What Is System Data Storage on Mac and How to Clear It

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Sarahi Johns

4 min read

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? Read on this guide, and you will find all the answers you want.

Let's get started.

What Is System Data Storage on Mac and How to Clear It

What is System Data Storage on Mac

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

  1. Click the Apple menu > About This Mac > Storage.
  2. Seconds later, you will see the storage bar categorized as System Data, macOS, Apps, Documents, etc.

Check System Data Storage on Mac In my case, the System Data is 92.4GB and takes up the largest part of my storage space.

So what is it? Why is it so large?

Unfortunately, there is no official article explaining what exactly it is. According to researches, some of the files it may contain are:

  • App leftovers
  • Temporary files
  • Log files and cache files
  • App extensions and plugins.
  • Old Time Machine and iOS backups.

If you don't clear these files often, they can pile up and take up more and more of your valuable space.

Wondering how you can do to make it smaller? Move on to the next step.

How to Clear System Data Storage on Mac

Although we can't get rid of System Data completely, we can reduce it to some extent. Here are some ways you can try.

Optimize Mac Storage

macOS Sierra and later come with a feature to optimize Mac storage. You can quickly find the feature by clicking the Manage button above the storage bar.

In the storage management window, you will see 4 recommendations. All you need to do is follow the recommendations to optimize your storage.

Optimize Mac Storage

Clear Cache 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 all your cache files on Mac. It only takes you a couple of clicks. Click the button below to have a try now.

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

Related Article: How to Clear Caches on a Mac

Delete Log Files on Mac

Log files are part of the System Data. You can delete them manually and 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

Delete Time Machine Local Snapshots

Do 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.

Remove Old iOS Backups

Old iOS backups are useless to you. Deleting them can help you reclaim some valuable space.

  1. Launch Finder.
  2. Click your iPhone in the sidebar.
  3. Click the Manage Backups button in the right column
  4. Select the backup you no longer need, click the Delete Backup button and confirm your action.

Clear Download Folder

The Downloads folder is where you store the files you download. If you've been using your Mac for a while, your Downloads folder can get pretty big. And the files in it can pile up your System Data. Therefore, it's a good idea to clear the Downloads folder often.

  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

Restarting can fix many problems with your Mac. If you haven't restarted your Mac in a long time, you can reboot it by clicking the Apple menu and selecting Restart.


Now you know what System Data storage on Mac is and how to clear it when it is large. Hopefully, you have reduce it to the perfect size you want.

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 give it a try.


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