgeable space on Mac is responsible for managing and deleting not essential files and documents when more space is needed. This particular type of storage first appeared on the macOS system 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.

These are the types of files purgeable space targets on Mac:

  • Caches

  • Ancient user files

  • Temporary files

  • iCloud synced files (only if you enable the Optimize Mac Storage feature in System Settings > Apple ID > iCloud)

How to check purgeable space on Mac

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

Mac disk utility

Clear purgeable space the easy way

If you ask me, 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 and allows you to remove them in a few clicks. I also like to use this app because it's safe to install and use. Here's how it works:

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

Note: If you enabled Optimize Mac Storage, CleanMyMac X will remove iCloud synced files from your Mac if you run this task. If you want to keep these files, first, disable the Optimize Mac Storage feature and then use the Maintenance module to free up purgeable space on Mac.

Remember, regular Mac maintenance is one of the best ways to keep your Mac optimized and running smoothly. 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 and take up space over time. 

Remove purgeable files on Mac manually

1. Clear purgeable space on Mac with Terminal 

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, and 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. 

Tip: If you're deleting purgeable space to reclaim some storage, there is another quick way to do it — clear out the downloads. Check out this handy guide on how to delete all kinds of downloads on Mac.

2. 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 on Mac

  1. Go to System Settings > General > Storage.

  2. Read recommendations to help you manage your Mac's storage space. Enable those you'd like to test.

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

3. Clear your cache files

Restarting your Mac can help you delete all cache files and get rid of the purgeable space. But if you are unable to do that due to important tasks in progress, there is a way to delete cache files using Finder. 

  1. Open Finder, then click Go > Library.
  2. Click Caches and delete files you no longer need.
  3. Empty Trash.

Be careful not to delete essential macOS files! If you're not sure which files can or cannot be removed, use CleanMyMac X. It has the System Junk module that will help you safely eliminate cache files, language files, system log files, downloads, and user log files. Simply follow the instruction below.

System Junk Module CleanMyMac X

  1. Launch the app and select System Junk from the sidebar.
  2. Press Scan; once complete, press Clean.

Did you know? If you use third-party email apps on your Mac, they can generate a lot of cache files, so it is recommended to delete them from time to time. If you use Outlook, here's how to clear its cache on Mac.

4. Disable local snapshots in Time Machine

It's quite common that Time Machine local snapshots are the primary space-eaters of purgeable space on Macs. That's why deleting them is on our purgeable space cleanup list. Follow this manual:

  1. Go to System Settings > General > Time Machine.
  2. Uncheck the box next to Back Up Automatically.

So that's it, we've reached the end of the article. Hopefully, now you have a good understanding of what purgeable space means and how you can clear it out. 

Don't forget to run regular Mac maintenance to keep your Mac optimized at all times. More great Mac tips and tricks are coming your way, stay tuned! 

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