How to clear System Data on Mac
Just updated to macOS Monterey or a newer macOS version and wondering how to clear storage on your Mac?
The new Monterey operating system delivered some welcomed new features and updates and some subtle changes to the Mac storage manager, which left many users feeling confused.
If your Mac is short on space, and you've been trying to clean up your Mac storage, you might have noticed that the previous "Other Storage" tab has now been replaced with the new "System Data" storage tab.
In this article, we'll take a look at what the new "System Data" storage tab means and how you can successfully manage your Mac storage on Monterey and newer macOS versions. Let's get started.
What is System Data on macOS?
Here's how to check System Data storage on Mac:
- For macOS Monterey, select the Apple menu > About This Mac > Storage.
- For macOS Ventura, go to Apple menu > About This Mac > More Info > Storage Settings.
Once loaded, you'll get a nice visual overview of how much free space is available on your Mac, as well as a breakdown of usage.
As we briefly mentioned before, since macOS Monterey, the once-named "Other Storage" tab has been replaced with "System Data."
System Data contains various system application files like:
Browser plugins and extensions
Time Machine local snapshots
If you're wondering how to free up storage on Mac and clean this System Data, we've got 10 easy-to-follow top tips to get you started. But first, how do you know when it's time to clean up your Mac storage?
Why you may need to clear up your MacBook storage
As software and apps get bigger, they generate and store more files on our Macs. If your Mac is becoming slow or sluggish, or you're struggling to download new apps or install new updates, it's time to clean up your Mac storage.
10 ways to free up System Data storage on Mac
1. Use Mac storage manager
Many users overlook the built-in storage manager tool from Apple. Although it won't, of course, solve all of your storage problems, it's worth taking the time to enable its recommendations; every little helps when it comes to storage on a Mac.
Here's how to find it on macOS Monterey:
Select the Apple Menu > About This Mac > Storage > Manage.
Select Recommendations from the left sidebar, and follow the on-screen instructions to enable the four storage optimization tips.
For macOS Ventura, follow these steps:
- Once again, go to System Settings > General > Storage.
- Check Recommendations under the colored graph.
You should see such options as Store in iCloud, Optimize, Storage, and Empty Trash Automatically, as shown in the screenshot above. This is a good starting place when it comes to keeping your Mac's storage optimized.
2. Remove your system junk
Cleaning up your system junk, like caches, broken files, temporary files, and user log files, has to be in second place on the list for managing your Mac storage. You can save GBs of storage space by taking the time to clear these unnecessary items.
Here's how to clean your system junk manually:
Open a new Finder window and select the Go menu from the top.
Now select Go To Folder and type the following:
These folders contain lots of temporary system junk; take some time to go through these files and delete what you don't need. Don't forget to empty your Trash after.
If you're not comfortable rummaging around in your Library files, there is an easier and safer way with CleanMyMac X.
This Mac cleaning software has a dedicated System Junk module, which clears unnecessary system junk in just a few clicks. This app is notarized by Apple, so you can rest assured it's trusted and safe to use.
How to clear your system junk the easy way:
Open the application — download the free version here.
Select System Junk from the sidebar, then click Scan.
Once complete, click Clean. Done!
3. Remove Time Machine backups
Another simple way to clean up Mac storage is to remove local Time Machine backups. Unbeknown to many, your macOS keeps a local copy of your backups, just in case your external drive isn't available when restoring files. You can reduce your System Data storage by removing these backups; here's how:
Open Terminal via a Spotlight search by pressing Command-Space.
Type in Terminal to open the application.
Enter the following command, then press Return.
Your local Time Machine backups are listed here. Now type the following command, replacing the x's with the name (time and date stamp) of your backups listed
tmutil deletelocalsnapshots xxxxxxx
Press Return and repeat as many times as needed.
4. Remove browser extensions
Another easy way to free up storage on your Mac is to remove any unneeded browser extensions. App extensions won't take up a large amount of space, but they can occupy storage capacity under the System Data tab.
