How to Free Up Disk Space on Mac and Windows

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If you've reached this help article, you may be running out of hard drive space on your computer's primary "main" hard drive, where your user account data is stored. iTunes stores iPhone backups in the user account data section, as do most third party apps, like our Decipher Tools software!

This article contains some tips I usually give to our customers to free up hard drive space on the primary hard drive.

Also, if you need more drive space for using Decipher TextMessage, you may instead find these instructions for storing your Decipher TextMessage data, including backups made in Decipher TextMessage, to an external drive helpful.

Free up Disk Space on Mac

To free up space on my own Mac, I like to start by deleting stuff from the Downloads folder.

  1. Open Finder
  2. From the Go menu, select Downloads.
  3. This folder contains files you've downloaded while web browsing. Delete items you no longer need, and then empty the trash.

That will usually get me some good mileage.

Also, you may find Apple's help article on checking and freeing up drive space on your Mac helpful!

Free up Disk Space on Windows

Microsoft Windows Disk Cleanup window with an arrow pointing to the Temporary Files section.

Use Microsoft's Disk Cleanup Tool

Run the Windows disk cleanup tool, to have it help you find temp files to delete:

  1. Type "disk cleanup" in the Windows search bar and select the "Disk Cleanup" app search result.

  2. Scroll through the various options to see what categories under "Files to delete" have a large amount of space to free up.

  3. You can click on any category to read a description of the category underneath.

  4. I recommend scrolling down and looking at "Temporary Files" to see if there is a bunch to delete there also.

  5. You can click "Clean up system files" in the bottom half of the window to have Windows analyze a few more system file categories and add those to the "Files to delete" list.

Use Microsoft's Cleanup Recommendations

Open the Windows "Cleanup recommendations", to have it help you find more items to delete:

  1. Type "cleanup recommendations" in the Windows search bar and select the "Disk cleanup recommendations" search result.

  2. Select "cleanup recommendations" in the Storage settings window once it is available.

  3. Expand each section to look for recommendations you would like to apply.

  4. Check the checkbox to select recommendations you would like to apply.

  5. Click Clean.

Clean up your Downloads

Check the Downloads folder for items you downloaded from web sites and delete ones you don't need anymore. Here's instructions from Microsoft about how to find your Downloads folder.

I like to start with these before moving on to "larger" more permanent things like uninstalling programs you don't use.