Asya Karapetyan
Content marketer, who specializes in Mac how-to guides
13/03/2021
12 minutes to read

If the disk space on your Mac starts running low, then it is time to clean up the hard drive. You can begin with removing unneeded duplicate files, hidden files and old unused large files, as usually, these files take up the most disk space. There are many great apps that can help you to find these files. There are also some manual steps to find the largest files and folders on a Mac, and also files that are hidden and duplicated. In this article, we will discuss two methods of finding the culprits that consume space on your hard drive.

Contents

  1. How to find large files on Mac
  2. How to find duplicate files on Mac
  3. How to find hidden files on Mac

How to find large files on Mac

1. Find the largest files on Mac manually

      1. Open any Finder window.
      2. From the Tools menu, select “Show items in a list”.finding large files in finder
      3. Press Cmd + F to open Finder’s search options
      4. Choose the next parameters: File Size, Greater than, then enter the size of files to search.search option in finder

2. Find the largest files on macOS Sierra and later

If you use macOS Sierra, you can find the biggest files faster.

  1. Go to Apple Menu → About This Mac → Storage.
  2. Click the Manage button.
  3. Select “Reduce Clutter”, and click “Review Files” in the Storage Optimizing window.

You will see a list of large files. Here you can choose file types (apps, docs, iTunes, etc.) in the Recommendations Section.

Recommendations Section - list of large documents on Mac

3. Find the largest files on Mac automatically

As we mentioned, there are many tools for macOS to find and view large files on your hard drive. One of them is Disk Space Analyzer by Nektony, which has a great visual solution for showing large files on Mac. It displays size information of files and folders in a colorful diagram. You can view size and other information for specific files and folders just by moving your mouse over the charts sections. In addition, you can remove unnecessary files with a special Trash button.

finding large files with Disk Space Analyzer

Using helpful apps to find large files can save a lot of time, and allows you to analyze the disk usage on your hard drive. Download a free trial of Disk Space Analyzer and easily find the bulkiest content on your Mac.


How to find duplicate files on Mac

Most Mac users have duplicate files, and often we have no idea how many duplicates there are on our computers. For example, if there is more than one user of a Mac, then the same music, images or documents could be stored twice, taking up valuable disk place. Let`s see how to find duplicates on Mac.

1. Find duplicate files on Mac manually

If you are trying to find duplicates on Mac manually, you may realize that it’s not that simple. You can sort files in the Finder by types (name, extension, size, etc.) and review all the files one after another. For that you would need to create a Smart Folder.

  1. Open Finder and use Command+Option+N shortcut.
  2. In a right top bottom click Plus button.
  3. New Smart Folder on Mac

  4. Here you can choose the kind of files and folders you want.
  5. Drop-down menu for choosing kind of files

    Drop-down menu for sorting files

  6. If you don’t see the criteria you need, click “Other…” and select the attribute for a search.
  7. Choosing attribute for a search in Smart Folder

  8. Now open each file that has the same name or size and check for duplicates.
  9. Smart Folder showing files with the same size

Well, as you see, searching for duplicates manually is not easy. The good news is that you can automatically find duplicate files with Duplicate File Finder. But before, let’s see how to find duplicate media files in iTunes library, which has a built-in function to find duplicate media files (music and video).

To find duplicate music and video files on macOS High Sierra or earlier, follow these steps:

  1. Open iTunes.
  2. Click the View in the Menu.
  3. Select Show Duplicate Items.

itunes menu - find duplicates

Since there is no iTunes on macOS Catalina, you should search for duplicates in Music and Apple TV separately. The steps are similar for both apps. For example, if you want to find duplicate music files in the Music app, complete the next steps:

  1. Open Music.
  2. Select Songs.
  3. Click the File in the Menu
  4. Select Library → Show Duplicate Items.

music app - menu - option to show duplicate items
iTunes or Music will show you a list of duplicates. Examine the list and remove the duplicates. Unfortunately, to search for different types of duplicate files, you need to browse each folder in iTunes or open Music or Apple TV individually. That could take hours. But don’t panic! Now we will show the easiest way to find duplicates of any type of file with Duplicate File Finder.


2. Find duplicates with Duplicate File Finder

Duplicate File Finder is a great help when you need to get rid of duplicates on your Mac. The application will find all types of duplicate files on your Mac in less than a minute.

Follow these steps to quickly find duplicates files on your Mac:

  1. Launch Duplicate File Finder.
  2. Scan your Home folder for duplicates.
  3. Switch to the Duplicate Files tab. View your duplicate files and folders and remove unwanted copies.
  4. Switch to the Similar Photos tab. Select and remove unwanted similar photos.

duplicate file finder window showing duplicate pics
It’s that easy! You can find duplicates of pictures, music, movies, documents, archives, folders and other duplicate files.


How to find hidden files on Mac

All Mac operating systems and apps create service folders and files that are hidden and necessary for normal system functioning. However, there are some hidden files that are not needed and just clutter the disk and consume space. All files that have a filename with a dot (or period) as the first character, are by default, hidden files.

finder window showing hidden files

If you want to hide some of your files or folders, just add a dot to the beginning of the filename.

But then, how do you find your invisible files and hidden cache files? The most common method is through the Terminal.

1. Show hidden files on Mac via Terminal

  1. Open the Terminal.
  2. Type defaults write com.apple.Finder AppleShowAllFiles true and press “Enter”.
  3. Restart Finder by the command killall Finder.

terminal app with command to show hidden files

Now hidden files in Finder are visible. If you wish to make the files invisible again, type the same command, but change the word true to false. There is another command if you need to make a particular item visible again. Read more in our blog post on how to unhide a particular file or folder.
And here you can find the most useful commands for Terminal.

2. Find hidden files on Mac with Funter

Finding hidden files is much easier and quicker with Funter, which is a free application. Funter allows you to view and hide hidden files with just one click on the Menu Bar. You can also hide or unhide individual files and folders via a shortcut menu or in the Finder window.

Follow these steps to find hidden files on Mac with Funter:

  1. Launch Funter.
  2. Click the Funter’s icon in the Tool Bar.
  3. Enable the toggle button to show hidden files.funter app window
  4. If you want to find hidden files, type the file name in the search field and click Enter. You will get a list of all hidden files that contain the search query in their names. funter app - search results for hidden png files

Video Guide: How to find hidden files on a Mac with Funter

Use a free app, Funter, when you need to:

  • Show hidden files on Mac
  • Hide or unhide files
  • Find hidden files and folders

As you can see, it is possible to free up a lot of disk space by finding and removing duplicates, old large folders and hidden cache files. This can be done either manually or with special apps designed for this purpose. Read how to clean up your Mac, even if your startup disk is full.

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