How to remove Chrome extensions:
Open Chrome, and from the main Chrome menu, click Settings.
Select Extensions from the left sidebar.
Select Remove from any that you no longer need.
How to remove Safari plugins:
Open Safari, select the main Safari menu bar, and click Settings.
Select Extensions from the top.
Select an extension you no longer need and click Uninstall.
5. Move your photo library
Do you have millions of photos stored on your Mac? A really quick way to free up space is by moving all your holiday snaps over to a cloud storage account or, of course, an external hard drive.
Photos and videos can consume considerable amounts of space, so if you have a spare external hard drive, transfer them over to give your Mac some extra breathing space.
If you're more into cloud storage options, there are some great options out there, like iCloud, DropBox, and Google Drive.
6. Delete old iOS backups
If you use the Finder to back up your iPhone and other iOS devices, you may have several iOS backups. It is generally a good practice to get rid of unnecessary backups. To do it, follow these steps:
- Once again, open the Finder and click Go > Go to Folder.
- Type the following and press Return: ~/Library/Application Support/MobileSync/Backup
- In the window that opens, you can remove all but the last backup.
Alternatively, you can go to Storage settings and look at the category named iOS Files. Just click i next to it and see what can be removed safely.
7. Remove large or duplicate files
Duplicate files and those large and forgotten ones can seriously eat away at your Mac storage. Check the following locations and send items straight to the Trash.
Check your Downloads folder.
Sort all files by name: that way, you can easily spot duplicates!
Repeat the same steps for Desktop and Documents folders.
If you don't have the time to search through your Mac, there is a much easier way — using the app we mentioned earlier, CleanMyMac X.
It actually has a module called Large & Old Files, which runs a search of your Mac, locating all files and folders and categorizing them by type, size, and last accessed date. The "access date" filter is amazing; anything we find last opened a year ago goes straight into the Trash.
Here's how to remove old files with CleanMyMac X:
Open CleanMyMac X.
Select Large & Old Files from the sidebar.
Click Scan. Now sort through your files, select items for removal, and click Remove.
That was so easy!
8. Remove unwanted applications
It might sound obvious, but it's another good tip for managing your Mac storage. Make sure you remove any apps that you're no longer using. Here's how:
Open a new Finder window.
Select Applications from the sidebar.
Have a look through your apps; if you locate one you want to remove, drag it to your Trash.
Don't forget to empty the Trash afterward.
9. Remove application logs and support files
So you've just deleted some unwanted apps; now, we all know that apps generate lots of temporary support logs and files, but what's surprising is they don't always disappear when you delete an app. These unnecessary files get left behind, taking up precious storage space.
Thankfully it's pretty easy to remove them. Here's how:
Open a Finder window.
Select Go from the top menu bar, then Go To Folder.
Type in the following
Look for any folders with the same name as the apps you've removed and send them to the Trash.
Repeat this process this time, searching in the following locations:
That should have freed up some extra storage.
10. Remove extra languages
Did you know that your Mac supports multiple languages? Over 25! And many of the apps you use will also come with language localization options.
Curious which ones you've got installed? Go to System Settings > General > Language & Region. Here you can see which languages you're using.
The problem with all of these wonderful language options is that they hog storage capacity; here's how to remove them:
Open a new Finder window and select Applications.
Select an app and right-click and press Show Package Contents.
Open the Contents folder and Select Resources.
Now look for any files ending in .lproj and move them to your Trash.
The two letters at the beginning of the .lproj file will indicate the language; in the example here, you can see es. That is Spanish, we wish we could speak Spanish, but we can't, so we know we can safely remove that.
Well, that didn't take us long to get to the end of this article. Now you know just about everything there is to know when it comes to clearing storage on your Mac.
Hopefully, these handy and easy-to-implement tips will help you better manage the storage on your Mac. Until next time!