Mac 'System Data' Storage Large? Here's How to Clear It

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Sarahi Johns
Mar 1, 20224 min read

Summary: In this article, we'll discuss what System Data is and then give you a few ways to clear up some of the space on your Mac that it is using.

In macOS Monterey, you may notice a storage section labelled System Data. This storage part can range from 10GB to more than 100GB. Want to know what it is and how to clean it up? This guide will give you all the answers you are looking for.

Let's get started.

Mac 'System Data' Storage Large? Here's How to Clear It

How to Check System Data Storage on Mac

Before understanding what System Data storage is, let's check to see how much space it is using on your Mac.

  1. Click the Apple menu > About This Mac > Storage.
  2. In a few seconds, you will see the storage bar categorized as System Data, macOS, Apps, Documents, etc.
Check System Data Storage on Mac

In this case, the System Data is 92.4GB and is taking up the largest part of my storage space.

So what exactly is it?

What is System Data Storage on a Mac?

System Data contains files that do not fall into categories such as Documents, Apps, iCloud Drive, Photos, Other Users, etc.. The primary files it includes are:

  • Log files and caches.
  • Temporary files.
  • VM files.
  • Fonts and plug-ins.
  • App support files.
  • Files and data used by the system.
  • Runtime system resources.

The size of System Data varies depending on the state of your Mac. Since some of the files mentioned above are not necessary, you can delete them to lessen their impact on your storage.

How to Clear System Data Storage on Mac

Although, we don't have full control over the System Data storage, there are a few things we can do to reduce its size. Read on!

Optimize Mac Storage

macOS Sierra and later come with a feature to optimize Mac storage. Just click the Manage button above the storage bar.

You’ll see 4 methods. Simply follow the recommendations to optimize your storage.

Optimize Mac Storage

Clear Caches on Mac

The system and applications you run on your Mac will create cache files in the Library Folder. To reclaim more space for your Mac, you can delete unneeded cache files manually.

  1. Click the Go menu in Finder and select Go to Folder.
  2. Paste the following file paths into the search box and click the Return key.
  • ~/Library/Caches/
  • /Library/Caches/
  • /System/Library/Caches/
  1. Move unwanted files in these cache folders to the Trash.
  2. Empty your Trash.
Manually Clear Caches on Mac

Alternatively, you can use BuhoCleaner to clear out all those cache files. With BuhoCleaner, it takes just a couple of clicks to get all that done. Click the button below to give it a try.

How to use BuhoCleaner to delete cache files on Mac:

  1. Download, install, and launch BuhoCleaner on your Mac.
  2. Click the Scan button, and it will automatically scan the junk files on your Mac.
  3. Once the scan is complete, click the View Details button, check the cache files you want to delete, and click the Remove button.
Quickly Clear Cache on Mac with BuhoCleaner

Related Article: How to Clear Cache on Mac

Delete Log Files on Mac

Log files are a part of the System Data. You can delete them manually or automatically.

How to clear log files on Mac manually:

  1. Click the Go menu in Finder and choose Go to Folder.
  2. Paste ~/Library/Logs/ into the blank box and press the Return key.
  3. Find the log files you want to delete, select them, and press Command + Backspace keys.
  4. Continue to remove the log files in /Library/Logs/.
Manually Delete Log Files on Mac

How to clear log files on Mac automatically:

  1. Download and install BuhoCleaner on your Mac.
  2. Launch it and click the Scan button.
  3. Click the View Details button on the results page.
  4. Select the log files to delete and click the Remove button.
Quickly Clear Logs on Mac with BuhoClenaer

Delete Time Machine Local Snapshots

Did you know that your Mac keeps a local copy of your Time Machine backups in case your external drive becomes unavailable? Your Mac will keep them until space is needed. Why wait until the storage is running out before cleaning them up? You can clean them manually.

Here are the steps:

  1. Open Terminal via Spotlight or Launchpad.

  2. Type in: tmutil listlocalsnapshotdates, press the Return key on your keyboard, and you'll find a list of backups sorted by date.

    Find Time Machine Backups on Mac

  3. To delete a backup, type this command into the Terminal: tmutil deletelocalsnapshots "xxxxxxx", enter the password for the user account if asked, and press Return. (Note: "xxxxxxx" stands for the date of the backup you want to remove.)

    e.g. tmutil deletelocalsnapshots 2021-07-19-095939

Repeat step 3 if you want to delete any or all snapshots.

Note
Don't delete your Time Machine local snapshots if you think you might need them one day.

Remove Old iOS Backups

iOS backups are also part of "System Data". They can take up a lot of Mac space. If you have multiple iOS backups on your Mac, it is recommended that you delete those old backups to free up disk space.

  1. Connect your iPhone to your Mac.
  2. Open Finder and click your iPhone in the sidebar.
  3. Click the Manage Backups button in the right column.
  4. Select the backups you do not need and delete them.
Manage iOS Backups on Mac

If you are inconvenient to link your iPhone to your computer, you can also manually search and delete iOS backups.

Here are the steps:

  1. Press Shift + Command + G on desktop to open the Go to Folder window.
  2. Paste ~/Library/Application Support/MobileSync/Backup/ into the search box and press Return.
  3. Find the backups you don't want and drag it to the Trash.
Find and Delete iOS Backups on Mac

Clear Download Folder

The Downloads folder is where your Mac stores downloaded files. If you've been using your Mac for a while, the Downloads folder can get pretty large and pile up on your System Data. It’s a good idea to regularly clear the folder out.

  1. Open Finder and click Download in the sidebar.
  2. Sort your files by size and move those you don't need to the Trash.
Clear Download Folder on Mac

Restart Your Mac

Simply restarting your Mac can fix some of the problems you may have been experiencing. If it’s been a while since you’ve done so, reboot it by clicking the Apple menu and selecting Restart.

Conclusion

Now you know what System Data storage on Mac is and some of the different approaches to clearing it. Hopefully, you have found a method that works easily and efficiently for you.

By the way, BuhoCleaner is also a handy disk space analyzer that can help you easily find which files and folders are using the most space. Don't forget to check it out!

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