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What it Means to Have a Startup Disk Full on a Mac

The startup disk is the volume of a drive that contains the usable operating system; it is the space that you have on the disks running your computer that you can use. It is possible to have more than one disk, but most users have one so we will assume that you do too.

Now that you know what the startup disk is, what does it mean when your computer tells you that it is full? This basically means you do not have any more space left and have reached your full capacity. When this issue comes up, you may encounter many different issues with your Mac, including: 

  • Not being able to save anything new
  • Having a computer running slowly
  • Needing to take the time to seek out the useless files that are taking up a lot of space

The Long Way To Free Up Disk Space

There are definitely things that you can do manually to eliminate any excess from your machine and clear the startup disk. To do this, you will need to take the time to carry out the following operations:

  1. Empty the Trash. This is where you will have probably built up the most volume on your startup disk. If you are the kind of person that never empties their trash, then this might free up disk space for all of the processes and applications you need. While this won’t always have huge effects, it is definitely a start and will add to the final results.
  2. Clear out Downloads. The downloads that you have kept over time can also become a plague for your Mac. A good way to avoid getting to the point where your startup disk is full on your Mac is to clear the trash and the downloads multiple times a week.
  3. Movie Clear. When you need more than just a little wiggle room, then you need to look for the files that take up the most room on your Mac. For many of us, this means movies. Clearing your movies folder or at least selecting a few to get rid of is the highest impact way to clear disc space on a Mac.
  4. Cache is Killer. Even though caches files are meant to give you a boost for certain operations, they can often become clogged up in your computer even after they are no longer being used. One of the largest cache files that you will find is Spotify, eliminating this will free up disk space on a Mac in a big way.
  5. Media. Music, photos and apps can also contribute to having a startup disk full on a Macbook Air. iTunes and the music that you have but don’t listen to is one of the most easily remedied problems as you can move all of the “inactive” music to an external drive.

Even going through these 5 steps will not clear all of the junk that is causing you to have a startup disk full on a Macbook Pro. This is time-consuming, and there are a few programs that can make getting a clean hard drive on a Mac something that is more achievable and in less time.

The Easier Way to Clear Disk Space on a Mac

Using a program like CleanMyMac 3 or Gemini will take all of the hard work out of trying to clear your Mac of any built up junk.

These programs clear up the disk space in their own way with huge benefits for the user in the end. These include:

  • No files being deleted in error or by accident as the programs are very cautious
  • The ability to run the scans and programs while you do other things
  • A more thorough cleaning as a result than the one you could have achieved on your own