Spring is here, which means spring cleaning can't be far behind. Do yourself a favor and do a little spring cleaning on your Mac as well as around the house. I don't know about you, but I tend to save a lot of files "just in case" I need them. This tends to clutter up my disk. I don't always realize how much stuff I've got until I take a look at a disk and see there's not a lot of free space left.
It can be hard to figure out just where all your disk space went. That's why a couple of years ago I was happy to pay for a great utility by The Omni Group called OmniDiskSweeper. These days, it's even better (it's free). You can use it to figure out where your disk space is going and to free up disk if you want.
When you start it up, you'll get a list of all your mounted disks:
Select a drive and click the button at the bottom (or just double-click a drive) and OmniDiskSweeper will begin looking at all the files – even the hidden ones the Finder normally won't show. (Often, some temporary file from the OS itself is eating up a lot of disk, but you won't see that in the Finder.) The program lists directories and files from largest to smallest so you know at a glance where the biggest disk users are. I've chosen a relatively small disk without a lot of files because scanning your disk can take a while.
Notice there's a "Delete" button at the lower left. Click on it and you get a stern warning:
When you delete a file here, it doesn't go to the Trash – that would defeat the whole purpose! It gets removed right away. So make sure you know what you're doing before you delete a file.
The folder to the lower-right will open the selected files/directories in the Finder if you want to see them there.
This program is very helpful in tracking down large files, especially ones you might not know about. I've seen a few systems where some background process goes nuts and starts writing log entries like crazy, until there's almost no disk left. You might notice your system is acting up and reboot, killing off the process, but leaving a huge log file lying around. Unless you know where on the system to go looking for such files, chances are you'll never find it with the Finder. But you will with OmniDiskSweeper.
OmniDiskSweeper requires 10.4 or greater, and is a Universal application, so it works on PPC and Intel machines. It's a great utility that you won't use every day, but when you need it, you'll be glad you have it. And with a cost of $0, there's really no reason not to get it. You might be surprised about some junk on your system you didn't know was there!