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Question: Is it normal that "system" takes up 36 gb of storage? What does is contain? Can it be decreased?

Is it normal that "system" takes up 36 gb of storage? What does is contain? Can it be decreased?

MacBook Air (11-inch, Early 2014), iOS 10.1.1

Posted on Nov 2, 2016 2:10 PM

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Nov 3, 2016 5:24 AM in response to V.Shmeruk In response to V.Shmeruk

A clean installed Sierra fits into around 14GB for me (that is everything). The 'system' is around 9GB of that.


When you upgrade you leave all the third party application data in place - this may include caches & other supporting files. You may or may not need those it really depends on what apps you use and how old and relevant the data is.


You can decrease the size by removing files you no longer need but it can easily cause problems.


I suggest you look at the advice on managing 'other' storage…

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

OmniDiskSweeper or the other apps mentioned there can help you see where space is used.


Please post here if you are unsure about removing anything - you can break apps or the OS by deleting the wrong things in the System. Also backup first!

Nov 3, 2016 5:24 AM

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Nov 3, 2016 5:24 AM in response to V.Shmeruk In response to V.Shmeruk

A clean installed Sierra fits into around 14GB for me (that is everything). The 'system' is around 9GB of that.


When you upgrade you leave all the third party application data in place - this may include caches & other supporting files. You may or may not need those it really depends on what apps you use and how old and relevant the data is.


You can decrease the size by removing files you no longer need but it can easily cause problems.


I suggest you look at the advice on managing 'other' storage…

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

OmniDiskSweeper or the other apps mentioned there can help you see where space is used.


Please post here if you are unsure about removing anything - you can break apps or the OS by deleting the wrong things in the System. Also backup first!

Nov 3, 2016 5:24 AM

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Nov 3, 2016 10:00 AM in response to V.Shmeruk In response to V.Shmeruk

Are we talking about the right "System"? On my setup if I go to "About This Mac" then select "Storage" then "Manage" the size for "System" is given as 83.96Gb.


But if I right click on the "System" folder under Macintosh HD and choose "Get info" it is only 7.87Gb (the "Library" folder just above is 4.88Gb and "Applications" folder above that 8.01Gb). The largest folder is "Users" which comes to 78.18Gb.


So for me to reduce the 83.96Gb figure as reported by "About This Mac" by any meaningful amount it would require deleting files from within the "User" folder which just happens to store my music, photos, mail etc as well as caches as pointed out by Drew.


What I'm trying to say is just because "On This Mac" reports a certain "System" size it does not mean that is what the actual operating system is taking, that figure is given by /System and /Library (in my case 7.87Gb plus 4.88Gb) which is approx 13Gb, a far cry from the above 83.96Gb figure.


If I'm looking at this correctly then the easiest way for me to reduce the 83.96Gb figure would be to off load music and photos to external storage, but that would make no difference to the 13Gb figure which is purely OS related.

Nov 3, 2016 10:00 AM

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Nov 3, 2016 10:18 AM in response to V.Shmeruk In response to V.Shmeruk

I would not worry about what that bar graph indicates. It's not indication what's in the System folder but many associated files. My system by that graph is 88 GB in size.

User uploaded file


But if you check the Info pane for the System folder via the Finder you get 8 GB.

User uploaded file


My recommendation is to ignore that bar graph as it can be greatly erroneous or misleading at times.

User uploaded file

Nov 3, 2016 10:18 AM

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Nov 3, 2016 12:32 PM in response to Old Toad In response to Old Toad

Agree totally with your comment to ignore bar graph - that's my whole point, I think people are looking at this graph and starting to panic thinking there "System" has suddenly ballooned in size. In fact the bar graph "System" is recording completely different data and looks as though it also reflects what the user has stored on his machine (personal files) that reside outside what we traditionally used to know as the "System" area.

Nov 3, 2016 12:32 PM

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Nov 14, 2016 5:38 AM in response to Csound1 In response to Csound1

Of course it's a simple graph... but really, this kind of issue should not exist anymore. It's not complicate to read the good System file size and plot the given value in this 'beautiful graph bar' (and the same for the others sections like Music, etc...).

Nov 14, 2016 5:38 AM

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Question: Is it normal that "system" takes up 36 gb of storage? What does is contain? Can it be decreased?

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