Something else in Mac storage: what it is and how to clean it

This article explains what "Other Storage" on your Mac is and how to clean it up.

Your Mac can conveniently sort files into many broad containers, including apps, photos, movies, audio, and backups. These categories are easy to understand. For example, the files contained in the Photos section are obviously photo files such as JPEGs and PNGs, while your iTunes library probably occupies the majority of the Audio category.

By including the "Other" category, Apple was able to streamline its storage reporting and make everything look nice and tidy. The problem is that the "Other" category, also known as "Other Volumes in Container" depending on your version of macOS, actually contains all file types that don't belong to any other category.

Some of the most common files included in the other sections include:

  • Documents : Word processing documents, proprietary image files (such as .psd), Adobe Acrobat files, and various other documents fall into the "Other" category. Some of these files, such as proprietary image files, can take up a lot of space.
  • System and temporary files : All macOS system files and temporary files created by the system or downloaded and used in system updates fall into this category. Starting with Catalina, most files are grouped into self-explanatory system categories.
  • Cache files : When an application such as a web browser or macOS itself creates a cache file, it is grouped into the "Other" category.
  • Archive : If you archive a file or a group of files (such as .zip and .dmg files), they fall into this category. Removing files from the archive will cause them to appear in the appropriate category.
  • Application plug-ins : If you download and install a plug-in or extension for an application (such as a browser plug-in), it will be grouped into this category instead of the Applications category.
  • Everything else doesn't fit neatly into the other five categories.

Now that you know the file types in your Mac's storage that fall under the "Other" category, cleaning up that space isn't as simple as flipping a switch. However, you can target individual file types and pay special attention to large and unwanted files to free up a lot of space.

Here's how to free up some space on your Mac by removing from the "Other" category:

  1. Close all open windows and return to the desktop.

  2. Press Command + F.

  3. Click This Mac if it's not already selected.

  4. Click on the first drop-down menu field and select Other .

  5. From the Search Properties window, select File Size and File Extension .

  6. Enter the document type, such as .pdf, .csv, .pages, etc. You can also search disk images and archives such as .dmg and .zip.

  7. Check the list of items.

  8. Delete any items you no longer need, or back up items you don't expect to need in the near future.

  9. You can also search for files larger than a specified size to identify candidate files for deletion.

    Press the + button on the right side of the window to add another search criteria, allowing you to search by file type and size at the same time.

  10. Continue this process for various file types until you have freed up a satisfactory amount of space.

Cached files can take up a large portion of the "Other" category, and when you search for old and unwanted files like you learned in the previous section, they won't show up. To clear cache files, you need to navigate to where they are stored and delete them.

During normal operation of macOS, cache files are created all the time. Once you delete cache files, you will immediately see new files start filling the once empty space.

  1. Open Finder .

  2. Navigate to Go > Go to Folder .

  3. Enter ~/Library/Caches and click Go .

  4. To prevent any possible issues, temporarily drag the Cache folder to your desktop before deleting anything. If you get stuck, just drag it back and delete one item at a time.

  5. Select all contents in the Caches folder and move them to the Trash .

  6. All items in the cache file will be moved to the Trash, and you can close the file.

Most of the space occupied by other categories is taken up by uncategorized files and cached files, which you have already learned how to clean. If you want to squeeze out more space, consider deleting any app extensions you no longer use.

You can free up more space by uninstalling old apps that you no longer use, but the app data is properly kept in the Apps category. However, extensions and plug-ins are small additions that are lumped into "Other" because they are not complete applications.

If you use Safari, you can review and delete any Safari plug-ins you no longer need to free up some space. Other apps that use extensions and plug-ins have a similar process that allows you to remove the add-on without deleting the base app. For example, Chrome users can navigate to More > More Tools > Extensions , click an extension, and then click Remove .