Mac Maintenance Sunday: Spelunking for Large File Sizes

In preparation for Lion, I’ve been organizing and pruning my Mac Pro’s boot drive: a 40GB OWC SSD. Space is at a premium on this drive, so I’ve limited it to the OS (Snow Leopard) and my apps. All the data I interact with lives on a separate internal SATA HDD. It’s worked out for me well, so far.

The two screenshots below give a visual picture of all the apps I have currently installed, with some overlap on the second screenshot. Click on each to embiggen.

Apps on my SSD

Apps on my SSD

40GB is not a lot of space. With the help of the excellent WhatSize utility, I have been able to check which files are the largest on my system. I spent an afternoon investigating file sizes and what I’ve found was pretty interesting.

I currently have a little under 20GB sitting in my Applications folder. Some of these apps will be pruned out of my system (via AppZapper) when I install Lion. The largest application size belongs to Autodesk’s Maya, weighing in at 2.03GB.

File Size measurements using WhatSize

Oddly enough, one of the largest files on my hard drive belongs to Backblaze, specifically within the Library > BackBlaze folder which weighs in at a ginormous 2.55GB. It’s pretty freaking huge and I’m not sure why. I’m currently investigating options to move the BackBlaze folder to another drive. The second largest file is Adobe, clocking in at 1.55GB. There’s over 314MB contained in a folder called SpeechAnalysisModels, which I’m not sure I’ll ever need. Same for the various Camera Raw profiles. I’m unsure whether or not it’s okay for me to delete these, so I’m leaving them for now.

File Size measurements using WhatSize

My user folder takes up a whopping 1.58GB (nearly all of it comes from the Library folder within). The biggest culprits within the Library folder are the Applications Support folder (582MB) and Caches (527MB). Interestingly enough, the largest file inside the Caches folder belongs to com.atebits.tweetie.profile-images, which contains avatar images for everyone I follow on Twitter. Given that I’m using the official Twitter client now (formerly Tweetie), my suspicion is that the com.atebits.tweet.profile-images folder can be safely deleted. (On a side note: is there a Mac program that safely cleans out Application caches?)

Other culprits that took up a lot of space were the folders dubbed iPad Software Update and the iPod Software Update, found in User > Library > iTunes. Both folders took up almost 1GB of space together. I deleted both folders, as I can always re-download the applications should I ever need to restore my iPad and iPod devices.

In the process of doing some routine file size investigation, I’ve reclaimed almost 2GB of space, leaving my SSD with about 9GB free. With that said and done, I only have one thing left to say: Bring on Lion!

-Krishna

Update: I reclaimed an additional 2GB of data using Monolingual to remove the additional language resources that I’ll never use from Mac OSX. It also does a good job of scrubbing away PowerPC code from the Universal binary apps if you’re on an Intel Mac (saving even more space).

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About the author

Krishna Sadasivam creates custom comics and illustrations for organizations, magazines and companies. A champion of comics advocacy, Krishna speaks, blogs, and writes articles on illustration and sequential arts techniques and the importance of the comics medium in both education and brand awareness. His clients have included Microsoft, Mashable, Other World Computing and EE Times. His work has been featured on many notable websites, including TechCrunch, Gizmodo and CNET. His portfolio can be found at krishnadraws.com.

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  • Jose A. GonzalezReply
    June 27, 2011 at 9:08 am

    Pretty deep cleanup you’ve done, Krishna.
    You do have a crowded house. Not knowing much about Mac OSs, is there a swap file for it in your SSD too? I’m sure its not a choice to relocate it, but I wondered about its size. Is it the usual 2-times the size of your RAM memory?

  • MattReply
    June 28, 2011 at 4:06 am

    Just curious, but why haven’t you moved your user folder off to another drive as well?

    • KrishnaReply
      June 28, 2011 at 8:42 am

      I have my User folder from my boot drive symbolically linked to my User folder on my data drive. So all data is offloaded to a separate drive.

      • MattReply
        June 30, 2011 at 2:07 am

        Why symbolically link them instead of just point your profile to the correct location on the data drive? Just curious if there is something I am missing.

        • KrishnaReply
          June 30, 2011 at 8:40 am

          Actually, you’re right, Matt – I have my data pointing to the other drive (not via symbolic links) – but there are certain programs (Mail, etc.) that want to populate data in my boot drive, for which there is no elegant way of telling it to do otherwise. I use symbolic links for those data files.

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