When it comes to managing storage space on your Mac, understanding what exactly is taking up your disk space is the first step toward a more efficient and responsive system. However, one mysterious category that often confuses users is “System Data.” You will be surprised that this category covers ten gigabytes. Now the question arises: what is this “system data”? More importantly, how can you reclaim your former precious storage space and revitalize your Mac’s performance? Keep reading to learn what system data on Mac is and safe methods to manage, delete, or erase system data on your Mac.
What is system data in Mac storage
The system data on your Mac contains essential files necessary for macOS to function smoothly on your Mac PC or MacBook. These system data files include system logs, caches, temporary files, and various essential components that macOS relies on for daily operations. Although these files are crucial to your Mac, they can accumulate over time and take up a significant portion of your Mac’s storage space, leading to lower system performance.
Generally, macOS manages these system data automatically and you do not need to manually access or delete these files because even attempting to clear the system data without proper knowledge can lead to system instability and other critical issues.
How to view system data on your Mac
The macOS on your Mac PC or MacBook doesn’t provide you with a direct and detailed overview of system data for you to explore. macOS intentionally hides and manages the system data files to maintain system stability and security. However, with macOS you can get a general overview of your storage usage, including system storage in the Settings app. Here’s how to get a general overview of the system data on your Mac:
- Click on the Apple menu and select System Settings. You can also open the System Settings by clicking the Settings app icon in your dock.
- Search and click here on the General settings tab on the left.
- Now find and click on the Storage tab right.
Here you can see a visual overview of how your Mac’s storage is being used, including but not limited to applications, documents, systems, and more. While you won’t get a detailed view of your Mac’s system data, you can get a general idea of how much space your Mac’s system files are taking up in your Mac’s storage.
Delete or clear system data on Mac
While the prospect of reclaiming storage space may be appealing, tampering with system data is a high-stakes gamble. Deleting essential files without understanding their role can upset the delicate balance of your system, potentially leading to system crashes, application errors and even data loss. macOS is fine-tuned to automatically manage these files so your Mac functions optimally.
If you’re concerned about your Mac’s storage space, it’s best to focus on managing other types of data, such as applications, documents, and media files, or use built-in macOS tools to optimize your storage. This approach keeps your Mac running smoothly without compromising the integrity of its system data.
Now that you know what system data is on your Mac and what effect it will have on your Mac if you handle it moderately, here’s what you can do to manage your Mac’s system data and free up some space:
Use Disk Utility
Disk Utility is a powerful tool built into your Mac that helps you manage your drive and its files. This Mac storage management tool also allows you to view and manage external drives, which is useful. Now you can walk FIRST AID, a disk utility, to identify and fix any problems on your drive, which may include deleting unnecessary system data on your Mac. Here’s how:
- press the Command + Spacebar keys on your Mac’s keyboard to access it Spotlight.
- Type now Disk Utility and press Enter.
- Click here on the First aid buttonand then click Run.
Delete old iOS backups
The older backups of your iPhone or iPad can take up a significant amount of storage space on your Mac, especially if you have multiple devices or large backups. So, deleting those older and unnecessary iOS backups can definitely have a positive effect on your system data storage as the process frees up space on your Mac’s hard drive or SSD. This is how you do it:
- Open the Finder app on your Mac and click on your iPhone in the left menu panel.
- Here, find and click the Manage Backups tab and select the backups you no longer need.
- Now click on the Delete Backup button to delete the selected backups from your Mac.
Delete unwanted data from the library folder
The Library folder on your Mac contains essential files and settings for applications and the operating system. So you need to be careful when changing or deleting files from the Library folder, as deleting the wrong files can cause applications to malfunction or make your system unstable. However, if you are sure which files you want to delete and understand the possible consequences, follow these steps:
- Open one Finder app on your Mac.
- Click on the Go button in the top menu bar and then click the Go to the Folder tab in the drop-down menu.
- Enter now ~/Library and press Enter in the dialog box that appears.
This will take you directly to your user library folder. Be careful not to confuse this with the main Library folder located at the top level of your Mac’s hard drive, which is essential for macOS.
- Within the Library foldernavigate to the specific subfolder where you want to delete files.
- Find the files you want to delete and Simply drag them to the Trash. You can also right-click and select ‘Move to Trash’.
- After moving the files to the Trash, right-click on the Trash icon in your Dock and select ‘Empty trash.” Confirm the action in the dialog box that appears.
iCloud offers an “Optimize Mac Storage” feature that automatically manages your storage space. When enabled, full-resolution photos and videos are stored in iCloud and only smaller, optimized versions are kept on your Mac. Likewise, it does the same for documents and files, storing them in iCloud and downloading them on demand whenever you need them. This approach saves local storage space and ensures your files are accessible when needed.
Regular software updates
Keeping your macOS and applications up to date is crucial. Developers continuously optimize their software, including improved system resource management. When you update your software, you’ll benefit from these improvements, leading to more efficient use of your Mac’s storage.
Use a reputable third-party cleaning program
Please note that not all types of files are deleted permanently on Mac. That means even after you delete an app or obscure files, your Mac storage will continue to have some leftovers. But don’t worry, this is where the best Mac cleaning software packages come into play.
While there is no shortage of Mac storage cleaners on the market, not all of them do what they advertise. However, during my testing I discovered CleanMyMacthe best third party macOS storage cleaner.
CleanMyMac is a popular third-party application designed to identify and remove unnecessary files on your Mac. It scans your system for caches, logs, language files and other data that can be safely deleted to free up space. The app offers an easy-to-use interface that lets you preview files before deleting them, ensuring you don’t accidentally delete anything important.
At the time of writing this is the case $35.67 for an annual subscription for one Mac. It is also available as one-time purchase for $91.79 if you do not want to take out a subscription. Moreover, there is one free version available for download if you want to try it out before you buy it.
Along with CleanMyMac X, other macOS storage cleaning tools such as MyCleaner Pro, Daisy diskAnd Parallels toolbox are among the best macOS storage cleaning software out there.
By following these tips and being mindful of your storage usage, you can keep your Mac running smoothly and efficiently. Regular maintenance and occasional cleaning are essential for a well-organized and well-performing system. Don’t forget to back up your important data before significantly changing your storage settings. Keep your Mac optimized and enjoy a faster and more responsive computing experience.