What is "Other" and What Can I Do About It?

Version 2
Last Modified: Jun 7, 2013 4:09 PM

What is "Other" and What Can I Do About It?


"Other" on your iDevice


When you connect your iPad, iPod Touch, or iPhone to your computer and open iTunes, you will find a graph of the space usage that may look like this:


Space usage graph for iDevice.png


Note the category at the end called "Other." What is "Other?" iTunes has 8 standard data categories listed in the Data Bar of iTunes. They are called Apps, Music, Movies, TV Shows, Podcasts, Books, Photos, and Info. Basically, anything stored on your iDevice that cannot fit into one of those 8 categories is categorized as "Other." This includes:



    1. Browser cache
    2. Mail cache
    3. Mail messages
    4. Mail attachments
    5. Safari's Reading List
    6. iTunes Backups
    7. Crud resulting from jailbreaking your iDevice
    8. Game data
    9. Saved data files
    10. Call history
    11. Notes
    12. Media
    13. Voice memos



As you can see there's a lot of stuff that ends up in "Other." If you never clean up things the stuff accumulates like old toys in an attic. Soon you find half the space on your iDevice is taken up by "Other." This is not good. You want to clean things out. So here's how you do it:



    1. Download PhoneClean - Clean Up Your iPhone iPad that can reclaim a considerable amount of free space on your iDevice.
    2. Read and follow the tips in these articles: Reclaim "Other" storage space on iPad, iPhone and iPod - AppDucateWhat is the Other on my iPhone and How to Remove It, and How Do I Get Rid Of The "Other" Data Stored On My iPad Or iPhone? [Ask MacRx] | Cult of Mac.


"Other" on Your Computer


On your Mac you may also see an "Other" reported when you check on your drives using About This Mac from the Apple () menu.


When you observe the Storage display via the About This Mac dialog you will see something like this:


Space usage graph for computer.png


Note the similarity to what you might find on your iDevice. There are 5 data categories: Audio, Movies, Photos, Apps, and Backups. Anything else is categorized as "Other." "Backups" refers to Time Machine Snapshots that are made when the Time Machine backup drive is not available. When the backup drive is finally reconnected, Time Machine is supposed to transfer the snapshots to the Time Machine backup drive then erase the ones on your hard drive. "Apps" only include those found in your Applications folder. Thus, "Other" consists of some of the same types of files found on your iDevice:



    1. Browser cache
    2. Mail cache
    3. Mail messages
    4. Mail attachments
    5. Safari's Reading List
    6. Saved data files
    7. Notes
    8. Media
    9. Printer drivers
    10. Language files
    11. Preference files
    12. Preference panes
    13. Operating System files (logs, caches, temp files, etc.)
    14. Most all of OS X



This is really a short list of what is categorized as "Other" because it does not fit into any of the other 5 categories.


The problem is you cannot go searching out just any old files on your hard drive and deleting them. If you do you may find that your OS X system no longer works. This could lead to a lengthy reinstallation or even to erasing the hard drive and starting over from scratch. No, this is a process that requires some delicacy and finesse. Firstly, you should search your drive for large files and where they are located. Use a utility such as OmniDiskSweeper 1.8 or GrandPerspective.


Secondly, follow suggestions below for cleaning up your hard drive of unnecessary files taking up space on your hard drive.


Freeing Up Space on The Hard Drive



    1. You can remove data from your Home folder except for the /Home/Library/ folder.
    2. Visit The XLab FAQs and read the FAQ on freeing up space on your hard drive.
    3. Also, see Freeing space on your Mac OS X startup disk.
    4. See Where did my Disk Space go?.
    5. See The Storage Display.
    6. Read Reclaim hard-drive space.



Empty the Trash in order to recover the space the files occupied on the hard drive. If you cannot free up enough space, then you should consider replacing the drive with a larger one. Check out OWC for drives, tutorials, and toolkits.


Thirdly, locate any duplicate files on your hard drive and delete them. You can use one of several utilities designed to locate duplicate files such as:



    1. Gemini: The Duplicate Finder 1.4
    2. dupeGuru
    3. GrupaDupa
    4. Singlemizer 4.3.1
    5. Decloner 1.5.5



Hopefully, this discussion will put an end to any concerns you've had about "Other."