6 Replies Latest reply: Aug 2, 2010 9:18 AM by Bruce Bathurst
firetruckjanet Level 1 (0 points)
I'm gettting a message saying that my startup disk is almost full and that I need to delete files from it, but I don't know how to do this because I don't know how to find my startup disk, nor am I sure which files are safe to delete. Old Program files like MS O X 9? I upgraded to MS 0 10.4. Help!

Mac Desktop, Mac OS X (10.4.11)
  • WZZZ Level 6 (12,795 points)
    Your startup disk is simply the Macintosh HD, a Folder usually located on your Desktop. It's the one you are booted from, that you start up from, so it's called the startup disk. What will occupy most space are movies, music, pictures etc. to be found in your Home Folder, the little house icon. Double click on the HD Folder and go to Users and you will see it there. For now, don't touch anything in the Library. And don't look anywhere else but in that Folder. Highlight things there and do a Get Info, CMD-I, to see how big those files are in MB/Megabytes and which ones are taking up the most room. Movies are usually very big, so if you have any of those, they would be the first thing to remove or move out. Unless you have a bunch of them that will add up, if you see anything in KB/Kilobytes, that's usually too small to worry about trashing.

    If you are OK with it, just trash (and empty) what you don't need there. Otherwise, you will need to move things over to an external Hard Drive, which you should have anyway as a backup in case your internal (the startup disk) dies. This can happen suddenly to anyone, so a backup is really necessary if you don't want to lose everything.

    When you get that message, it usually means you are skating on thin ice. The System needs a minimum of 10% to 15% of capacity free. To see how much free space you have and what the capacity is, just highlight the Desktop Folder "Macintosh Hard Drive" and do a Get Info, CMD-I.

    There are programs that will tell you where things are and how much space they are using, but if you can make enough room by clearing out some of the stuff in your Home Folder, then you don't need to worry about using such a program.

    Message was edited by: WZZZ
  • WZZZ Level 6 (12,795 points)
    And another place to look would be right in front of you on your Desktop. BTW, using the Desktop for storage should be kept to a minimum, since too many Folders there will put a strain on the System.
  • BDAqua Level 10 (121,630 points)
    Hi firetruckjanet, and a warm welcome to the forums!

    Great advice so far, just to add...

    How much free space is on the HD, where has all the space gone?

    OmniDiskSweeper is likely the easiest/best, and is now free...


    Ask if you're not certain what you can trash safely.

    Are you use FileVault perchance?
  • Bruce Bathurst Level 2 (330 points)

    My PowerBook has been modified a bit, but the boot disk is found by first clicking the desktop, so 'Finder' appears in the top bar; then one click's File > New Finder Window. My computer is 'Foxglove', so the first item, 'Foxglove's HD' is Foxglove's boot disk. Yours will likely still have Apple's default name. It's the item whose icon is a little hard drive.

    For people who keep their accounts on the boot disk, movies would be here:

    Foxlove's HD > Users > bruce > Movies

    I backup daily passwords & such to an 8 GB LaCie key (USB Flash Drive); and I like to archive the information I want to keep, such as Photos and Movies to optical media. My preference is the simple little 'DVD Spanner' that just copies files, so I can copy one back.


    Unfortunately, you usually need space on a drive to create a virtual CD or DVD before copying it to an optical disc. One option is to buy an external disc at least the size of a DVD. I keep a generic 16GB USB Flash Drive in my drawer, for such occasions and for moving large data between computers.

  • Carolyn Samit Level 10 (102,820 points)
    HI and welcome to Apple Discussions...

    Open Console. Select system.log then from the Menu Bar click Reveal in Finder then move that log file to the Trash. These logs can take up as much as a GB.

    Go here for help to Free Up Space on your Startup Disk

  • Bruce Bathurst Level 2 (330 points)

    Maintenance programs such as 'Onyx', which I use monthly, have the option to delete logs; but I never do. In Unix, it's traditional to rotate logs. In fact, if a friend has a problem (often with malware on Unix), I thumb back through logs to see when it first appeared.

    One could always keep just a couple days's logs, or a week's logs, by adjusting 'anachron', the Unix program that did the rotating. I can't remember whether this program came with MacOSX, or whether I added it. I remember adding it on 10.2.