Today, I left my Mac alone for a few hours. When I come back, I am confronted with messages telling me that I don’t have enough disk space left.
A quick check of my available disk space using Finder reveals that I only have 200mb of free space left on my 115GB SDD.
Wait, WHAT?! I left my computer and it had 50 GB free. How can 49.5GB just magically appear on my hard drive?!
I couldn’t even DOWNLOAD that much during the time I was gone.
So I decided to find out what was taking up so much space using a wonderful free application called GrandPerspective (review here, what a wonderful app if I may say so myself) and decided to try and find out what was taking up so much space. Here’s what the result looked like:
WHOW THERE! What is all that green that’s taking up half of my hard drive?
A quick hover reveals that these are “swap” files that live in a hidden folder that’s reserved for system use.
Swap files are spaces where application memory/files is held. It’s like a less random access version of RAM. And somehow, my computer had 50GB of it.
Here’s the fix:
- Shut down your computer. If necessary, just hold down the power button and force shut it down.
- Hold down the shift key.
- Press the power button while still holding the shift key.
- When the apple logo appears on screen, lift your finger from the shift key.
- A loading bar will now appear. Wait a while and it will eventually show the login screen. It will let you know that you are booted into safe mode.
- Don’t log in!
- press the Back button on the login window, then press Shut Down.
- Press the power button without pressing any keys.
- Wait for the computer to boot.
- Enjoy your spacious computer!
There ya go! It’s a simple fix for a near catastrophic problem.
To prevent this from happening, restart your computer every couple of days. That was probably my problem, as I haven’t restarted in about a week. Oops!
When you restart, you don’t need to do the safe boot, as it will still clear a large amount of the swap files and cache. This is more proof that it’s a good idea to restart now and then, preferrably daily!
A reboot a day keeps the swap files away!