If you’ve ever tried poking around in your Mac for ways to clear up storage, you may have run across a label entitled “other”. It’s a bit confusing, and somewhat irritating that we don’t know exactly what it is - but the more important thing is why is it taking so much space on our computers?
To be fair, the other tag is a result of the limitation that all computers have with classifying the kind of files that we have on our computers. While we may recognize what they are, the Mac OS may have difficulty doing so.
Here are some examples of “Other” files that it can fail to categorise:
- Documents like PDF, .psd, .doc, etc.
- Mac OS X system and temporary files.
- Cache files like user cache, browser cache, and system cache.
- Disk images and archives like .zip and .dmg.
- App plugins and extensions.
- Everything else that doesn’t fit into the main OS X categories.
- Other file formats such as OGG, VBB (if the proper codecs aren’t in place).
- Corrupted files.
The key thing to understand is the Other files are not always files that are useless, which makes deleting them something to be careful about. Freeing up space on your Mac means you’ll need to remove the useless files from the ones that aren’t.
Two ways to remove “Other” storage
There are two methods for clearing out your “Other” storage folder.
Method one: Open the Finder, press ⌘Cmd + ⇧Shift + G, and then visit each folder specified below.
These are often files that you download from the internet, leftover bits from when you install new programs, damaged files and incomplete downloads. Select the files you need to remove from there.
Method two: Сlick ⌘Cmd + F on the desktop - the search should be carried out in “This Mac”. Choose the folder “Other”.
This allows you to sort and select files based on their total file size by selecting the “File Size” search attribute. This is a smarter way of cleaning your Other Storage by ensuring you remove the biggest files that take up the most space.
You can also use other applications such as CleanMyMac, OnyX and DaisyDisk to free up space. These programs automate the process and have restrictions in place so you don’t run into the risk of deleting necessary files.
One important thing to note is that you can never completely delete your “Other” storage. Some of the space taken up by necessary files gets sorted into this storage, and doing a blank wipe can cause errors to your system. So before poking around the other storage, it may be a good idea to go back to the basics - empty your trash, clear photos and optimise your system.