Things I learned clearing disk space


Ushering one of computing's most mundane tasks

This morning my Macbook Air produced the dreaded “your startup disk is almost full” dialog box. I proceeded to delete applications I no longer used, clear the ~/Downloads folder, and empty the trash. To my surprise, though, I hardly cleared a gigabyte!

Disk scanners always struck me as scammy, but I finally gave in to OmniDiskSweeper, a free utility that presents the filesystem as an exploratory tree of folders of descending size.


OmniDiskSweeper presents folder and file sizes.

The exercise revealed stale folders I had completely overlooked:

  1. ~/Library/ This is a hidden folder containing all sorts of system and application support files. I deleted ~/Library/Android/ (1.86 GB) and ~/Library/Application Support/Namecoin (1.98 GB) because I no longer use the Android SDK and Namecoin client.
  2. ~/Virtualbox VMs/ Before running OmniDiskSweeper, I had already purged this folder of the Virtualbox images I no longer used, leaving only the boot2docker VM. Little did I realize that ~/Virtualbox VMs/boot2docker-vm/ took up 15.76 GB! It’s been a while since I used Docker for any projects, so I deleted that folder too.
  3. ~/.* I didn’t realize how many utilities store data within hidden folders in the home directory. Here, I gained space by deleting ~/.meteor (1.1 GB) and ~/.android (4.0 GB).

All files tallied, I freed a whopping 24.7 GB. The experience revealed folders containing data I no longer needed for applications I no longer used. Dragging “Foo.app” to the Trash is rarely a comprehensive uninstallation.


Productivity ⋅ January 2016