What is Other in Mac storage and how to clean Other?

Storage space on your Mac is precious, especially if you have a 128GB, or even a 256GB SSD. Your Mac can start to slow down and not perform as well when your storage is almost full, so it's important to know what's using up space on your disk and clear out redundant files that build up over time.

Another reason you might need to free up space on your Mac is if you are attempting to install a new macOS update. Big Sur was notorious for its hefty storage requirements with some users faced with the challenge of freeing up almost 50GB of space to install it.

Faced with the need to make space on your Mac you will no doubt be considering what you can delete. You might be assuming the worst and preparing to remove some of your photos, videos, music, and documents – but then you stumble upon an allocation of something called Other storage that is taking up numerous gigabytes on your drive and wonder whether you can free up space by deleting Other.

In this article we will answer the questions: what is Other in Mac storage, can you delete Other storage, and should you delete Other? And, most crucially we'll explain how you can delete other storage on Mac?

What is Other in Mac storage?

When confronted with the need to free up storage on your Mac we're guessing that your first port of call was About This Mac, where there is a handy tool to help you manage your storage - and it's here that we're assuming you saw the gigantic Other categories.

If you weren't already aware of the About This Mac view, you can use the tools accessed via About This Mac > Storage to see and manage what takes up all the types of storage on your Mac.

Get to this basic overview of what's taking up space on your Mac by following these steps:

  1. Click on the Apple Logo in the top left.
  2. Go to About This Mac.
  3. Choose Storage. Wait while it calculates.
  4. Eventually, you will see a bar chart showing what types of files are taking up space on your Mac, similar to the image below. In our case, yellow is Photos, red is Apps, light blue is Messages, purple is Music, dark blue for Mail, light blue for iCloud Drive, and grey for System.
  5. Finder Search Large Flies
  6. Click Manage and you will see a screen like the one below. Here you can make various tweaks to your system, choosing to store files in iCloud, for example, or reviewing files to reduce clutter.
  7. Finder Search Large Flies
  8. However, you can't access Other here at all - notice how it's greyed out in the left-hand column.

With Other such a large consumer of storage, you are most likely wondering what exactly Other is.

While most of the main categories for file types are straightforward, the Other variety can be quite a mystery. If it isn't music, documents, videos, photos, or apps, what could it be?

The label 'Other' is applied by the system to files that don't fit squarely into those types, such as installer packages, cache files, old backups, app extensions, temporary files, and the like. Most are those that you don't need anymore, but they've got to be stored somewhere, so they get dumped in the Other category.

How to check what's taking up 'Other' storage on Mac?

So now we know what types of files end up in Other, but how can we see what's in Other on our Macs?

To see what's using up all that Other space you'll want to head to the Library folder, as that's usually where the majority of Other content is stored.

Depending on how your system is set up, you might not be able to see the Library folder in your normal Finder window, so the easiest way to jump directly to it is to follow these steps:

  1. Open Finder.
  2. Click on the Go option in the menu bar.
  3. Select Go to Folder.
  4. Then type in ~/library and press enter.
  5. Finder Search Large Flies

You'll now be presented with a long list of folders, most of which will contain files deemed to be Other. Some good ones to start with are Caches and Application Support, but you'll need to dig around to see which sub-folders within them are safe to remove.

Before you start to delete anything please read on though - because deleting some of these files might affect the way your Mac works!

Can I delete Other files?

Yes, but you'll need to be careful. Obvious things like .dmg files leftover from installations are fine, but when you start getting into cache files and other more obtuse types you can quickly run into problems.

For example, deleting a cache from an old app that you no longer have won't cause any issues. But should you delete one from an app you do use, then it will immediately forget all of your preferences and other details?

The rule of thumb is if you're not sure what something is or what it does, leave it alone. Of course, as always, we strongly recommend that you run a complete backup of your system before you start removing anything, just to avoid disaster.

How to delete Other files

When you're in the Library folder Other files are deleted the same way as any normal file. Again, we warn you to be careful!

You could delete files by right-clicking on them and choosing Remove to Bin.

You'll then need to empty the Bin/Trash afterward or the file will still be on your Mac.

However, deleting certain files this way can leave some remnants on your Mac, so our preferred method for dealing with this kind of process though is to use one of the dedicated Mac cleaning software packages that help you avoid any costly mistakes.

BuhoCleaner is a good choice.

  1. Download and launch BuhoCleaner.
  2. Choose Flash Clean from the menu.
  3. Click Scan.
  4. Click Remove.
  5. Finder Search Large Flies

What’s more, with BuhoCleaner you can also remove junk files, find duplicates, uninstall useless apps, and make sure your disk space doesn’t get full. It's super easy to bring your Mac back in a good shape.